Worm Farming for Profit – How to Start a Worm Farm Business (Is it Even Profitable?)

Worm farming for profit blog featured image

So, you’re looking to start a worm farming business but wondering whether there are profits to be made from worm farming selling worms, worm castings and other related vermicomposting products?

We’re here to answer all of your questions about whether a commercial worm business is a good idea and can make a healthy profit.

The short answer to the question is yes, worm farming for profit is very possible, as long as you understand it takes work and certainly isn’t a get rich quick method. There is a learning curve for new worm growers, and it takes time to raise worms properly and maintain them.

A vermiculture business can prove to be a great investment for several reasons, and in this article, we’ll explain all the reasons why, including profitability numbers.

You can start learning this small business in your own home using a worm bin (see our guide for the top worm bins), without investing a big chunk of money into the venture, before starting to scale up once you’re confident about the process.

Worm sales and vermicomposting are trending upwards too, with the need for sustainability ever present.

To start a worm farm doesn’t necessarily require a huge area for worm bins either and can generate a satisfactory revenue for the owner (more on this further down.)

This in turn can encourage business owners to input more capital into this potentially lucrative business and slowly scale up.

However, before you dream of starting this compelling venture, this article has everything you need to know about worm farming and how you can start a farming business.

This article contains a detailed overview of the following:

  • What is the business of farming worms?
  • How can you reproduce worms for profit?
  • What are the prerequisites and requirements to start this business?
  • How and who to sell the worms and related products to make money?

What are the Benefits of Starting a Worm Farming Business?

Selling worms is undoubtedly a solid money-making business idea.

The following is a list of benefits if this business if navigated carefully and properly::

  • Space: A Worm business start-up does not initially need to have a ton of land to be viable – to begin with, it can start in your back yard or even in your garage/basement.
  • Easy Maintenance: Farms do not demand a high-degree of maintenance. Keep the temperatures, moisture and their food in check, and raising worms is not that difficult.
  • No Bad Smells: Worms cultivation does not produce a pungent smell or odor, unless you’re using excessive amounts of meat that may rot.
  • Fun Project: This business is a fun one that even children can enjoy, learn and get involved with during their down time.
  • Cheap to run: Worms only require natural house waste like food and paper to create a happy environment for compost worms. When you scale, of course, you may need to buy more things.
  • Environmentally friendly: This business is beneficial and environment-friendly as it does not increase the greenhouse effect. If anything, it reduces it.
  • Free fertilizer: Worm castings cultivation is a great source of fertilizer for crops and soil for yourself too, using your own worm farm.
  • Profitable: Most important for any business. After giving it some time, you can eventually upgrade it into a large-scale venture, selling worms, fertilizer, castings and other products at scale.

Is Worm Farming a Profitable Business?

This question is common when it comes to the discussion of worm farming for obvious reasons.

Yes, this business absolutely can be profitable, and simple to run at the same time (note, we didn’t say “easy”!)

Worms can cost between $3.50 and $4.75 per pound to produce (or $7.50 and $10 to produce by the kilo).

The sale of this same pound of worms can net you around $24 to $33.25 (or $52.5 to $70 by the kilo)

So, yes, this is a strong ROI (return on investment). These numbers, of course, can vary wildly depending on fluctuating costs and where you are in the world.

What is the Size of the Vermicompost Market?

Raising worms is profitable since they are popular bait for fish and other marine animals, as well as for creating fantastic fertilizer for farmer’s soil and crops.

The fishing industry alone is worth $31.8 billion dollars, globally. With an expected annual growth rate of 4.2%.

fishing worms business market size

The global vermicomposting market is expected to reach $1.9 billion dollars by 2028 and is expected to grow at an even faster rate of 6.1%!

Finally, the crop farming global market is worth a whopping $314 billion dollars in 2021, with an expectation to hit $351 billion in 2022.

At an annual growth rate of 11.7%, it’s expected to hit $546 billion by 2026! That should give you some idea of the potential.

There is a huge piece of pie for anyone looking to make profit by farming worms, castings and related vermiculture products.

Farmers and fishermen alike are always looking for suitable worms to either use to improve the quality of their soil and crop, or use as bait to catch fish.

You can sell your worms for money and also make premium quality composts and fertilizer by accumulating their castings.

How Much Money Can You Make from Worm Farming?

You can earn as much as you want from this business, depending on the scale and size of your operation.

Let’s give you a realistic example, as well as an example from the big dogs in the industry

Realistically, a worm farmers salary in the US ranges from $33,000 to $113,000 according to research, with a median income of $64,000.

The middle 60% of worm farmers make $64,000 (this is in Denver), but if your reach the top 80% of farmers, you could make over $113,000 and beyond!

The median take-home pay, after taxes would be approximately $4,652 a month, with $6,657 per month net for the upper ranges.

But if we look at some of the top businesses like Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, they are estimated to make $10,323,000 of revenue annually!

Yes, that’s over 10 million dollars. (though they also sell equipment like small and large bins for raising worms.)

Both the realistic and large-scale versions of the business can provide a good quality of life, I’m sure you’ll agree.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Worm Farm Business?

Unlike other ventures in various sectors, you do not necessarily need to invest in expensive equipment for cultivation (but commercial equipment to more efficiently harvest worms are optional).

However, it varies based on the farm size you want to start off with.

In the US, simply for business incorporation and licencing fees, you’re looking at a minimum cost from $3350 to start trading. This could considerably lower in other countries. Check your local authority for information.

All you need in terms of material to get started are farm essentials like:

  • Worms
  • Containers (could be an old bath tub or even a broken refrigerator)
  • Bedding (like shredded newspapers – moist newspaper works best but other types of shredded paper or cardboard works too)
  • Worm food (food scraps)

All of these materials, as you’ll notice can even be attained for free. The main initial costs will be incorporation and licensing.

However, if you want to start at a larger scale, that figure can jump up to around $14,750 and beyond for commercial harvesting equipment etc.

This doesn’t include the cost of purchasing land if you need it.

Who Can You Sell Worms to?

Organically cultivated worms are always in high demand from:

  • nursery owners
  • crop farmers
  • fishermen
  • gardeners (to improve the quality of their garden soil)

These have particular criteria of weight ranging from 250 grams to 500 grams per batch of thousand.

Can You Make Money Selling Worm Castings? How Much?

The true answer to this question depends on the number of castings, worms and other products you are producing on the whole as a farm owner.

You can easily make money by selling the worm castings from anywhere between $3-$5 per pound.

Per ton, you’re looking at around $350 and $450.

Bulk pricing can be lower.

How Often Do Worms Reproduce?

Typical composting earthworms – red wigglers and night crawlers – take between 4-8 weeks to reach reproductive maturity.

It then typically takes a similar amount of time for the eggs (or cocoons) of red wigglers to hatch, and a few days less for Nightcrawler eggs to hatch.

These worms typically lay between 2 and 3 cocoons each time, with the same number of worms contained in each cocoon.

How often the worms multiply depend on the exact type of worms. We recommend red worms for beginners and experts alike, with Indian Blue Worms having the biggest learning curve for vermicomposters.

Also, optimal conditions in the worms habitat and environment also play a great role in optimal growth and keeping your worm’s healthy.

If you are wondering how many worms you need to start a business, the answer is that you need approximately 1/2 to 1 lbs of worms per square foot.

For more information see our guide: how do worms reproduce

We’ve created this cheat sheet for you to help quickly reference the reproduction speed of worms:

characteristics of various worm species, reproduction rates, eggs, fertility
Right-click and “open image in new tab” to see the full size image or download the image

What Do You Need to Start a Worm Farming Business?

Having a detailed business plan will help you run a successful business. You can also starting selling the worms online.

You can find customers and simply sell online. Below is the complete guide to educate you to initiate a successful business.

1. Business Planning for Worm Farms

The first thing you need to begin with is a business strategy that should set you apart from the rest of your rivals and competitors, but most importantly, shows that it is a viable business model.

For this, you have to choose what products you want to cultivate and sell from your farm.

As there are numerous sub-niches present under this broad category of worm farming, you should be careful not to go too broad while mapping your business strategy.

Below are the sub-niches and products trending in this sector.

Take note and pick from a few of these sub-sections to add different revenue streams and maximize income.

What Products Can a Worm Farm Business Sell?

You can earn more money by selling different types of worm products. These are the typical sub-niches of worm farming that you might want to research:

  • Adult Earthworms (for fishing bait shops and fisherman)
  • Red Worms/Red Wigglers (for composting in a worm bin)
  • Worm Castings
  • Worm Cocoons (eggs)
  • Worm Tea/Compost Tea
  • Food Waste Recycling
  • Worm Composting

As you can see, you don’t just have to sell worms.

Make a solid business plan and be absolutely sure you’re confident in your composting process.

2. Choose a Business Name

Do not neglect the importance of a relevant business name to get you an edge over other worm farm owners during the marketing and promotion of your brand.

It should tell your potential buyers both about the service you offer and, if it naturally fits, what makes your service special.

Brandable and memorable names are always a plus.

3. Profit Potential for your own farm – How Much Do Worms Cost to Raise & Sell?

You have to understand the difference between your investment and the generated revenue every month during worm cultivation.

As the finances and costs are always fluctuating in the agriculture sector, you have to make sure you know how much money you’re putting in Vs the kind of capital and profit your worm farm can produce for you.

Worms can cost between $3.50 and $4.75 per pound to produce (or $7.50 and $10 to produce by the kilo).

But this, of course, can vary wildly on fluctuating costs and where you are in the world.

Selling this same pound of worms can fetch you around $24 to $33.25 (or $52.5 to $70 by the kilo)

Again, this price depends on where you are in the world.

4. Startup Costs and Ongoing Overhead Expenses

Obviously, your expenditure relies on your desires for how large of an operation (or not) you want to run. You can always expand your smaller startup at a later date.

Small scale farm benefits: Small scale businesses are easier to steer through each day when you start off and require low expense and maintenance.

It gives you a chance to learn your trade and become an expert too without overwhelm.

Small scale farm disadvantages: the drawback is that they may not produce larger enough quantities of product at first, which may get frustrating for a business owner.

Contrary to this, large-scale businesses are always more costly in the short term, but will be more profitable if done well.

The following are some common cost ranges that should help you learn about the investment required for worm farming startups:

  • Company Incorporation cost in the USA: $750
  • Insurance, Permits, and License fees: approx $2,500
  • Cost of your first worms: $100 to $1,500 (depending on the size you want to start a worm farm)
  • Other costs (like worm food, worm bedding and other organic material): $0 – $1,000
  • OPTIONAL – Cost of a well-designed website: $500-$5000 (Third world based designer vs US-based)
  • OPTIONAL – Purchasing commercial equipment to start worm farming: $2000 – $4,000 (depending on the size of worm beds and harvesting equipment needed for your chosen method)

OVERALL COST OF STARTING A WORM FARMING BUSINESS:

Ranges from $3350 to $14,750.

Of course, all of this depends on the scale you want to start growing worms. More worms = more initial outlay.

This cost doesn’t include the cost of land if you don’t already own land large enough to cover the size of your desired farm.

5. Local Regulations For Setting Up Your Worm Farms

It is important for you as a potential worm farm owner to seek help from local authorities and business experts to understand their requirements for you to start trading.

This is a crucial step while setting up your venture and promoting it in your neighborhood. However, this can get you in big trouble if you neglect it on purpose or unknowingly.

6. Get The Resources

The basic factor that you have to work on is the type of worms.

Here, you need to take advantage of those worms who have higher powers of transforming organic substances to vermicompost fastly.

This step will save you a lot of time and effort simultaneously.

It is better to include common worms for the cultivation that have some quick reproducing abilities, and they also can convert organic materials into composts sooner for you.

Some of the common cultivating worms do not require high-end feed and maintenance. These parameters are prominent to keep in mind while investing in the worm breed.

Do not forget to buy the accurate and sufficient amount of good worms for farming.

Always remember that these worms can easily reproduce after some days.

So make sure you’re buying adequate bulk of worms in order to save your money from the extra expenditure.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is worms-reproduce.jpg

Then you need to get the containers, harvesting equipment and organic waste materials. These three are important essentials for worm farming.

We’ve explained what you can use and how to source these things a little earlier in this post. Many can be had for free when starting out.

For bulk waste materials, you can get in touch with food factories, restaurants and even coffee shops who will be more than happy to give you their used coffee grounds and scrap foods at the end of the day, so you’re unlikely to go short on worm food at all.

By taking this step and forming a relationship with these businesses, you will be able to focus on other things without constantly hustling for organic refuse on a daily basis. It’s a win-win relationship.

You take away their scraps, you gain feed for your worms.

Don’t get distracted from the important aspects of your worm farm, leading to the failure of your efforts and investment.

Your focus should be on feeding, monitoring the environment and moisture levels of your worms.

7. Selling & Marketing Your Products

By following different measures of offline, local and digital marketing, you can successfully promote your own business to potential buyers.

You can use:

  • A Website and use SEO (Search engine optimisation for generating organic traffic)
  • Facebook Groups
  • Digital ads (like Google and Facebook ads)
  • Local ads
  • Forums
  • Local shops or groups
  • Amazon (to sell worms or products nationally)

You can encourage them to buy worms from you simply by making it easy for them to find you.

Of course, make sure your branding and USP (unique selling points) are on point too once they’ve found you.

Through a website, your national customers will be more likely to reach you than in person.

For local selling, you can contact your nearby fishermen, farmers, and gardeners to buy home-cultivated worms from you.

Or, as described earlier, you can utilise digital marketing, if you’re happy to deliver nationally.

Either way, make an impression on your customers about your brand by delivering quality products, and that will help you land bigger clients down the road as well as spreading word of mouth.

How Difficult is it to Run a Worm Farm?

Running a worm farm is not as hard as it may seem.

However, you need to be patient and learn what leads to healthy worms and optimal reproduction to get satisfactory output and results from your worm farms.

Different breeds of worms take different periods of time to reproduce and grow in numbers. It’s good to have this knowledge.

Initially, you may have to wait some time to reap the desired outcomes from your worm farm.

But after your first harvest, you’ll pretty much constantly have a supply of new worms daily since healthy worms multiply quickly.

Conclusion

Above, we gave you a detailed guide on how you can start a worm farm business and how you can turn it into a profitable business.

This guide contained all the requirements and the discussion around them to build a successful worm farm on your own with little expenditure on worm farm essentials.

It can be a low maintenance and fairly cheap to run business (you can even start with your own food scraps, vegetable scraps, food waste and other organic matter) with other advantageous factors.

There have been many business failures that resulted from a lack of education in running the perfect worm farm, due to chasing higher revenue generation, too quickly.

Our advice would be to start slow and perform precautionary measures to avoid any complications leading to a deterioration of your newly-built worm farm.

At worst, your negligence can cause irreversible damage to their environment, and you may need to start from scratch.

At best, you’ll slow your business down by trying to go too fast.

commercial worm farm business showing large worming bed

Build your confidence up by growing your worm farms slowly and you’ll have a solid, sustainable business with multiple income streams from multiple products and audiences as large as bait shops, all the way to the gardener who needs worm castings for a small flower pot.

For example, fishermen buy worms as do crop farmers, who will also buy organic fertilizer to help enrich soil.

There’s a large market and large quantities of your product will always be needed, especially in a world that is going green with each passing day.

Who knew your kitchen scraps and kitchen waste and worms work together to make you money by selling your extra worms and worm poop?

It sounds crazy, but it’s a fun project and a more than viable business model to make a decent income.

As with every business model, seek professional advice from business advisors in your area and location to ensure that you are compliant with local laws. Good luck with your business!


References:

Estimated 10 Million Dollars in Revenue: Uncle Jims – KonaEquity

$351b Crop Farming Market: The Business Research Company

Higher Nutrients in Vermicomposting Organic Waste Vs Garden Soil – Pubmed