Aquaponic Gardening

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Well, this is just a terrific forum.  I've gotten some great thoughts and ideas.  My kid have two rabbits that make plenty of poo.  What would be the best use of the rabbit poo?

I have a compost pile, a 55 gal barrel AP system with tilipia and two 25 gal grow beds, and a small wicking bed.  Just wondering if rabbit poo is any use.  I do have some plain ol vegetables in the ground as well, I suppose I could just put it there.  Currently, it goes in the trash.

Thanks for any thoughts.  I'm a novice gardener, but the whole AP thing is interesting and has me doing all sorts of stuff I normally wouldn't have thought to do.

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Hello Gary, 

Rabbit poo makes exellent food for worms. Jim Joyner is doing a large scale vermiponics experiment using rabbit poo as the input for the worms that drive his system.

You could also just compost it since you already have a compost pile. I know that Jon Parr and some others have mixed rabbit manure with sawdust and used that for starting seedlings/gardening, if I'm not mistaken. (I can't remember where those threads are right now, but I'm sure they could chime in with some suggestions).

You are robbing yourself of a wonderful fertilizer by tossing them in the trash :)

Bunnie berries are perfect worm food.  However if feeding worms any warm blooded animal poo, you should allow the contents of the worm bin to age at least 4 months before using them.

My 2 cents, all warm blooded animal manure including bunnie berries should be composted in some manner before use on any food that might be eaten raw or not very well cooked.

That said, I would definitely not be throwing them out.  Perfect for compost if nothing else.

Hi Gary. TC is right (of course) about the risk of warm blooded creatures and their waste in conjunction with ANY edible plant, especially if there is a chance of eating it raw. The risk is the chance of consuming harmful e coli, which any warm blooded creature can pass on. There are many conversations, opinions, and references on this site regarding this issue. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but it's a good idea to educate yourself on e coli and possible contamination vectors. 

That being said, I would certainly recomend it on non-edible crops, and personally, too many dangerous things in this world to stress about them all. I, and everyone I know who grows a garden uses some kind of manure or manure product in there dirt gardens. Much of it composted, much not. And it is impossible to rule out all warmblooded contact on any outdoor grow. Birds, mice, coons, possums, skunks, wild rabbits, wild boars, coyotes, deer, etc are all regular visitors to every acre of food grown throughout man's history. And when these critters visit the garden, they shit. So what's the fuss from using rabbit poo? Just my opinion.

Here's what I like about rabbit poo. My rabbits eat everything. Everyday we weed whack a patch of the property, rake it up, and feed it to the rabbits. There are apparently some weeds poisonous to rabbits, so we must not have those weeds present. They eat weeds, grasses and grains, broom, thistles, oak leaves and branches, kitchen veg scraps, old sunflower stalks and seed heads, every dead plant out of our garden at the end of the year, fruit tree prunings, even redwood suckers (which we have a plenty). Everything. The point here is that since they eat everything, they are gathering a wide variety of nutrients. And those nutrients are recycled in their poo. Cows and horses eat grass (and/or gmo grains), and so their waste contains only nutrients contained in grass (or gmo's). Chickens eat gmo grains as well, same story, unless they are free range, but them their poo is free range too. Get it?  Rabbits are our primary composters. And way the hell faster and easier than  turning a compost pile for four months. The poo is used in the garden, fruit trees, and into the worm bins, where they make quick work of finishing it. We also eat the rabbits, which is the healthiest meat you can get, for no expense other than weed whacking grass which we have to do anyway for fire control. After butchering, which is SO easy, everything not eaten gets dumped in the BSFL bin which directly feeds the chickens. Whatever is left behind from the BSFL goes back to the worms. The worms feed the fish, and their castings go to the garden and foliar sprays. Nothing is wasted in the whole loop, and with a little planning, not much effort to keep it all happy. 

NPK-wise, rabbit tops the charts, especially P. Check this out:  http://www.allotment.org.uk/fertilizer/npk-manures-compost.php

As Vlad referred to, I have been guilty of planting directly in rabbit poo. In fact, the results are outstanding for the simplicity. I've used it straight, 100% but don't let it stay wet, it cooks and stinks, and compacts. I like 50% poo, 20% course sawdust, 10% chicken floor compost, 10% worm castings, 10% lava, and a handful of woodash. The poo is not fresh, per se, it's scooped from under the pens and is in various stages of decomposition, and full of composting worms that live ther full time. The whole mix continues to compost while the plants are growing, and at the end of the cycle the container holds nothing but roots, sawdust and lava. 

I have a future project of utilizing processed rabbit poo as feed for tilapia. If you have ever picked up a dried pellet of poo and crushed it between your fingers, it looks like nothing but dried grass, and tilapia feed on both plant matter and detritus. There has been some study that time, aeration, heat, and desiccation are all effective at destroying e. coli and other pathogens. I think if I made a big black tube of 4" abs, capped at on end and threaded at the other, and tapped with a vacuum port and placed in a solar hot box, then I could quickly render poo pathogen free and safe for long term storage. Black pipe in the sun gets freaken hot, and the vacuum would quickly dessicate the poo. The dried result could be bagged and saved, and I expect would be a high quality tilapia feed. TC, what do you think?

Holy cow!  I learned a bunch through those posts.  Specifically, I should be at least composting the rabbit poo and that we are feeding the rabbits too narrow a diet lol.  My worm bin got finished when I overfed them citrus waste, but it looks like there is opportunity to restart that again.

 

I’ll be sure to compost before putting into the vegetable garden.  Thanks for all the info!

Could be an interesting project.

Ya know in the wild bunnies will re-digest their droppings, yes the stuff that only passed through them once, they will hop back out and eat it again because their digestion is so inefficient that the stuff they only ate once is still full of nutrition.

I would probably be doing a bit worm operation with the rabbit waste instead of drying it to feed to the fish but then again, I don't grow tilapia anymore so am not that interested in rabbit processed grass clipping pellets.

One trick I've read about with the rabbits is to put a screen under the cages at an angle.  Directly under the cages you use a high carbon bedding to catch the liquid waste for composting and off to the side you place the worm bins so the berries roll down the screen to the worm bin and you avoid overloading the worm bin with the urine.



Jon Parr said:


I have a future project of utilizing processed rabbit poo as feed for tilapia. If you have ever picked up a dried pellet of poo and crushed it between your fingers, it looks like nothing but dried grass, and tilapia feed on both plant matter and detritus. There has been some study that time, aeration, heat, and desiccation are all effective at destroying e. coli and other pathogens. I think if I made a big black tube of 4" abs, capped at on end and threaded at the other, and tapped with a vacuum port and placed in a solar hot box, then I could quickly render poo pathogen free and safe for long term storage. Black pipe in the sun gets freaken hot, and the vacuum would quickly dessicate the poo. The dried result could be bagged and saved, and I expect would be a high quality tilapia feed. TC, what do you think?

Chinese use rabbit and/ or dicks/ geese in cages directly on top of green water fish ponds, raising carp, to fertilize the water and/ or to feed the fish directly as well. Although I totally agree with TC and other about not mixing warm and cold blooded animal poo directly in any growing process, I have to admit that a few years ago I did a small 500 gal system running on bunny berries raising a batch of talapia with no apparent side effects, but then again, I was probably just lucky. I can easily see that as a system matures, the risk of contamination would increase so prob not worth the risk.

In my opinion, I think it isn't so much whether or not the animal is warm blooded or not but what it eats is warm blooded or not, cooked or not and how it is digested. Personally I think goat and sheep " berries"could work if the farmer is desperate enough or lacks land/ soil. I believe that fresh poop is better than collected. It seems butt to mouth decreases the chances of some types of pathogens. It is well documented that many animals eat (fresh/ish) fecal matter with little side effects other than parasites. Urine can be drunk fresh in desperate or medical conditions. Just don't leave it out a while ten decide to drink it. By then the not so friendly bugs begin to activate so needs to go through its own process to brake everything down and make it safe

Then again, I think safety should come first and until quantified, should always stand on the side of caution and compost completely before entering the aqua systems. 

I've not heard of using dicks in cages. Do elaborate. Lol. Seriously, though, e. coli h157(?) is or was a feedlot creation, maybe it hasn't spread to china yet. Not to minimize the threat, and yes better safe than sorry, but I am aware ( and guilty) of numerous abuses using warm-blooded poo. I am not aware of any AP/e. coli link. I volunteered to run a test on another thread, to purposely contaminate an AP system with H157.  I suspect that AP elements actively destroy e. coli, and that the extremely marginal chance of getting contamination in the first place, wouldn't stand a chance in AP. Anyway, everyone, except Sylvia, discouraged me. Apparently they didn't share my hunch, and were afraid to have such documentation. Or didn't trust my procedure or execution, again not wanting not wanting to see any negative documentation. I pursued it on my own, for a while, but testing is very expensive, and I would need backing to finish it. 

Carey Ma said:

Chinese use rabbit and/ or dicks/ geese in cages directly on top of green water fish ponds, raising carp, to fertilize the water and/ or to feed the fish directly as well. Although I totally agree with TC and other about not mixing warm and cold blooded animal poo directly in any growing process, I have to admit that a few years ago I did a small 500 gal system running on bunny berries raising a batch of talapia with no apparent side effects, but then again, I was probably just lucky. I can easily see that as a system matures, the risk of contamination would increase so prob not worth the risk.

Jon, all dick/duck jokes aside...Personally I think that is exactly the type of (one of the) experiments, and subsequent data that AP could certainly use right now. Though procedure and execution would have to be strictly controlled, documented and peer reviewed etc...Which is no simple task unto itself...but,... I can't imagine how such information would be a bad thing? Even if you find that AP wont take care of such pathogens (in the way you set up your experiment at least :)...

On a side note, worms may play a role in rendering things like Escherichia coli H157 harmless. (i'm sure that you have similar hunches based on what's going on in the waste treatment world...just putting it out there for others)... Converse has ALOT of knowledge on e.fetida and composting worms, and would probably ask him on his thoughts on the matter.

Exactly, Vlad. I think any data is good data, so long as it can be weighed against control and be accurately reported. The results will fuel more testing, or validate the concern.  In truth, it is a task more suited for a university, with financial backing and free labor. 
I understand some hesitation to support a layman's study. I wouldn't put much stock in the results of someone's study here on this forum for such sensitive matters, and especially if I didn't feel they were qualified to accurately structure the test and report the data. That's why i volunteered. I trust me.  But such tests would at least start paving the way for further research. And if ten users ran a simlar test with similar results, then hey, that's some validation. 
There is a local lab that will test for e. coli for $50 per test. Here's how it works. I give them a sample packed in a sterilized vial, they have a process and $10 of consumable testing to find out if ANY kind of e. coli is present, netting $40 of labor/profit. If positive, they send it to a lab in Berkley that test known e. coli samples from hundreds if local labs for the presence of H157. They charge $250 per test. So the local lab tests thousands and thousands of samples, only a fraction of a percent contain enough e. coli to test positive, thus they can afford to drop a few hundred occasionally for H157 confirmation.  So, in a business that tests samples of shiity stuff, e. coli is rare. In another business that tests even shittier stuff with confirmed e. coli, the presence of H157 is equally rare. That alone tells me that my rabbits on my property fed with my grass, are probably safe. I could probably eat their shit like sushi, and have less chance at catching H157 than a single BigMac. IMO. Relax everyone, I don't eat shit sushi (or BigMacs).
Everything about healthy, media-based aquaponics is anti-e. coli. Dilution, circulation, ammonia, aerobic bacteria, sunlight and composting worms are all known active fighters of e. coli. Do you know how they make market greens safe for us humans?  They rinse it. In water. Wow. Most lethal outbreaks get immediately blamed on a fieldworker with stink-finger. Most of these claims after investigation ease up on the field worker, and instead blame the feral pig. The real blame lies on two fronts. First, the cattle feed-lot industry for creating the beast, and secondly on hygiene. IMO. 
In short, I'm not condoning the use of warm-blooded waste in aquaponics. But I consider the absence of H157 cases in aquaponics more compelling than the threat of such contamination with absolutely zero data to support the fear. Life is dangerous. Live a little. 
Sorry Garry, thread hijacking was unintentional. Vlad made me do it:-)

I whole heartily agree. And even a "controversial" (methodologies, procedures etc...) 'laymans' study would in all likelyhood (hopefully) provoke to produce more such studies. Anecdotal evidence often becomes the motivator for such more serious research in many (particularly new) fields. Maybe the newly formed Aquaponics Association could then become involved and define the parameters and finance a more 'serious' and controlled experiment. I mean the implications (not to mention the good marketing potential to further 'sell' AP, if nothing else) are potentially 'big'. 

E.coli is present in like a bizzilion strains everywhere, and has only recently, thanks largely to human greed, been mutated into this deadly H157 strain. I am lucky to live somewhere where the conditions for harboring animals with H157 are just about nil (isolation has it's positive points too, I guess). But I realize that the concern is great in most countries. It would be very beneficial to know how AP systems play into this.

AP like any system, has it's own drawbacks, and its own +'s. In a way this is already addressed in that you typically would use only cold blooded organisms (mainly fish and worms when implemented responsibly, is in itself, already a 'plus').  This E.coli theme I feel needs to be explored further. Even if just to 'stir things up a bit' so that it is explored further...

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