See ’em wriggle, see ’em squirm: Korea adds a new livestock breed
It’s official; Old MacDonald will get another verse for the nursery rhyme about his farm. But there’s no oink-oink here or moo-moo there; it’s more like wriggle-wriggle.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has added earthworms to its official livestock list, making Korea’s worm breeders eligible for government compensation if a natural disaster, perhaps a flock of early birds, strikes their farms.
The ministry, working from rules that define livestock as animals suitable for breeding, a source of income for breeders and a long-domesticated species, said it made the new designation to recognize Korea’s 200-odd earthworm farms. They are concentrated in the area around Gimhae in South Gyeongsang province. In addition to the obvious use for the worms as fishing bait and to replenish soil, they are also used in cosmetics and in oriental medicine.
And, of course, there is an earthworm farmers’ association in Korea. An Seung-ryeong, a member of the group, said the business is lucrative. A typical earthworm farm, he said, occupies about 3,000 square meters (0.75 acres) and generates annual sales of 60 million won ($51,300).
The ministry said it wanted to add crickets and butterflies to its list as well, but desisted because of fears of rampant poaching in the wild.
by Koh Han-sun