Silkworm Farming & Cultivation | Rearing Guide & Tips

Silkworm Farming Guide And Tips Process and Profit Details

What is Silkworm Farming?

What does do you mean by the word “Silkworm Farming”?¬†

The business of rearing silkworm or silkworm rearing is known as the silkworm farming as in this business, the growing of silkworm is included. 

Basically, silkworm (Bombyx mori) is a major source of fabulous mulberry silk production of the sericulture industry. Nowadays, the business of rearing silkworm is being increased with a rapid rate throughout the different portion of the world because of too much profit is there with little care and management of the worms.

silkworm rearing and cocoon harvesting

There is a need for quality and nutritious mature mulberry leaves throughout the complete rearing period of silkworms. In addition to this, silkworm farming also requires optimum favorable environmental conditions along with protection from pests, insects, and diseases for the optimum production as the essential need.

Silkworms are divided into three different race. These three are univoltine, bivoltine and multivoltine races depending on the total number of generation per a single year. The univoltine races and bivoltine races are precise for the temperate region whereas the multivoltine races are peculiar for tropical areas.

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The silkworm farming or rearing needs knowledge of both kinds; technical as well as commercial. Presently, the tropical region where mulberries grow luxuriantly throughout the complete year, about 5 to 7 rearing can be easily conducted in a single year whereas, in the temperate and subtropical region, it is possible to rear one time per every two crops.

Silkworm Life Cycle

From the hatching to its full growing stage, the silkworm has to passes from 5 instars and¬†worms up to stage 2 are known as the “Chawki” or young age worms.¬†Since these are very sensitive to the many kinds of infections and are also¬†unsafe due to the¬†adverse weather conditions, it requires¬†special care to be taken¬†in rearing these¬†“Chawki or¬†Young age worms”

life cycle of silkworm

However, to obtain a big profit via rearing silkworms, these silkworms should be reared or raised under the controlled conditions in an individual Chawki rearing centers. Also, make to keep the Chawki packages of practices totally separate from the late age rearing.

Chawki Rearing

However, follow the following instruction while¬†Chawki rearing¬†as indicated below…

  1. High-Quality Eggs: Use Disease-free and high-quality eggs for the optimum production.
  2. Use of Suitable Incubators:¬†A comfortable and favorable temp is required for the best growth of the worms. For silkworm rearing, the ideal temp. is 23 ¬įC to 26¬†¬įC or normal room temp along with 80 to 85 % RH with 8 hours of darkness and a full light for the remaining 16 hours in the hatching areas, especially during the 8 to 12 days of egg laying.
  3. Brushing: The newly hatched larvae should be brushed on to the rearing or raising beds and then after, provide fresh and chopped mature leaves of 1 cm to 2 cm.
  4. Provide Nutritious and Quality Leaves: After brushing, feed them with high-quality leaves and nutritious leaves to these reared larvae in enough amount at regular intervals of time for their excellent growth rate. Top about 3 to 4 fully grown or mature leaves, just below the growing or rearing buds became suitable.
  5. Maintain Temp.:¬†For the excellent growth rate of the eggs and larvae, the ideal temp. is 23 ¬įC to 26¬†¬įC or normal room temp along with 80 to 85 % RH inside the house.
  6. Feed management: Spread fresh and chopped nutritious leaves on the dry beds for good growth of larvae.
  7. Care During Moulting:¬†Try to keep the bed, clean and dry. Maintain the room temp. at ideal temp with an adequate amount of RH in the room with feed in sufficient amount. A special care to be taken while molting stage. The temp should be 23 ¬įC to 26¬†¬įC or normal room temp along with 60 to 70 % RH inside the house.

If all this provided, the growth rate in the worms will be maximum in minimum time of rearing. With this conditions (ideally), within 3 to 4 days, the first instar go to molting whereas the 2nd instar will go for in about 3 days. While the 3rd instar is the crucial one as it is the intermediary stage of the Chawki or young age worms and the late age worms.

silk production

Rearing of Late age Worms

From the 3rd instar in the Chawki rearing, these worms become voracious feeders. Then after, follow the following instruction in this rearing business.

  1. Disinfection of Rearing House: Perform disinfection in the house, two days before the worm brushing. All the used and non-used equipment should also be disinfected.
  2. Adequate Quantity of Quality Leaf: The late age worms consumes more than 90 %  food of the total food. For feeding, feeding with mulberry leaves are best suitable food. These should be harvested at their full maturity having low moisture fibers and protein content in them with lower carbohydrate content.
  3. Provide Comfortable Environment:¬†Maintain room temp at 24 ¬įC to 26¬†¬įC along with about 75 % of relative humidity. Usually, for¬†100 DFLs¬†multivoltine, space about 100 sq feet and 200 sq feet is sufficient enough for the fourth and fifth instar respectively. Whereas the space requirement for the¬†bivoltine races, if 250 sq. feet for the fourth instar and 600 sq. feet for the fifth instar.
  4. Proper Hygiene in The House: Proper hygiene should be maintained in the house.
  5. Protection: Also, provide protection from all kinds of natural enemies such as Uzi fly

Rearing house

Silkworm farming requires comfortable environment for an optimum growth rate of the larvae and worms. So, to maintain comfortable and favorable conditions for worms, there is need of the house. Construct a house which has¬†economic cooling features with the selection of suitable wall material and fabrication of roof. The ideal temp for optimum growth rate in the worms is from¬†24 ¬įC to 28 ¬įC with about 70 % to 85 % RH in the house.

housing for silkworm

Also, make sure of sufficient space needed to handle out the leat preservation, Chawki or Young age worm rearing, late age worm rearing and for the molting. Proper hygiene and disinfection at regular interval of time are also required.

However, the size of the rearing house for silkworm depends on the rearing type and the quantum. Practically, for rearing 100 DFLs (Disease Free Layings; and 1 DFL = 500 larvae) requires a 400 sq feet floor area for the excellent production.

Silkworm Rearing appliances

The late age worms are not able to tolerate high RH, high temperature, and poor freshening. So, there is a need for cross ventilation facilities to maintain the room temp. removal of vapors and toxic gases generated because of excreta produced by large numbers of silkworms.

The following below is a table showing the equipment requirement for rearing 100 DFL’s or 50,000 larvae.

No. Item Quantity
1 Rotary montages or Chandrika 40 no’s
2 Shoot rearing rack (5 x40‚Äô) 5 tiers 1 no’s
3 Power sprayer 1 no’s
4 Hygrometer 1¬†no’s

Note: The equipment requirement may vary according to the scale of rearing.

Feeding Management

Feeding is an important task that requires more attention to be taken while rearing silkworms for the silk production. So, start feeding with about 45 to 55 days older harvested shoots having 3 ft height in the chilling hrs, mostly in the morning whereas 5th age worms should be fed with two months older shoots. So, for feeding, loosely store the harvested shoots in a vertical position at a cooler and moistened place through covering it with clean and disinfected. wet gunny cloth.

However, the feeding quantity of quality leaves varies according to their ages such as the 4th instar of bivoltine silkworms needs 460 Kg of shoots whereas the 5th instar of same needs more than 2800 kg of shoots for the healthy growth of worms. Make a schedule of daily three feeding (5 AM, 1 PM and 9 PM) and feeding with overmatured and soil leaf should be avoided. Spread the worm larvae uniformly on the rearing beds for every feeding according to their space requirement such as a 100 DFLs at late 5th stage needs a space of 600 sq feet area.

feeding management in silkworm farming

To avoid contamination, the suspected diseased and undersized worms should be discarded at the time of feeding only with chopsticks. Put these picked larvae into 2 % bleaching powder with 0.5 % slaked lime solution.

Shoot Rearing in Silkworm Farming

In the method of rearing silkworm, the last three stages should be conducted by giving mulberry shoots instead of single leaves. Shoot rearing is helpful in saving about 45 % of labor in the rearing process.

The other advantages of shoot rearing include the following list:

  1. It also reduces the contamination and spreading of diseases because of little handling of silkworms
  2. Maintenance of proper hygiene in the rearing house.
  3. Better preservation of quality leaves during storing and during the beds
  4. It is also helpful in better aeration in the rearing beds.
  5. It also requires little non-recurring expenditure in the rearing process.
  6. It is also beneficial in the production of better and quality cocoon and better survival of the larvae.

Ideal Temperature And RH Maintainance

Silk-producing worms require a comfortable environment with good temp and relative humidity of the atmosphere. For late age worm rearing, the ideal temp and relative humidity are 26¬†¬įC & 80 % humidity for the 3rd instar, 25¬†¬įC & 70 % humidity for the 4th instar and 24¬†¬įC & 70 % humidity for the 5th instar for the excellent growth of the late age worm rearing.

So, maintain the temp and humidity at ideal condition during these rearing stages through heating, cooling and humidifying appliances such as room heater, cooler, wet gunny cloths, charcoal stove, water sprinkling, etc. However, use of cross ventilation is best for reducing the body temp of silk-producing worms.

Care During Moulting

A special care to be taken while the molting stage. So, follow the listed below instructing during the molting stage.

  1. During molting stage, ensure dry conditions and facility of good ventilation in the worm rearing house.
  2. Gently spread the bed, just after the settling of worms for molting and uniformly implement slaked lime powder on the rearing bed for good drying of beds.
  3. Strictly maintain the rearing house at ideal temp and humidity
  4. Avoid high fluctuation of strong wind and bright light in the rearing house
  5. When more than 95 % of silkworms come out of the molting, resume feeding.

Care And Management in Silkworm Rearing

silk production business

The care and management in silkworm rearing include the bed cleaning, maintenance of proper hygiene and application of disinfectant to the rearing beds.

Bed Cleaning

The suspected diseased and undersized worms should be discarded at the time of feeding only with chopsticks. Put these picked larvae into 2 % bleaching powder with 0.5 % slaked lime solution.

Note: During cleaning bed, do not spill the bed refuses on the platform of the worm rearing room.

Hygiene Maintenance

Silkworms are very sensitive to the infections, pests, and diseases as like the Mushrooms. Some precautions to be taken for the proper hygiene maintenance in the rearing house. Those are:

  1. While entering the rearing house, wash hands and feet proper with a proper disinfectant sol. For this, firstly wash hands and feet with an alkaline soap, then after dipped in any disinfectant solution such as the solution of 2.5 % Sanitech or Serichlor in 0.5 % slaked lime or solution of 2 % Bleaching powder with 0.3 % slaked lime.
  2. Hands should be washed with a disinfectant solution, just after the picking of unhealthy worms, bed cleaning and also before feeding the worms.
  3. Picking of unhealthy worm should be carried out on the daily basis in a basin with the mixture of bleaching and lime powder. The picked unhealthy worms should be disposed of carefully such as burning worms or burying them at a separate place.
  4. Always keep the silkworm rearing clean, dry and well aerated during the complete rearing period.

Application of Disinfectant

Silkworms are very prone to infections and diseases. So, avoid all type of infections and diseases from the rearing house, proper disinfectants of rearing house and beds should be done on the regular basis. For disinfectants, Vijetha Green, Vijetha, and Ankush are some silkworm disinfectants used in the silkworm farming or rearing.

For disinfection, take the powder in a clean and thin cloth and then, dust it over the silk-producing worms at 5 gm per sq. feet, just after every molting and one on the fourth day of final instar after cleaning of bed.

Note: It is the best way to follow scheduled silkworm disinfectants to get the best results.

Moulting Ripen Worms

In silkworm farming or rearing, producing high-quality cocoons matter a lot in deciding the profit. And, High-quality montages and molting of larvae at the proper time are necessary for producing high-quality cocoons in higher quantity. On the 7th day of 5th instar, worms enter in the maturation stage and stop feeding on the leaves. After which, worm start searching for a place where they can build their cocoons.

silk production business

So, picking of such larvae should be done immediately and are mounted on the montages. Take care of the stocking density of larvae (numbers) on the¬†montages. It should not exceed the¬†montages capacity. Also, ensure that at the¬†spinning stage of larvae, the room temp. should be¬†24¬įC along with 70 % RH (relative humidity) and facility of good aeration should be provided.

Rotary montages are advised for producing high quality of cocoons. Around 35 sets of rotary montages are good enough for molting worms of 100 DFLs. Whereas hanging rotary montages requires a separate molting hall for cocoon production.

Harvesting Cocoons in Silkworm Farming

The complete process of silkworm rearing that is from hatching of eggs to the cocoon formation usually takes around 25 days to 27 days. Pupae become fully matures on the 5th to 6th day of the molting. So, cocoon harvesting can be carried out on the 6th day after molting to get the maximum production. Removal of defective and low-quality cocoons should be carried out.

silkworm farming

The quality of cocoons depends on size, shape, less floss, rich milk content, more shell weight, uniform shape and building of cocoons. Depending on the quality, grade and short out the cocoon on the basis of their quality.

Note: In Colder days, carry out one day delayed harvesting.

On the next day of the harvesting i.e. 7th day, send the collected cocoons throughout cooler hours of the day. Loosely pack them in¬†nylon netted bags having a capacity of 40 kg. Take care that the quality of cocoons does not lose in any way…

Cocoon Yield in Silkworm Farming

On an average, around 75 kg of yield can be easily obtained by rearing 100 DFLs. One can easily rear about 5 to 6 batch of silkworm in a single calendar year.

cocoon in silk production

When it comes to yield per acre, one can easily obtain 1000 kg of cocoon production by taking care of some tasks and maintenance such as temp. RH, Hygiene, etc from a mulberry garden in a single year.

Read Also: Organic Mulberry farming For Sustainable Silk Production

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