Unveiling the Nutritional Marvel: Silkworm Pupae as a Super food for Livestock and Beyond

India, with its diverse silkworm varieties, is uniquely positioned to offer a spectrum of nutritional products, addressing specific dietary needs across the global animal husbandry landscape. With five unique farmed silkworm varieties in its arsenal, India possesses the keys to unlock a new era of sustainable, nutritious animal and pet feed. India’s prowess in sericulture lays the foundation for a thriving industry in silkworm-based nutrition. Imagine a scenario where the vast landscapes of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal transform into hubs of sustainable silkworm farming. The potential is not just in silk but in the under explored treasure trove – the pupae.

Silkworm pupae, with their exceptional nutritional content, can be processed into high-quality protein supplements for livestock, poultry, and pets.

Silkworm Pupae in Chicken Diets: A Feathery Feast
Integrating silkworm pupae into chicken diets presents numerous advantages owing to their impressive nutritional profile. Rich in protein, silkworm pupae play a vital role in muscle development, feather growth, and overall body maintenance in chickens. Protein, an essential component in poultry diets, includes crucial amino acids such as lysine, addressing a limitation in many plant-based feed ingredients. Adequate lysine supply is vital for optimal growth and feather development.

Beyond protein, silkworm pupae boast omega-3 fatty acids associated with heart health and immune function. Their inclusion in the diet contributes to eggs with a favourable omega-3 fatty acid profile. Maintaining a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is crucial, and silkworm pupae provide the latter, ensuring a harmonious fatty acid profile.

Xanthophylls, natural pigments found in silkworm pupae, enhance egg yolk colour, a desirable trait when natural pigments are preferred. The essential minerals calcium and phosphorus contribute to bone development and eggshell formation in laying hens. The palatability of silkworm pupae encourages chickens to consume feed more readily, especially beneficial for picky eaters or during stressful periods.

Silkworm Pupae in Ruminant Diets: Revolutionizing Nutrient Utilization
Insects, including silkworm pupae, serve as a rich protein source in ruminant diets. When replacing traditional protein sources like soybean meal, insects alter the microbial population in the rumen. Studies suggest that insect meal may reduce methanogenicarchaea activity in the rumen, contributing to lower methane production—a significant environmental benefit.

Nutrient-rich silkworm pupae enhance overall nutrient utilization efficiency in ruminants, showcasing their potential to revolutionize livestock nutrition.

Silkworm Pupae: A Delight for Fish and Birds
Silkworm pupae prove to be a nutrient-rich source for the growth and health of ornamental fish and birds. Packed with essential nutrients, including proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, silkworm pupae support the development of tissues, muscles, and organs in fish and birds.

The taste and texture of silkworm pupae make them attractive to ornamental species, enticing even finicky eaters to consume a well-rounded and nutritious diet. Providing calcium for bone development in fish and eggshell formation in birds, silkworm pupae serve as a valuable addition to a varied and well-balanced diet.

Dry pupae contain 50-70% crude protein and 24-33% crude lipids and are a high-quality insect protein source with a rich, balanced content of essential amino acids. The works of various researchers on various fish species have led to the development of recommended inclusion levels of silkworm pupae meal in the diet of the following aquaculture species: 30-50% for major and minor carps, 5-15% for trout, 50-60% for masher, 75-100% for catfish, 30-40% for ornamental fishes and 5-20% for shellfishes that has the potential to give similar growth performance compared to fish meal. Black soldier Fly larvae protein and silkworm Pupae protein between 5-10% inclusion levels proved beneficial for white-legged Shrimp Diets.

Beyond physical benefits, silkworm pupae contribute to enhanced coloration in ornamental species. The natural pigments and nutrients in silkworm pupae foster vibrancy and coloration, while the included vitamins and minerals support the immune system, making fish and birds more resilient to diseases and stress.

The Global Shift: Insect-Based Pet Foods
Insect-based pet foods are gaining traction globally, with various insect species finding their way into formulations. Silkworm Pupae, alongside other insects like Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Mealworms, Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Locusts, is becoming a staple in pet food formulations. Dedicated pet food, treats, and supplement brands, including industry giants like Nestle and Mars, are investing in insect-based ranges.

While several reasons advocate for the superiority of insect-based foods for dogs over traditional meat sources, the primary challenge lies in pet parent acceptance. Silkworm Pupae, with its unique 1-DNJ content, offers a compelling proposition, potentially revolutionizing the perception of insect-based dog foods.

In conclusion, Silkworm Pupae emerges as a nutritional powerhouse with far-reaching implications in livestock, pet, and even human nutrition. Its multifaceted benefits, coupled with sustainability advantages, position it as a frontrunner in the ever-evolving landscape of animal nutrition. As we continue to explore innovative sources of nutrition, the unassuming silkworm pupa proves that small insects can indeed make a big impact on the well-being of our feathered, finned, and furry companions.

by Ankit Alok Bagaria, Loopworm