First I should mention that worm cocoons can vary in size and colors based on the type of worms as well in some cases the way the worms are raised can vary the look. This is similar to the color of worms can change a bit based on whether you raise them in a lighter or darker bedding material as I have found out with the African nightcrawlers.
I have had numerous questions concerning how we count our African nightcrawler cocoons offered through Organic Worm Farm. It is actually a simple process however a bit time consuming for the African nightcrawler cocoons compared to other worms. The same process can be used for red wigglers and European nightcrawlers however cannot be used on the Alabama jumpers since their cocoons are so small a variation to the process needs to be used.
First off if you have a harvester you will want to use the material that falls through the ¼” screen. If you do not have a worm harvester, you can locate how to get a free set of plans I put together which is a dual screen worm harvester that can also be used as a soil sieve, sifter… You can find out more from Worm Harvester Plans website.
Now since we run volumes of materials from numerous buckets each time, I take an additional step not needed for most. I pour the debris into the cement mixer to thoroughly mix all material evenly throughout before dumping into a large container. Next take one cup of the material using a basic measuring cup.
I then proceed to dump a cup into a basic kitchen screen strainer found at your local Wal-Mart’s, Targets…
You can use a garden hose to spray the material in the strainer. Start with a lighter spray and work up to higher pressure spray and continue until the water running through the strainer becomes clear.
It does make it easier if you spread the leftover material on a white surface to sort through as well as allow the material to drip dry a bit first.
The next step works well with a pair of large tweezers, popsicle stick or whatever else you have handy to move through the material slowly and methodically. Start at one end of the pile while sifting through it moving it away from the main pile and spreading the material thin as you go.
As you sift through pick out the cocoons and place in a separate container so as to count them later when finished.
If you decide to sell some worm cocoons off, remember to add some extra to insure your customer is getting more than they are paying for!
At Organic Worm Farm we actually perform a few one cup counts per batch of material to insure accurate counts. If performed correctly we find we are plus or minus 4% to 5% per individual cup counts. Hence a good rule of thumb is to add ten percent more if just counting one cup per batch of material.