Reducing Catfish Feeding Costs (A Secret Weapon) – Part 1 of 2

By Tayo K. Solagbade

From a small pond operation to a high output facility, the ideas offered in this article can be put to immediate use by any willing African catfish farmer. Your farm size does not matter. Most of the information supplied is based on published findings from research conducted on the African catfish under African farming situations, by African scientists. That means it is highly relevant to your needs.

Before I go on, let me state here that even though I discuss catfish feeding, other commercial livestock farm business owners will also find the information provided potentially beneficial. As proof of this, I have supplied a link (later in this article) to a resource page which lists URLs you will find it worthwhile to review.

Why Catfish Feeding Is Currently Too Expensive

Maize, a major ingredient used in catfish feed is also fed to other livestock, and consumed by humans. The resultant massive demand in the face of limited supply keeps driving prices up every year. As of last week another hike in Maize prices over N70 per kg was imminent. Fish Meal another main ingredient, which supplies proteins and amino acids, is also expensive, and mostly imported.

THE SOLUTION: Alternative Feed Ingredients Can Slash Feeding Costs!

And that's why I refer to the use of locally available alternatives as the secret or little known weapon farmers can easily use to drastically cut down their feeding costs.

This is not a new idea. As far back as the late '80's (then Dr.) J.A. Oluyemi and F.A. Roberts’ – in their classic 197 page “Poultry Production In Warm Wet Climates” book, highlighted the viable potential of certain locally available feed ingredients to serve as alternatives to traditional ones. Today, farmers the world over have reached advanced stages in the use of alternative cost-saving feed ingredients. Nigerian/African farmers however have some catching up to do.

For years, there’s been talk about adopting local ingredients to reduce feeding costs for catfish (and other livestock). However, lack of affordable research or analytical facilities makes locally existing commercial feed mills shy away from doing so. One cannot blame them. It would be like working in the dark.

But some work has been done recently that makes it possible for individual farmers who are willing, to get started and make good progress. I provide brief reviews of alternative ingredients Catfish Farmers can adopt, based on research targeted to meet the needs of Nigerian/African catfish farms.

1. Leucaena leucocephala:  To (Partially) Replace Fish Meal

You have most likely seen this leguminous, multipurpose tree that flourishes in poor soils – while providing “fuel wood, green manure, and improving degraded lands”, with potential for use as a cover crop.

A team of researchers (Amisah, S; Oteng, M. A and Ofori, J. K) from Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, report that Leucaena’s leaf meal contains 22.7 to 23.4% crude protein, and can be reliably used at 20% inclusion level(in the diet), to partially replace fish meal.

Soaking of the leaf meal (as opposed to sun drying) improves palatability and growth in fish (suggesting this destroys its growth inhibiting “mimosine” content, to which non-ruminants are susceptible). The attendant cost savings are significant since Leucaena leaves can be found and harvested in large quantities and at little cost.

2. Maggot Meal: To Replace Fish Meal

U.U. Gabriel, O. A Akinrotimi, D. O. Bekibele, and D. N Onunkwo and P. E. Anyanwu in their 2007 research paper highlighted maggot meal’s unique benefits. Studies show that it has about 43.8 to 47.6% crude protein as well as a similar amino acid profile to fish meal. When compared with results from fish meal-based diets, maggot meal-based diets produced no significant differences in “weight gain, length gain, daily growth rate, specific growth rate, feed conversion ratio and protein efficiency ratio”. This makes it a potentially great replacement for Fish Meal. Cost savings are substantial – and achievable at close to zero cost.

Here’s why/how:

Some researchers have reported producing maggot meal from maggots grown on a mixture of cattle blood and wheat bran. This was then used in substituting fish meal in catfish feed. But YOU can do better by using animal wastes from other livestock to “grow” fly larvae or maggots to make maggot meal (the flies come to lay their eggs on the waste). Medium to large-scale production of fly pupae in animal wastes involves using light to “tease” out the larvae from the waste, through a screen and into a lower enclosure, where they pupate and are harvested. Most of that will require little spending.


Author Byline

Self-Development/Performance Enhancement Specialist, Tayo Solagbade works as a Multipreneur, helping individuals/businesses to develop and implement strategies to achieve their goals faster and more profitably. As a multipreneurial freelance writer, Tayo’s versatility, and use of in-depth research (on and off the Internet), equip him to quickly produce 100% original - and easy to understand – write-ups. When he's not amazing clients with his superhuman writing skills (wink), Tayo works as the creative force behind the Self-Development Nuggets blog and the Public Speaking IDEAS newsletter.

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