The rising cost of fish feed in the country has led many to seek alternative fish feed options, but to take it a step further, you need to know how to produce your own fish feed for better results.
Whether pelletized or floating, floating, the key thing to consider when producing your own fish feed is the quality of the nutrients involved, and their proportions for various stages of growth.
When done right, your locally-produced fish feed can be at par with commercially produced fish feeds, for a fraction of the cost, leading to massive profit margins.
In this article, our goal is to show you how to produce your own fish feed with locally available materials that will produce the best results for your fish farm.
To do this effectively, we ought to understand that various fish have different nutrition requirements, for instance, the nutrition requirements for tilapia are different from that of catfish or tuna, or salmon. Thus a blanket article on how to produce fish feed might not suffice for all these fish species.
We would focus our article today on how to produce your own catfish fish feed. With the aim of giving you thorough information on the processes involved, you can then apply this process in the production of any other fish feed and get great results.
Catfish is one of the top 5 fish consumed, it is also one of the most farmed fish in the world today. A study shows that by 2048 the worlds oceans could virtually be empty of fishes. The need for continuously growing healthy catfish at a commercial rate can not be over emphasized.
To raise healthy catfish profitably, it is essential to first understand their nutritional needs and secondly, provide them with a balanced diet that meets those needs, preferably at a cheaper rate for the farmer to be profitable.
Without putting profits into the discussion, most farms would fail, and the world at large might suffer for it.
Understanding Catfish Nutrition
In order to produce your own catfish feed, we need to understand the nutritional requirements of catfish, only then can we formulate a feed that meets those requirements.
Without understanding the nutritional requirements of the fish you intend to produce your feed for, you stand a high risk of producing a feed that is substandard.
We will explore the nutritional requirements of catfish, all the key nutrients that are required for growth and the best sources of those nutrients to help you make informed decisions in your quest to produce your own fish feed.
Catfish requires a variety of nutrients to maintain good health, grow, and reproduce. The main nutrients that catfish needs can be classified into protein, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, and minerals in varying proportions.
Protein Requirements for African Catfish
While the main focus when it comes to fish feed production for catfish is proteins, other classes of nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins are equally important and must not be neglected.
Protein requirements for catfish declines as they age, for instance, at the fry stage, you ought to provide them feeds with crude proteins upwards of 62% but as they age, these protein requirements can drop as low as 35% by month 5.
Protein Requirements for Catfish with Age
|Month||Size||Name||Approximate Percentage of Protein|
|Less than 1 Month||Less than 5cm||Fry||50|
|Less than 2 Months||5-15 cm||Fingerlings||40|
|More than 2 Months||15 to 30 cm||Juveniles||38|
|Above 3 Months||Above 30 cm||Growth Out Phase||35|
Carbohydrate Requirements for African Catfish
Carbohydrate is a source of energy for catfish, but as already established they are not as critical as protein, nonetheless, feeding your catfish without carbohydrates makes it extremely difficult for the catfish to process the feed to body weight.
The ideal carbohydrate content of African catfish feed varies depending on the species and the production system but generally ranges from 15% to 35% of the diet.
The need for energy in African catfish feed starts lower and continuously rise as the protein needs reduces.
Lipid Requirements for African Catfish
Lipids are essential source of energy for catfish and are required for various physiological processes, including cell membrane formation and hormone production. The ideal lipid content of catfish feed ranges from 5% to 10% of the diet.
Vitamins and minerals are required in small amounts but play a critical role in catfish health and growth.
Choosing Feed Ingredients
Having discussed the major nutritient classes that African catfish require, in our bid to produce our own fish feed, we need to choose the right feed ingredients. It is important to understand that not all feed ingredients are made the same.
As a farmer who wants to know how to produce your own fish feed, cost should be a critical factor of the decision making process.
While we may discuss several ingredients you might want to use to in producing your own fish feed, your best bet is to use feed ingredients that are locally available to you to reduce the cost of producing your own fish feed.
Protein Sources You Can Use to Produce Your Own Fish Feed.
|Protein Source||Percentage of Proteins|
|Duckweeds (Per Dry Weight)||20-35%|
The real question when a farmer searches on how to produce your own fish feed, or how to produce catfish feed or any other fish feed for that matter has to do with the actual feed ingredient combination.
For instance, you have maggots and some maize, which percentages of these should I mix to get a feed with protein concentration of 38%
To do this, we used a formula from the Food and Agriculture organisation or the pearson square method to determine which percentages of each ingredient to add up to get a fish feed of the required protein levels.
To accurately use the Pearson square method to accurately determine the proportions of ingredients to use one of the feeds used must be higher in crude proteins levels than the
desired level and the other feed must be below the desired level.
For example, you want to create a feed with crude protein level of 38% one of your ingredients must have crude protein levels above 38%, while the other must have crude protein levels below 38% for this to work.
In practice, what we do is take a high crude protein ingredient like maggot, earthworm, fish meal etc, in addition to a carbohydrate source like maize or wheat bran or rice bran etc which has a lower crude protein levels.
The calculations to determine the right proportions to use per each ingredient based on the Pearson Square Method is simple, and effective, however, to make life simple for our farmers, we created the fish feed formulation calculator to aid you. You simply input the crude protein levels of the materials and the tool would give you the right proportions to use.
Equipments Needed Fish Feed Processing
Generally, there are 5 machines required for fish feed production, they are;
- The miller
- The mixer
- The extruder
- The dehydrator
- The Packager
The miller is a machine used to grind the feed ingredients into powder form, it is the first tool in the fish feed production process. After you have done proper quality control to ensure you have high quality ingredients for use.
As the name depicts, the mixer is used to mix the various ingredients adequately. Without the mixer, it is possible, to pelletize ingredients that are not evenly distributed, and might lead to disproportional nutritent allocation in the feed.
The Extruder is the major machinery required for fish feed production, it recieves the ingredients in the powdering form and reshapes it into sizes and shapes determined by the operator under high temperatures, effectively performing some role of dehydrating the feed, and also killing off any bacterials that might be lurking in the feed.
The ability for the extruder to operate under considerably high temperature, dehydrating the feed is what creates the floating effect of the feed.
The dehydrator is basically an oven in principle, the feed pass through for any additional moisture left to be taken out, this helps also to kill off any other bacteria’s that might be present.
Dehydrating the feed is essential for long term storage, without it your find stands a high chance of going bad in a very short time.
The Packaging Machine
As the name depicts, is a simple machine that packages your processed feeds into bags for long term storage.
Difference Between Extruder and Pelletize
|Operates under high temperature, and parboils the feed||Operates at a slightly low temperature|
|Creates floating fish feed due to this high temperature activity||Produces sinking feeds due to the lack of dehydration in the pelletizing process|
|Low chance of bacteria infection via your feed||High chance of bacteria infection|
|Feed can be stored for long||Feed can be stored for less number of weeks|
|More expensive to acquire and operate||Less expensive to acquire and operate|
Quality Control Methods To Follow To Produce Your Own Fish Feed
Quality control is crucial to ensure high quality fish feed. Below are a few methods you can apply for good results in your fish feed production process.
Follow HACCP principles. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. What does this mean to your fish feed production objectives? Simply put, at every point in your production process, you make sure you are taking all the utmost safety needs.
What are some HACCP principles you can follow when producing your own fish feed?
- At the source of Ingredients, make sure you get high-quality ingredients, and also safe ingredients. Any ingredient you add is a risk factor, it is your duty to ensure they are of high quality. For instance, if you are purchasing maize, are they free of harmful chemicals like aflatoxins, etc.?
- Transportation; When you need to transport your feed, how are you ensuring the transport process does not pollute your ingredients? Are they covered or open to the air?
- Storage; How safe is the storage facility you have, does it allow for the growth of bacteria and other harmful micro organisations? What’s more? have you considered chemical contamination?
- Processing: Are your machines regularly cleaned? Are these machines leaking oils to pollute the feed?
- Personal; What protective gear are your staff wearing while handling the feed ingredients from source to finish materials? are you certain that your staff are adhering to your laid our hygiene standards?
These are but a few things you should consider in ensuring the safety and quality of your feed.
Major Challenges You Might Face When Producing Your Own Fish Feed in Ghana.
- Lack of raw materials; The Agric sector of the Ghanaian economy is not so formalized, you might be shocked to know that it is easier to get 50 tons of maize from Brazil than in Ghana. The issue has to do with the fact that small scale farmers contribute a large chunk to our food resources in the country, thus while a city may harbor hundreds of tons of food, gathering them together is a huge task that you should consider even before you begin.
- Cost of Production; The rising cost of commercial fish feed in Ghana has led many farmers to seek ways to produce their own fish feed. While this is commendable, it is important to understand that the cost of feed production in Ghana isn’t limited to the raw materials alone, but also structural cost, equipment cost, electricity, labor, and many more! These costs are significant and should be considered in the decision making when thinking of how to produce your own fish feed.
Regardless of the above, a determined mind would find a way, one way we succeeded in producing our own fish feed in Ghana, is by producing majority of our own ingredients. Things such as maize, maggots, earthen worms etc, can be produced on site to cut down drastically the cost involved and to ensure your venture is viable.
How to Produce your own fish feed: Summary
Producing your own fish feed requires a number of processes and due diligence in order to produce high quality feeds.
The pearson square method is crucial in helping you get the right proportions of ingredients you need to use to produce your own fish feed.
Note that the pearson square method can be used for more than just determining proportions to use based on protein requirements, you can equally use it to dermine the right proportions for every other thing you need in your feed production process.
We used it for proteins because for catfish feed production, proteins are the most critical nutrients.
Understand that you might make mistakes, and be willing to try again to get it right.
Know that not all ingredients are the same, while plant based proteins could be cheaper in certain regions of the world, they also might lack certain amino acids like methionine and cysteine, thus it might be necessary to supplement.
Finally, produce, experiment, alter ingredients and produce, and experiement till you find what works for you, given the locally available raw materials.
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We wish you a Happy and Prosperous fish farming!