Farmers have found that the major cost of fish production is feeding their stock. Imported feed are expensive and the fish needs lots of it to grow. it is important for farmers to learn how to produce local floating catfish feed.
If you have 1000 catfish stocked in your pond at a stage you will go through a bag in one week. The current price of a 50kg bag is N6000 weekly so do the mathematics.
Despite the high expense on fish feed catfish is a delicacy and attracts high premium price. It has a stable market and many outlets and applications.
Adult catfish are sold according to their weight with 1kg fish priced at N600. A single fish can easily attain 2kg which translates to N1200 for one fish.
Both large and small catfish farmers can reduce feed cost by producing their own nutritionally rich feed. The advantage of producing your own feed includes high quality feed, fast growing fish and reduced expenditure.
You can formulate feed from local row materials readily available in the market. This reduces foreign dependency on imported feed and can even provide a secondary income.
Ingredient for catfish feed production
The ingredients you can easily buy for you production are fish meal, rice bran, soybean meal and cottonseed meal. Other ingredients you need are maize, and groundnut cake.
Soybean meal contains over 48% of the protein requirement in catfish feed. It is easily digestible and contains essential amino acids. Although groundnut cake is prone to molding it is used as an alternative to soybean meal.
Maize constitutes 32% of feed composition it is energy packed when properly processed. Cottonseed meal has about 45% protein content is lacking in lysine and can be substituted with soybean meal.
Fish meal is an important component of fish feed, rich in protein and processed via cooking and drying. Rice bran is high in fat and used sparingly in the production of feed meal.
Feed formulation for catfish
|Ingredient||Fry-to 1mm||Fingerlings to 3mm||Juvenile-to 5mm||Grower-to 8mm||Brood stock 9mm|
There are two basic methods of processing fish feed which are the extrusion method and the pelleting method. The favored method is feed extrusion because pellets are bulky and have a tendency to sink.
The ingredients are forced to flow under conditions of mixing, shear and heating. They go through a die which forms the ingredients. Extruded feed rupture cellulose due to high heat, prevents wastage, reduces contaminants and is stable in water.
How to make floating pellet feed
You need to mix the raw material before proceeding to grind. All powdery feed materials are mixed thoroughly to maintain the nutrient content. You then add other micro ingredients and premix to the composition.
An efficient mixer is the single shaft twin ribbon mixers because it reinforces convection, mixing and shearing. The next process is the grinding of the composition.
After you have mixed the raw materials you can use a hammer mill to grind. The hammer mill smashed and crushes the mix with high speed rotation movement.
The materials are further reduced into smaller particles before continuing the production. Some pellet machines in the market have ranges like 0.75mm, 1mm and 2mm.
You have the dry extrusion or wet extrusion methods. The general purpose of extrusion is to produce water stable floating or sinking feed.
High temperature and pressure are applied in the extrusion method. The pressure difference within the extruder and environment cause the extrusion of feed. Dry extruder is used for dry feed while the wet extruder uses wet feed.
Drying your feed
The feed needs to dry properly and a common method is spreading it on a flat surface in the sun. Another less crude method is using a drying machine to lower the moisture and temperature.
A multi-layer dryer is a low temperature dryer with long drying time and better results.
Oil spray process
Oil spray process apart from binding the feed offer better taste and aroma. You can use an auto-mated oil spray machine for an even better spray and drainage system.
The produced feed needs adequate time to cool before bagging. Cooling is done manually or via a counter flow cooler which allows the pellet harden.
Soft pellets crumple easily and dirty the water while feeding which is counter productive. The best pellets are the well formulated feeds that are hard and float.
When you bag your feed make sure the bag is air tight for longer preservation and reduce contaminants. You can experiment with little quantities of ingredients while formulating your feed.
With time you will develop the skill and know which method you prefer.