Over time, many catfish farmers have experimented with the use of floating feed to raise their stock from juvenile to maturity. At the end of such experiments, the result is not always encouraging in terms of return on investment. However, farmers using floating feed throughout the feeding period tend to benefit in certain areas such as: convenience, availability, efficient water management, and reduction in waste of feed.
The economic reality has taught many catfish farmers how to combine the use of both floating and pelletized sinking feed; this will enable them to optimize profit through the use of locally produced raw materials to formulate feed. In other words, floating feeds are used as starter to raise juveniles to a size that will enable them to pick at least 4mm pelletized local feed.
I always recommend that farmers make use of floating and locally pelletized sinking feed in this proportion:
- At least 150 grams of floating feed for each fish OR
- Floating feed should be used for maximum of 2 months irrespective of their consumption rate
- Growing catfishes of about 200 grams should be carefully introduced to locally made 4mm pellets and this should be sustained till maturity, although the size can move up to 6mm and 8mm at the later stage of their life.
By following the above steps, a farmer is able to save up to N160 (about $0.80) on every kg of feed produced. The amount saved on feed automatically expands the capital and also result in better profitability of the business.
Before buying your floating feed, look out for the following:
- Ensure that your feed has not expired by looking at the expiry date. Don’t purchase floating feed that does not reveal an expiry date.
- Do not buy feed with synthetic protein as its main source of protein.
- Do not buy feed without information on feed composition.
- Look out for the analytical constituents and make sure that the protein and energy in your feed is up to nutritional requirement for your fishes based on their age.
Make sure that protein in your floating feed is made up of both animal (fish meal/meat meal) and plant protein. Do not buy feed that is made up of only plant protein.
In conclusion, the use of floating feed only is not recommended in countries where such feeds are not produced or where they are produced at higher rate. In a country where floating feed are produced at a subsidized rate, it is better for farmers to use floating feed throughout the farming season. In countries where they are produced, farmers can further cut down costs by making use of simple technology to produce their feed.
Comparison between floating and pelletized sinking feed for catfish
|FACTORS CONSIDERED||FLOATING FEED||PELLETIZED SINKING FEED|
|Price||Expensive (when not subsidized)||Relatively cheaper|
|Convenience||Easy to use||A bit technical to use|
|Profitability||Less profitable when used||More profitable when used|
|Economy of Water||Better water economy||Poor water economy|
|Availability||Readily available||Depends on local production|
|Waste of Feed||Little/no loss of feed||Much loss of feed due to inexperience|
|Durability in Water||Much durable in water||Less durable in water|
|Shelf Life||At least six months||At most two months|