Rules are meant to guide, and when you break them you will be penalized. Almost every line of business is guided by dos and don’ts. In catfish farming business, there are many rules you must never attempt to break. They must be obeyed or else profitability of the business may be affected negatively. For instance, at the stage of breeding, male and female catfish of the same family and same generation must not be used to breed. The effect of violating this rule is long term and can even make mess of the whole process. However, not every catfish farmer will hatch what he will stock but every catfish farmer must stock small fishes to produce table size. This is the main reason I want to focus on seven rules you must observe as you stock your fingerlings.
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According to a popular saying, “Prevention is better than cure.” This is due to the fact that the cost of prevention is always cheaper than the cost of control/cure. In catfish farming, effect of mortality due to disease may be severe. In fact, some diseases in catfish are incurable when they are discovered late. For instance, crack/broken head disease in catfish is difficult to cure. Any attempt to administer drug is usually a wasted effort. My recent experience in a friend’s farm prompted me to write this short note. He lost almost half of his capital to a disease that can be prevented.
Here are the ways to prevent Diseases in your stock:
A senior part-time farmer friend once invited me to his farm. The purpose of invitation was to behold his big catfishes. I was set aback when I saw how “big” his catfishes were at around six month old. They were not more than 600 grams. Indeed! What a “big fish” they were.
When I talk about raising big catfishes, I am not referring to my friend’s kind of big fishes. I am talking about raising catfishes of 2kg and above in six months. Anyone can raise catfishes but not everyone can raise them to profitable big sizes of my standard within a limited time. It takes well-planned preparation, knowledge and financial capability to achieve a real big size fish. Without further ado, here are seven things you must do to raise your African catfishes to giant sizes.
African catfish performs optimally in temperature above 25 degree Celsius. This does not mean temperature below 25 degree Celsius will kill your fish. It will only reduce the growth potential of your stock.
Catfish cultured in a deep earthen pond of depth between 3 to 6 feet can easily adjust to temperature by swimming to the warmer or cooler depth. However, studies have shown that shallow ponds are more affected by change in temperature (cold or hot temperature). Whether in earthen ponds or other types of ponds, cold weather affects the performance of African catfish and its environment in different ways as explained in this article.
Getting good ponds is a serious issue that must be approached with caution — and this applies whether you lease or outright purchase your ponds. This is due to the fact that most pond owners sell or lease out their ponds for reasons mostly beyond their control. Nobody will sell or lease out a performing asset except in a very rare situation. Therefore, think twice before you buy or lease ponds.
Most farm owners give out their ponds due to consistent losses they have incurred while using the ponds. Some of these losses were caused by failure to secure the farm from theft, flood, poor management or environmental related issues. Only a few offer their pond for sales or lease for reason like better business opportunity, relocation, acquisition of better or bigger properties, etc. In this article, I will like to introduce us to certain essential features to look out for in ponds, that must be observed before you rent or lease a catfish farm.
Like I said in my last article, glut is a common experience in the catfish market. It has hindered the development of catfish farming to a great extent. With an estimated population of about 170 million people, glut in catfish markets in Nigeria is uncalled for irrespective of the season. I still believe that catfish farmers in Nigeria are producing far below what is needed. However, the influx of sea foods including fishes into Nigeria has reduced the demand for catfishes in the market. Apart from variety of tastes, imported fishes are relatively cheaper compared to catfish produced in the country. This is due to an enabling environment in the source country.
Glut is a common occurrence in catfish market. It is a period of time when demand for catfish drops significantly. It happens annually, usually when supply is a bit higher than demand towards the tail end of the raining season. New catfish farmers whose catfishes mature around this period may not be encouraged to continue in the business. However, to some old catfish farmers, glut is an unavoidable experience that must be well managed. In the past, farmers usually plan their stocking to avoid the period of glut.
Recently, farmers may not be able to predict the time in which glut will occur in the year. As a matter of fact, glut now occurs in the period we least expect due to constant changes in our economy. You might not really bother with what happens during the period of glut in catfish market if only your farm can shun the market situation and focus on feeding till the time sales will improve again. My experience in catfish farming has taught me that sooner or later demand will come for your catfishes irrespective of their sizes.
Unlike many other businesses, income in catfish farming is periodical except you have a big farm where you can sell regularly (weekly/monthly). However, some of us that sell two to three times a year may need another source(s) of income to meet our countless needs that will not wait for long period of time to be met.
In my own opinion, as a small or large scale catfish farmer, you need another business that can support your interest in catfish farming. Besides, there is no crime in making more money especially in a business that compliments your main business. Also you will have something to fall back on when you meet with major challenges like glut in catfish market.
In every market, there is at least a seller, a buyer and a means through which the goods get to the buyers. In catfish farming business, middlemen are the channel through which table size catfish get to bulk buyers across the country. This is due to the fact that point of production is always far away from point where catfishes are sold. Also catfish farmers are not organized enough to link buyers directly from various locations across the country.
There is a level of risk to in every business venture. Catfish farming business is not an exception. To many, catfish farming business is a no go area because of what they heard about the risk involved. I once told a story about my pond owner who advised us not to consider catfish farming as a viable business venture. His reason was simple: He believes catfish farming business is full of risks that could be so overwhelming.
As far as I am concerned, risk is normal in every viable business. A serious investor should not be discouraged due to the level of risks in a business but should instead find ways of overcoming them. Once risks in a business can be managed, then such business is good enough. It is both feasible and viable. I can say it with all boldness that risk in catfish farming investment can be managed. Success of risk management in catfish farming is a function of what you know as a farmer.