HOW TO DETERMINE THE QUANTITY OF FEED REQUIRED TO FEED A FISH FROM STOCKING TO HARVEST
As a rule, the size of fish you should raise is dictated by market requirements or demand. The Nigerian market for example value catfish sizes which ranges from 500 grams (0.5 kg) to 2,000 grams (2kg). However, it is fish sizes of 800 grams and above that attracts higher value and farm gate price per kilogram of fish. Thus, while the farm gate price for a fish weighing one kilogram (1kg) is about five hundred naira (N500) or more as the case may be, two or three fishes collectively weighing one kilogram is sold for as low as between N400 and N450 per kilogram weight. As a result of this inconsistent pricing, it is therefore advisable for you to manage your stocking and feeding rate appropriately in order for you to attain bigger fish size at harvest.
Following the common practice, for you to get a fish weighing about one kilogram at harvest you need to apart from getting your stocking rate right (see recommended stocking rate), also feed each fish with at least one kilogram of feed, from stocking to harvest. Therefore for every 100 catfishes stocked, you need to feed them with between 100 kilograms and 111 kilograms of feed. this will eventually translate to fish weighing 900 grams and 1kg respectively.
For many farmers this feeding rate is unaffordable. As such you can opt for a more pocket friendly rate of 4.5 (four and half) or 5 (five) bags of feed weighing 15kg each per 100 fishes. This amounts to 67.5kg or 75 kilograms of feed for 100 fishes. At an average feed conversion ratio of 1 kg feed to 0.9 kg fish, what you should expect is a total fish weight of about 60.75kg or 68kg at harvest for every 100 fishes fed with either 67.5kg or 75 kg of feed at a recommended feeding rate of 4.5 or 5 bags of feed per 100 catfishes. This will translate to 45 bags or 50 bags of feed per 1000 catfishes.
However, if you want to improve on the total weight of your fish, you can feed them with available supplementary feedstuff such as animal offal (fish, poultry and animals intestines and other body parts). Please note that all offal to be fed to your fish must be cut to size and cooked slightly, to prevent disease outbreak.
FEED CONSUMPTION CHART
The feed consumption chart is a feeding guide that shows you in advance the number of bags or kilograms of feed you may need to feed your fish on a monthly basis. The feed consumption chart as shown here is designed for different feeding rates. Depending on how deep your pocket is, you may decide to adopt the feeding rate of 45 bags (675kg), 50 bags (750kg) or 67 bags (1000kg) of feed per 1000 fishes stocked. As earlier mentioned, the chart is only a guide. You should use it to manage the feeding process. For instance, they may not be able to consume all the feeds allocated for the first and second month of stocking, but as from the third month and particularly from the fourth month, they may consume and even exceed the quantity earmarked for those months. Thus by the time of harvest they should have consumed all the bags of feed indicated for the quantity of fish stocked and for the recommended feeding rate you have adopted.
To start with, when feeding, you should ensure that the fishes are fed to satiation (to a point when they no longer rush the feed) but do not over feed them. Do not just dump all the feed you want to give them into the water at once, feed them either as they eat or give them a little and move on to the next pond or tank and come back to the starting point to give them more feed if they have exhausted the feed earlier given to them. Do this continuously until they are all tired of eating. As soon as you notice that there is still feed in a pond or tank after going round, do not feed that tank or pond again. It is an indication that they are tired of eating. Of course as the day passes by, they should be eating slightly more feed but if they eat less, then something is wrong. You should then try and find out.
TABLE SHOWING MONTHLY FEED CONSUMPTION CHART PER 1000 FISH STOCKED, AT THE DIFFERENT RECOMMENDED FEEDING RATE OF 45 BAGS, 50 BAGS AND 67 BAGS
|MONTHS||NO. OF BAGS|
This table explains the feed allocation for every 1000 catfish stocked based on a recommended feeding rate of 45 bags ((675kg), 50 bags (750kg) and (67 bags) of feed per 1000 fishes. For example, if you use floating feed and follow the recommended stocking rate and other management parameters, you should be able to harvest a total fish weight of about 675 kg from the 1000 fish stocked and fed with 750 kg of feed. Please note that the average feed conversion ratio for most floating feed is not less than 1kg feed to 900g (0.9kg) fish weight. You can use this as a basis for determining the performance of the fish. It is wrong to judge the performance of your fish based on the numbers of fishes stocked. It should be based on the quantity of feed they are fed with. This is one of the main reasons why you should have a record of the quantity of feeds bought and fed to your fish from stocking to harvest.
APPLICATION OF THE FEED CONSUMPTION CHART
The feeding chart will help you to know from the beginning the quantity of feed that is required for the proposed quantity of fishes that you want to stock. Furthermore, it will also help you to know the quantity of feed they will require on a monthly basis so that you can prepare adequately to replenish your feedstock beforehand. You can plot your feeding chart to reflect the monthly feed requirement for the fishes at a glance.
Another very good aspect of the feed consumption chart is that it can also help you to know in advance the total weight of fish you should expect to harvest, relative to the quantity of feed fed to the fish. Like earlier mentioned, if your stocking rate is right and you follow all other recommended water and fish management parameters, the minimum average floating feed conversion ratio is 1kg feed to 0.9kg (900grams) fish.
By floating feed one is mindful to say that this assertion does not cover all floating feeds. Coppens, Multifeed, Ziglar feed and Vital feed are some of the floating feeds being referred to. This is however without prejudice to other floating feeds, local and foreign, which the author has not used and as such cannot speak for or against. You can try them out on your own; they might even give you better results.
The table below shows the minimum expected total weight of fish to expect at harvest, relative to the total quantity (in kilograms) of feed fed to the fish and not the quantity of fishes stocked.
The tables below show the quantity of feed in bags and in kilograms that is required to feed the equivalent numbers of fishes(at different recommended feed consumption rates) from stocking to harvest as well as the expected total weight of fish at harvest.
TABLE SHOWING TOTAL FEED REQUIREMENT FOR DIFFERENT QUANTITY OF FISHES STOCKED AT A CONSUMPTION RATE OF 45 BAGS PER 1000 FISH STOCKED AND EXPECTED TOTAL WEIGHT OF FISH AT HARVEST.
|QUANTITY OF FISH STOCKED||MINIMUM REQUIRED BAGS OF (15KG) FEEDS||MINIMUM REQUIRED KILOGRAMS OF FEED||MINIMUM EXPECTED TOTAL WEIGHT OF FISH AT HARVEST (KG)|
Once again, contrary to popular opinion of most catfish farmers, it is quantity (weight in kilograms) of feed fed to your fish that matter the most at harvest and not the quantity of fishes stocked. The total weight of fish that you harvest at the end of the day is a reflection of the total quantity (weight) of feed that you gave them, less 10% of the feed weight. this is why you need to keep record of the feed you bought and gave to them. this will help you to compare notes.