Ways to produce your own fish feed at half cost
The rising cost of fish feed has had a detrimental effect on the profitability of most farmers. Many are left to wonder, how do I produce my own fish feed? Chances are that you may have pondered on this for a while, thinking it is impossible to produce your own fish feed, but you can actually produce very high-quality fish feed, and subsequently cut down your cost of production by almost 50%.
Usually, when farmers think of producing their own feed, their goal is to reduce the cost of production, such a goal is noble, but that’s not all, you should also take steps to ensure you are producing high-quality feed, safe feed, and also sourcing raw materials that are cheaper to come by.
Oftentimes, a farmer may quickly gather the equipment needed to produce their own fish feed, and then struggle to get the raw materials needed to produce these feeds, or in situations where you find the raw materials, the cost of acquiring such raw materials ends up eating away any cost savings you thought possible by producing your own fish feed.
In this article, we endeavor to cut down to the chase and show you practical ways to produce your own fish feed, from readily available raw materials.
In order to produce high-quality feed, you ought to understand the nutritional requirements of your fish, every fish has its own nutritional requirements. In this article, we would focus on catfish, however, the principle remains the same across various types of fish.
The nutritional requirements for catfish (and for most fishes) have been well studied by experts in the field. For catfish, there have been over 30 micro and macro nutrients identified that are necessary for the correct metabolic function.
The major (Macro) nutrients required for catfish remain, Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats, and Minerals. Among these, the protein needs are the most important, not forsaking other nutrient needs.
Proteins are essential for body building, repair of tissues and the continues growth of your catfish.
Data from different studies indicate that the protein needs of catfish vary from different stages of life and can range from 25% to 50%.
|Stage of Catfish||Percentage of Protein Required|
|Catfish Fry in Hatchery||45-50|
|Fry in Nursery||40|
|Fingerlings||32 – 35|
|Post Fingerlings||30 – 35|
This means that the percentage of the proteins in your homemade feed must correspond to the growth stage of the catfish. Providing any less might lead to undesirable results.
In order to achieve the right protein percentages for your local catfish feed, we designed the catfish feed formulation calculator to be of aid to you. The goal of the catfish feed formulation calculator is to ensure you have adequate protein levels regardless the type of raw materials you use.
Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for your catfish, without carbohydrates, your catfish would struggle to maintain energy levels and to grow quicker and faster as you expect.
When producing your own fish feed, you would do yourself a lot of good, by ensuring that at least 25% of the feed is from carbohydrates.
This ensures that your fish have enough energy, to digest, and convert your feed to grow faster and weigh bigger to improve your profit margins.
Fats and Minerals
Fats and minerals constitute a small percentage of your fish feed. Too many fats in your fish feed might be detrimental to the proper growth and functioning of your catfish, we recommend the total percentage of fats and minerals in your feed should not exceed 5%
The remaining component of the fish feed can be fiber.
Sourcing Your Raw Materials to Produce Your Own Fish Feed
We have already established that you require 3 major nutrients for you to properly produce your own fish feed. They are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals.
What are some of the cheapest sources of these raw materials you can use to produce your fish feed without constraints and for the best results?
Sources of Proteins for Fish Feed Production
For decades defacto source of proteins for fish feed production has been fishmeal, however, it is this very component of the fish feed production that makes it extremely expensive and prohibitory for most farmers to produce their own fish feed.
The argument for fishmeal has been that it contains all the essential amino acids required by your fish. While this argument might be sound, it doesn’t do justice to the subject of proteins in feed production adequately.
To begin with, there are two types of proteins, animal-based proteins, and plant-based proteins. Usually, plant-based proteins may be deficient in one or two essential amino acids, while animal-based proteins are what we term complete proteins.
Therefore, if you are using a plant-based protein for your fish feed production, the question you should be asking is “which amino acid is deficient here?” and to quickly supplement your fish feed with the missing amino acids.
|DuckWeed / Azolla||Plant||35-43|
The good news is that duckweeds, maggots, and worms can be grown relatively cheaper, and would cut down your cost of production drastically. Besides this, they also have good percentages of proteins that ensure that your fish feeds are not deficient in protein levels.
Remember, that your goal for producing your own feed is to cut costs, and to do this efficiently, you need high-quality materials at dirt-cheap prices.
Sources of Carbohydrates for Fish Feed Production
Carbohydrate sources are not the most challenging in fish feed production, compared to proteins, however, you should know that not all carbohydrates are made the same.
Cheaper sources of carbohydrates that you can use to produce your own fish feed are;
- Wheat bran
- Rice bran
The cost of these materials varies from place to place, when using any of the brans, ensure you have some carbohydrates in it and not just fiber. When in doubt, I suggest you focus on using maize or cassava, these two are cheaper and have never failed us in production.
Sources of Fats and Minerals for Fish Feed Production
The percentage of fats and minerals in our fish feed, must not exceed 5%, which means when introducing oil or fat, it must be mineral dense. In our experience, palm oil has produced the best results ever. Other sources of fats like margarine are equally good and contain high amounts of minerals.
Types of equipment Required To Produce Your Own Fish Feed
Fish feed production requires machines, it can not be done without machines. There are 4 machines you need to produce your own high-quality floating fish feed, out of which 1 is crucial.
- Extruder or Pelletizer
The most crucial one you require out of the 4 machines mentioned above is the Extruder or Pelletizer.
The job of the miller is to grind the raw materials into powder. This is the first stage of the feed processing process.
Having a good miller ensures that you are better able to grind your raw materials into powder without trouble. Without a miller, you might be forced to use a commercially available one, and chances are they won’t allow you to grind maggot in their miller lol.
The job of the mixer as the name suggests is to mix all the ingredients together before you introduce them into the extruder.
It is possible to set up a fish feed production without a mixer however the danger is that you may have a feed in which the ingredients are unevenly mixed and thus providing different nutritional compositions.
The extruder combines the ingredients together at high temperatures and forms pellets. The difference between an extruder and a pelletizer is the fact that extruders work at higher temperatures and essentially parboil your ingredients, killing off any harmful microbes that may exist in them.
Last but not least, the machine you need is a dryer. A dryer like its name suggests, drys the feed, and helps you to store it for longer periods of time.
If your goal is to produce your feed and use it right away, a dryer may not be necessary.
Challenges You Might Face When Producing Your Own Feed
- Power challenges; Ensure you have adequate power in your production area before you incur equipment costs. Most of the equipment required to produce your own feed, require 3-phase power. If you do not have that on your site, make arrangements for it before you buy your machines, if getting 3 phases is next to impossible, I recommend you get machines that can take single-phase power.
- Lack of raw materials; You may have major issues getting adequate levels of raw materials if you do not properly source them in season. Where possible, produce your own raw materials. You can easily produce maggots using black soldier flies or dedicate a pond to grow your duckweed etc.
- Knowledge; Getting the right ratios of raw materials to use can often be tricky if you do not have the requisite experience. Fortunately, our fish feed formulation calculator would help you minimize this problem.