Yes, higher quality feed is more expensive pound for pound. But it might prove more profitable nonetheless. In fact, with high quality products, our possibilities are limitless, writes OddGeir Oddsen, CEO of feed producer ProChaete.
The open cycle
We have come a long way in the shrimp farming industry. Our products are better, more consistent, and we have fewer issues with disease than ever before. In the early days of shrimp farming, farmers harvested broodstock and even PL12 in the wild. It still happens to a degree with black tiger and monodon, but by and large, the industry has closed the biological cycle of the shrimp. Doing so has enabled production of shrimp of a predictable size and quality with no contamination from specimens harvested in the wild. However, a closed cycle also means having to feed both broodstock, nauplii, and shrimp in all PL stages, and to do so one has to find out what a shrimp eats in each stage of its life cycle. Subsequently, the mission is to create a workable feed for each specific stage: Combining ingredients which shrimp are willing and able to eat in order to get them to next level of maturity. The question remains, however: Should the industry be satisfied with just a workable feed, or should it aim higher?
Not all PL12 are the same
If a human being wants to become a world-class athlete, her or his chances are better if she or he has eaten nurturing and healthy food since childhood. A shrimp malnourished from birth will never reach its full potential even if it is being fed well in its later stages. But the current pricing scheme in large parts of the industry makes it more profitable for hatcheries and especially nurseries to use low quality feed. When hatchery sell PL12, they sell shrimp based on age, not based on weight. A high quality feed might result in a PL8 being as big or even bigger than a PL12 eating low quality feed, but this does not bear any financial consequence for the farmer selling his shrimp by age. And so in several parts of the world, opting for feed of a higher quality will not make sense economically. This is unfortunate, because it means that the result of the current pricing scheme ultimately is a lower quality product. But the faults of some of our industry’s economic systems do not discourage ProChaete. There will always be a balance between input and output. Instead of looking at feed price, one should look at what the total cost of creating high value-products. At ProChaete, we are committed to making the highest quality feed we possibly can, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because we believe the success of our industry depends on putting quality first.
The recipe for success
There are a few key requirements one always has to adhere to in the business of making feed of a high quality: Hygiene and biosecurity should be taken for granted, like seatbelts in a car. And, as mentioned earlier, the youngest animals require the very best feed.
We use marine raw materials like micro algae, macro algae, fish and squid and take care to find the optimal combination of nutrients and fatty acids for each of our feeds. All the raw materials have to be finely ground and thoroughly mixed. After all, the animals who are going to eat the finished product are sometimes tiny, tiny beings, so each little piece of feed has to contain the full combination of right nutrients, even for nauplii.
Our very highest quality feed, Optima PRO, has been carefully developed to meet the highest standards in the industry. This is the feed we ourselves use from the start of the lifecycle. With Optima PRO, we have taken things to their extremes, both in terms of ingredient quality end manufacturing process. Instead of buying fishmeal, we buy fish fillets which we then spray-dry. In addition to using a better source material, we also handle said material more carefully to keep it as nutritious as possible. Optima PRO is agglomerated, meaning that the feed is carefully assembled layer by layer, also in order to preserve as many healthy nutrients as possible, miking the percentage of digestible proteins extremely high. While Optima PRO certainly is more expensive than many other feeds, this is a complete feed for the earliest stages of the cycle (up to PL12), and so the amount used is very low, to the point where price almost becomes irrelevant.
In Excella PRO, we use conventional super prime fishmeal, and we assemble the ingredients by cold extrusion: Grinding, mixing, extruding and crushing the ingredients without applying unnecessary heat. This process helps preserve the important nutrients, and it’s a more cost effective way of producing high quality feed, making Excella PRO a cheaper alternative to Optima PRO. Some of our customers prefer to start with Optima PRO and switch to Excella PRO around PL1. Others use Optima PRO all the way to PL12.
In any case, the shrimp have proven to become bigger, stronger and more stress resistant when being given these high quality feeds. Higher digestible protein values, better production techniques and attention to detail are factors which have enabled ProChaete to deliver feed options for those in the industry who care about high quality output. And in an industry like ours, high quality should be at the forefront.
Hatcheryfeed Magazine, August 2017