Improving Floating Fish Feed in Bangladesh

The use of fish feeds in Bangladesh has grown substantially in the past few years, and now over 1 million tonnes of animal feeds are being formulated for use by fish farmers every year.Feeding of fish with formulated diets has contributed to increasing intensity of production of major fish species such as Nile tilapia, Pangas, climbing perch, major carps and others.

Fish Feed Ingredients and Formulation
Bangladesh produces 50–55% of fish feed ingredients, with the remainder imported. Some raw materials such as rice bran requires processing in mills before incorporation into formulated fish feeds. Machines used for aquafeed processing are directly imported by feed mills with assistance of marketing agents from manufacturing companies.

The main ingredients used for fish feed production are rice bran (20–50% inclusion), maize (5–20% inclusion), soybean meal (10–30% inclusion), mustard oil cake (10–25% inclusion), fish meal (5–15% inclusion) and meat and bone meal (10–20% inclusion).
◆ Rice bran is mainly produced locally, and is derived from rice milling. Only 30% of total rice bran production of Bangladesh is used for commercial animal feed production.
◆ Local production of maize has reached 1.65 million tonnes, of which 90–-95% is used for animal feed production, including 7–10% for fish feed. The market for maize is mainly controlled by the poultry industry.
◆ Soybean is mainly imported from South America. Beans are used primarily for the extraction of soy oil,while Soybean meal/cake is typically included in sinking and floating fish feeds.
◆ Local fish meal, which is manufactured from a variety of trash fish, crabs and other aquatic animals, is very variable in nutritional composition.
◆ Considering that most feed producers aim for at least 5% inclusion of fish meal, this quantity of supply is insufficient to meet demand. As a result, fish meal is not included in all feeds, and imported analogue fish meal (a mixture of 50% fishmeal and other protein meals such as blood meal, feather meal and meat and bone meal) is often used as an alternative ingredient.
◆ Meat and bone meal is utilized as a source of cheap protein (48–52% crude protein) and is imported, particularly through Australia and Paraguay.All in all, imported raw materials contribute more than 50% to the total cost of feed production in Bangladesh.

Fish Feed Production and Market Trends
☞ Use of formulated feeds for fish farming is increasing in Bangladesh, associated with growth and intensification and commercialization of aquaculture. It seems that commercial pelleted feeds are starting to replace ‘farm-made’ and ‘raw’ unformulated feeds.
☞ Due to temperatures and water availability, the main season for commercial fish culture generally starts from March and continues until November, so the greatest volumes of feed are produced from April to September.
☞ Sinking feeds, which accounted for 81% of total manufactured output, still dominate over extruded floating feed (19%), but growth in the production of floating fish feed has been fastest, averaging 89% over the last four years.
☞ Farmers commonly feed their fish twice daily by broadcast feeding, but feed requirements are rarely measured properly (according to body weight) through timely sampling. Floating feed users are better able to measure feed requirements through observation of fish behavior, and feeding to satiation. Feed conversion ratios (FCRs) for floating pelleted feed are comparatively lower than for sinking pellet feed: approximately 1.5 vs 1.85 for tilapia and 1.6 vs 2.0 for pangas, though both could be improved by reducing wastage.

Feed Extrusion Process
☞ Extrusion technology is mainly used for producing floating feed for tilapia, which accounts for around 40–50% of total tilapia feed production and retails for 7–10 BDT/kg (USD0.09–0.128/kg) more than sinking feed. The production rate of grower feed is 1–2 tonnes/hour greater than that of starter feed, while energy consumption in machine operation and protein inclusion costs are higher for starter feed than for grower.
☞ Three types of floating feeds are available: oil coated, non oil-coated, and vegetable protein based. Non-oil coated feeds account for 95% of total sales.
☞ The number of farm-made pellet feed mills is difficult to estimate, but it can be safely assumed that they number more than 1,000. Feed mill machines can be easily manufactured in local workshops at a cost of BDT 100,000–250,000 (USD1250–3125), and produce 50–300 kg feed/hour.

Operators of these types of machines often face difficulties with adequate pellet binding and drying, and lack the knowledge and awareness required to formulate feeds that provide sufficient nutritive value to fish at various growth stages.The rate of expansion in the production and uptake of manufactured feeds has been so rapid in Bangladesh that the industry has yet to mature. It is likely that considerable consolidation will take place over the coming years as farmers become more sophisticated in their feed management and preferences and the benefits of higher quality feeds become more readily apparent.

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