Alltech Coppens – Growing Pains – Solid Foundations can support optimal fish growth

Growing pains

Solid foundations can support optimal fish growth

LIFE on this planet is fraught with danger enough for us humans, but in the animal world the phrase ‘dog eat dog’ was coined for a reason. Every species is presented with fundamental challenges that determine its survival. As well as avoiding becoming a meal for someone else, wild fish have to scavenge for food. So, the more controlled and balanced, one could even say relaxed, environment of a fish farm may appear to remove this threat of imminent extinction, but only if the fish are cared for correctly and allowed to flourish.

Creating optimal conditions with a focus on water quality is crucial for optimal growth, health and survival throughout the production cycle. One other issue could be not meeting the nutritional needs of farmed fish, which could lead to poor growth, deformities, and eye issues, and of course a higher mortality rate. On the other hand, if the fish are fed a nutritionally balanced diet tailored for their life stage and the conditions are correct, good performance can be expected. Neglect these needs and the farm creates unnecessary risk.

However, health issues are not the only risk factor for modern day fish farmers. Pollution legislation is becoming more and more of an issue and emissions of faecal matter, nitrogen and phosphorus have to be minimised. At Alltech we have developed RAS feeds to comply with low emissions.

This all contributes to making sustainability more difficult while maintaining a suitable harvest size. But notwithstanding all of these challenges, it is still perfectly feasible to have healthy, high quality fish as long as the correct groundwork is put in place, including collaboration with reliable partners in the aquaculture industry.

 

Get the foundation right

In 21st century aquaculture, the operating systems and new technologies that exist allow fish farms to control in much greater detail the environment in which their farmed species exist. A recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), for example, allows water quality to be controlled, as well as the temperature through its filtering systems. With a trend towards digital and technological control systems, it is nevertheless still important to consider the cornerstones of farming fish. That means ensuring that the feed being used in conjunction with these new systems is of the highest quality available in the marketplace. Such feeds not only need to match the requirements of the fish but also need to match the requirements of a RAS, including the filters and the bacteria living in them.

Ultimately, individual business choices will determine how farms are run. But when choices are made it is important to consider that these decisions, even in the early stages of production, will impact on the farm’s overall performance and the final product quality. Fishngo through different developmental stages in their lives. So, depending on the life stage of the fish, it will develop different body parts and life functions. Different nutritional requirements will ensue for each of these distinct developmental stages.

A failure to meet these nutritional needs during early stage development will see fish quickly develop nutritional deficiencies that could have instant adverse effects on their health and performance. Therefore, optimising performance from day one is essential for long term good results and makes the argument for high quality performance feeds throughout the lifetime of production a compulsive one.

After the foundation comes the build

With these foundations correctly set, the production of a high quality end product is within reach. Once larvae have been raised optimally throughout the hatchery phase, this strong foundation can be rolled out to support optimal on-farm growth. To continue on this upward trajectory a quality, nutritionally balanced feed during the entire production cycle is essential.

The philosophy behind this approach is well supported across the industry. Provide any animal with high quality feed and you will enhance its growth and performance, support its immunity system and produce a quality specimen. As well as this solid foundation, though, care and quality across the hatch, nurse and growth stages are also essential.

The choice of which quality ingredients and raw materials to select is therefore essential to achieve this optimal performance. Recent research undertaken by the Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre found improvements in both growth and performance when feeding two of Alltech Coppens’ starter feeds to rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) during the hatchery phase, as illustrated in the benchmark trial results above.

Alltech Coppens is a specialist in RAS feeds and has more than a quarter of a century of experience working in the aquaculture industry. The company invests heavily in research and development, in particular studying specific nutritional requirements of fish at each stage of their life cycle. By opting to work only with the best quality raw materials, the Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre tests each requirement during the different production phases. Supplementation is a requirement in all farmed species to ensure a nutritionally balanced diet. Included in all Alltech Coppens feed is a premix known as Aquate, developed by Alltech – a leader in innovative nutritional technologies.

The skin, gills and gastrointestinal tract are the main barriers for the fish defence system. For them to function optimally they need to be internally supported. It is important, therefore, to optimise the intestinal microflora, gut morphology, immune system and nutrient uptake in order to positively influence performance and welfare. Optimal inclusion levels will result in a healthy digestive system that both aids digestion as well as nutrient absorption and utilisation. Healthier fish will then be produced, but also with lower faeces production and less pollution in both the systems and the environment.

Aquate has been specially formulated to meet the specific requirements of several farmed fish like trout, salmon and seabass. It enhances biomass production, supports natural defence systems and encourages healthier and more robust populations with a combination of products — ranging from organic trace minerals to yeast-based additives. The best farm results are seen when feeds containing the Aquate package (like all Alltech Coppens feeds) are fed throughout the entire life of the fish.

We have a responsibility for life below (in) water and our future

In a rapidly changing environment where pressure on nature is not to be underestimated, there is an obligation to responsibly produce sustainable, well-balanced animal protein. This is a commitment that is taken very seriously at both Alltech and Alltech Coppens. Through our adherence to continuous research, we strive to source solutions to the challenges faced by the customers of today and for future generations.

Innovation research in the Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre has resulted in lowering the carbon footprints of the company, lowering phosphorus and nitrogen emissions and leading to 0 per cent inclusion of fishmeal and fish oil in some feed formulations with no impact on the growth and performance on-farm.

In order to understand how these feeds can be implemented on your farm, contact Alltech Coppens coppens@alltech.com or find more information on our website www.alltechcoppens.com