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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Genetics, Physiology, and Health Research to Improve Catfish Production

Location: Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Title: Effects of winter feeding on growth body composition and processing traits of co-cultured blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus channel catfish I. punctatus and channel catfish x blue catfish hybrids

Author
item Bosworth, Brian

Submitted to: North American Journal of Aquaculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 16, 2012
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Citation: Bosworth, B.G. 2012. Effects of winter feeding on growth body composition and processing traits of co-cultured blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus channel catfish I. punctatus and channel catfish x blue catfish hybrids. North American Journal of Aquaculture. 74(4):553-559.

Interpretive Summary: Many catfish farmers do not feed or feed fish very infrequently during the winter months because feeding activity is reduced at cold water temperatures. However, studies have demonstrated that winter feeding can improve catfish weight gain and processing yield relative to not feeding. We compared effects of winter feeding on growth, body composition, and processing yield of co-cultured blue catfish, channel catfish, and channel catfish x blue catfish hybrids. Fed fish increased weight while unfed fish lost weight. Fed hybrids gained the most weight, fed channels were intermediate and fed blues gained the least weight. Unfed blue catfish lost more weight than unfed channel and hybrid catfish. Feeding regime, gender and genetic group all affected processing yield and body composition traits. Fed fish generally had higher processing yield (carcass and fillet) than unfed fish; females had higher processing yield than males, and hybrids had higher fillet yield than blue or channel catfish. Fed fish typically had more energy stores (viscera, visceral fat, and liver) than unfed fish; females had more energy stores than males; and hybrids and blue catfish were fatter than channel catfish but channel catfish had larger livers. Winter feeding clearly had a positive effect on growth and processing yield of catfish, and that benefit was more pronounced for channel and hybrid catfish than for blue catfish. The results of this study suggest winter feeding is particularly beneficial for channel and hybrid catfish producers and processors if efficient winter feeding protocols can be developed.

Technical Abstract: Many catfish farmers do not feed or feed fish very infrequently during the winter months because feeding activity is reduced at cold water temperatures. However, studies have demonstrated that winter feeding can improve catfish weight gain and processing yield relative to not feeding. We compared effects of winter feeding on growth, body composition, and processing yield of co-cultured blue catfish, channel catfish, and channel catfish x blue catfish hybrids. Fish were stocked communally in ten ponds in mid-November and fish in five ponds were fed at 2% of initial body weight 2 times a week while fish in the other 5 ponds were not fed. The study was terminated after 14 weeks and fish were weighed and processed. Fed hybrids gained the most weight, fed channels were intermediate and fed blues gained the least weight. Unfed blue catfish lost more weight than unfed channel and hybrid catfish. Survival (>90%) was not different among genetic groups or feeding regimes. FCR was 6.2 for fed fish. Interactions among main effects (feeding regime, genetic group and gender) for processing and body composition traits make generalizations difficult, but carcass yield (viscera, skin and head removed) was consistently higher for blue and hybrid catfish than for channel catfish, higher for females than males, and higher for fed fish than unfed fish. Shank fillet yield was higher for hybrids than blue and channel catfish, higher for females than for males, and higher for fed fish than unfed fish. Nugget yield was higher for blue catfish than for channel and hybrid catfish and higher for fed fish than unfed fish. Blue and hybrid catfish had higher visceral fat yield and lower liver and ovary yield than channel catfish. Fed fish had higher visceral fat and liver yield than unfed fish. Winter feeding improved growth and processing yield in all groups, but benefits of winter feeding were reduced for blue catfish compared to channel and hybrid catfish.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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