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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: Production and associated economics of fingerling to stocker to growout modular phases for farming channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, in commercial size ponds

item D'abramo, Louis
item Hanson, Terrill
item Kingsbury, Susan
item Steeby, James
item Tucker, Craig

Submitted to: North American Journal of Aquaculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/13/2012
Publication Date: 12/19/2012
Citation: D'Abramo, L.R., Hanson, T.R., Kingsbury, S.K., Steeby, J.A., Tucker, C.S. 2012. Production and associated economics of fingerling to stocker to growout modular phases for farming channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, in commercial size ponds. North American Journal of Aquaculture. 75:133-146.

Interpretive Summary: A variety of pond production strategies have been used to grow channel catfish. Recently there has been interest in using modular systems, where fish are grown in separate ponds in three phases: phase 1 is growing fry to fingerlings; phase 2 is growing fingerlings to ‘stockers’; and phase 3 is growing stockers to food-sized fish. All previous research on production and economics of three-phase catfish production systems was conducted in small ponds; accordingly we studied production of stockers and foodfish in commercial-size ponds. Economic analyses of the data indicates that the three-phase modular approach to catfish farming can be a financially appealing alternative management scheme. The appeal is enhanced by greater flexibility in farm-level management to accommodate changes in harvest size requirements imposed by the processing plant to meet changes in market demand.

Technical Abstract: A 2-year study was conducted to evaluate fingerling to stocker (phase 2) and stocker to growout (phase 3) of three phases of a modular production system for channel catfish in commercial-scale ponds. Fingerlings (mean = 14.3 kg/1000, 11.9 cm) were stocked into each of six earthen ponds (1.62 ha) at a density of 123,500/ha and fed a 35% crude protein floating feed daily to satiation. After 142 days, the mean weight of harvested stockers ranged from 108.9 to 158.8 g and survival ranged from 38.8% to 62.0%. These fish were subsequently stocked at either 12,350/ha or 16,055/ha, into1.62 ha ponds for growout to foodsize fish (=567.5 kg), and fed a 35% crude protein floating feed to satiation. A partial (selective) harvest (105 to 130 days post-stocking) using an in-pond grader, and a final harvest (207 to 245 days post-stocking) were conducted. Combined production means were 7,124 kg/ha and 7,210 kg/ha for the 12,350/ha and 16,055/ha treatments, respectively. Survival (range = 84.3% to 105.5%) and feed conversion ratios (range = 2.25 to 2.65) were not significantly different. Mean weight (659.5 g) and length (41.8 cm) of fish harvested from the 12,350/ha treatment ponds were significantly higher those of fish harvested from the 16,055/ha treatment (474.8 g and 38.4 cm). Cost of producing a 142 g stocker was $0.409. For the economic analysis, phase 2 production area was based on producing sufficient stockers for all phase 3 ponds within a representative 445 ha operation. Enterprise budgets were developed for the 12,350/ha and 16,055/ha treatments and the incomes above variable cost and net returns to land were $1,450/ha and $399/ha and $108/ha and $944/ha, respectively. Low survival in phase 2 stocker production reduced returns. The three-phase modular system should provide additional management benefits not valued in this analysis.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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