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Strategies to improve feed efficiency in shrimp farming

November 30, 2020
Shrimp farming header

Shrimp, in particular, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available for the human population — but the nutritional quality of both fish and shrimp depends largely on what the fish eats during its lifetime.

Shrimp farming has increased significantly over the last decade and is one of the largest-growing sectors of the aquaculture industry. Shrimp farming is a never-ending learning path, and the biggest daily challenge is mitigating disease risks while maintaining efficiency. With the increased frequency and combinations of diseases, effective management of all aspects of the farm including feed management in shrimp farming is key to producing shrimp efficiently. In light of the current market situation, COVID-19 has brought a huge amount of uncertainty to aquaculture production. Along with these uncertainties come new challenges — but also new opportunities, and this moment has the potential to change the way we farm. However, change should only occur in controlled conditions and in a sustainable manner to ensure the highest levels of productivity.

Strategies to improve efficiency

There are several concerns at the top of producers’ minds when making any changes in the production system, including disease risks, production costs, water quality and the potential impact these can have on profitability. In many markets, shrimp consumption and processing have decreased due to trading restrictions and reduced demand from eateries. Some producers are moving toward reducing their stock density and are adopting new techniques to reduce production costs. This trend has led our shrimp customers to implement different types of strategies to improve their margins:

1. Feed costs are the highest operational cost in producing fish and shrimp.

The quality of the feed will determine the overall benefit provided to the farm. However, a good-quality feed without solid feed and pond management practices and consistent and practical feeding regimes will have no impact on a farm’s profitability. Good-quality feed and feed ingredients with proven nutrition and researched feed formulation, combined with the correct feed management practices, will provide shrimp with a balanced nutrient profile, allowing them to thrive and grow and enabling shrimp farmers to see an increase in feed efficiency and a good economic return on their production.

2. Improving shrimp intestinal health:

Over the last decade, Alltech has been working with shrimp producing facilities to help increase their efficiency and profitability on-farm. By leveraging Alltech technologies, we can positively change the intestinal bacterial flora of the shrimp microbiome and strengthen the intestinal infrastructure to maximize the absorption capacity of nutrients.

To achieve improved intestinal health, it is necessary to use the natural synergy between prebiotics and probiotics to activate bacteria charities in a controlled environment and apply them to shrimp to maximize their benefits. This is known as a synbiotic system, and there is a growing interest in using synbiotic technology to achieve the desired outcome.

Could improving the shrimp pond environment make a difference?

Synbiotics is a practice that provides the synergetic benefits from a specific prebiotic colonized with beneficial bacteria through the fermentation process. The fermented products can be directly applied in ponds or administered in feed.

Advantages of using a synbiotic system:

  • Low-cost method
  • Aids in mitigating diseases challenges
  • Helps to improve overall survival rates of shrimp
  • Helps to improve shrimp growth

Alltech Aquate® Fertilizer has been specially formulated for the organic fertilization of aquaculture ponds. Tested in commercial environments, this product has proven to be a technology that can enhance, enrich and balance the entire cultivation system while promoting a good environment and improving productivity and product quality. In a study carried out on a Brazilian shrimp farm in the municipality of Tibau do Sul (RN), shrimp from two pools were compared: one with organic enrichment (rice bran fermented with Aquate Fertilizer and rations) and another with only rations (control). The positive results included a 30% increase in the weight of the shrimp in the nursery phase with Aquate Fertilizer, which resulted an increased growth rate and shrimp being harvested twenty days earlier than expected.

Similarly, in another study carried out on a Brazilian shrimp farm in the Arez City (RN), we compared organic fertilizations with rice bran fermented with and without Aquate Fertilizer. The group provided Aquate Fertilizer showed positive results, including weight gain and soil organic matter reduction.

Figure 1: Average weight variation in trials completed using Aquate Fertilizer in Arez City (RN).

Figure 2: Survival rate in trials completed using Aquate Fertilizer in Arez City (RN)

A balancing act

The skin, gut and gills are the main barriers of defense for fish and shrimp. To be able to function optimally, they need to be supported. It is key to strike a balance between the intestinal microflora, gut morphology, the immune system and nutrient uptake. This will help to influence the performance and welfare of fish and shrimp. There are many forms of Aquate® to suit individual markets with various needs. Supplementing Aquate® at optimal inclusion levels in the diet will result in healthier aquatic species, decreased feces production and less pollution.

Aquate, from Alltech, has been used in the aquaculture industry for more than a decade. This sustainable yeast-based feed supplement provides a balance of essential amino acids and microminerals to help promote gastrointestinal integrity and stability, enhance nutrient utilization and boost natural defense systems, leading to elevated performance and profitability on-farm.

Aquate technologies are species-specific, addressing issues related to:

  • Growth
  • Feed conversion ratio
  • Immune system
  • Fillet quality and composition

Aquate has been proven to improve biomass production, boosting feed efficiency and helping maintain a protective balance between the species, its nutrition and the environment in which it lives. 

Seafood provides our population with a large concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and can help to reduce cholesterol and inflammation in the body. Fish are an excellent source of high-quality protein and other micronutrients that our bodies require.  Shrimp, in particular, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available for the human population — but the nutritional quality of both fish and shrimp depends largely on what the fish eats during its lifetime.

It is important during these challenging and uncertain times that we stand strong as an industry and continue producing responsibly farmed seafood that meets the nutritional needs of our population. This is now more important than ever as we all work together to contribute to sustaining the aquaculture industry for generations to come. If you would like to discuss which Aquate product will best suit your aquaculture production facility, please email


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