Posted by: marineharvestcanada | November 6, 2008

Company feeds encouraging transformations

Feeding Fish at Ocean Falls

Feeding Fish at Ocean Falls

By Gina Forsyth

Recent years have seen significant positive changes in the world of fish feed, with Marine Harvest at its helm, according to Feed Manager Tim O’Hara.

Sourcing of alternative protein and oil raw materials has reduced our reliance on marine species. Feed is currently made up of approximately 15% fish meal with the balance of proteins coming from top quality vegetable sources such as corn gluten, soy, and rendered by products such as poultry meal and feather meal which is added to the feed in powdered form. Approximately 50% of oil in the feed now comes from non- marine sources and Marine Harvest is currently working to reduce its marine index to 1:1 (i.e., a kilogram of factory fish swimming in the ocean will produce a kilogram of farmed salmon).

This “fine tuning” of the raw materials through seeking out the best available quality means that the fish’s growth needs are met and also helps keep the cost of product under control as specific raw materials become scarce and expensive.

Feeding fish nutrient dense rations to biological potential rather than their physical capacity has led to lower feed conversion rates (FCRs). Fish are fed sufficiently for their biological needs and growth rates while not being “stuffed”. Feeding less means feed costs are kept under control and the environmental impacts significantly reduced.

O’Hara summed it up concisely when he said, “Fish are what they eat”. When fed a high quality diet throughout their life, that is reflected in the end product for which buyers are prepared to pay top dollar.

More efficient use of beta-carotene are on the way as well, which provides the potential for cost savings, however, O’Hara commented these are somewhat slow in coming because the color of fish is to some extent market driven and can change depending on the attitudes of consumers. He would like to see more efficient and targeted use of beta-carotene(s)’ that results in a 25% reduction in beta-carotene use over the growth cycle while maintaining market preferences. It’s taken a year to the current levels, with every indication the lower rate is certainly within realistic reach over the coming year.

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