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Shrimp farming is often unsuccessful mainly because the shrimp are not fed properly!

Why are we discussing this topic? Mainly because feed is the largest investment for shrimp farmers, accounting for about 60% of their farming investment. Therefore, managing feed properly and using good feed is essential to both saving costs and reducing farming risks.

How to Properly Feed Shrimp?

Many shrimp farmers often wonder if feeding shrimp better and higher-protein feed will ensure better growth. In fact, what constitutes "good" feed for shrimp involves a lot of knowledge.

Point 1: Ensure Shrimp Are Not Hungry

Since shrimp live in water, it is difficult for farmers to observe whether they are hungry or full. Only by checking the feeding trays can one see the shrimp's feeding status. Additionally, feed passes through the shrimp's intestines within a few hours, so the retention time is very short, requiring the feed to be efficient and easily absorbable.

Therefore, the feed chosen by farmers must ensure shrimp can absorb it adequately and not remain hungry.

Farmers need to understand that if the feed's nutrition is insufficient, shrimp may not get enough nutrients. Conversely, if the feed's nutrition is excessive, shrimp cannot absorb it all, leading to waste as it is expelled as waste.

Point 2: Ensure Adequate Nutritional Absorption

Shrimp growth depends on nutrients like proteins, fats, and trace elements. In artificial ponds, these nutrients must be added through feed. Despite decades of development in the shrimp feed industry, there have been no significant breakthroughs. The main sources of protein in feed remain animal and plant proteins.

Common animal proteins include fish meal, shrimp meal, meat and bone meal, and chicken meal. Plant proteins often used include soybean meal, peanut meal, and corn meal. Adding aquatic attractants to the feed can enhance feeding effects, palatability, and consumption, improving meat quality and highlighting seafood flavor, thus increasing economic value.

Regardless of the feed ingredients, as long as shrimp can absorb sufficient nutrients, it is suitable. However, no single feed can satisfy all farming models.

For example, some farmers raise shrimp by fertilizing water where there is natural bait in the pond, allowing them to use low-protein feed initially. Other farmers using biofloc technology can use low-protein feed throughout the farming process. However, intensive farming models like factory farming, greenhouse farming, and small greenhouse farming require higher protein feed since they lack natural bait or biofloc.

Point 3: Shrimp's Ability to Absorb and Digest Protein

Regardless of the feed used, shrimp's absorption and digestion capacity must be considered. If shrimp cannot absorb the high-protein feed, it results in waste and can affect water quality.

Farmers can evaluate feed based on the following:

  1. Shrimp Health: Healthy shrimp have good absorption capacity, allowing for increased feed. Conversely, if shrimp show signs of disease or enteritis, feed should be reduced.
  2. Water Quality: Good water quality enhances shrimp’s feed absorption, while poor water quality diminishes it.
  3. Protein Absorption: Shrimp digest and absorb animal protein (up to 80%) more efficiently than plant protein (around 50%) due to animal protein being more compatible with shrimp’s digestive systems, unlike plant protein, which has cell walls that lower absorption rates.

Is More Animal Protein Better?

Many farmers mistakenly believe that the more animal protein in feed, the better. This is incorrect. While animal protein has higher utilization rates, plant protein is also essential for shrimp growth, providing trace elements that animal protein cannot. Additionally, increasing animal protein significantly raises feed costs, especially with today's rising feed material prices.

Thus, selecting feed that meets shrimp's nutritional needs and using it effectively in actual farming ensures optimal shrimp growth. Overloading feed with protein can lead to undigested proteins remaining in the water, affecting water quality, while too little protein fails to meet shrimp growth needs, impacting farmers' economic returns.

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