Thursday, March 26, 2015

26/03/2015: Australian company - Ridley - creates world’s first super prawn feed farmers clamour for and consumers and marine conservationists demand

A new and potentially world game-changing, super feed for farming prawns is undergoing commercial grow out trials at two of Queensland's large prawn farm operators - highly regarded as leading pace setters and innovators of Australia's expanding aquaculture industry.

The proof is in their ponds. Both report their tiger prawns are growing faster and fatter than ever and have exceptional taste and colour. Commercial harvests begin in late February.

The new feed product – Ridley MR-S is the culmination of 10 years of research by Dr Richard Smullen and Dr Matthew Briggs - eminent research scientists working at Ridley - Australia's leading provider of high performance animal nutrition. Close collaboration with farms has been essential for the ongoing development of this feed.

The scientists’ task was to develop a sustainable aquaculture prawn feed which eliminated the dependence on diets made from wild caught fish, previously a mainstay of the prawn feed industry.

This was achieved in part by using by-products from high quality fish, which have been processed or canned for human consumption. Product was sourced from a tuna cannery as well as the Sydney Fish Market. Future production could involve using the by-products from Australia's salmon and barramundi industries.

“These by-products of human food production are currently used to make pet food, garden fertiliser or are just sent for land fill and as such is a waste of a valuable nutritional raw materials” said Dr Smullen.

“Our aim is to use these off-cuts, together with other sustainable raw materials to make a super food for the future of prawn farming globally”.

Farmers report their tiger prawns are growing faster and fatter than ever
The majority of the world’s fish meal is made from sustainably managed wild caught whole fish which are trawled from the oceans and this is proving very costly for prawn farmers.

Fishmeal has more than doubled in value in the past year, which is a function of supply and demand; aquaculture is growing and as such, so is the demand for fishmeal. However strict management of the wild fisheries stocks has resulted in a reduction of fishmeal on the market – effectively a perfect storm.

Fish consumers are increasingly aware of dwindling stocks and overfishing and as such fish farmers have encountered criticism and great pressure to find a sustainable feed solution. Ridley MR-S will negate consumer concerns as farmers will no longer have to rely on meal produced from whole wild caught fish.

MR-S is a win:win for all. Not only does it use zero wild capture fishmeal, it has established a world’s first benchmark for growth and food conversion ratio for farmed prawns. Queensland tiger prawns fed a kilo of the Ridley MR-S, containing no whole fish, together with improved farm management, gain almost a kilo in weight. The pioneering days of just a decade or so ago where it took nearly 3 kilos of whole fish to produce just 1 kilo of Australian prawns are now long gone.

"Simply put, Ridley prawns eating MR-S gain more weight than that of the fish products they consume - that is it in a nutshell", Dr Briggs stressed.

The product is the latest in the line of Ridley MR prawn feeds, developed, manufactured and distributed by Ridley. According to Smullen and Briggs, over the last decade the MR range of diets have enabled a 30 percent increase in growth rates accompanied by increased feeding efficiency and healthier prawns.

And whilst the MR range is not designed to be the cheapest diet on the market, it represents the best value to the farmers – with production gains and proven healthier stock in the ponds. Prawn farmers are very happy with the feed and its results, and to prove it, the industry is booming.

Asia is now trying to catch up and compete head to head with the Australian developed potent prawn feeds.

"However”, said Briggs, “we are 10 years ahead of their scientists and researchers. Asia is still stuck with a heavy reliance on fish meal–based feeds and all its attendant problems - such as the use of trash fish from bottom scraping trawlers".

Dr Briggs has extensive experience and knowledge of Asian aquaculture. Based in Phuket for 11 years, he helped Thailand switch from Black Tigers to White Shrimp - or the ubiquitous vannamei prawn. The Thais were so impressed with his efforts and results he became universally known by them as ‘The Shrimp Doctor’, and was instrumental in helping other Asian countries to establish their extensive vannamei farming operations.

Dr Briggs joined the Ridley team to commercialise the large scale production of NovacqTM – a natural prawn feed additive derived from a marine microbial process, which involved 10 years of research and development by Australia's CSIRO - NovacqTM has generated worldwide interest and Ridley has secured exclusive rights to produce and market the additive in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Feed containing NovacqTM - grows prawns up to 40 percent faster and Ridley have added NovacqTM to their already ‘Best in Class’ MR range of feeds and made the feed even better!

“We really have gone from ‘Great, Better, Best’ in terms of feed design”, said Dr Smullen.

Ridley will soon launch the new range of diets containing NovacqTM as ‘Xtreme’. Dr Mathew Briggs said extraordinary growth results from Ridley MR Xtreme were first proven in tank trials and are being mirrored in the full scale commercial production trials underway at Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture and Australian Prawn Farms in Queensland this summer.

So what’s next? Trials are underway on diets that have no fishmeal in them – so making the new super feed even more super. Farm trials at Australian Prawn Farms in Mackay so far show promising results, but the proof will be in the harvest which starts in March.

But there is no doubt – according to Smullen and Briggs, incorporating the NovacqTM additive into Ridley MR Xtreme is the potential super game changer for not only Australia but also Asia's burgeoning prawn aquaculture industries.

For more information contact:
Dr Sunil Kadri, Head of Sales and Business Development - Aqua-Feed

Visit the Ridley website HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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