This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Catfish Research Verification Trials in West Alabama Using Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and Hybrid Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus x Ictalurus furcatus)




Bott, Lisa B.

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures


Abstract From 2010-2013 three management protocols were followed over 21 production cycles on three farms in west Alabama. The protocols were an owner defined multiple-batch Treatment A, an Extension defined single-batch Treatment B and a multiple-batch Treatment C. Data were analyzed to calculate yields, feed conversion ratios, cost of production and net returns. Over three production cycles from Farm 1, Treatment A outperformed the two Extension recommended treatments (Treatments B and C) in terms of yield (13,156 to 10,780 and 6,121 lb/acre/year respectively), survival (91% to 87% and 51% respectively), feed conversion ratio (FCR 1.87 to 2.09 and 3.01 respectively), cost of production ($0.68, $0.73, and $1.08/lb respectively), and net returns ($122,789 to $95,419 and $2,810). Key to this outcome was the completion of three crops 2.75 years, compared to 3.58 and 3.67 years in the other two. Treatment A allowed the farmer to vary feeding rates and he chose to feed above the recommended daily feeding maximum and with high aeration Hp/acre no low dissolved oxygen levels were observed. Disease (Edwardsiella tarda) losses in Treatment C led to poor survival results. Farm 1 production cycles showed the importance of verifying Extension recommendations under commercial production conditions. Over two production cycles from Farm 2, Treatment A performed best though Treatment C was close in terms of yield (5,384 to 5,191 lbs/acre/year respectively) compared to Treatment B at 4,261 lbs/acre/year, survival (58% to 42%, and 76% respectively). However the FCR (and cost of production) was best for Treatment B at 1.77 ($0.66/lb) compared to 2.59 ($0.75) and 2.60 ($0.75/lb) for Treatments C and A respectively. Treatment B also had the highest net returns to land at $63,697 compared to Treatments C and A ($52,935 and $44,080 respectively). Farm 2 production cycles showed that there were advantages and disadvantages to the different treatments but all were profitable. Over two production cycles from Farm 3, there were mixed results on which treatment was better. Treatment A performed better than Treatments B and C in terms of yield (4,631 to 4,619 and 4,143 lbs/acre/year respectively) and net returns to land ($50,312 to $43,811 and $37,723 respectively). In terms of survival and FCR Treatment B did better than Treatments A and C (survival 61% to 44% and 48% respectively; and FCR 2.22 to 2.62 and 2.42 respectively). In terms of production costs Treatments B and C did better than Treatment A ($0.73 and $0.75 to $0.82/lb produced respectively). It should be noted that in Farm 2 and Farm 3, the treatments with the highest survival rates were those having the highest levels of aeration (Hp/acre). This is in line with current Extension recommendations. Based on these verification trials, some refinements Best Management Practices could be recommended, such as increasing the stocking density for hybrid catfish production, increasing the hybrid catfish feeding rate, and increasing aeration capacity and use for Channel and hybrid catfish production. Each of these recommendations has also been shown in this study to be profitable. This study confirmed again that we, that is researchers, producers and Extension personnel, must work together to gain the new insights that can improve catfish production management practices. Thorough good record keeping practices were used to perform this work and it would be a good tool to teach producers as a means to evaluate their own operations. This project allowed us to test new concepts toward making future recommendations that can lead to refined “best money making practices.”