News last update:6 Aug 2012

Freshwater fish profit from DDGS

Fish feed is a major expense for many aquaculture operations. New research by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists shows that ethanol co-products can provide protein for fish feeds at a lower cost than the soybean-corn combinations commonly used.

DDGS is relatively protein-rich and lacks some of the undesirable characteristics that make many plant protein sources less suitable for use in fish feeds. In addition, DDGS is cheaper and more palatable to fish than soybean-corn combinations. However, it lacks some essential amino acids, such as lysine.

Different inclusion levels
In the ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit at Auburn, Ala., nutrition scientist Chhorn Lim and his colleagues are evaluating how diets including DDGS influence growth performance and disease resistance in catfish and tilapia. The scientists gave the fish feeds that included 0, 10, 20, 30 or 40% DDGS. All five feeds had similar levels of energy, protein and fat. Results showed that tilapia thrive on feed with up to 20% DDGS. Adding supplemental lysine to the feed increased that percentage to 40%.

The scientists found that catfish thrived on feed comprising up to 40% DDGS plus lysine. In addition, they observed that catfish raised on diets that included DDGS demonstrated greater resistance to at least one major disease: enteric septicemia of catfish. Catfish raised on DDGS-containing diets were more likely to resist infection. Surviving catfish raised on a diet without DDGS had fewer antibodies than those raised on the DDGS feed—particularly fish on the 20% DDGS diet, whose antibodies were significantly higher than those of the control fish.

This work has potential economic benefits for both ethanol and aquaculture. Finding markets for DDGS is essential to economical ethanol production. And substituting soybean-corn combinations with a cheaper protein source could help reduce the cost of fish feed, thereby reducing overall production costs.

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