USSEC recently participated in the 2nd CIAC -Shrimp Aquaculture International Congress and 5th Scientific and Technological Meeting on shrimp farming in Mexico.
USSEC consultants Dr. Herbert Quintero, Wendy Moscoso, and Jairo Amezquita provided technical support to about 500 management staff from several shrimp farms in Ciudad Obregon, representing more than 30,000 ha. In 2019, shrimp production in Mexico topped more than 150,000 metric tons (MT), utilizing more than 60,000 MT of U.S Soy. The USSEC consultants provided informal technical support to the staff and shrimp farming customers of some leader manufacturers of shrimp feeds in Mexico. Discussions with growers from different farms were informal and relevant to the particular concerns of each owner or technical manager. Topics included shrimp feeds, feeding practices, use of acoustic feeders, basic pond water quality management, aeration requirements and practices, water exchange, and improving production efficiency.
Before kicking off the producer meetings, USSEC’s role in promoting the use of U.S. soybean meal in aquafeeds used to support Mexican shrimp farming was explained during a lecture, “Sustainable Feeds and Latest Results on Feed Management.” The presentation corresponded with trials done by Auburn University and a high-level nutrition team headed by Dr. Allen Davis; it also included some examples of using U.S. soybean meal and U.S. soy byproducts in shrimp diets, as well as information about the use of automatic feeders to improve shrimp aquaculture production. Best aquaculture feeding and production practices were addressed through the presentation, and to the producers who expressed some challenges in using automatic feeders. Some shrimp farmers have implemented the use of feeders on their farms, but they indicated that they still have not been able to reduce the feed conversion ratio (FCR) significantly. After discussing their production practices, it was identified that they have water quality issues, and the use of the feeders was limited to four feedings per day, which affected their pond bottom. It was suggested to increase the number of feedings with ratios every 20 minutes or so, and to identify the timing for doing so, based on water temperature, especially during the summer months.
During the presentation, the use and sustainability of U.S. Soy in shrimp feeds was explained to shrimp farmer/manager end users in Mexico. In addition, discussions about increasing the use of U.S. soy-based shrimp feeds were held with the technical representatives of different aqua feed mills. The USSEC consultants talked about USSEC’s in the development of the global aquaculture emphasizing the advantages of using a sustainable protein source such as U.S. Soy in the shrimp diets specifically or in aquaculture in general.
The following points were emphasized to shrimp farmers as recommendations:
- The context for the consulting trip is the trend of declining prices for shrimp over the last few years. The emphasis of USSEC’s recommendations was how to make improvements in the efficiency of input use, especially feed. The main thing that can be done to improve efficiency in shrimp farming is to increase feeding frequency. Other ways to improve technical efficiency include sourcing quality seed, using multi-phase production systems, selecting a high-quality feed, selecting a profit-maximizing optimum stocking density (lower when prices are low), using water recirculation to improve biosecurity, and practicing partial harvesting.
- The use of pond aeration and automatic feeders is becoming increasingly widespread. The proper application of aeration, the number and size of aerators per pond, and the positioning of aeration equipment are technical topics that are not well known to most shrimp farmers in the country. Development of this technical capacity through additional training activities is needed.