The global market for shrimps is quite massive however there has been a shortfall in meeting this demand over the years. One of the reasons is that over 50% of the global supply still comes from wide sources. This clearly shows that many countries are yet to embrace shrimp farming as they ought to.
Shrimps are a great source of protein and have amazing health benefits due to their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Presently, Nigeria exports about 12,000 metric tonnes of shrimps annually to countries in North America, Asia and Europe. This is a really small fraction compared to what can be exported. In fact, the shrimp production industry has a potential annual income of over $384 million yet the current output is less than a quarter of that. Nigeria is blessed with an abundance supply of shrimps due to the presence of large portion of coastal and mangrove areas within the Niger Delta region.
Unfortunately over 70% of these mangrove regions have suffered environmental degradation to pollution and oil spillage. However, this challenge actually indicates the need for privately owned shrimp farms.
This article is a step by step guide to help you start your shrimp farm so that you can contribute your much needed quota of supply to the global shrimp demand.
There are 5 very important steps to take in building a successful shrimp farm. These include:
- Selecting your location
- Constructing your pond
- Feeding your shrimps
- Harvesting your shrimps
- Selling your shrimps
1. Selecting Your Location
Generally, swimming pools and other containers with significant depth can be used for cultivating freshwater shrimps; however this isn’t the best method for shrimp farming. Using a pond will always give you a better yield than the swimming pool or container method.
However, there are some things to note prior to selecting the ideal location.
If you are cultivating salt water shrimps, you’ll need to have your pond located close to warm and brackish water. This is applicable especially if you are using the traditional method. In this case, an ideal location should be close to ocean water.
If you are using the intensive farming method, your pond location doesn’t have to be close to the ocean however, there are a couple of other proximity considerations. For instance, it is best that your pond is close to the local market or your prospective clients. In this way, you would minimize the stress and cost associated with transportation.
Additionally, prior to farming, you should consider your shrimp larvae source and ensure that your pond is not too far. This will help to reduce the stress of the animals when moving them from the hatchery to the pond.
Another important factor is the quality of the soil and water. Ideally, the soil should have enough clay content which enables the pond to hold water. Generally, there are specific requirements in term of fertility, acidity and the physical composition of the soil and water you need for fish farming which you need to follow.
2. Constructing Your Pond
In constructing your pond you need to consider if you want the one phase pond or the two phase pond. In the one phase method, you get your juvenile shrimps from the hatchery and introduce them directly in to the pond. While in the case of the two phase, you have a main pond and a nursery. The nursery is used to cultivate the juveniles after which they are introduced to the main pond after a few weeks. In the nursery, the female shrimps can lay thousands to millions of eggs which usually hatch after a day. The hatched shrimp is called nauplii. The nauplii are fed algae and it takes about 12 days for the nauplii to develop into young shrimps. However, the shrimps are not transferred into the pond until the 25th day.
Additionally, the construction of your pond is dependent on the methods of shrimp farming you intend to employ. These include the traditional method; semi-intensive method; intensive method.
The Traditional Method
The shrimp farming is done with minimum intervention. The farm is situated in the natural habitat of the shrimps which is the coastal or mangrove areas. In this case, the seed stock is acquired from the wild and the quantity of your supply is season dependent. The pond can be as small as 3 hectares and as large as 20 hectares. You can stock 3000-5000 fry per hectare and you can expect an annual yield of 500-800kg per hectare.
The Semi Intensive Method
This is an improvement over the traditional approach with a well-configured pond. The shape of the pond is a rectangle and it is usually smaller than that of the traditional method. You can farm with 1 to 3 hectare size. The depth should be around 0.8 to 1.2 meters. The pond system in this method has a ditch that facilitates the drainage of water and enables collection of shrimps during harvest. The ditch is diagonal in shape and it’s usually 5 to 10 meters wide and 30 to 50 cm deep. The ditch also serves as a refuge for the shrimps during the sunny season. The stocking rate for the semi intensive farming is about 20,000 to 50,000 fry per hectare.
The Intensive Shrimp Farming
This is the best method of shrimp farming because it is the most financially rewarding method due to its much larger yield compared to the other methods. In this method, you can cultivate in such a way that you produce shrimps of uniform size.
There’s a farming technology called Galveston or “clear water” hatchery which employs the intensive method to breed shrimp in industrial scale. In large scale hatcheries, the diet of the young shrimp is augmented with commercial feed. In this case, they use big tanks to hold up to 30 tons. Also, you can produce seed stock all year round and stock the shrimp at much higher densities. You can stock more shrimp per unit area and the pond used can be much smaller. However, there’s need for constant supervision as well ensuring proper aeration maintain optima oxygen supply. Generally, survival rates are much higher and as stated earlier, the yield is higher too, although the production cost is obviously higher as well.
3. Feeding Your Shrimps
Usually, you can apply fertilizers to your pond. This helps promote the growth of the natural algae and phytoplankton your shrimps will feed on. However as the shrimps grow, you will need to supplement their feed because of the increase in their food consumption. These supplements include dry pellets, rice bran, chopped toad and frogs and household leftovers. These can be administered using feeding trays, automatic machine feeder or by broadcasting the feed.
Harvesting is best done in the evening. This is to prevent the sun from increasing the temperature and decreasing the volume of the water and the oxygen levels in the water. This can lead to the death of the shrimps causing loss of business revenue.
There are few things to expect if you’re just starting out in shrimp farming. In the first year you might have a poor yield if you are using a newly dug pond. This is due to the inadequate build-up of algae or insect larvae for the shrimp to feed on, but over time, this will get better as you will see a marked improvement due to the gradual buildup of the much needed organic matter.
Overall, you’ll see need to be meticulous and employ the best practices in your farming in other to prevent disease epidemics and promote a bountiful harvest.