There are lots of controversies accorded to the feeding of chicken dropping to fish by fish farmers. This practice is often prosecuted by fish farmers and consumers; they believe it is unhealthy, thus, reducing the market value of fish and its consumption. However, is feeding chicken dropping to fish detrimental to its consumers?
The question is a dicey one and requires an objective approach when answering. You need to understand the source of the dropping, what it is meant to offer the fish and the farmer, and lastly the consumer.
Some years back, I served as an intern in a fish farm estate and I saw how some fish farmers frowned at this practice all because they wanted to satisfy their customers; some fish farmers went as far as discouraging any poultry enterprise about to start up in the estate. While some discretely fed their fish with poultry droppings and pretended as if they never did. Is this ignorance or customer security?
I would base my discussion on the composition of poultry droppings, cost of feeding and the feeding habit of fish in their natural habitat. I am neither encouraging nor discouraging the use of poultry droppings as feed for fish; all I want to do is to demystify and give clear verdicts on poultry droppings and fish nutrition.
Nutrient Composition Of Poultry Droppings.
I deliberately do not want to say poultry waste because it is economically not a waste. According to this FAO report, Poultry wastes and byproducts can provide the feed support of aquaculture across a range of intensities.
Poultry dropping is undoubtedly a rich source of nutrients; this is why it is commonly used as manure in crop production. Poultry birds are not like other livestock. They are fed with nutritious feed to meet their nutritional requirements. The richness of their feed, the better their performance, and the richness of their droppings.
Poultry dropping has appreciable nutritional composition as poultry feed because of the simple stomach structure of chickens. Chickens do not utilize the nutrients in their feed maximally before it is passed out; this is why poultry birds are more sensitive to deficiency of nutrients, require lots of supplements and the prominent reason for the offensive odor that comes from their droppings.
Poultry droppings is rich because poultry birds eat highly nutritious feed. Turkey dropping is the richest, followed by broilers and lastly by laying birds.
Cost Of Feeding Fish And Feeding Habit Of Fish In Their Natural Habitat
Feeding fish with poultry droppings is a way of supplementing their nutrient requirement for better and cost-effective performance. Feeding fish is more expensive than poultry; fish business is not a cash flow business like poultry and the sale is more influenced by consumer preference. Unlike poultry that can easily be sold off.
There are limits to the cost of feeding and a period of feeding fish if you want to make money from it. Most fish farmers rear fish for 3-4 months and sell-off; if it goes beyond this period, you are likely rearing with your profit. So supplementing fish feed with other non-conventional sources of nutrients is a must for fish farming.
Before anyone criticizes feeding fish with poultry droppings, let’s quickly look at fish in their natural habitat, the water bodies. What do fish eat to grow and survive? The answer is clear and simple; it is waste and droppings of different sources. Waste of dead humans, plants and other organic matter.
The growth rate of fish in their natural habitat cannot be compared to that of the domesticated rearing system. However, do not forget the purpose of rearing, you want to make a profit and profit is made with cost reduction and customer satisfaction. It is unwise to satisfy your customers at the detriment of your profit; the profit keeps the business going and not the customers.
Supplementing the fish feed is allowed and this can be done with materials of nutritional contents like cassava products, poultry droppings, among others. In fact, feeding poultry droppings to fish helps to condition the fish environment for better growth by providing natural fish food like zooplankton and phytoplankton as a supplement. It is the same thing you did before stocking the fish seeds, it is called pond fertilization.
Is Poultry Droppings Actually Harmful To The Fish And Its Consumers?
Well, I would be sincere as much as possible here. The answer is two-sided, YES and NO. I will explain.
Yes because of the heavy chunk of medications used to enhance the health status of the poultry birds. Talk of vaccines and antibiotics majorly. Although this is not a regular practice in poultry rearing, it cannot be overlooked. Antibiotics do have residues in chickens, its byproducts and its droppings.
And No, because if you use droppings from a regulated poultry farm or organic poultry farm, there is no problem with that. Most of the antibiotics and vaccines have withdrawal periods when their product and byproduct are unsafe for human consumption. When the period is elapsed everything about chicken, its product and droppings become useful.
A regulated commercial poultry farm would have this record for productivity purposes. Moreover, if you can run a poultry farm and use droppings from your farm as it is done by Kenya fish farmers, it’s very fine as well. The opposite of a problem is the solution, seek it and make good use of it.
Lastly, poultry droppings does not translate to be the main source of fish nutrition, NO. It is just a supplement that can be fed at certain periods. If you must use it, use it rightly.