Friday, June 26, 2009

Backyard Tilapia and Chicken Farming!!!!?

I am not sure whether to cluck with glee or make fish sounds with my mouth or describe what these sounds, sound like - not sure where to go with this now.. anyway

So to all you chicken farmers who have the desire to get off the grid. Get this; people are beginning to put "Tilapia" farms in their backyard's too. Tilapia has been described as the "Aquatic Chicken" (coooooool) because it possesses many positive attributes that suit the fish for a varied range of aquaculture systems. For one, tilapia tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions and is highly resistant to diseases and parasitic infections. Other good traits of tilapia include excellent growth rates on a low-protein diet, ready breeding in captivity and ease of handling; and, more importantly, wide acceptance as food fish. And it is harvested around the world due to it's ease of raising, reproduction and low protein diet. I have seen tilapia used extensively on The Food Network and eaten with joy by Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern on The Travel Channel. I always wanted a water feature in my backyard, why not make it a food source!?

And further more there is a symbiosis to this as well. In order to get your pond ready to take fish it needs to be "fertilized".... And guess with WHAT? Chicken 'nure is the promotes algae which the Tilapia loves! So here the process;

Site selection: Select a site where water is accessible throughout the year. It should be well exposed to sunlight, which hastens the growth and multiplication of small aquatic plants called algae, which serve as food for the tilapia. More important, it should not be flooded during rainy season.

Pond preparation: The size of the pond should be determined by the number of fish you want to raise. A good guide is 5-6 mature fish per square meter of water (39" x 39") surface. So a 10' x 10' pond could raise 9 fish. I think based on growth rates this could be cycled through fairly quickly. The depth of the pond should be one meter as wel with water not less than three-fourths meter deep. A BIG WARNING HERE; the deeper and the wider the pond, the less likely it will be that predators will be able to reach and pick them off. It is allows the fish to swim to the center keeping them out of harms way, either by land or air.

Pond fertilization Since the pond is newly constructed, you have to apply fertilizer. Do this one week before stocking. Apply chicken manure on the pond bottom with water depth of about 6 centimeters at the rate of one kilo for every lo square meters. Fertilize the pond once a month to insure good production of algae.

Securing fish fingerlings: Obtain your first supply of young tilapia from any reliable fishpond owner. I located one in Florida. You will need to plan on about 5 to 6 fingerlings per square meter of water surface area. The most common breeds of tilapia available are: Nilotica, Mozambique, and GIF (genetically modified - not sure I like this one). But the link above will give a better understanding of the breeds.

Stocking the pond: Fertilize the pond one week before stocking. Stock the pond either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the water temperature is low in order to avoid weakening of the fish. Allow the water in the pond to mix gradually with the water in the fish container before putting the fish into the pond. So set the fish in the pond, in the bag they came in. This will allow for the water in the bag to slowly acclimate to the water in the pond. Also, slowly mix in pond water into the bag, this will allow the fish to not become shocked...

Care and maintenance- Feed daily during morning and afternoon at one portion of the pond. Supplement feeds with fine rice bran, bread crumbs, earthworms, termites, and others at an initial rate of 5% of the total body weight of the fish.- Maintain the natural fishfood by adding more fertilizer (Chicken Manure). Place chicken droppings in sacks and suspend in the water at every corner of the pond. Put 2.5 kg of chicken manure per bag.- Maintain a water level depth of 1-1.5 meters. Gradually remove excess fingerlings after the third month of stocking. Retain six fingerlings per square meter. It is recommended to plant at one side of the pond to provide shade for the fish during hot weather and to serve as growing media for natural fish food. Water lily also provides shade. However, do not totally cover the pond with plants as this will interfere with the natural food production process. ( I am using metric here, because it makes me feel international and intelligent!, Actually it is because I am adapting it from a website

Harvesting - You can harvest tilapia by using a dip net or a lift net. Lower the net down to the bottom of the pond and spread a small amount of feed on the water just above the net. Lift the net as fast as possible to prevent the escape of the tilapia. After harvesting, stock the pond again.

You can make your fish pond more productive ( you pig-raisers) and profitable by raising a pig at the site of the pond. Pig wastes go directly to the pond and help to fertilize the tiny plants that serve as the tilapia's main food. Tests have proven that tilapia cultured in this kind of pond can be eaten without any harmful effect.

Uses of tilapia: Tilapia is a good quality food and has a firm and delicious flesh it has few fine bones. Tilapia is suitable also for processing into dried, salted dried, smoked or pickled products. It is a good insect and worm predator and is known to help clean many injurious insects from ponds. To a certain extent, tilapia can help in keeping down the number of mosquito larvae, thus preventing them from developing into troublesome and harmful mosquitoes.

Get digging!!!!! Eggs, water, fish!!!!

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