Nutrient Content of On-Farm Formulatednile Tilapia (Oreochromis Niloticus) Feeds: Implications for the Aquaculture Industry in Kenya
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Due to the high costs and the unavailabilityof good quality fish feeds in Kenya, farmers have opted to use cheaper, locally available on-farm formulated feeds.Inspite of this, farmers continue to incur lossesprobably due to poor nutritive quality of these on-farm feeds. Furthermore, literature on the proximate composition and appropriateness of on-farm formulated feeds for raising farmed fish in Kenya is scanty. Motivated by these reasons, this study soughtto investigatethe proximate composition of on-farm formulated Nile tilapia feeds andselected commercial fish feeds used in Bomet, Kericho and Nakuru Counties of the Rift Valley Region of Kenya and compared the proximate composition with theofficialnutrient composition of fish feeds. The methodof feed formulation used was also investigatedusing semi-structured questionnaires.The study also estimated the weightof fish harvested at the end of a production cycle.The results revealed a significant difference between the sampled feeds’ moisture, crude protein and mineral contents andthe legislated nutrient levels of thecommercial feeds commonly used in the counties. There was also a significant difference between thecrude protein content of feeds in the threecounties (P < 0.05).More than 50% of respondentfarmers in thethree counties used Pearson Square Method for fish feed formulation, while the rest used thetrial and error method.The mean weight of fish during harvest was 311.5±155.8gwith fish from Kericho County weighing significantly lower than those from Nakuru and Bomet Counties (P < 0.05). Mostofthe on-farm formulated feeds from the three counties do not meet the recommended nutrient requirements for raising Nile Tilapia. This may be contributing to the observed low weights of the fish harvested, the low fish production and theapparent stagnation of the aquaculture sub-sector in Kenya.The studyrecommendstheformulation of good quality fish feeds through the use of proper methods and appropriate ingredients.This could be achieved through monthly farmers’trainings on best aquaculture practices.