January 2017 – Recirculating Aquaculture Setup Progress Report 

We have been working on setting up a recirculating aquaculture system to support tilapia farming, and currently we have been able to get a greenhouse like effect using a mix of wood panels with plastic pipes to get the warm environments. Next is to get pumps circulating the water and the filtration – both solid and bio-filters running before bringing the next batch of fry probably in March 2017.


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9 month Poultry Report Card

A exciting day, our new batch of Isa Brown layers from Asiima Agri-Consult Limited makes 36 weeks and 2 days, finally hits 90% productivity. The productivity journey has been as follows:

  • First egg – 19 weeks
  • 85% to 87% for 10 weeks straight from week 27 to 36

Our secret so far is building on prior experience:

  1. Feed quality – this is outsourced to a supplier whose quality and reliability have been consistent over r the last 3 years
  2. Formula – we r using a basic formula to leave room for improvement as the birds grow older
  3. Biosecurity – use lime at the entrance, also adding a little to the litter, routine spraying outside the houses on a weekly basis. Nobody is allowed into the site – not guests
  4. Vigilant management – the operations manager spends an equivalent of 3 days at the site every week with random visits to support farm management
  5. Fanatical record keeping – diligent record keeping to track trends, and spot patterns in behavior
  6. Fortnightly assessment by a vet as an preventive management pattern

At the same time we are preparing for a new batch of chicks, so repairs to an existing house are underway by plastering the walls exposed to the birds, repairing the floor and replacement of chicken wire mesh.

Once the repairs are completed, a contractor has been hired to disinfect the house which will be the subject of another sharing session

image

image

 

Poultry Feed Economics 101 – Changing Feed Supplier Scenario 

Genesis East Africa

This is an interesting scenario brought about by Dr. Samuel Sewagudde of Genesis East Africa Ltd in one of a poultry Whatsapp group that highlights the challenges poultry farmers face in their business choices. I will use this scenario to provide step-by-step analysis of how to build the data for decision making.

Speaking of Economics, Catherine usually buys layer feed from Matama Feeds Ltd at UGX 800 sh a kg and her birds lay  averagely at  72%. At a recent Farmers Expo she met Augustine who works for Mulegi High Quality Feeds Ltd who convinced her that she would achieve 80% production if she uses Mulegi feeds. Mulegi layer feeds cost UGX 1000 sh per kg. Now if Catherine sells a tray of eggs at UGX 8000, Should Catherine switch and use Mulegi feeds?
In this computation the following assumptions have been made:
  1. Each bird eats 125g of feed per day
  2. The costs of the feeds include transportation so no additional costs are incurred with the feed
  3. There are no additional costs incurred in the sale of the eggs
Using the above information:
  1. Matama feeds cost UGX 100 per day while Mulegi Feeds cost UGX 125 per day
  2. At 72% production each bird generates UGX 192 per day (8000 * 0.72 divided by 30) while at 80% production the revenue per bird rises to 213/= (8000 * 0.8 divided by 30).
  3. The increase in cost of feed is UGX 25/= per bird per day while the increase in revenue is UGX 21/= per bird per day
Therefore changing feed providers means that Catherine will spend an additional UGX 4/= per bird per day, therefore the increase in production does not meet the increased costs of feed.
The moral of the story therefore is increased production does not always translate to increased profitability

Migration to Concrete Fish Tanks

After a 1 month test of using polythene tanks with wooden supports which seemed lower cost at the beginning, we have decided to move to concrete tanks that surprisingly have a similar capital cost envelope with the benefit of longer life span.

The design of the tanks is:

  1. Bricks laid in header bonds (with the small face of the brick laid at the side)
  2. An reinforcing column every 6 feet on the short side and 10 feet on the longer side to provide additional strength
  3. A finer mix of the mortar used for laying the bricks (3 wheelbarrows of sand per 50kg bag of cement)
  4. Bottom was a concrete slab with a slight incline of the floor towards the outlet to help with cleaning
  5. The finishing includes an additional mix of water proof cement in a ratio of 1kg of waterproof cement per 50kg of regular cement.
  6. The outlet is placed 1 foot from the bottom so that not all the water drains out of the tank in case of accidental leakage

As always a picture is worth a thousand words:

Tank frame with header brick layout

Tank frame with header brick layout

Finished tank longitudinal view showing location of the outlet

Finished tank longitudinal view showing location of the outlet

Finished tank longitudinal view 2

Finished tank longitudinal view 2

Inside view of the tank

Inside view of the tank

Lengthwise view of the tank

Lengthwise view of the tank

New Fish Stock – Close of 2015

The day began very early at about 5.30am with a fast drive to Ttomi, Buloba about 9km from Busega Round about to the Aqua Consults Fish farm to pick up a batch of 4,000 1 month old Tilapia fry.

The fry were already conditioned in their “brooder” pond, so just had to be collected and counted. The counting was an interesting exercise in estimation, as a sample was picked up in a sieve – then manually counted to provide a basis for estimating how many “sieves” were required.

Once the fry were counted, they were packed into polythene bags with about 5 litres of water which included salt to help ease the stress, and filled up with oxygen from a tank and then tied with rubber strips into an airtight container.

The journey to the farm site was a compromise between driving as fast as we could on a murrum road with road works and over shaking the fry which would increase stress.

Once we got to the site, we first placed the polythene bags in the tank for 15 minutes so that the temperatures would be consistent to prevent temperature shocks, then opened the bags for water to flow from the tank. The fry moved out of the polythene through the space of 1 hour.

The fry were not to be fed on Day 1, to give them time to adjust to their new environment

All in pictures … Happy 2016!!!

2015-12-30 07.12.14

Counting the fry in a sample

Counting the fry in a sample

Counted fry ready for packaging - 1

Counted fry ready for packaging – 1

Counted fry ready for packaging - Closeup

Counted fry ready for packaging – Closeup

Airtight sealing of the container

Airtight sealing of the container

Filling the fry travel container with oxygen

Filling the fry travel container with oxygen

Fry packed and ready to go

Fry packed and ready to go

Releasing the fry into their new home - no hurry

Releasing the fry into their new home – no hurry

Releasing the fry into their new home

Releasing the fry into their new home

All settled in - 1

All settled in – 1

All settled in - 2

All settled in – 2

All settled in - 3

All settled in – 3

All settled in - 4

All settled in – 4

Net for protection from predators - monkeys, lizards, birds

Net for protection from predators – monkeys, lizards, birds

Fish Tanks Testing

The fish tanks are almost ready, but what it brought back were ideas from opensource technology – release fast release often & test test test.

The story continues, after the initial construction of the structure, a base of sand was added to provide a smooth foundation on top of which was overlaid a 1000 gauge black plastic sheet to provide a cushion against stone damage to the water holding clear plastic sheeting. The sheeting is sold in rolls of 5′ x 150m, so 5 sheets had to be joined side by side to provide a 25′ width sheet to go across the tank, having 4 joints. Once the sheet was placed in the tank, we started pumping water into the sheeting, patching leaks as they were identified. It was a very tedious and slow process involving alot of manual labor.

Once that was done, the tank was filled to a height of 5′, it will never hold that much water, but it provided a stress or load testing opportunity which showed that some of the corner poles needed to be reinforced.

One that was done, all is well and the tank is holding on until the fish are to arrive ….

Plastic Sheeting to add water added for the first time

Plastic Sheeting to add water added for the first time

Water test to find leaks

Water test to find leaks

Water test again for more leaks

Water test again for more leaks

Week 7 – Separation of Birds into 2 Rooms

Its now week 7, and time for us to separate the birds into two separate rooms to increase space available for each bird. This was part of the plan as running two brooders is a hassle with no specific benefits.

Now there are 1,215 birds in each house of giving about 1.13 sq feet per bird.  In the new house we mixed the husks with lime, as well as sprayed a disinfectant over the husks & the room during the course of 2 weeks before the move.

Before Separation – Brooding House and New Home

Birds before  separation

Birds before separation

 

Feeder Layout - Top End

Feeder Layout – Top End

Feeder Layout - Bottom End

Feeder Layout – Bottom End

After Moving into New Home

Happy Spacious Birds Lower End

Happy Spacious Birds Lower End

Happy Spacious Birds Upper End

Happy Spacious Birds Upper End

 

Feeding Time in our new home

Feeding Time in our new home