The importation of raw materials (corn and soybean meal) for animal feed production into CARICOM, accounts for a significant proportion of the Region’s burgeoning food import bill. Since 2019, CARDI, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Barbados have been working on a project to produce a cheaper alternative feed source for small ruminants, using locally available ingredients.
Ensiled fish offal is the main ingredient in this feed mix. According to Project Manager, Ansari Hosein “fresh fish offal is cheap, readily available and has a high crude protein percentage, which is usually a pricey ingredient in feeds.”
The process to produce the silage and the feed mix is a simple one. The collected offal can be ground up and mixed with 20% molasses and a 5% mixture of yogurt and milk. Molasses is a good source of energy and gives the final product a pleasant smell and improves its palatability. In a second option, acetic acid can be added to the offal. Acetic acidic causes an immediate reduction in the pH. A pH of 3.5 to 4.0 is desirable as it inhibits the growth of bacteria and prevents spoilage.
The mix is then dried. For the project, a solar-powered dryer is being used which is more energy-efficient and cost-effective. After drying the mixture, other locally sourced ingredients such as cassava peel, sargassum seaweed and mulberry leaves are mixed in and the feed pelletized.
Feeding trials are set to begin in July, to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the mix.
A locally produced feed mix will assist in mitigating the impacts of continued shortages of feed ingredients and hikes in feed prices to producers, retailers and consumers.