The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) recently teamed up to host a virtual Fish Silage for Animal Feed Workshop for 25 participants in Barbados. This event was part of the wider FAO supported project ‘Services towards piloting an initiative for an increased production of livestock products in Barbados through the increased utilisation of locally available fish silage-based feed resources.’
At the workshop, participants were introduced to the process of silage making using locally available raw materials. The preliminary results of the feeding trials, involving sheep and rabbits at the Animal Nutrition Unit, were also shared with the attendees. The fish silage based sheep feed had 20.8% more crude protein than the commercial feed and was proven to be both acceptable and palatable to the animals. The data collected over a 7 week period, showed no significant differences in the average daily weight gain of sheep fed commercial feed and the fish silage based feed.
For rabbits, the fish silage based feed was also both acceptable and palatable. Data analysis is ongoing and the results will be published subsequently.
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. Over 1500 tonnes of fish waste is produced in Barbados annually. The conversion of these into a protein-rich feed source for small ruminants will help farmers to reduce their feed expenses while enabling them to satisfy the demand for small ruminants in the local market. Moreover, increasing the utilization of locally available ingredients, like fish silage, help to stimulate small business development on the island.
Renata Clarke, Subregional Coordinator at FAO stressed that the collaborative project with CARDI aims at creating opportunities for new agri-businesses while increasing self-reliance and demonstrating the possibilities of the “circular economy” which creates value of what was previously considered as waste. She added that once the farmers adopt the fish silage feed then an increase in livestock, meat production and enhanced earnings for livestock farmers is a real possibility.