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#543196 01/19/22 11:01 PM
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Got a call from a landowner today. He was asking about what it takes to raise catfish for meat for the family.
It's easy to do, but I don't get lots of calls about that.
Tell me, please...who is interested in raising catfish for food?
Why or why not?
There may be an article for Pond Boss magazine here.


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If you're raising catfish for food, how does fish feed factor into the equation? That question is not yet considering the taste of the fish that you harvest considering potential taste differences between fish feed diets vs. natural diets, but more so the cost of feed in regards to the amount of 'eatable' fish you can harvest


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
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Personally don't consider the cost of feed into anything besides my enjoyment. Most of us in your going big time will never recoup the cost of our ponds. Unless it adds value at the time of sell. We have ate them out of our pond before. I know they r pellet hogs on the cheap farm store stuff but don't care for the optimal as much. That's just mine thou they could just be picky or got used to it. Anyway they have always tasted good both fried and smoked in lemon juice.


The people who say I can't do it can just sit the @^#% down and watch me. Friends call me Rusto I also subscribe to pond boss mag. http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=504716#Post504716
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If I plan to catch a few fish out to harvest, I will turn the feeder off for two days prior to help reduce fish waste inside the body and improve taste. I rarely harvest channel catfish over 4 pounds as there tends to be an increased layer or fat on the top and bottom of the fillets, and the nerve fibers are thicker making the catfish fillet tough.


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Originally Posted by Sunil
If you're raising catfish for food, how does fish feed factor into the equation? That question is not yet considering the taste of the fish that you harvest considering potential taste differences between fish feed diets vs. natural diets, but more so the cost of feed in regards to the amount of 'eatable' fish you can harvest
I definitely think the cost of feed is worth it for the increased amount of fillet poundage you can take out of a pond. No way could I eat as many BG from a 1/2 and a 2/3 acre pond without feeding 500-600 pounds of Aquamax a year.

BTW, I have postulated that YP eating fish food have less flavor than "wild" YP. Anyone else notice that?

Originally Posted by Snakebite
If I plan to catch a few fish out to harvest, I will turn the feeder off for two days prior to help reduce fish waste inside the body and improve taste. I rarely harvest channel catfish over 4 pounds as there tends to be an increased layer or fat on the top and bottom of the fillets, and the nerve fibers are thicker making the catfish fillet tough.

I also stop feeding for 2-3 days before fishing a pond. Catch rates go way up after this.

I feel CC are best to eat at around 2-3 pounds, tops. They get tougher when they are bigger than that and, if cooked as fillets, have a huge difference in thickness that makes cooking difficult. (I leave CC cooking to my wife, who does marvelous things with them - over aluminum foil - on the grill after marinating the fillets.)


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There is a lot of info on CC production at SRAC including cost info and off-taste problems. Also, some info on feeding YP at northern counterparts. Also, info on feeding HSB for market.


https://srac.tamu.edu/categories/view/3

Last edited by ewest; 01/20/22 11:28 AM.















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Rusto, I agree about not personally being too concerned about the spend on our ponds. I'm real good at self-rationalization.

I guess my comment could be asked as a question: If you don't feed, does your pond have enough forage fish in it to produce edible catfish?


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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One thing I learned about preparing catfish is that it tastes a whole lot better if the dark meat is removed from the fillet before cooking.


www.hoosierpondpros.com


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Knowing that fisheries grow CC for selling to the human food market...they should be making a profit otherwise they would not do it. A small BOW owner could mimic, to the best of their abilities, a farm production pond. The cost of feed would be greater per pound than the commercial grower's, but I suspect the small BOW owner could produce CC for less than grocery store prices and save some money. They cannot consider their time involved maintaining the pond or catching and cleaning fish. One would get upside down quick if they invested in aeration, nets, cages, auto-feeders, a dock, etc...not to mention if they included the cost of the pond construction. Now, it's a hobby not a cost saving.

Given that, someone must love to eat fish, love the hobby, and be happy that there is some financial benefit, even though it's nowhere near a money maker/saver.

Now, take an existing pond, throw some CC in without pellet feeding, manage the forage well, do noting else, but wait and you're onto a good plan to feed the family at a grocery store cost savings. Be careful, anything beyond a green tree limb, some string, and a hook...AND you have spent enough money for a few meals...lol!

Me....I'll spend the hobby money, enjoy the pond, and give most of the harvest away that is needed to encourage a balanced pond for nice sized fish. I'm more into sitting on the dock, catch and release, maintenance activities, and nature watching.


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Thanks for the responses, everyone.
Doing some math, it takes about two pounds of catfish food to gain a pound of fish. Grain-based catfish food is about $.45 per pound, give or take a little bit. That means we can grow a pound of catfish for around $1.00 per pound. They fillet out about 40-45%, so feed cost per pound of fillet is a little over $2.25. That doesn't seem like too bad of a cost. Feed efficiency is probably actually better than two to one because there will be some natural food in each pond. Lots of people think channel catfish are scavengers--far from it. They are definitely carnivores, but will eat vegetation if they have to--making them more like omnivores. I've electrofished catfish in fishing lakes whose bellies were loaded with bluegills or minnows, sometimes even a small bass or two. To me, the biggest risk raising catfish for food are predators such as otters and cormorants. The fingerlings are cheap and it doesn't take too long to grow food-sized catfish. Like mentioned above, harvest can be a bit of a pain, because you can't necessarily catch a bunch at a time.


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Originally Posted by Bob Lusk
Thanks for the responses, everyone.
Doing some math, it takes about two pounds of catfish food to gain a pound of fish. Grain-based catfish food is about $.45 per pound, give or take a little bit. That means we can grow a pound of catfish for around $1.00 per pound. They fillet out about 40-45%, so feed cost per pound of fillet is a little over $2.25. That doesn't seem like too bad of a cost. Feed efficiency is probably actually better than two to one because there will be some natural food in each pond. Lots of people think channel catfish are scavengers--far from it. They are definitely carnivores, but will eat vegetation if they have to--making them more like omnivores. I've electrofished catfish in fishing lakes whose bellies were loaded with bluegills or minnows, sometimes even a small bass or two. To me, the biggest risk raising catfish for food are predators such as otters and cormorants. The fingerlings are cheap and it doesn't take too long to grow food-sized catfish. Like mentioned above, harvest can be a bit of a pain, because you can't necessarily catch a bunch at a time.

Bob:

Would the fish grow faster on a "hotter" feed? Harvest could be done with a seine? You wouldn't have to seine the whole pond at once.


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They will grow faster on a "hotter" feed, but their bodies don't necessarily need it. The conversion rate drops to 1.3 to one, so fish-meal-based fish food is more efficient. Since channel catfish are omnivores, their digestive system can be pretty efficient. Whenever I want to harvest many catfish, we always do it with a seine. Feed them into a confined area for a few weeks, then lay off the feed for a few days, get the seine stacked on shore, touch off the feeder and here they come. Surround them, and catch a bunch.


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I’m kinda different. I eat venison from my land but not the fish. They are pets. It would feel like eating the family dog if I had a dog.

I am butt deep in hogs but use them only for target practice. They are loaded with ticks and I don’t handle them. I tell the guys that deer hunt my place to give the coyotes a pass. They are the only predator that helps in my hog war. I was hunting at a corn feeder a couple of years ago and a big sow with a bunch of piglets came in and started eating the corn. A coyote ran in, grabbed a small pig, and kept going. I shot the sow. The song dogs are welcome on my land.

Everything else, snakes included, get a pass. I’m not mad at coons, possums, etc so they are safe.


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...and there you have the seasoned input from vintage Guvnor Davidson.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Originally Posted by Dave Davidson1
I’m kinda different. I eat venison from my land but not the fish. They are pets. It would feel like eating the family dog if I had a dog.

I am butt deep in hogs but use them only for target practice. They are loaded with ticks and I don’t handle them. I tell the guys that deer hunt my place to give the coyotes a pass. They are the only predator that helps in my hog war. I was hunting at a corn feeder a couple of years ago and a big sow with a bunch of piglets came in and started eating the corn. A coyote ran in, grabbed a small pig, and kept going. I shot the sow. The song dogs are welcome on my land.

Everything else, snakes included, get a pass. I’m not mad at coons, possums, etc so they are safe.

Me too Dave
The pigs her very seldom have any ticks on them

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Hang those hogs over the pond, and the maggots and ticks will feed the fish when they drop in. The smell will attract coyotes. (and repel your family!) Don't try this at home.


"Live your life so that when you sing your death song, you will die like a hero who is going home with no shame to meet the Creator and your family." - Tecumseh; April 9, 1809

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