Utilization of the Tilapia Invasive Species as a Low-Cost Protein Feed to Improve Egg Production

2010 Annual Report for FW09-312

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $29,892.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Federated States of Micronesia
Principal Investigator:
Steven Young-Uhk
College of Micronesia

Utilization of the Tilapia Invasive Species as a Low-Cost Protein Feed to Improve Egg Production


In poultry farming, the major challenge is to find cheaper, readily available and suitable feedstuff that improves egg and meat production. For egg production, the problem of chicken feed could be resolved by utilizing local feeding materials in a simple and low cost production system. Three farmers conducted feeding trials on laying chickens by using a simple feed mixture consisting of copra, tilapia and land crabs. This project also encourages the use of the tilapia, an invasive alien species that has infested most mangrove systems in Yap Islands, as a source of protein in chicken feed.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. 1. Conduct feeding trials on laying chickens by using a local feed mixture consisting of tilapia, land crab and copra. This is a comparative study of the local feed mixture against commercial layer feed and a combination of both commercial feed and the local feed mixture.

    2. Identify sources and fishing methods for capturing tilapia in mangroves.

    3. Develop educational materials and train farmers in simple feed production and processing using locally available materials.


Three farmers participated in the project where they each conducted a feeding trial. In each trial, there were 30 hens subdivided into three pens with fed commercial feed, local feed and a combination of both commercial feed and local feed. The three pens were fed three pounds commercial feed, three pounds local feed and 1.5 pounds of commercial feed with 1.5 pounds of local feed. Eggs were collected daily (Image 18) and production records were kept by the farmers (Document 20, 21 & 22). Feeding trials were carried out from May to October 2010, a total of 160 days.

Each farmer built three simple movable pens to house 10 laying hens each pen (Image 14,15 & 16). The pens were constructed using bamboo stems and security wire mesh with a tarp to cover the roof (Image 27). The size of each pen is 8’ X 8’, providing an area of 64 square feet per 10 chickens. The feeding troughs were made also of bamboo stems that were split in half. Two nesting boxes (1’ X 1’) made of wood were placed inside each pen (Image 17). Fresh or dried grass clippings were used for the bedding materials.

At 4.5 months old, the layers were distributed to the farmers and the feeding trials began. Each farmer was given 30 chickens (Image 26). The local feed mixture (Image 9) was formulated at 18% crude protein content comprised of 22% land crabs, 23% tilapia and 55% fresh copra. Tilapia was caught in mangrove areas and freshwater taro patches in southern Yap Islands. There were many types of fishing methods used. A water pump became especially useful in capturing tilapia (Image 3). At low-tide, tilapias collected at water holes (Image 24) in mangrove areas were targeted. The water pump was used to reduce the amount of water (Image 25) before capturing them with a scoop net or “butterfly” net (Image 19). Land crabs were collected alongside the roads at night and kept in a holding pen. Copra and green leaves were fed to them. Coconuts were provided by the farmers.

It was found that a meat grinder is sufficient in grinding all the ingredients. Tilapia (Image 23) and land crabs were cooked in a pot over an open fire (Image 28). After boiling, these were removed from the pot and spread over a flat area so excess water would drain out (Image 4 & 5). Tilapia and land crabs were grinded separated and weighed (Image 7 & 8). After grinding the copra (Image 6), a simple manual extractor (Image 1) was used to remove excess coconut milk (Image 2). The farmers used the coconut milk to make body oil. The ingredients were weighed to correct proportions and hand-mixed. The feed was divided into smaller bags of three lbs (Image 11), sealed and stored in a freezer (Image 13). Each bag was thawed out overnight and fed to the chickens in the morning. A hundred pounds of feed prepared would make 33 bags of feeds ready for feeding (Image 10).

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Preliminary analysis of the data showed total average production for the three types of feed. Chickens fed on the commercial feed had the highest number of eggs produced at 1392 eggs or 116 dozen. Chickens fed on the local feed mixture had second highest production rate at 1260 eggs or 105 dozen. The chickens fed on with both local feed and commercial feed produced lowest number of eggs at 1215 eggs or 10.1 dozen. Average number of eggs per chicken for each feed type was 11.6, 10.5 and 10.1 dozen respectively.

Many farmers and individuals have shown high interests in raising chickens and the use of local feed materials. More than 500 people including farmers, stakeholders, fishermen and youths were recorded to have visited the main project site and the three demonstration farms. Two additional farmers are now feeding their chickens with the local feed. A demonstration was conducted to show how to make the local feed (Image 8 & 9). Live tilapia was also displayed (Image 7), supplemented by an informative leaflet that was distributed (Appendix 1).

Due to the inconsistent supply and high cost of commercial feed, currently at $33.00 per 50 lb bag, and the positive results from the feeding trials, the three farmers intend to use the local feed exclusively on their farms and are planning to acquire new chickens for their farms.

It was found that there is an abundant supply of tilapia in the mangroves (Image 1 & 4), however catching them is difficult because most of the conventional fishing gears are ineffective. Tilapias burrow in the mud when disturbed, so fish nets do not work. Line and hook fishing, fish traps and spear guns catch only a few tilapias at a time. Through trial and error, a method of capturing tilapia by using a water pump (Image 3) had higher success. It was observed that during low-tide tilapias congregate in the deep pools and holes alongside the roads created from freshwater outflows and streams and during road repair and maintenance work. A water pump was used to remove the water so that tilapia could be collected easily with a scoop net or butterfly net (Image 5 & 6).

There are recognized indirect benefits of this type of farming system. The farmers use the excess coconut milk to make a local type of body oil which has a small niche market. The farmers utilized the manure-rich bedding materials in their vegetable gardens (Image 10 & 11)). Fishing for the invasive tilapia (Image 2) benefits the mangrove ecosystem and native fish species.


Regina Imith

P.O. Box 1323
Yap, FM 96943
Office Phone: 6913508524
Bridget Mangyor

Lamer, Rull
Yap, FM 96943
Andy Falfen

P.O. Box 381
Yap, FM 96943
Office Phone: 6919507043