Optimising mulloway farming through better feed and hatchery practices

Southern Cross University

  • Project code: PRJ-005806

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, June 24, 2011

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

  • National Priority: NAP-Enhance industry success through targeted industry-specific RD&E


The overall aim of this project is to significantly reduce the cost of production for northern NSW mulloway farmers through improved feed management and on-farm seed supply.

This project extends previous NMSC research (RIRDC Project PRJ-002273 “ Re-invigorating NSW prawn farms through the culture of mulloway”) which has demonstrated the feasibility of farming mulloway in prawn ponds. It seeks to reduce the major input cost (feed) associated with farming this species (greater than 50% of total operating costs). Current diets and feeding strategies for large mulloway are not optimal. Food conversion ratios are well above the industry standard for marine fish and result in direct economic losses through food wastage and poor growth. To improve profitability, optimal feeding rates need to be determined and then verified at our industry partners farm (PIM Pty. Ltd.).

Reliable supplies of cheap, high quality fingerlings are also essential for developing a viable industry. At present, fingerling costs represent in excess of 15% of total operating costs with few suppliers and little competition. One option, to reduce cost and achieve reliability, is to adapt existing on-site prawn hatchery facilities to finfish production, as many of the requirements of prawn and fish hatcheries are similar. This, in conjunction with appropriate staff training, would represent a solution to present seed stock supply issues.

Together these represent the two major areas where improvements in production technology can increase profitability, sustainability and viability of farms while also providing a basis for significant expansion of the industry.


New and Emerging Animal Industries

Research Organisation

Southern Cross University

Objective Summary

The major objectives of this project are:

I. To improve grow-out feed management practices for mulloway over the production size range of 0.5 to 2 kg.

II. To improve mulloway fingerling production by adapting existing prawn hatchery facilities for marine finfish production.

The expected outcomes of the project are:

* Feeding rates documented for large mulloway (0.5, 1 & 1.5 kg).
* Best feed cost practices determined for large mulloway that minimise wastage and pollution.
* Feeding strategy extended to industry and tested under commercial conditions.
* Existing prawn hatchery infrastructure evaluated for production of marine fish.
* On-site expertise in marine fish hatchery production developed using the green-water larval rearing technique.
* Improved profitability for producers making them more competitive in regional and international markets.