“Skretting launched its dedicated SHIELD diet for Mediterranean sea bream in 2016, targeting a gut parasite. Ongoing trials and novel research since then has revealed new ways in which we can support against a gill parasite. New SHIELD has expanded functionality, now targeting both of the two most problematic parasites for farmers,” Julio Cocando-Valencia, fish health diets manager for Skretting South Europe, told FeedNavigator.
According to Skretting, intestinal and gill parasites present by far the most widespread health problem to sea bream producers today. It said parasites attack these organs, causing damage and increasing vulnerability to other health issues.
Fish usually exhibit compromised growth performance and end quality as a result, causing financial losses for producers, and damage caused can provide gateways to secondary problems that can lead to mortality.
Skretting claims SHIELD was the first functional diet specifically targeting intestinal challenges for Mediterranean species. The latest incarnation is said to contain “specifically selected functional ingredients that work in synergy to contribute to the ability of sea bream to cope with the onset of several different health challenges”.
The company refused to disclose what specific ingredients make up the diet: “The specific ingredients are proprietary formulations”.
As for how the ingredients act synergistically with one another, Docando-Valencia said: “Over the years, Skretting has investigated a number of functional ingredients that could contribute to fish health. This is an ongoing facet of research at Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre, where we investigate not only single ingredients, but the interactions between different ingredients. SHIELD contains a finely tuned balance of functional additions, offering support for the fish under challenging situations.”
Skretting said that new formulation had been validated in a series of trials focused on endo- and ecto-parasites. The trials were completed in collaboration with partners from the Horizon 2020 ParaFish Control project, including Instituto de Acuicultura Torre de la Sal, CSIC, Spain and Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece.
“The partners we worked with have specific knowledge and expertise of the parasites, and have unique challenge models that allowed us to test our diets in conditions that mimic the natural model of infection, such as cohabitation challenge. Our positive results under research conditions have also been validated in several field trials,” said Cocando-Valencia.
Improved growth and performance
The trials found that the functional diet resulted in improved growth and performance.
“The results show that it is possible to reduce production time to achieve the same final weight,” said Cocando-Valencia.
He confirmed that the feed is currently being offered to Skretting’s customers in the Mediterranean, although he said it could be used by sea bream producers facing the same challenges in other regions.
SHIELD is designed to support sea bream during periods of increased risk, which is predominantly during the warmer spring and summer months, but can also extend into autumn. Skretting recommends starting SHIELD ahead of this high risk period - when temperatures reach around 18 to 20°C.
The company emphasized that SHIELD should be used in conjunction with other performance and support strategies such as disease monitoring, net management and best farming practices.
Skretting ARC is involved in a number of external collaborations, one of them being the EU Horizon 2020 project ParaFish Control. The 29 partner companies in the project are working with several fish species and economically significant parasites.
It is also participating in AquaIMPACT, a research project aimed at boosting the efficiency of European aquaculture with genomic and nutritional enhancements