Success starts at hatchery

Tom Walker
April 02, 2019
By Tom Walker
Following his plenary at Aqua Europe, Robins MacIntosh, senior vice-president, shrimp production and shrimp technology CP Foods in Thailand, sat down with Hatchery International to talk about the role of shrimp hatcheries in the company’s success.

“Hatcheries are the key,” says MacIntosh. “You have to have a clean PL (post larvae), so we developed a policy of zero tolerance.” MacIntosh explains if post larval shrimp at CP foods had any indication of EMS bacteria or EHP it was not sold to farmers. “That was really the turning point for getting those diseases out of Thailand as well as now in Vietnam.”

MacIntosh says keeping a disease-free hatchery is a lot of work. “Many hatcheries really don’t understand how tough this is,” he says. “But the key is at the maturation stage, that is where the EMS enters the hatchery most often.”

The source of the problem is pond reared broodstock, MacIntosh says. “The broodstock often times are carrying EMS bacteria,” says MacIntosh. It’s not systemic, he says, but it’s on the shell.

“If you get an animal out of a pond in an EMS area it’s going to bring EMS in,” he points out. “If it goes into the maturation area, then it goes into the nuclei, it goes into the PLs and it goes into the farm.”

“If you buy one of my animals that has no EMS no EHP, the mistake that is often made is they buy a cheap polychaete maturation feed,” he says. “Or they add a local polychaete they get on their beach. And if it’s an EMS area, it will bring in disease.”

Adding polychaetes to a maturation feed for broodstock produces lots of eggs, MacIntosh admits, “but it’s also destroying the health of your system if they are diseased eggs.”

You don’t need an island to be biosecure, says MacIntosh. An inland island will do.  You need to create a disease-free boundary with total biosecurity and a surveillance program.    

“We have an island, but it’s surrounded by rice, not ocean,” MacIntosh explains. “I haven’t let any animals in since 2004. So they come out, but nothing goes in and we are very careful. There is not fresh anything in there, and we support it with on-going PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing.”  

Everyone wants to talk about the genetics, MacIntosh adds, but they can be overplayed. “Shrimp that are bred to grow quickly need to be in a healthy body or they don’t grow at all and it is a wasted effort,” he points out. “When they made the first SPF animals in Hawaii and likewise in Ecuador before genetic improvement, they showed 20 percent greater performance, and it was all health.”

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