Cat's Out of the Bag:
New Catfish Line Outperforms Others
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Jim Core, (301) 504-1619, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 7, 2002
A new catfish line developed by Agricultural
Research Service scientists promises to provide a shot in the arm for
the U.S. catfish industry, according to producers who are already raving
about its big
appetite and superior growth rate.
Fish in this new catfish line, NWAC103,
consumed 10 percent more feed and grew 10 percent faster than channel
catfish now in
production. Releasing this superior breeding line should provide greater
profits for the industry, according to William R. Wolters, who leads the ARS
Catfish Genetics Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss.
The new line was released jointly last year
by ARS and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
(MAFES) at the Thad Cochran
National Warmwater Aquaculture Center (NWAC)
in Stoneville. Thirty-five selected producers in Mississippi, Arkansas,
Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina were chosen by lottery. Thus
far, researchers have released nearly 750,000 pounds of two- and three-year-old
broodstock to producers.
And producers are excited about the new
line. According to Neil Bowen, owner of Plantation Fishery, Inc. in
Pantego, NC, the new line is probably the best thing that ever happened
to the industry. The fish are such aggressive feeders and mature so
early, that the broodstock at his farm have doubled their size in one
Lester Myers, president of Delta Western
Feed Mill, Inc., in Indianola, Miss., attributes his increased feed
sales to the new line. He predicts this strain will be the predominant
catfish produced in the Missisippi Delta in the next two to three years.
The new line is a channel catfish, the most commonly raised catfish
ARS scientists selected the fish for fast
growth and increased feed consumption in the Stoneville breeding program.
ARS scientists identified genetic markers that allowed for rapid identification
and certification to distinguish it from other catfish. Genetic improvement
of channel catfish is essential for long-term viability of the U.S.
industry, according to Wolters.
ARS is the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's
scientific research agency.