Cargill launches holistic program to battle EMS

New combination of additives and services combat vibrio disease in shrimp and increase farm profitability.

To help customers manage the risk of early mortality syndrome (EMS) on their shrimp farms and improve profitability, Cargill's animal nutrition business has launched the SmartShield program, a holistic approach combining specialized feed and technical services proven to combat the disease and increase production by an average of 30%.

EMS, now technically known as Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Disease (AHPND), is caused by certain strains of the bacteria Vibrio and has caused devastating production losses in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Mexico, and has recently been suspected in disease outbreaks in other Central American countries. Outbreaks of EMS have caused mortality rates as high as 100%.

Cargill's new SmartShield program is comprised of three components:

1. On-Farm risk assessment uses a specialized tool that provides customized reports including specific biosecurity and farm management recommendations to reduce disease risk;

2. Targeted feed solutions with advanced nutrition including a functional additives package delivered through a complete feeding program that improves growth performance and boosts the shrimp immunity to increase survival, and

3. Specialized technical support package includes on-site performance evaluation tools and rapid diagnostics in water quality and disease resulting in early detection and preventative recommendations saving time and money.

"Disease is one of the major causes of low farm productivity and loss of revenue," said Ryan Lane, global aquaculture technology director. "Our experience has shown us that targeting only one aspect of production is not enough. A holistic approach — improved biosecurity, a specialized feeding program and customized technical services for ongoing disease prevention and management — is best for effectively reducing disease outbreaks on the farm."

The program is the result of two years of research at Cargill's Global Animal Nutrition Innovation Center in Elk River, Minn., to design and select the best possible combination of additives and nutrients for promoting growth performance and animal survival.

"One of the key learnings from our research is that not all additive combinations are equally effective, and some even have negative effects," said Daniel Barziza, Cargill's global aquaculture research and development director. "We validated our additive choices using disease challenge models and growth trials."

Field trials conducted with key customers in Mexico proved that the program can provide customers with an average of 59% higher production yield, an average of 20% improvement in feed conversion ratio and up to $3,850 per hectare return on investment.

"This program is a huge step forward in our journey to help mitigate the devastating effects of EMS on the industry," said Mario Chong, business development manager for Cargill's aquaculture business in Central America. "We have listened to our customers and reacted with a strong, research-based solution to combat this devastating disease."

"The Cargill technical team continues to work to pioneer effective ways to combat disease and believes that coupling farm management best practices with innovative feeds and proper diagnostics is the best way we can help our customers be successful and increase their profitability," Lane added.

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