In many parts of the world, ‘Small scale’ or “backyard” frog farms still seem to be the norm suggesting that management practices and value chains have not yet gotten to the point where crucial economies of scale come into play, but that trend is beginning to change across Asia.
Technology and proper management practices have made frog farming efficient and profitable regardless of some recent investment trends in other aquaculture sectors.
In Frog culture, there are two major phases: larval rearing to metamorphosis, followed by grow-out to marketable size.
The two phases face issues such as diseases, cannibalism, nutrition, water quality, and biosecurity/sanitation/.
Actually, Market potential and Demand for frogs/Frog products from farming have long been pursued in many countries and with a number of species. Early researchers and developments focused on the American bullfrog.
The American bullfrog is native to North America and often reaches 20 cm in length with large females laying up to 25,000 eggs at a time.
Through the international seafood marketing channels, frog legs are able to land on their consumers’ tables.
Even so, most of these frogs entering this market are harvested from the wild. In recent years, imported frog legs have totaled between 1.1 million and 3.3 million pounds.
The wholesale value of these wild frog imports has ranged from $2.70 to $3.20 per pound.
Market potential and Demand for frogs/Frog products
The Chinese Academy of Engineering estimated the value of the country’s frog farming industry was over the US $7 billion.
Dressed carcass yields of farmed frog species differ, but a value of approximately 50% is typical. The rear legs of the frog generally account for half the carcass weight.
Some markets also exist for frog skin as a specialty leather.
Some Western consumers are often familiar with frogs’ legs as an edible product, but it is more common to see the whole dressed carcass consumed in other parts of the world.
Wild frogs offer a number of environmental services, not the least of which is the control of many agricultural pests.
Challenges in Frog farming
- Land and labor costs
- Technical requirements
- Short growing season
- Slow growth rates
- Unsolved disease
- Nutritional problems.
The current major suppliers include China, Bangladesh, Belgium, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan.
Species of frogs you can raise
- Marsh frog
- North African green frog
- Giant swamp frog or groove crowned bullfrog in Burundi and Nigeria.
The Larval culture of frogs covers hatching to metamorphosis. The survival of the larvae to metamorphosis, size, age at metamorphosis, and overall weight gain during larval culture are crucial indicators of good/ bad management practices.
Temperature, rearing density, dissolved minerals, nutrition, and water quality are all major influences on tadpole survival and growth.
The feeding aspect of frog culture is comparatively easy when dealing with the larval stages prior to metamorphosis.
In China, for example, the metamorphosis rates of H. rugulosa were shown to decrease as larval density increased.
Time to metamorphosis also increased with density, and froglets from high density treatments were smaller.
When tadpoles’ food was limited, the time to metamorphosis also increased and froglet size decreased. Similar trends have been reported for other species.
Tanks should be checked closely several times a day and any sick or dead animals removed. Tanks or ponds should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. To avoid waste as they reduce the potential for bacterial diseases.
Some species tolerate crowded conditions far better than others but generally, diseases are common among frogs raised at high densities.
Frog farming diseases
Motile aeromonads affect the water, the feed, and the frogs themselves.
Saprolegnia spp., causes felt-like blotches on the frog’s skin, especially in crowded conditions. This disease is highly contagious and usually dangerous since there is no known cure.
Red-leg syndrome/bacterial dermato septicemia, is a widespread problem in frog farms that affect many different species of frogs around the world.
Certain antibiotics can help with the disease, but cost, resistance, and residue concerns limit the approach.
What do frogs eat?
Bullfrogs eat only live or moving prey. They do not take artificial diets. However, you can try several approaches to increase their contact with insects suitable as food.
Do surround your pond with artificial lighting. Insects attracted to the lights will spend their days in the grass around the pond and be available as a food source for the frogs.
You can also place decaying meat around your pond to attract insects which serve as a food source for the frogs.
A more complicated method to feed your frogs involves placing the meat in screens staked twelve or more inches above the ground.
Tips on Frog Farming
Frogs can be grown in ponds not more than three to four feet deep.
All you need is sufficient water depth for bullfrogs and tadpoles to be in the pond. The pond should be 2- to 12-inches deep.
Your frog pond should have as much shoreline as possible. Do remember that adult bullfrogs need up to 20 feet of shoreline as their hunting preserve.
- Stocking high densities of frogs basically lead to disease problems and cannibalism.
- If you want to specialize in frog production properly, make sure your pond is free of fish that might prey on tadpoles, eggs, and small frogs.
- The frog pond should be equipped with either a solid five-foot-high fence or a tight-mesh wire fence topped by a strand of electrified fence to get rid of terrestrial predators such as foxes, raccoons, and snakes, etc.
- Do cover your pond enclosure to exclude frog-eating water and shore birds, you must cover your enclosure with appropriate material.
- Your pond must have an abundant supply of unpolluted water. The healthy growth of algae and aquatic plants in the pond serves as food for tadpoles and cover for frogs. However, do avoid die-off plants as they can lead to periods of oxygen depletion.
- Frogs held at high densities are vulnerable to a number of common bacterial infections. Most are highly contagious and fatal.
Consumption of frogs is growing around the globe and at the same time, wild harvests of most edible species have become more unsustainable, hence, it is probably a safe bet that frog farming will grow in the years coming with importance accruing for consumers, producers, and the environment.