Farmer Adds Value by Adding Prawn and Trout
Joe Gaylord has a 100-acre farm and rents additional acreage for his 120 cow/calf operation. To offset rising fuel and input costs, he sought another source of income. Since his farm has a large pond with an excellent water supply, he decided a fish and prawn operation would be a good fit.
“It takes little to no machinery for this to work,” Gaylord said. “We have a four-wheeler, a boat, and three or four 5-gallon buckets. That’s the beauty of this.”
Gaylord researched pond design; construction of fish cages; fish variety; feed type and quantity; how to test water quality, water temperature, and oxygen levels; and pond fertilization. Gaylord said the information and assistance he received from personnel at Lincoln University’s Carver Farm in Jefferson City, Missouri, was invaluable as he conducted his research.
Gaylord started with 10,000 bluegill. He added 50 pounds of freshwater prawn.
Due to a short growing season, yield was low for the prawn. Gaylord said water temperature is a major factor for prawn survival. To take advantage of periods of colder water temperatures, Gaylord added rainbow trout during the winter months. The trout grew well, but Gaylord didn’t have the market for them.
Gaylord found that bluegill and prawns are incompatible species to raise together. Harvesting prawn requires the pond to be drained, making it necessary to transfer the bluegill from the cages to another pond, and then return them. Given the short growing season for prawn, the extra labor required is inefficient. However, the prawn harvest brings many customers and curious visitors to the farm. Members of DeMolay, a fraternal organization for young men, have provided labor.
Aquaculture is new to Bates County, Missouri, where Gaylord’s farm is located. He provides tours, speaks at area clubs, and has helped a new prawn farmer get started.
View Joe's presentation at the 2012 Farmers Forum through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC10-795, Adding Value to Missouri Family Farm by Incorporating Aquaculture Into Existing Farm Operation .
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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.