- Animals: fish, shellfish
- Animal Production: feed rations
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, risk management, agritourism
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, public participation, sustainability measures
90% of all shrimp/prawns that are sold is the US are imported! Most imported shrimp comes from Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, China and India). These and other counties are not known for following best practices in production especially with the use of “not for human consumption antibiotic drugs”.
According to the Kentucky State University Prawn Production Manual, two of several issues facing producers of freshwater prawns are 1) producing consistently sized product and 2) decreased yields (as high as 50%).
With increased yields and consistent sizes this would encourage US farmers to look at this Value-Added revenue stream, especially since this is a sustainable product with a small investment of time.
This would not only lessen the environmental impact of over fishing the oceans by producing an aquaculture product that is locally grown, but will help eliminate any disruption in the food chain by creating food chain security and reducing the environmental impact on planet Earth.
With my proposal, I believe the end result will increase yields and produce a consistent size.
A Freshwater Prawn is territorial and cannibalistic and because of these traits; some studies suggest that there are losses as high as 50% from the initial stocking quantities.
We plan to compare two feeding protocols – the first to distribute the feed by hand, and the second to distribute the feed mechanically in a more uniform fashion. The end result is to see which, if either, protocol allows the production of freshwater prawns of more consistent size, weight and yield.
Most feeding is done by hand which entails slinging feed from a scoop over as much area as possible of the pond. This has an inherent problem with large areas of the pond not being covered with any feed at all, making it an inconsistent way of feeding.
We created a low cost device that evenly spreads feed over the pond. We started calling this device “The Shrimpshooter”. To view the “Shrimpshooter” in action go to www.donsprawns.com and under the photo and video section click on the video.
Inconsistency of size makes it difficult to market to commercial institutions such as restaurants or facilities that feed large groups. They typically want and need a consistent size. Generally speaking, they would probably prefer a larger size, but medium or smaller size shrimp or prawns would not be an issue as long as they are a consistent size.
Jim Cotugno is a Prawn producer about 10 miles north of our location. We have worked together and supported each other since I started raising prawns. Both of us have attended each other’s harvests. Jim feeds by hand.
This information presented is anecdotal and most certainly not statistical; but we both feel that my prawns are generally larger and have a more consistent size than his hand fed harvest. We feel the only way to prove this is to have two ponds stocked using the same water supply and feeds to test the theory.
When thought about this logically, the prawn by nature is cannibalistic and territorial, if you could deliver the feed to their individual living area, you should be able to have a larger and a more consistent sized prawn at harvest-time.
Again with evenly spread feed, the prawns do not have to go out and search for food because it is delivered to them, and they do not have to go into another prawn’s territory with a high probability (maybe 50%) of not returning to their own territory.
We may not only have a better practice of enhancing the size and consistency, but of increasing the overall yields.
Project objectives from proposal:
90% of all shrimp/prawns that are sold is the US are imported! Most imported shrimp comes from Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, China and India). These and other counties are not known for following best practices in production especially with the use of antibiotic drugs.
With increased yields and consistent sizes this would encouraging US farmer to look at this Value-Added revenue stream, especially since this is a sustainable product.
This would not only lessen the environmental impact of over fishing the oceans by producing an aquaculture product that are locally grown, but help eliminate disruption in the food chain by creating food chain security and reduce the environmental impact on planet Earth.
Prawns (shrimp) are sold and categorized by size and weight. A 16 Count is an average of 16 prawns per pound. A 25 to 30 Count would be much smaller in size and 25 to 30 prawns per pound.
One pond will be fed by hand, and the other pond fed by the mechanical device we invented that evenly distributes feed throughout the pond. We feel the evenly distributed pond will have more consistently sized prawns and a lower yield loss.
A higher yield means we can sell to more customers. During our last harvest we sold out in about hour and half and had to turn customers away. Some of our previous customers were looking forward to having our prawns again and were very disappointed when they were not able to get any.
More uniform sized prawns could also make the prawns more marketable to commercial organizations, an avenue of sales we have not even touched.
We will drain the first pond (hand fed) and as in previous years, keep a record of the number of pounds taken from the pond. Prior to selling, we will do a count of how many prawns per pound. We will also do a physical count (prawns per pound) four to five times during the harvest and sale. We will also use a size indicator to check consistency and uniformity of size. A simple ruler would work. As in the Average Count, size samples would be taken through out the harvest (approximately 10% of the total yield). The second pond would then be drained and the same records kept. This will determine if even distributed feed has an effect on the general size of prawns and a higher yield rate. Photos could also be taken.
For each harvest, we have hired several students from the local chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) to help us because the harvest is so labor intensive. There seems to be quite a demand to help with our harvests but unfortunately, we can not hire everyone who is interested. This research grant would enable us to hire more students and try their hand at aquaculture.
We will also be using Stan Smith, Extension Program Assistant Agriculture/Natural Resources at The Ohio State University Lancaster office and Dr. Laura Tiu, Aquaculture Specialist, at The Ohio State University South Center for further clarifications on our test methodology and for help on any other issues.