Home-grown shrimp on the farm horizon

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LONDON, Ohio – To some, freshwater shrimp operations in Ohio may seem a little fishy.

But research done in neighboring states indicates a potential profit, said Laura Tiu, an aquaculture specialist at Ohio State University’s Piketon Research and Extension Center.

Ohio State researchers are working with growers to test the viability of shrimp production in nine southern Ohio ponds.

The freshwater shrimp are being raised on select farms to produce more “real-life” results for growers than those raised in mock scenarios at Piketon, Tiu said. The shrimp, which were stocked in ponds earlier this year, will be the topic of Tiu’s session at the Farm Science Review discussion, Sept. 17, at the Small Farm Center.

The center offers programs, equipment displays and organizations targeted to small-farm owners.

The beginning. Research on freshwater shrimp production in Ohio began this past spring after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources permitted them to be cultured in Ohio, Tiu said. Aquaculture species foreign to the United States have to be approved before research can begin.

“We hope the data generated by our research will help us to determine the feasibility of freshwater shrimp culture as an option for small, limited-resource farmers,” Tiu said.

Freshwater shrimp can net $2,000-$5,000 per acre, Tiu said. They have a short three-month growing season – June to September – as compared to other aquaculture species. They also require minimal labor and occupy existing water resources, she said.

The shrimp need three months of optimum water temperatures to reach market size, Tiu said.

Ohio production? Northern Ohio, which has a different climate than southern Ohio, may not be an option for freshwater shrimp production. Future research will determine the production possibilities for the entire state.

By reviewing research in other states, Tiu and fellow researchers see the potential for freshwater shrimp production in southern Ohio.

Aquaculture, which is a fast-growing segment of agriculture, is underutilized in Ohio, Tiu said. Freshwater shrimp production could help build a more diverse agricultural industry.

Tiu and others hope to answer growers’ questions about production and feasibility on their own farm, develop successful marketing strategies for interested growers and educate others on aquaculture opportunities.

Freshwater shrimp production is only one of many topics that will be featured at the Small Farm Center. Other sessions range from pasteurized poultry production to seasonal dairying to berry production.

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