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Ind. Shrimp Farm Feeds Seafood Fans

by Courtney Schafer

Published: Friday, April 10, 2015

"Shrimp, it's what's for dinner," is a common sign you will find at Hoosier Shrimp Farm in Walkerton. The newly established shrimp farm has been in operation since September when it sold its first batch of shrimp.

Owners of Hoosier Shrimp Farm, Ed and Debbie Troike are grain farmers in the Walkerton area. Their son, Jason and his wife Kristen, manage the shrimp business.

"Our son wanted to move back around home and family," said Ed. "He has some health issues that wouldn't allow him to be able to work around the grain dust so we decided we needed to find an alternative. That's part of the reason we decided to go into the shrimp business."

Knowing not a single thing about raising shrimp, Jason liked his dad's idea about the shrimp farm and he wanted to give it a try.

"Shrimp is the No. 1 seafood that is sold in the world," said Jason. "We also looked into the option of raising fish, but stayed with shrimp since there is a high demand for it."

Currently, there are only 10 shrimp farms in Indiana, with only three of them located in the northern part of the state.

Jason feels that the shrimp farm will add diversity to his family's farming lifestyle and agriculture background and will eventually benefit each family member.

At Hoosier Shrimp Farm, customers come on a weekly basis to purchase live Pacific White shrimp. The farm has 16 tanks that house 5,000 to 7,000 shrimp. The farm receives shrimp when they are two months old and they are ready for sale at 5 months of age. The shrimp spend the first month of their lives in Florida at the hatchery. In the near future, Hoosier Shrimp Farm is hoping to set up a nursery where they will be able to receive shrimp younger than 2 months of age.

Jason feeds the shrimp a pelleted feed that is corn and soybean based that is made by from Zeigler Feed.

Jason said that 90 percent of shrimp are imported to the U.S. and only 2 percent of them actually get inspected.

Each week, there is one tank of shrimp that are ready to be sold which amounts to a total of 45-50 pounds of shrimp leaving the farm.

As far as customers, the farm is selling shrimp retail only due to the small quantity that can be sold on a weekly basis. When individuals purchase their shrimp, they are also able to pick up recipes and literature that Jason and his family have provided.

Currently, a pound of shrimp sells for $15 which contains 30-40 individual shrimp.

"As time progresses, we will be able to sell more shrimp each week and eventually sell to restaurants," said Jason. "Raising shrimp isn't an easy task and it takes a lot of time and dedication. Each day, I have to test the water for levels of bacteria, temperature, nitrite, salinity, alkalinity and pH, as well as other levels. The key to shrimp survival is in the bacteria or probiotic. The water in each tank must stay between 25-27 degrees Celsius."

RDM Aquaculture in Fowler is Hoosier Shrimp Farm's consultant that helps Jason on a daily basis. He calls them each day with his test sample results and then they tell him their recommendations regarding his test results.

In the future, the family would like to start group and school tours to educate people about shrimp farming and shrimp in general. For now, their primary goal is getting the bacteria in each tank to where it needs to be to allow the shrimp to grow faster and to be able to sell more on a weekly basis.

"Our goal with the shrimp farm is to provide northwest Indiana with a premium seafood product that is fresh," said Jason. "Some of the shrimp that is purchased at the stores and restaurants can be up to a year old. We hope that as more and more people eat our fresh shrimp they will taste the difference and continue to support local shrimp farms."

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