Shrimp farm in Pierz offer its customers fresh shrimp

What started out as just talk about various retirement projects between two fellow Army National Guard servicemen, ended in a shrimp farm business in Pierz. Owners Joel Fischer and Kevin Smude said they started looking into different business options within aquaculture, since Smude is unable to do heavy lifting because of injuries to his back he incurred while he was deployed to Iraq.

“We looked at shrimp farming and really liked it,” said Smude. “It’s kind of new and unique. It’s a different way of growing them.” Smude said to successfully grow the shrimp, they have to create a specific environment for the shrimp. This is done through a Zero Exchange Aerobic Heterotropic (ZEHA) system.

The tanks are filled with salt water. The growing area carries a steady temperature of 87 degrees. “We keep the water at about 85 degrees,” he said. At the Four Seasons Shrimp Company, there are 21 tanks that are 12-feet wide and 30-inches high. There are about 4,000 shrimp in each tank. Biofloc is introduced to each tank, which is a five-strain bacteria that breaks down the sheddings of the shrimp and the feed to keep the shrimp healthy.

Smude said it takes about a year to get the system at full-capacity. When they started seven months ago, only 30 percent of the shrimp survived. With each round, the survival rate of the shrimp has increased.
“We’re currently at (a survival rate of) 70 to 80 percent,” he said. As the shrimp grow, they are transferred to different tanks. It takes about four months to grow the shrimp before they are ready to be sold.
Smude said they’ve received a lot of help and advice from consultant Chad Axley of Elgin, who has his own shrimp farm. Through the process, they’ve learned a lot about shrimp, such as there are 200 different species of shrimp. Smude and Fischer decided to grow and sell Northern Pacific Shrimp and get the baby shrimp from a hatchery in Florida.
“It’s the most common shrimp people eat,” said Smude. “Our shrimp is firm and not kind of mushy like some are.” One aspect that Smude likes about he and Fischer having their own shrimp business is that they know where the shrimp came from and that they are healthy. About 92 percent of the shrimp in the U.S. comes frozen from other countries, typically within Asia. “Only 5 to 10 percent of it gets checked,” he said. “Around 25 to 30 percent are returned (to its country of origin) because of various findings, like salmonella in the shrimp.”
Smude said that since only such a small amount of the shrimp that is imported is checked, it is not uncommon for the suppliers to send the shrimp back to the U.S., knowing that it likely won’t get checked.
The Four Seasons Shrimp Company will hold a shrimp sale Friday, April 29, from noon – 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the business, located at 507 Industrial Park Road in Pierz.

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