It’s hard to believe that right in the heart of Nebraska beef country, farmer Grant Jones is successfully raising shrimp.
“I love a good steak, and shrimp only compliments that steak on your plate. This is another form of protein that can be raised successfully in Nebraska,” said Grant Jones, a young farmer who raises cattle with his parents, Shawn and Julie Jones, near Haigler. The family is Chase County Farm Bureau members.
Jones started Chundy Aquaculture three years ago and is a manager and operator of Champion Shrimp. He now supplies fresh shrimp to individual buyers directly and delivers fresh shrimp to Imperial Super Foods in Imperial.
When he graduated college and returned to Imperial on the family farm and ranch, he wanted to diversify the operation.
“I did some research on how to expand income on the farm and aquaculture and shrimp farming caught my eye. Some people were converting old hog facilities into shrimp farms. I decided to use an old grain storage building and converted it to my shrimp farm,” Jones said.
There was a lot of work that had to be done to convert the grain storage building into a place to raise shrimp. Since Nebraska is so cold in the winter the inside of the building had to be insulated with spray foam so newly installed water lines would not freeze. There was a lot of concrete and electrical work that had to be done. He uses eight Wal Mart swimming pools that have various water lines and aeration systems connected to them.
Jones uses what’s called a “zero exchange system,” which is salt water just like the ocean, so he never has to change out any of the water. “This is an environmentally friendly business, because once my tanks are full, the shrimp farm will use less water than a regular household,” he said.
“I usually spend up to three hours a day feeding and taking care of the shrimp. There are 3,500 shrimp in each tank. Every day I take water samples from the tanks, testing the water to make sure it is a healthy environment for the shrimp to survive. I run tests for temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, PH, ammonia nitrites, carbon dioxide, and alkalinity,” said Jones.
Jones buys 10-day old shrimp from a hatchery in Texas and raises them in the two nursery tanks he has set up. It takes 14-weeks before shrimp are ready to harvest and sell. He can turn each tank over, from start to harvest, about four times a year.
“It’s important to try and feed shrimp every day, and at the same time every day, it is just kind of like feeding cattle,” he said. “At the same time every day we scanned the bunks, so we decide the amount of feed to give the cattle. We are doing the same thing here. We want to read the tanks at the same time everyday so we can get the correct results about how much feed we need, where the water is at, to get a consistent reading.”