If someone asks you if anyone raises shrimp in Indiana, fool all your friends by giving the correct answer- yes. Nick Wenning and his wife, Julie, and young daughter, Josie, raise freshwater shrimp in their small pond in rural Decatur County outside of Greensburg.
"It's not a moneymaker, although it would be nice if it would be someday," says Wenning. "We're still learning and adapting how we do things. This is our fourth season to raise the shrimp in our pond."
The shrimp are obtained in the spring from a producer of infantile shrimp, and added to the pond. Wenning placed 12,000 shrimp in the pond this year. After the first few weeks, he feeds them a pelleted feed, especially blended at a local dealer. Shrimp cannot tolerate copper, so the pellet is prepared without copper. Also, since they feed on the bottom, the pellet was specially designed to sink instead of float on the surface. He estimates that he will feed a ton of feed to the shrimp this year,
"They're very territorial, and they really don't like each other," Wenning adds, as he pulled up a few with a net and displayed them on the bank. "They're spread out all over the pond."
He hopes to harvest 600 pounds of shrimp this year, and would some day like to be able to up the poundage. How does he harvest them? Simple- drain the pond! He picks a Saturday in September, this year it is Sept 10, and he drains the pond, starting early in the morning. By noon or before, the shrimp flow out the pipe into a specially designed catch basin he has created since he first began the project.
The shrimp are sold first come, first serve that day to anyone who shows up to buy them. The rest go into their freezer as delicacies, Julie says.
"Shrimp are very sensitive to cold water," Wenning explains. "That's why we drain the pond in September, and why the growing season is fairly short. We kill them by placing them in ice water. The cold bath kills them fairly quickly.
"It only takes a few minutes to clean a pound of shrimp," he continues. "We show anyone who comes how to do it, and also provide recipes. It's something we really enjoy doing, and it fits with our farming operation."