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Farm-Raised Shrimp Sell Like Hotcakes
Within days of letting people know that her first batch of Pacific white shrimp were ready for harvest in late 2019, enough customers had traveled to Becky Bruns’ Danube, Minn., farm to buy her entire production. Any worries she had about marketing farm-grown shrimp in rural Minnesota were gone. And though there have been other challenges and setbacks, Bruns’ niche market appears to be a good one.
“I know the demand is there for a fresh product like this,” she says, noting consumers are interested in supporting farm-to-table producers.
Bruns knew she needed to try something different after Avian Influenza decimated her chickens and destroyed her egg operation in 2015. The seed was planted to raise Pacific white shrimp after purchasing them to eat from Simply Shrimp in Blomkest, Minn. Owner Paul Damhof offered to mentor Bruns, helping her set up her business, The Shrimp Shop, on her farm.
In September 2018, she started remodeling about half of the 360-ft. long poultry barn her parents built in 1980, the year Bruns was born. The propane in-floor heat helps keep the well-insulated 160 by 48-ft. space at 86 degrees year-round. PVC paneled walls with stainless steel fasteners won’t rust in the warm environment with 17 tanks filled with salt water.
Chemistry is a big part of Bruns’s job. Her well water goes through two filtrations to fill the tanks. Then 42-lb. boxes of marine-grade sea salt are added - 17 boxes in the 1,500-gal. nursery tanks and 30 boxes in the 3,300-gal. tanks where shrimp are raised to 20 to 25 grams.
“I get a few rotations and constantly check the water,” Bruns says. Beyond maintaining and monitoring pH, alkalinity, ammonia content, and nitrate levels, each tank has bacteria from the shrimp that is necessary for their survival.
Special pelletized feed in different rations according to size is measured out every day and put on a belt timer to consistently feed the shrimp, which have digestive systems that empty every 45 minutes.
“You have to have an eye on details. Oxygen, feed and water are all important,” Bruns says, noting things can still go wrong.
Despite having backups for her backups, when an air pump failed, a transfer switch failed to read it correctly and she lost 70,000 shrimp overnight.
With new stock she’s hopeful to get back on track in 2021. It takes about 120 days to grow shrimp to market weight. When they are ready she posts the information on her Facebook page and social media. Customers bring coolers, and she nets shrimp fresh out of the tank and flash freezes them in ice water. She sells them for $22/lb. with cash discounts.
“My goal is to have 200 lbs. a month (about 4,000 shrimp),” she says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Becky Bruns, The Shrimp Shop, 28587 730th Ave., Danube, Minn. 56230 (ph 507 237-6442; 833 671-5305; shrimpshopmn@gmail.com; Facebook: The Shrimp Shop)

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3