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Cricket Farmers Chirp With Success
Leroy and Elaine Henderson, are LaBelle, Fla. farmers who have a most unusual "livestock" operation. They raise Australian Gray Crickets, and a lot of them.
During their peak season, April 1 to Labor Day when fishing is in full swing, the Hendersons may have as many as 3 million crickets at once, ranging from newborns to ready-for-the-bait-box crickets. In the off season, they have about 600,000 at one time, says Leroy, who estimates that they sell between 10 and 12 million crickets a year.
Most of their crickets are used as fish bait and sold through bait shops. Some of them, however, are sold to zoos and pet shops as food for snakes, frogs and other cricket-eating species.
The Hendersons raise their own breeding stock. The stock lays the eggs in peat moss. The eggs hatch about 11 days later but the stress of laying the eggs causes the breeding stock to die within days. Fifteen thousand crickets will lay about 75,000 eggs, Leroy points out.
Crickets are raised in screen-topped wooden bins, with 15,000 crickets to a bin. After about 6 weeks the crickets are mature and are then sold in lots of 1,000. They retail for $2.50 to $3.00 per hundred. Henderson has distributors that sell the insects.
Day-by-day care includes providing the insects with fresh water. A bin-full of crickets drink about a half a gallon a day and eat about 5 lbs. of feed a day, says Leroy, noting that the feed is similar to chicken feed. Also, they must keep building temperature at 85? to 90? and keep the environment and boxes clean as crickets are very susceptible to bacteria and viruses.
The Hendersons, who've been in the business about six years, says there are just a few other cricket growers in Florida. He notes that the cost of heating might make the venture too expensive for the Midwest.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Leroy and Elaine Henderson, P.O. Box 1127, LaBelle, Fla. 33935.

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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #1