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Info on raising crawdads?

 
gardener
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I am having a hard time finding info. There is plenty out there on merging rice fields with crawdads. It seems that when rice fields are drained it works with the cycle of crawdads. They burrough holes,  have babies, then come out when fall rains create the pond again (or filled for rice production)

My question is a pond that stays a pond. Can i assume they move to the banks and burrough there?  

As far as catching them (harvest), i dont need to drain it. Just put some traps in.

With the new pond installed i thought i would give it a try. I have vegetation and minnows established. Plenty of frogs and tadpoles came on their own. I won't ad any predator fish if it works.  

Another pond should be built next year.  If this draining thing is needed i can add a drain to the next one. I cannot imagine this being the case though.
 
gardener
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I'm going to be watching this thread with interest, although I don't have any knowledge to share.  All I know is my observation of the burrowing (terrestrial) crayfish that we have around here, and they are, apparently, not the same species as the ones  that like to live in ponds and streams.  The burrowing crayfish dig a hole down to the water table, where they excavate a living chamber, and then they make a living eating underground organisms, like a mole does.  The only time I ever actually see these "land lobsters" is when we've had flooding rains for days, and there's overland sheet flow across my yard.  They seem to come up on the surface then (maybe because it's a very wet environment?) and crawl around in the flooded grass.  

I wonder whether the aquatic ones ever have a reason to come out if you don't flood their burrows?  I assume that unlike the land ones, they must make their living catching stuff in the aquatic environment, and if they're out there swimming around in the pond, they ought to be trappable.  Sorry, just speculating here, I don't actually know anything useful.
 
pollinator
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I don't raise them on purpose but we catch them in the fishing lake we go to. They are about 3 feet deep where we fish for them and they have holes burroughed there. So, they should be fine in a pond that is always a pond.
 
wayne fajkus
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15 pounds will be here tomorrow. This was literally the last week they ship them so i got lucky to have inquired about them. The season is over.
 
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Looking forward to see the pics so I can compare them with my wild one's.
 
gardener
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I'm reasonably sure no draining is necessary. I've caught & seen many living in streams & rivers that don't drain. Don't know anything about raising them but I can verify that they can reanimate after being on ice for at least a couple hours. Had an unplanned round up at a BBQ once. Was hilarious.
 
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Hi Wayne,

I second that no draining is needed. In fact they may grow faster if water temps alow them to keep foraging when their is no draining. They go dormant for the dry, or cold times of the year. So if you can minimize that dormancy it should equate to faster growth. Many aquaculture growers just use traps to harvest, and never drain their ponds.

Hope that helps!
 
wayne fajkus
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R. Steele wrote:Hi Wayne,

Many aquaculture growers just use traps to harvest, and never drain their ponds.

!



The trapping seemed easy enough. Sepp holzer drains his pond to harvest if i understand correctly.  But i think he grows them in the sediment pond before the main pond. It has a monk pipe so he can drain it. Mine is the same setup minus the monk pipe. Next year's pond build will probably include a monk pipe/shallower depth/ and whatever else makes it crawdad and harvest friendly. Just need to see if this is the parh i want to take.

But i am thinking just add them in the pond(s). Start trapping next year and see what happens.
 
gardener
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I'm very interested in raising crayfish.

Some questions:


Is the pond aerated?
What will you feed them?
Where did you order them from? (For next year)
 
wayne fajkus
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Pond is not aerated. In the commercial industry the rice fields are harvested and crawdads are added. Their feed comes from the rice stubble. This is an efficient use of the 2 products. They live off the waste.

They eat plants, aquatic plants, stuff that dies and sink to the bottom, and any live minnow they get lucky enough to claw.  I am hoping i have enough diversity estsblished to do nothing.

Floating duckweed can double every couple of days and they eat it. The seeding we did after pond completion has a lot of sorghum and millet. Both are seeding.  Rain will wash the seeds into the pond. I am keeping all grazers out this year to hopefully self seed for next year. Tadpoles are in the water weed. I have another pond that is full of minnows. I can use an umbrella net and put 100 in a day if needed in just a few minutes.
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Mike Barkley
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I'm interested in the source too. Never thought about raising crawdads before. Sounds like a great plan though. I have okra & sassafras for making gumbo. I prefer shrimp gumbo but shrimp here is marginal at best. Mud bugs will work just fine!
 
wayne fajkus
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Ordered from cajuncrawfish.com

15 pounds was ruffly $100 delivered. Its  overnighted live for a crawfish boil.

More info, each female lays 200 to 400 eggs. Not sure what the hatch rate is but that is a huge number. With 100 crawdads and assuming half are females and 100 hatch that is 10,000 crawdads.
 
R. Steele
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Wayne,

Is it possible to do seasonal tilapia farming, with floating pens? That may be another way to create byproducts to increase production. Another option is a small flock of ducks, that will drop their fertalizer in the water, to increase fertility in the pond. Of course both options need planning to create balance for maintaining good water quality.
 
wayne fajkus
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I have no interest in tilapia. In a normal year, cows are rotated through there. Cow patties make it to the pond. I have kept them out because the topsoil was decimated in the pond construction and am getting it reestablished. I also get egrets on a daily basis walking the shallows and probably pooping. Zach put a fish habitat in the pond (stumps chained to a concrete culvert). He left a branch sticking up out of the water.  I often see a song bird perched on that branch. Poop is happening.

There is plenty i could do but i think everything is set up for a natural environment they can thrive in. I will make adjustments as needed. With 3 ponds i can play around and restock crawdads, minnows, and vegetation from one to another.

Ducks will probably get killed by predators. Making a floating hutch to protect them would be way down  on my list. I get asked that question a lot.

On aeration i have never needed it in a pond,  but in this new pond Zach Weiss made a sediment pond. Surface water goes into it. When it fills up it flows over a bed of rocks maybe 50ft long. It is super aerated from churning on the rocks when it enters the pond.
 
wayne fajkus
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I spent a large portion of last night reading and watching about crayfish. One guy with a natural pond feeds them boiled potatoes,  dried peas,  and fish that he catches. It must have been Europe as the fish was "roach".

The not good part was that most shipped crawdad is put in a brine solution to "purge" them prior to cooking. I think this clears their digestive tract. I am not sure if this effects their longevity. Shippers just need them alive for a few days. I need them to thrive and reproduce.

They should be here in a few hours. I am tempted to cook some depending on the quantity i get. I have had them in dishes where the flavor is diluted. I am curious how they taste on their own compared to lobster or shrimp.
 
pollinator
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A bit off tangent, but I was wondering to what degree those in Canada and the US near rivers and lakes have observed a general, anecdotal decline in crayfish numbers.    I've notice a rather sharp deficit of these in our northern Minnesota river as compared to our first years here about 30 years ago.  Among the normal concerns for drastic changes in aquatic life in our region are agricultural runoff, fungal plagues, and/or flooding cycles, which might possibly disrupt the breeding cycles.  Anyone else notice reduced crayfish number in their area?

https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/72634/Where%20Have%20All%20the%20Crayfish%20Gone%20Change%20in%20Occurrence%20of%20Invasive%20and%20Native%20Crayfish%20in%20the%20St.%20Louis%20River%20Estuary%20Over%2014%20Years.pdf?sequence=12
 
wayne fajkus
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I got them seeded. They came in a bag packed in a styrofoam cooler with ice packs. Because of the cold they moved slowly. I spread them around the edge of 3 ponds.
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wayne fajkus
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Just had some for lunch. They taste closer to lobster than shrimp. I think the texture is better than both. We steamed them and dipped the meat in melted butter.

Getting the meat out was easy.  The poop vein pulls away effortlessly. They were very clean pieces of meat.
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Posts: 19
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Hi Wayne. Zach and Ben must've dug your pond right before they dug mine. I've done some light googlin and there aren't quite a whole ton of folks doing natural and organic crawfish just yet, although I've heard whispers of it catching on. I'm committed to figuring it out. Last night's youtube hole led me to this here video. There's mention of rice for constantly-flooded land (and a variety called ecrivisse in particular) and sorghum for ephemerally-wet land. I have forever wet ponds, so rice may be an option. The video says that right about now is the time to plant rice because it's just about too late in the growing season for it to go all the way to grain. I have to decide soon.

LSU has an Austin alumni group. They hold their boil early May. I think that you'd be set up real nicely if you could break into the market with them. By the time their May boil comes around each year, they've probably had several hundred pounds shipped into town.

I gather that you initially seeded with some Native American Seed mix(es), as did I. If you are interested in figuring out the rest of it, let's put our heads together.
 
wayne fajkus
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Ben, thanks for posting. Based on your location, YES, they did go from me to you. They told me the ruff location of where they were going and a day didnt go by without me telling Ben S about the skeeters they would be encountering at your place. Lol

If you'd like to give a small tour I would love to see your project. I would do the same if you are ever in my area. He starts another one about 10 miles from me in November. I am "all in" with the work he does. I may be his biggest fan.

As far as crawdads, its becoming huge in my area. Fundraisers, local restaurants. I even see crawdad cookers almost as mainstream as turkey friers. HEB sells live crawdads while in season. The fact that they are shipped live makes me think a person would have an advantage to local sales. I don't know that my path will be selling them. This pond is probably too small for that. 2 more ponds are coming (2020 and 2021). Call this an experiment for the possibility of designing another one for this purpose.  
 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
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As soon as I step off the beaten path and into the woods, mosquitoes make a mosquito-colored whiteout like a bloodsucking blizzard. They were so bad last week that I sprayed deet in my mouth and nose. I don't recommend it.

The grand tour is not possible outside of the December-March window. That's when mosquitoes are down and snakes are groggy. I would gladly give you the "here's what we did in phase 1" tour now. It's quite nice and breezy after the sun goes behind the trees. We can walk the whole soggy paradise any ol wintertime you're in the neighborhood.
 
wayne fajkus
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I hope to take you up on it. Im in port lavaca once a month in winter. Could be a decent jump off spot for a day trip. Just need houston to go away or figure a rout around it. I think its between our 2 places.
 
wayne fajkus
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I found my first crawdad hole. Or "I think" I found my first crawdad hole.

I bought rice for grins and threw it in the pond. Will see if it sprouts. The interwebs implied that brown rice would sprout. Brown rice still has the hull. I also put some in a moist paper towel as a control. See if it sprouts.

Reading on how it is planted, broadcasting into the water was one mentioned. I will  be interested in seeing if it works over the next couple of weeks.
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wayne fajkus
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I spread out rice but it did not sprout. It cost $3 so no big deal.

The big worry is raccoons. The edge of pond is full of tracks all the way around. I wonder if the crawdads come out of water, or come to edge at night. I wonder if its "all you can eat crawdad" special for them. I am not finding much info about crawdad travel patterns.  I have not seen carcasses like pinchers so maybe it is not happening.
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I think raccoons and birds are going to be your biggest problem but raccoon is tasty .
been wanting to do this for the longest but keep seeing turtles and birds at my pond daily not sure if i can compete with them on catching.
let us know how it does. thanks for posting.  
 
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I found this video when I was researching setting up a crawfish aquaponics system. It is mainly aimed a large aquaculture farms, but provides a lot of info on crawfish and raising them. I have not setup a system yet, but this video is a good resource.... just need to adapt the info for smaller production.


 
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