you wouldn’t think you’d be able to successfully raise and sell shrimp in Wisconsin, but you totally can
Got shrimp? Bloomer entrepreneur Mike Hable does, and he’s proving that there isn’t anything a Wisconsinite can’t do, even raise shrimp.
Hable is the owner of the Bohemian Ovens bakery in Bloomer, and he had been a dairy farmer for 27 years before deciding to swim in a new direction after hearing about indoor shrimp farming.
“I had been looking at the idea of raising shrimp for several years but hadn’t heard of anyone doing it in Wisconsin,” he said, until he stumbled upon a newspaper article about someone shrimp farming in Westby, Wisconsin. So, after purchasing a 900-page book about shrimp farming, Hable decided to pursue his dream of becoming a seafood producer.
“I had been looking at the idea of raising shrimp for several years, but hadn’t heard of anyone doing it in Wisconsin. – Bloomer shrimp farmer Mike Hable
The Dairy State is an unlikely place to grow seafood, but it is possible with a swimming pool and a lot of dedication. Hable’s shrimp operation runs in an old repurposed barn on his farm, which houses eight salt water swimming pools that Hable built himself. The barn must be kept at a strict 92 degrees at all times so the water temperature in the pools can remain at a stable 80-82 degrees.
The baby shrimp are shipped from Florida via FedEx in batches of 33,000 and arrive the size of an eyelash, they are housed in special smaller pools until a month later when they grow to be a little more than two inches long and are transferred into bigger pools with more depth.
“It’s not that simple and it’s not easy and it’s not without work,” Hable said.
Hable has to feed the shrimp five times a day, and it takes about one pound of feed for every 3,000 shrimp. It takes roughly three to five months for the shrimp to grow to their full size, which is about six inches long. In addition, Hable has to test the water every day to ensure that bacteria levels in the pool are in check.
Hable uses a biofloc system to keep the pool water healthy for the shrimp. The biofloc system is a self-nitrification process with zero water exchange. Powerful pumps in the pool keep the water circulating and provide an oxygen-rich environment not only for the shrimp, but also for bacteria that consume the animals’ waste and create a healthy ecosystem; it’s a clean way to farm shrimp.
While still new to the business, Hable is enjoying his time on his new venture.
“Everyday is really, really, interesting.” he said.
Hable is about to harvest his very first batch of shrimp and expects to have about 4,000 of them, and for his next batch he hopes to grow his margin to 17,000 shrimp.
The locally raised white shrimp will be “way tastier than anything you’ve ever had at the grocery store,” according to Hable. The litopenaeus setiferus shrimp, a.k.a. everyone’s-favorite-all you-can-eat-buffet-offering is available by order at (715)-568-3067, and costs $20 per pound, which contains about 20 to 24 shrimp. Hable even offers tours of the shrimp farm; call ahead to schedule a tour and learn more about local shrimp farming.