Redclaw Crayfish Aquaculture

Edited by CM Jones

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C.M. Jones (editor)

Recommended Practices for Redclaw Crayfish Aquaculture based on Research and Development Activities, 1988 through 2000.
Northern Fisheries Centre, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Cairns Q 4870, Australia
clive.jones@dpi.qld.gov.au

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PREFACE
Interest in the aquaculture of redclaw crayfish has continued to be strong since initial assessments of this species were made in the late 1980's, through both Industry trials and Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries research. Considerable Industry development has occurred since that time, although with limited success. Unlike the development of most other Australian aquaculture industries for which existing technologies established elsewhere have been transferred, redclaw aquaculture has developed independently. This is primarily because existing crayfish aquaculture technologies are not suitable for redclaw. In virtually every aspect of the production technology for redclaw, there have been no established procedures or standards. It is the development and definition of these procedures and standards which constituted the broad goal of redclaw research activities at the Freshwater Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre, Walkamin, through to 2000. This work has been financially supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries who have all contributed to the research program. An integral part of this program is the transfer of information and technology to industry. This has been achieved through a variety of means, the most direct being the presentation of seminars. This publication represents background notes for these seminars as they were presented through the late 1990’s. I would like to acknowledge all those who made contributions which led to the preparation of this publication. Jo Grady (DPI&F Walkamin) and Greg Love (crayfish farmer) provided presentations at the seminar. Thanks also to Peter Long, Millin Curtis, Ian Ross, Colin Bendall, Andrew Hinton and Maurice Downing (all of the DPI&F&F) who provided information and /or assistance with the preparation of the notes.

Clive Jones

.............................................................................................................................................................. 4 INTRODUCTION TO REDCLAW ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 24 FARM MANAGEMENT ............................... 22 Feeding ................................................................................................... 16 Lining Materials ...................... 3 Local Issues ........................................................................................................................... 31 Pond Preparation ......................................................................................................... 6 Historical Perspective ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Disease and Parasites ................................................................. Assessing Performance................................................................................................................... 18 Introduction ......................... Your Objective ....................................................................................................................... 26 2................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................. 3 Charleville Redclaw Farm.............. 10 Farming Technology.................................................................................................... 15 Pond Details .......................................................................... 12 POND AND CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING ISSUES .................................................................. 8 Reproduction ............................ 26 3...................................................................................................... 22 Pond Management........................................................................................................... 7 Feeding Characteristics............................... 12 Site Requirements ................................................................................... 26 4.......................................................................................................... 6 Biological Characteristics ................................................................................................................................................................................... 34 .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 19 Juvenile Supply ...................................................... 26 1................ 23 Outcome......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8 Growth Rate........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 2 Alternative Crops................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 15 Pond Design ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 18 Farm Layout Considerations............. 17 PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES FOR REDCLAW ..................................................................................................................................................... VI A SITE ASSESSMENT FOR SUITABILITY OF FARMING REDCLAW .......................... 10 SITE REQUIREMENTS ...................................iv CONTENTS PREFACE ........................................................................................... 12 Site Suitability Criteria ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 15 Construction Materials................................................................................................................................... Identifying Assessment Criteria and Standards.................................................... Developing the Strategy..................................................................... 29 7........................................................................ 16 Basic steps in Pond Construction .................................................................................................................. 1 Climate and Water Quality........................................................................................................................................................... 31 Managing plankton...................... Setting Timetables................................................................................................................ 19 Stock Management............................................................................................................................................................ 21 Harvesting ...................... 9 Life Cycle......... 1 Summary .......................................................................................... 29 Conclusion .... VI TABLES...................................................................................................................................................... 1 Soil Types....................................................................................... Allocating Resources ............................... IV FIGURES .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1 Location and Services.................... III CONTENTS ................................................................................................................................. 28 6................. 28 5...................................... 10 Summary .................................................................................................................................................................................. 30 WATER QUALITY ........................................................................... 3 Water Resources Comment............................................... 15 Water Supply................................................... Recognising the Processes..........................................................................

...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 39 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 60 Summary ................................................................. 60 Promotion ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 56 Overseas Markets .............................................. 56 Domestic Market....... 54 REDCLAW MARKETING ................................................... 58 Product Issues............................................................................................................................................................................................. 40 Results................. 58 Pricing & Its Implications ........................................................................................................................................................... 39 Summary .................................................................... 48 Provision of Initial Stock ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 56 Introduction ........... 38 REDCLAW ECONOMICS .................................................... 35 Record Keeping ................................................................................................................................................................................v Pond dynamics................... 40 Sensitivity analysis................................... 60 ................................ 50 INDUSTRY OVERVIEW (1994) ........

... 19 FIGURE 3....... VARIATIONS IN REDCLAW YIELDS ON RETURN TO MANAGEMENT FOR A MODEL REDCLAW 2 FARM WITH 53 X 750M PONDS... ESTIMATED FEED COSTS FOR A MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS............. .............................. 1990).................. DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW FOR MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS WITH POND LINERS..... LEVELS ARE GIVEN FOR LOW ALKALINITY (<20PPM) AND HIGH ALKALINITY (>50PPM) WATER................................ 48 TABLE 12........ ......................................................................................................... VARIATIONS IN FARM-GATE PRICE ON RETURN TO MANAGEMENT FOR A MODEL REDCLAW 2 FARM WITH 53 X 750M PONDS.................................................... TOTAL CAPITAL COSTS FOR A MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS............................ 47 TABLE 11....................................................................... 46 TABLE 10............................................................................ 43 TABLE 8.... 42 TABLE 7........................... .......................... 52 FIGURE 11........... 50 TABLE 14..................................... ........ ALLOCATION AND COSTS OF HIRED LABOUR FOR REDCLAW FARMS OF VARYING SIZE........... FOR REDCLAW AQUACULTURE...... ... ............................................................... PREFERRED RANGE OF SELECTED WATER QUALITY PARAMETERS OF SOURCE WATER...................................... COST AND POND ALLOCATION FOR STOCKING A MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS........... 2 TABLE 2................................. 33 FIGURE 4................... TYPICAL WATER TEMPERATURES OVER 24 HOURS IN A REDCLAW POND IN NORTH QUEENSLAND DURING SUMMER................. TOTAL POND AREA VERSUS RETURN TO CAPITAL AND MANAGEMENT FOR A MODEL REDCLAW 2 FARM WITH 53 X 750M PONDS........ 37 FIGURE 8.............................................. 13 TABLE 3.........000M2 PRODUCTION PONDS.................vi FIGURES FIGURE 1................... PERCENTAGE BREAKDOWN ON OVERHEADS FOR MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS. 36 FIGURE 7.................................... 35 FIGURE 6................................. 51 FIGURE 9............ 51 .......... (MODIFIED FROM BOYD........................................................................... LAYOUT OF A HYPOTHETICAL REDCLAW FARM CONSISTING OF FORTY 1.... PRICE AND RETURN TO CAPITAL AND MANAGEMENT FOR A MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS.............................................................00/KG................................................................. ............................................................................................. ......................... 34 FIGURE 5................... DIAGRAM OF REDCLAW LIFE CYCLE......... TYPICAL PH LEVELS OVER 24 HOURS IN A REDCLAW POND IN NORTH QUEENSLAND......... ACCUMULATIVE CASH FLOW OVER TIME FOR A MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS... 53 TABLES TABLE 1..................................... ESTIMATED WATER TEMPERATURES FOR AQUACULTURE PONDS AT CUNNAMULLA............. TYPICAL DISSOLVED OXYGEN LEVELS OVER 24 HOURS IN A REDCLAW POND IN NORTH QUEENSLAND. 41 TABLE 6..... .......................................... 24 TABLE 4...................................................................................................................... .......... USING A FARM-GATE PRICE OF $10..... ESTIMATING AGRICULTURAL LIME APPLICATION RATE......... ........................................................... LIMING AND NON-LIMING COMPOUNDS USED FOR AQUACULTURE PONDS.............................................. 9 FIGURE 2..... 31 TABLE 5........................................ 45 TABLE 9...... WATER QUALITY PARAMETERS... TYPICAL CHANGES IN PLANKTON DENSITY AFTER POND FILLING IN WELL MANAGED PONDS............................................... SUMMARY OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS FOR A MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS....... ..... ........ 49 TABLE 13....... COST OF PRODUCTION AND RETURN TO MANAGEMENT FOR REDCLAW AQUACULTURE WITH VARIOUS TOTAL POND AREA................................................... THEIR PREFERRED RANGE AND MEASUREMENT FOR REDCLAW AQUACULTURE............................. ........................ .................... DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW FOR MODEL REDCLAW FARM WITH 53 X 750M2 PONDS WITHOUT POND LINERS.............................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................... 52 FIGURE 10....... ........................ ......................

REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE

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A SITE ASSESSMENT FOR SUITABILITY OF FARMING REDCLAW
Peter Long Summary In July 1994, a preliminary assessment of redclaw production in South-West Queensland was undertaken. Information was gathered on environmental conditions, soil characteristics, local services available, land-holder interest, government agency comments, Paroo Shire support and existing redclaw production experiences. Five interested land-holders were interviewed at length, which provided a fruitful exchange of ideas and concepts. The Paroo Shire Council representatives certainly provided a positive hearing and one producer of 18 months experience (Charleville) provided some insights into his local production experiences. Location and Services Cunnamulla (population 1700) is located some 807km from Brisbane and 197km from Charleville (population 3500), the closest major town. The community is serviced by aircraft twice a week, rail twice a week and bus three times a week. The office of the Paroo Shire is headquartered in Cunnamulla and ongoing support for the project has been provided by both Suzette Beresford, Shire Chief Executive Officer and Paroo Shire Chairman, Darby Land. Cunnamulla is located on the Warrego River (Murray-Darling Catchment). The Cunnamulla Weir, adjacent to the town was completed in 1992 and provides an annual yield of in excess of 3000Ml with a 92% reliability factor. Climate and Water Quality The annual rainfall of the district ranges from 300 to 350mm (November-March) and Cunnamulla's altitude is 189 metres. The net evaporation rate (Cunnamulla Post Office) is 2.55m a year. Mean maximum daily temperatures range from 18.9°C in July to 35.6°C in January with minimums of 5.5°C in July to 25.4°C in January. Using the pond temperature model (Australian Fisheries, November 1990), based on ponds at Walkamin Research Station, the following pond water temperatures could be predicted at Cunnamulla.

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REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE

Table 1. Estimated water temperatures for aquaculture ponds at Cunnamulla. Month January February March April May June July August September October November December Pond temp. (°C) 31.5 29.5 26.8 20.6 14.3 11.3 10.2 13.1 17.0 22.0 25.5 27.5 Max. Pond Bottom Temp. (°C) 34.5 32.5 28.8 24.6 19.3 16.3 15.2 17.1 21.0 25.5 29.5 30.5

As quoted previously, 2600Ml is available for allocation from the Cunnamulla Weir. Water Resources are at present finalising allocations. Several land holders adjacent to the weir hold 30-100Ml annual allocations, some of which is used to irrigate pasture crops. The bulk of the water allocation is in one parcel, and will be used to irrigate either cotton or table grape production, depending on the successful applicant. The Council has requested an E.I.A., if cotton production is to proceed, and there is a degree of unease with this crop's production in the district. Water Resources have withheld 300Ml of allocation for future Council use and additions to present allocations of small licence holders. Both artesian and sub-artesian waters are available in the region, the quality of which varies. The majority of South-West Queensland sits over the Great Artesian Basin (G.A.B.), this water supply has traditionally provided stock and domestic supplies throughout the region. Three conductivity reports sighted ranged from 700 to 4000 uS/cm with a pH in the range of 7.8 to 8.5. In general most artesian water around Cunnamulla is regarded as drinkable and of good quality, (unscientific, but some measure of quality is reflected). Volumes from bores were quoted up to 1.3Ml per day and the water pressure does not vary. Soil Types A preliminary assessment of the soil types divides the district into 3 "simple" categories - black (heavy clays), red (light clays) and river loams. Drawing on the property dam construction experience, there appears to be few problems with black and red soils, but comments about the river loams would suggest potential difficulties. Sand and gravel run through the soil profile in some of the flood plain areas.

REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE

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Alternative Crops South-West Queensland by and large is considered to have a depressed rural income due, to a greater part, to depressed wool prices. Both the state and Commonwealth Governments are supporting a "Mulga Land Strategy" to underpin the region with income support, property rationalisation and investigations of alternative production systems. As discussed previously, cotton and table grape production are serious candidates along with garlic and native plant production. The first three require irrigation, and would, in the case of Cunnamulla, be limited by water allocations from the weir. Artesian water is unsuitable for sustained irrigation usage. There was also a suggestion of limited expansion of pasture crop production, again based on the weir water allocations. Water Resources Comment Mr Lachlan Hanley, Water Resources Engineer, Charleville, was consulted and provided the following observations. There are three water sources in this region surface (Cunnamulla Weir), sub-artesian and artesian (G.A.B.) As previously discussed the allocation of water from the weir is at present in the final stages of negotiation and is committed, with flood harvesting of the Warrego committed for at least 2 years. Possible flood harvesting requires off-stream storage and can be unreliable in this region. The present weir allocations have a 92% reliability. Water of the G.A.B. flows at different rates depending on the bore and vary in quality through the region. (A Water Resources survey of G.A.B. water quality of the Warrego region is available). Bores presently provide for domestic and stock purposes. If the water was to be used for aquaculture a permit would need to be applied for along with a $55.00 application charge. Water usage from the G.A.B. is becoming increasingly sensitive, a bore capping program is under way and Government support for pipe replacement of bore drains is under way. There is a national program to reduce usage of these waters. Historically a lot of artesian water has run to waste, down bore drains. Lachlan advised to apply for a reasonable G.B.A. allocation for aquaculture as allocations are made with the "bigger picture" of the whole basin in mind. Sub-artesian water is available in areas and is not subject to the same process of approval, a decision can be made at the district office based on the local water table and demand levels. Charleville Redclaw Farm Mr Roy Bignell is at present experimenting with seven ponds on the outskirts of Charleville. He is using both artesian and sub-artesian waters. The sub-artesian water has a conductivity of 3000-4000 with the artesian water around 1000-1200. He has developed the technique of blending the waters. Reasonable "blooms" were observed in several on the ponds and he claimed the crayfish, first stocked in February 1993 were doing very well and reproducing at a good rate.

floods spread out from the major streams/Warrego and Paroo Rivers and cover large tracts of country. This redclaw farm illustrated to me the possibility of redclaw production in G. Both from economic loss and permit requirement considerations. Future marketing opportunities will be limited by the lack of seafood marketing licence holders in the South-West. Fencing and netting of ponds also needs to be highlighted. waters. but considerations could be given to heat exchange methods (e. This could be overcome if a number of producers established and agreed to cooperate in marketing their crayfish. The Department has a real role and this needs to be addressed. The cost may be questionable. Local Issues The Cunnamulla district is within the "channel country" and as such is relatively flat. and it was suggested that this quality could be used to warm ponds in winter. Pond management may need to be modified to produce good blooms and thus provide a good pond environment. but this market would only take small quantities in my opinion. with a regular flow of tourists. both land-based and birds. Cunnamulla is a long way from the coast and some planning needs to be undertaken to service an "established" redclaw industry in the South-West. It was explained that flowthrough ponds don't provide the optimum conditions in crayfish ponds. Crayfish were observed with tail blisters and tail sections missing in some ponds. piping in ponds).B.A.g. In the short time on the ground. Artesian water has a temperature of 45-55°C at the bore head.4 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE No pond bottom drains were installed and I would suggest he had some pond bottom problems. I believe Agribusiness (both QDPI&F and DPI&FE) could and should be involved in the marketing stage of the industry of it . Bore water pond management may require a slightly different approach. It is reported that the local crayfish population is well distributed and in good numbers. with possibilities of a unique South-West Queensland identity for such a product being marketed through a single market (and licence) group. as there was some what of a local sceptical reaction to the suggested destruction by predators. The possibility of a good local market was raised by several people. This issue would need to be addressed in any presentation. The ponds will be based on both surface and bore water and as well as normal redclaw production skills. Chook pellets were used and small juveniles were noted at the time of visit. It should be highlighted to intending producers that the local yabbies and redclaw don't mix and ponds will need to be kept free of this species if successful production levels are to be achieved. but the warm water is available and an experiment may be worthwhile. all ponds need to be above flood height. and Graham's comments a local "industry" of 4-6 producers with upwards of 20 ponds may be possible in the next 2 years.

again QDPI&F. again the typical approach of many about redclaw . Several interested producers have already visited one or more enterprises.throw them in . This could take the form of a visit to a region of several redclaw enterprises to allow exposure to different production methods and farm sizes. Another impression that needs to be addressed is that it is a low-cost industry to establish. . The issue of aquaculture permits would need to be covered and some suggestion of where to turn to for assistance and for explanations. The message about costs and system management needs to be highlighted and reinforced at the proposed seminar. the QDPI&F could facilitate such a trip in arranging existing producer contacts. However. a couple of individuals impressed me with the seriousness of their approach.and harvest at the end of twelve months. A third stage of any industry development would be the visiting and exposure of potential producers to established redclaw enterprises. A "volume" of redclaw from a unique location could be well suited to a niche marketing exercise.dig a hole .REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 5 gets off the ground.

commercial exploitation of our native crayfish has been quite limited and interest in farming crayfish has arisen in only the past 10 to 15 years. slow-moving waters usually in claylined billabongs with over-hanging vegetation. being a native of the State. they though would be better suited to . the short-lived success was suddenly terminated as higher than average summer temperatures killed off the bulk of marron held. The most dramatic introduction to Australia's crayfish is by way of the giant Tasmanian crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) which can reach in excess of 4 kilograms. Within this distribution. Historical Perspective Farming of freshwater crayfish in Queensland began as a carry-over from marron (Cherax tenuimanus) farming in Western Australia. is the species local to the Southwest of Queensland. In the southern hemisphere. and several species in the northern hemisphere are utilised for food by way of either wild fisheries or farming. redclaw inhabits turbid. Despite the involvement of many farmers over a considerable period. several farmers had begun trials with redclaw which. Two other relatively familiar species are the Marron from Western Australia and the true Yabbie from several states in southern and central Australia. although total production is relatively small. and over several years. Considerable quantities of yabbies are taken from the wild each year. there is a single family of freshwater crayfish. Because of the remote distribution. Juvenile marron were shipped across in 1979. although such specimens are likely to be very old. In 1986. It also occurs in southern parts of New Guinea.6 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE INTRODUCTION TO REDCLAW Clive Jones Introduction Freshwater crayfish are relatively common throughout the world. Recreational fishing was limited to isolated areas adjacent to towns and of very little significance. a small industry began to emerge primarily producing juveniles. Most Australians have some recollection of catching yabbies in the local creek. Farming of both these species is undertaken in various parts of southern Australia. much of which is sold into fish markets in NSW and Victoria. is a warmwater species distributed throughout the river systems of northern Queensland and the Northern Territory flowing to the Gulf of Carpentaria. there was very little interest in redclaw until the early 1980's. but in some instances involving several growout ponds. Enterprising farmers from south-east Queensland felt that marron would perform better in the sub-tropical climate of Queensland. The yabbie. however. Redclaw (Cherax quadricarinatus). Just prior to the demise of marron in Queensland. Interest from an aquaculture perspective has only arisen in recent years. which in Australia represents over 100 species. marron farming had achieved little commercial success. particularly for marron. Cherax destructor.

redclaw remain active and healthy at concentrations as low as 1 ppm (parts per million). the temperature/growth relationship of the giant freshwater prawn (or Mitchell River Prawn). Although this characteristic should not preclude good pond management practices. development of the redclaw farming industry has been slow. In 1987. Nevertheless. most fish and other crustaceans would suffer mass mortalities. Under similar circumstances. Naturally. The range over which redclaw will grow well represents temperatures which prevail throughout much of Queensland. With the losses incurred by the Queensland marron farmers. . as with all aquatic species. Optimal growth was achieved over the range 23 to 31°C and lethal levels were estimated to be 10 and 35°C. Redclaw also display an extraordinary tolerance of low dissolved oxygen concentrations. when dissolved oxygen falls. and will sustain the animal for some hours.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 7 the south-east Queensland climate. In an effort to protect their capital investment. the Queensland Department of Primary Industries Fisheries Branch proposed a two-year research program to assess the aquaculture potential of redclaw. The physiological mechanism involved is similar to that which operates in vertebrates. and secondly the physiological impact of saline treatment brings about a significant improvement in flavour. By way of comparison. Specific experimentation of growth in relation to temperature indicated tolerance to a broad range of temperatures. That optimism is now translating into considerable production and substantial industry growth. the farming technology required and its marketing. all the surviving marron farmers switched to redclaw. indicated a much narrower tolerance to temperature. Firstly. The results of this work indicated that redclaw was indeed an ideal candidate for aquaculture. This tolerance has two advantages. adjacent to natural redclaw populations. Redclaw thrives in this environment. The still waters of a billabong in north-western Queensland will often display characteristics which many freshwater species would find lethal. However. This research was conducted at the Fisheries Research Station at Walkamin. production is optimal when dissolved oxygen is close to 100% saturation. Similar experimentation of salinity tolerance indicated that redclaw will tolerate reasonably high salinities (up to 12 parts per thousand) for extended periods. Macrobrachium rosenbergii. redclaw are likely to survive. farming in brackish water may be feasible. and the general scepticism concerning aquaculture. those involved are optimistic primarily because this species possesses so many advantageous characteristics in regard to its biology. Biological Characteristics The considerable biological advantages of this species are primarily attributable to its natural habitat which necessitates broad tolerance of physical extremes. it is comforting to know that if oxygen levels do drop suddenly. until oxygen levels are increased.

. ample shelter. Feeding Characteristics The feeding characteristics of redclaw are also advantageous. expelling the water. a specific feed formulation is necessary. Significant gains are likely to be achieved through nutritional research and selective breeding programs. and so the process continues. Newly moulted crayfish which are soft are particularly vulnerable to predation by other crayfish. shedding of the external shell. In general terms however. through to fresh animal and plant material. Growth Rate Growth of crayfish is dependant on a process known as moulting. Newly hatched crayfish moult every few days. there is considerable variability in growth rate between individuals. redclaw will achieve a size of between 50 and 100 grams within twelve months. To provide optimal nutrition. but the frequency slowly diminishes to once every few months in large crayfish. that this species is broadly physiologically robust and will tolerate extremes that many other species would find lethal. Increasing growth rate and the uniformity of growth are also primary objectives of research. primarily fungi and bacteria. swelling of the body with water while the new shell hardens. Although a maximum size in excess of 400 grams is possible. In addition. when available. This involves a sequence of stages including. tissue growth until the new shell is full. growth rate slows appreciably after the first 12 to 18 months and commercial production of crayfish larger than 150 grams is currently not commercially viable. Growth of redclaw is dependant on the prevailing physical conditions (primarily temperature) and the type of nutrition. are highly nutritious. The development of such a feed for redclaw is one of the primary research activities at present. the detritus. Consequently. particularly for juveniles. it is clear from general experience amongst farmers and researchers. is essential. The microbial organisms associated with decaying organic material. simple organic materials added to a normal earthen pond environment where natural microbial populations are present can provide adequate nutrition. Under natural circumstances redclaw have a broad diet ranging from the simplest organic materials associated with decaying plant and animal material. For this reason.8 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Although specific assessment of redclaw's tolerance to other physical parameters has not been made.

Diagram of redclaw life cycle. i. the technology involved in accommodating and managing this life cycle can therefore also be simple. From a farming perspective. Figure 1 below provides a summary of this cycle. They are now past their most vulnerable stage and will feed on detritus and grow to an average of approximately 70 grams (ranging from 50 to 100g) over the next 6 to 12 months. Both males and females mature at 6 to 9 months of age and will mate and spawn continuously while suitable temperature conditions prevail.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 9 Reproduction The reproductive characteristics of redclaw are well suited to aquaculture. Incubatory period is also temperature dependent. During this period they mature and continue the cycle. Life Cycle The Redclaw life cycle is very simple. the fertilised eggs are carried beneath the tail of the female who carefully maintains and nurtures them during the incubation. adults may grow to over 400g in 4-5 years MATING incubation 6 to 10 weeks adult form 0.e. egg-bearing females are found year round although there is a considerable decline in reproductive activity from May through July. Figure 1. For the other nine months. and may range from 6 to 10 weeks. The number of eggs carried is dependant on the size of the female and will vary from around 300 to 1. . there is no free-living larval stage. females may have successive broods. After mating.000 per brood. After mating the fertilised eggs are carefully nurtured for about 6 to 10 weeks at which time they hatch to produce a small crayfish (about 12mm long) of adult-form. In north Queensland.02g 300-1000/fem MATURE ADULTS rapid growth 6-12 months simple food HATCHLINGS rapid growth 3 months JUVENILES 5 to 15g 50 -100/female The hatchlings grow rapidly when provided with an adequate diet (preferably zooplankton) and within 3 months will achieve a size of 5 to 15 grams.

That is. particularly when considered in comparison with aquaculture of other species. has a good flesh recovery rate and compares well in flavour and texture with the most sought after crustaceans. It will achieve substantial size. eggs of water bugs and various protozoans. Farming Technology The biological characteristics of redclaw provide technical advantages in regard to its cultivation. Like many freshwater species. Maintenance of optimal conditions is therefore crucial. Summary It is clear that redclaw is an ideal aquaculture species. These traps are of various designs. where viruses have caused severe losses and the demise of large industries.10 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Disease and Parasites Several potentially serious disease causing organisms have been identified in redclaw including a couple of viruses. This permits large scale juvenile production with a minimum of capital expenditure and minimum of technical expertise. but most will not cause direct damage. there is no requirement for specialised hatcheries with environmental control and intensive management. It can be handled out of water with little adverse affect and without a requirement for specialised handling procedures as are often necessary for fish species. hatching and nursery phases can be managed within an earthern pond system. The larval phase of the crayfish is entirely contained in the egg. It is clear that the influence of the disease causing organisms is directly related to crayfish condition. The entire breeding. stress-free crayfish. There are a variety of species which will attach themselves to the outer shell or inside the gill chambers. Those occurring most commonly include species of flat-worms (Temnocephalans). redclaw respond to moving water by migrating upstream. is attractive in colour and form. This has been the case with prawn aquaculture. held in good water quality conditions are unlikely to be affected by disease. The only other significant health issues are in regard to organisms fouling the shell. A specific and highly advantageous characteristic of redclaw in regard to harvesting is its response to water current. This is particularly advantageous for sampling and moving crayfish around the farm. Redclaw breed so readily in normal pond conditions. but all work on the principle of attracting crayfish into a trap by way of a water current. A significant advantage is conferred simply because the species is physically robust. precluding the requirement for sophisticated larval rearing facilities as are required for prawns and other species. which could potentially cause major mortalities. They can be controlled through pond management or if need be with a saline bath. This response is particularly strong and has been harnessed by the development of flow traps. .

Handling of broodstock and incubation of eggs requires no specialised facilities. The physical (including climatic) requirements for cultivation of redclaw are broad and reasonably non-restrictive. crayfish can be handled easily and with a minimum of specialised procedures and facilities. The geographic potential for the species is therefore significant. Juvenile crayfish. are resilient and respond well to intensive pond production with appropriate food and shelter. The reproductive capacity of the species is relatively high. At this stage. Growth is rapid and sufficient to achieve a commercially acceptable size within twelve months. Throughout all stages of the production cycle. dissolved oxygen and salinity. The species is relatively non-aggressive and will perform well at densities of 5 to 10 per square metre. Feeding requirements are such that a relatively cheap diet will enable significant production in the order of 1. Redclaw can be induced to spawn with relative ease.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 11 Its physiological tolerance to extremes of environment is great. The larval stage is entirely contained in the egg which is carefully nurtured by the maternal parent. and extends throughout tropical regions where sufficient water is available.5 to 3 tonnes per hectare. disease and health are not major issues. although fragile. . It displays behavioural characteristics which lend themselves to efficient harvesting practices. particularly in regard to temperature.

caused by suspended silt or clay colloids. The water supply must be free from chemicals such as heavy metals. Site Suitability Criteria Climate Temperature is the most important factor in maximising the growth potential of redclaw. should be avoided as it may inhibit natural pond production and possibly cause stress through deposition on gills by reducing the ability of the crayfish to respire. chlorine. hydrogen sulphide. Water Availability An abundant supply of good quality water. and extremes of pH. low winter and high summer temperatures may cause some problems. high iron content. Besides growth. it is important to consider all the factors. Mortalities may occur if pond temperatures remain below 10°C or above 35°C for extended periods. even during the most severe drought. In reaching a decision of where and how to establish a farm. but will not grow rapidly enough to sustain the commercial viability of an operation. The site should maximise the period each year when pond temperatures remain between 23 to 31°C. methane. Chemical laboratories can test samples to determine if the sources of an appropriate quality for aquaculture. maximising favourable characteristics and minimising any negative aspects. pesticides. The supply of water must be guaranteed. but as per Table 1. High turbidity. Redclaw may survive under poor conditions. The quality of the water is just as important as the quantity. Site suitability is usually judged on the basis of satisfying given criteria. an irrigation channel or from underground is essential for aquaculture. successful reproduction also requires sustained periods of warm temperatures. herbicides. which can be sourced from a surface flowing stream. There is no such thing as the perfect site for freshwater crayfish farming.12 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE SITE REQUIREMENTS Millin Curtis Site Requirements The potential of redclaw for aquaculture can only be achieved by providing the right conditions for good growth and reproduction. Some sub-tropical regions may present suitable conditions for most of the year. Additions of a liming agent and fertilisers would be routine practice in pond management. Management strategies which alleviate these extremes may need to be devised. . oils.

Bore water. hydrogen sulphide or iron. upstream discharge of industrial effluents or contamination by dead livestock would be incompatible with crayfish farming.1 mg/l < 0. ponds must be constructed from soils containing a high proportion of clay. Parameter Temperature Dissolved oxygen pH Total alkalinity Total hardness Ammonia Nitrite Turbidity Iron Hydrogen sulphide Acceptable range 23 to 31°C > 5. it may not be cost effective to construct ponds because of the expense of earthmoving. Comments Growth will be optimised within this range Soil Type In order to hold water.05 mg/l total NH3 < 0. predators. Similarly. Preferred range of selected water quality parameters of source water. these limitations can be overcome by storing the water in a reservoir and aerating vigorously prior to use. If clay soil is only present in pockets. or contain excessive levels of carbon dioxide. for redclaw aquaculture.0 mg/l 6. Generally.5 > 50 mg/l as CaCO3 < 500 mg/l > 50 mg/l as CaCO3 < 500 mg/l < 0.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 13 Caution should be exercised when the utilisation of surface water is proposed as present and previous land management practice involving pesticide application is undesirable. can be excellent sources for aquaculture. pollution and have a relatively constant temperature year round. Table 2. The quality of underground water must always be checked as it can be deficient in oxygen. and sometimes artesian water. Underground supplies are free of pathogens. .002 mg/l Toxicity increases with rising pH and temperature Waters should be well buffered.05 mg/l Nil < 0. If clay soil predominates across a site then ponds can be constructed with a minimum of earthmoving.5 to 8.

fertiliser).14 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Soil surveys are advisable to determine if there are sand or gravel layers that could interfere with pond construction or limit water retention. feed. minimise pumping costs and facilitate simplicity of pond construction. The land should not be susceptible to flooding. mechanical. supplies (hardware. Miscellaneous Other aspects of site requirements which should be considered include: • • • • • Proximity to necessary infrastructure such as workforce. electricity. processing Ability to secure the site against predators and poachers Desirability of the area as a place to live Future developments which may impact on crayfish farming Proximity to both domestic and international markets . Soil samples should be taken from any potential sites for pesticide residue analysis as previous agricultural activity may have involved application of persistent pesticides which are incompatible with crayfish farming. technical expertise. Topography The land should be gently sloping to enable gravity flow of water.

the volume for evaporation losses for a 1000m2 pond is approximately 2. Is water of suitable quality? See recommendations elsewhere. The water supply must be sufficiently reliable to provide year round replenishment of evaporation and seepage losses. the water supply is one of the most important requirements for a successful aquaculture project. Flat sites are not desirable due to the difficulty in fully draining ponds for effective harvesting and drying. On flat sites ponds are constructed as excavated tanks i. Points to consider include: • • Is sufficient volume on-hand to provide pond fill (e.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 15 POND AND CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING ISSUES Clive Jones. banks on three sides. It is important to consider all aspects of the project before commencing pond construction so that best use of topography and existing facilities can be achieved.e. Sands.the least amount of earthworks to provide the storage required. Does pond effluent need to be stored as part of discharge permit? Can water be recycled to reduce volume of water required? • • • Construction Materials Materials on site need to be investigated to determine their suitability for pond construction. Pond Design The layout of the ponds is generally determined by the topography. Ian Ross and Colin Bendall Water Supply As discussed under Site Requirements. The source must be guaranteed of supplying sufficient volume during the most severe drought conditions. . banks on four sides. Clay soils provide the lowest permeability and therefore little or no seepage losses. Slopes of around 2 to 5% (1:5m to 1:2m) provide the best storage to excavation ratio.e. Sloping sites provide better pond drainage opportunities by using gravity. Surface drainage may be required to exclude runoff from surrounding areas.e.5 Ml for the Cunnamulla district. Factors to be considered include: • • • • • • • On sloping sites ponds are constructed as hillside storages i.g.2 Ml). for a pond surface area of 1000m2 volume required is approximately 1. silts and structured clays are all quite permeable and therefore require the installation of clay or synthetic liners. For example. Sandy clay soils may be suitable for pond construction providing steps are taken to minimise seepage. i.

i. Base of pond should slope to drainage outlet to allow full drainage of pond. Inlet and outlet pipes at opposite ends of pond. Batters 3:1 to 3. for dozer construction. If cartage is required .4 to 8m in width . with the average around 1000m2.5:1 outside.2m (shallow end) to 1.5:1 outside. Clay Liner . short end. Use thin layers (200mm Max) to be compacted by sheeps foot roller.30m x 6m for scraper construction. Predator proof netting supported above ponds by timber posts and steel cable.600mm high. Smaller bases can be achieved with dozer construction. If lining is required.C/HDPE. Construct embankment using suitable clay material with correct moisture content.5:1 inside to allow spreading and compaction of lining material. Synthetic lining • • • • Many types and thicknesses available. Surface area can vary from approximately 700 to 2000m2.Polythene/P. Outlet pipe to be installed using baffles around pipe to prevent seepage.5m for construction equipment safety on crest. 3:1 inside.V. Galvanised steel sheet "Water Rat" wall to be placed around pond . 300mm minimum liner thickness. Minor seepage will still occur with clay lining. Outlet pipe 200mm diameter (minimum) for effective drain harvest. Batters 2.50/ m3 or $2500 for 1000m2 pond.placement and compaction with moisture control may result in greater cost than synthetic liner e.5:1 inside. Clay Lining • • • • • Is suitable clay material available on site or is cartage from elsewhere required.Walkamin area $7.16 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Pond Details • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Ponds are usually rectangular in shape. 2. Compacted central clay core and cutoff will prevent loss of water through seepage. Min Crest width of 2. Concrete or loose rock pads are required at inlet and outlet to prevent erosion. Mechanical strength (resistance to puncture and tearing) increases with type and thickness of material. Batters 2. Min Base dimension . for scraper construction in clay. Inlet pipe around 100mm for fast filling and topping up. Recommended depth of 1. Materials come in rolls 1.8m (deep end).g. Lining Materials Clay Soils • • • • • Strip topsoil and stock pile for placement on constructed embankment. 50m x 20m at water level.e. 2:5:1 inside.5:1 outside. Materials . 3.

• Excavate ponds to designed depth and shape. . Subsurface drainage may be required to prevent soil water pressure from lifting liner. then compact base and sides of pond with sheepsfoot roller. • Strip the pond and surrounding bank area of topsoil and stockpile it for later use.2 metres thick. • Excavate the core trench in the middle of the proposed surrounding embankments at least 3 metres wide and at least 0. • Excavate and install the outlet pipes under the proposed embankments ensuring to carefully compact the backfill clay around the pipes and baffles. on crest and exposed batters of the ponds to stabilise the soils and reduce erosion. ensuring each successive layer is no more than 0. sheepsfoot roller and water truck. including stumps and roots. and to provide a natural environment for crayfish. Basic steps in Pond Construction • Clear the site area of vegetation. • Spread a minimum topsoil cover of 100 millimetres over total pond and surrounding embankment area. Surface to be lined should be free from rocks and sticks.10 to $4. HDPE type materials require deeper trench to be located up to 0. Priced from $1. kikuyu. 300mm minimum lining of top soil over liner required to protect liner from U.5m from edge of crest to resist expansion / contraction forces. approximately 300mm deep at edge of crest.00 per square metre depending on material. pangola. Liner is anchored in excavated trench.. • Refill the core trench with layers of compacted clay originating from the excavated pond. Sand bedding may be required if soil surface too rough or stony or higher grade of lining material should be used.e. • Quickly establish a dense ground cover of suitable holding grass i.3 metres deep into impermeable clay beneath the bank. African star etc.V. • Continue construction of the clay core and outer embankment zones until the design crest height is reached. couch. • Preferably site construction plant should include a scraper.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 17 • • • • • • • • Joining of strips is by hot welding or adhesive tapes.

Crayfish are continually harvested by traps and natural reproduction in the pond takes care of re-stocking. A systematic approach must be taken. and therefore maximise success and profit. For this discussion. Naturally every farm is unique and every farmer has there own way of doing things. The farming of redclaw can effectively be considered an amalgamation of the following processes. how often) Pond management (pond preparation. health/disease.000m2 juvenile production ponds and other facilities as marked in the diagram. • • • • • • • • Supply of juveniles (farm production. The following concepts are therefore of a general nature and would need to be modified and adapted to suit each individual farm. Naturally for the purposes of this introduction these notes are quite general. I have assumed that a suitable site has been selected as discussed previously. how much. not because they're not important. Redclaw aquaculture is an intensive farming activity requiring daily management of a range of processes. The model farm includes 40 by 1. when. on the contrary. marketing and business issues. they're so important and so numerous.e. environment) Post-Harvest Marketing Application of good business principles (book-keeping. costs. culling. I have also deliberately omitted any considerations of postharvest. predators) Harvesting (partial.000m2 growout ponds (i. While this approach will produce crayfish. to achieve efficiency and maximise productivity. Their approach generally takes the form of managing semi-natural populations of redclaw in ponds which are never (or infrequently) drained. a production capacity of 4 hectares). the various processes should be streamlined and linked together.18 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES FOR REDCLAW Clive Jones Introduction There is a common misconception that farming of redclaw involves nothing much more than throwing a few crayfish into a dam. income) To illustrate the development and operation of a redclaw farm I will use a hypothetical model farm. . Consequently. that they justify separate consideration. total) Feeding (what. purchased) Stock management (broodstock. it is not considered commercially viable as a dedicated farming activity. water quality. More comprehensive and detailed considerations will be necessary before embarking on a commercial operation. 15 by 1. It should be noted that there are many redclaw enthusiasts who have taken a quite different approach to that outlined here.

etc. netting. fencing. Layout of a hypothetical redclaw farm consisting of forty 1. Quick (approximately 24 hours) and complete drainage is essential. should be 1 to 2 metres deep. GROWOUT PONDS SUPPLY DAM SETTLING DAM JUVENILE PRODUCTION PONDS The ponds.) supply and settling ponds drainage (gravity drainage of all ponds is recommended) netting (essential to prevent bird predation) fencing (essential to prevent rat predation. minimising materials e. and a large bore drainage pipe at the deepest point. feed storage. with good slope from shallow to deep end. sorting/packing area. as discussed previously under 'Pond Construction'. blower.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 19 Figure 2. electricity supply.g. running through the pond wall. Farm Layout Considerations • • • • • • • positioning of ponds (optimising use of slope. tanks (for holding harvested crayfish). office. allowing flexibility for expansion) position of central facilities (minimise travel distances). general storage. and to prevent migration of crayfish) aeration (essential to maintain dissolved oxygen levels and to provide pond circulation) Juvenile Supply . pipes.000m2 production ponds.

the design and operation of which is explained elsewhere. the pond is . Harvesting of the juveniles (about 4 months after stocking) can be achieved by a number of methods. these bundles extend from the pond floor up into the water column providing many spaces and surfaces for the juveniles to utilise. at least 200 mesh bundles are required.000 in each) of advanced juveniles per year. production on the farm is the usual choice. These planktonic organisms are the microscopic creatures which live in the water. Individual mesh shelters can be removed and the juveniles shaken out. Arranged in this manner. tied onto a line with a weight at one end and a float at the other. However. although they are managed a little differently. or produce them on the farm. purchase them from another grower.000 juveniles for stocking to the growout ponds. In the 1.000m2 would normally be stocked with around 100 mature females and between 25 and 100 males (carefully selected as the best of the stock available). This is usually provided in the form of bundles of synthetic mesh.000m2 model ponds. This number is suitable for a complete stocking of one growout pond at 5 crayfish per square metre. To maximise survival and growth of the juvenile redclaw. the 15 juvenile production ponds.000 eggs. Given the ease with which redclaw will breed and rear offspring. each female is considered capable of producing 50 advanced juveniles per brood. This may change in time when specialist juvenile production farms ('hatcheries') with superior genetic stock are established. a standard stocking density. As they grow. and are ready for stocking to growout ponds. Under North Queensland conditions. would be ready for harvest in 4 months. Although a typical female of average size may lay and incubate between 300 and 1. an abundance of shelter in the ponds is essential. there is considerable attrition before these offspring achieve a size of between 2 and 20g when they are referred to as advanced juveniles. stocked as specified. a juvenile production pond. As a rule of thumb. and include both plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton). the most effective method is to employ the flow trap. With this method. Juvenile production ponds are usually of the same specification as growout ponds. Maintaining high levels of plankton involves regular checking of water quality and periodic fertilisation of the water. producing 3 times per year can supply 45 batches (5. with some excess. particularly in regard to provision of suitable shelter and planktonic food. On the basis of 50 advanced juveniles per female this pond would therefore produce 5. Thus. for the 40 growout ponds. This is sufficient. Juvenile production ponds are carefully managed to provide an abundance of planktonic organisms which the juvenile crayfish utilise as food. It is primarily the zooplankton which are consumed by the juvenile crayfish. This strategy will necessitate a juvenile pond harvest about once every week. Our model farm ponds of 1. they progressively consume less plankton and more detrital food which occurs on the surface of the shelter material and more particularly on the mud surface.20 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE There are two options for obtaining a supply of juvenile crayfish.

meaning a sample every 3 days.e. regular sampling of each growout pond is recommended. For the purposes of our model farm we will work on the basis of 12 months growout per pond. This can be beneficial. Any problems should be addressed by a review of water quality and appropriate adjustments. All crayfish down to 50g will be separated for market. about 100 females and up to 100 males will be required per juvenile production pond. this means 5.e. growths on the shell and general vitality of the animals. Otherwise they must be destroyed. well and good. and the results used to adjust the feeding schedule. growout ponds are normally stocked with advanced juveniles at around 5/m2.e. i. The captured crayfish should be weighed. For the growout stage some mesh shelters may be used as well as some of different specification. The fastest growers. but is dependant to some extent on total number of ponds and available labour. The juveniles to be stocked to the growout pond should be transferred to the growout pond late in the afternoon or early in the evening. As indicated above. The growout phase would normally be in the order of 12 months. As mentioned above.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 21 completely drained and all the crayfish are attracted into a trap. >50g). These may require further size and quality grading prior to leaving the farm. In order to gauge crayfish size (for determining feeding rates) and health/condition (to ensure pond management is optimal). there will be 40 growout pond harvests per year. Stock Management Stock management primarily concerns the growout stage. The best (i. The 12 month growout period is sufficient for the entire crop to achieve market size (i. the largest and healthiest) should be selected for stocking. At harvest. Generally speaking. or one approximately every 9 days. From here they can be removed to the central tank facility and sorted. For this model farm we will stipulate 3 samples per year for each growout pond. the best 100 females and males from the growout harvest will be used for breeding.000 juveniles. So. All crayfish under 50g are considered runts and unwanted juveniles. Shelter is again important. The condition of the crayfish can be observed with particular attention paid to tail blistering. . and the remainder removed from the farm (sold to other farms or to the bait market) or destroyed. The sample can be taken by retrieving a few of the shelters. This will provide adequate shelter for at least 30 crayfish. For our model farm we will use mesh shelters and 'highrise' shelters made from agricultural drainage pipe. or by baited traps. Consequently. Some farmers harvest more frequently to enable culling of runts and staging of crayfish into uniform size groups for further growout. counted and then stocked to the growout ponds. If they can be sold to other farms or other markets. there will be some excess juveniles. the largest will be selected out as breeding stock. the crayfish will initially be sorted into 3 groupings. Each highrise shelter consists of 150mm lengths of 50mm pipe clipped together in a stack 10 wide by 3 high. One hundred mesh shelters and 100 highrise will be used in each growout pond. For our model ponds.

the total weight of stock in the pond calculated from the number of crayfish and their average size. re-stocking. However.000m2 ponds. At present. Chicken pellets should be avoided. or packaging for transport are completed here. the flow trap harvesting technique will be employed. Feeding As indicated in the previous discussion of crayfish feeding habit. For both juveniles and growout. This will primarily be achieved by the netting and fencing installed during farm construction. adequate diets are available from several feed manufacturers throughout the State. preferably on the same day. This equates to about 6kg of food for each feed in the 1.. this would mean about 10kg of food at each feed. the food consumed by post-juvenile and adult crayfish is primarily the decaying organic material on the pond mud surface. The amount of feed provided to the pond is based on the biomass. but only in coastal areas. grading. The post-harvest procedures of sorting. A small number of predators can achieve significant damage over time. Nutritional research is proceeding towards developing optimal diets in pellet form. Close to harvest. The schedule . To maximise the availability and nutritional quality of this food source. As the crayfish grow a smaller percentage of the biomass is fed. Both water rats and birds will leave tell-tale signs of their presence. Harvested crayfish (both juvenile and grown out) are taken from the trap in the pond immediately to a tank holding facility. A specific crayfish pellet with a protein content of around 20% is recommended. Eels are also a major concern. Harvesting As indicated above. At first stocking of growout ponds feed is provided at about 12% of biomass 3 times per week (equivalent to 5% per day).22 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Another important facet of stock management is prevention or minimisation of predators. This is usually in the form of a pellet. that is. On the basis of continuous year-round production. referred to as the detritus. down to about 5% of biomass 3 times per week (equivalent to 2% per day). The design and operation of the flow trap is well explained in a video available from the DPI&F&F (contact Clive Jones). It involves a trap which harnesses the redclaws strong response to flowing water. It is very efficient and ensures crayfish remain in optimal condition. usually overnight. on-going observation for indications of predator activity is important. organic materials are added to the pond on a regular basis. Such signs should prompt closer inspection of nets and fences for holes and gaps etc. Crayfish from the juvenile production ponds should be sorted quickly and released into a growout pond. there will be a harvest of both a juvenile and growout pond every week to 9 days. This will necessitate previous preparation of a growout pond (see below). The trapping occurs while the pond is being completely drained. the harvesting timetable involves 45 juvenile production ponds per year and 40 growout ponds per year.

Pond Management Management of the pond is primarily an issue of water quality management. dissolved oxygen. this involves running low pressure air from a mechanical blower to the ponds. and according to the size of the crayfish as measured from regular sampling.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 23 prepared is a rough rule of thumb. followed by frequent assessment of plankton density (secchi disk readings) and plankton type. requiring a silo capacity of 4 tonnes. and water is displaced out of the top. Appropriate pond preparation (discussed below) is critical. Some understanding of the chemical and biological dynamics of pond water is required. Table 3 below gives some further details of these parameters and their measurement. Distribution of feed to each pond (3 times per week) will be achieved with a small blower mounted on a 4wheel bike. Dissolved oxygen levels are maintained by aeration. Briefly. Adjustments up or down must be made on the basis of regular observation of ponds for uneaten food. As a rule of thumb about 2kg 3 times per week would be sufficient. Approximately 48 tonnes of feed per year would be required. . Some application of pellet food to the pond is also necessary to provide detrital food for the juvenile crayfish as they grow and change their diet. hardness. Fresh feed can be purchased every month. thereby holding the pipe up at the surface. Our preferred method for the model farm is using airlift aerators. For our model farm feed will be purchased in bulk and stored in a small silo. The bloom of plankton is maintained through regular applications of fertilisers. The air rises to the surface. This can be achieved using a variety of mechanical devices. The parameters which are generally measured and managed include pH. Planktonic food is required. Smaller farms would distribute the feed by hand from a bucket. Feeding of juvenile production ponds is substantially different to growout ponds. The action of the airlift provides oxygenation of the water and circulation. water temperature. or flushing of the pond with new water. both organic and inorganic. Adjustment of the these parameters when they move outside the optimal range may involve additions of various materials such as fertiliser or lime. plankton density. injecting the air into the base of PVC pipes which are held onto the pond floor with a weight. alkalinity. ammonia and nitrite. and a more intensive management of the pond water is therefore required.

and management practices. a production rate of between 1. heavy metals). further gains beyond 3.5 > 4. Parameter pH Dissolved Oxygen Plankton density Temperature Alkalinity Description acid/alkaline balance Oxygen dissolved in the water Abundance of plankton Maximum & minimum Buffering capacity of water Concentration of Ca and Mg Toxic waste product Toxic byproduct Optimal Range 7. their preferred range and measurement for redclaw aquaculture.000kg per hectare (i.0 to 8. As research work generates better feed. Newly constructed ponds tend to have relatively low production.24 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Table 3.000kg/ha are likely. or test kit Dissolved oxygen meter Secchi disk Max/min thermometer Test kit.0ppm <1. However. A typical application for the model ponds may be 100kg of lime. or lab analysis Test kit Test kit Frequency of Measurement 1 to 3 x/week (am) 1 to 3 x/week (am) 1 to 3 x/week 1 x/week 1 x/year Hardness Ammonia Nitrite >40ppm <1. Water quality parameters.e.0ppm. and inorganic and organic fertilisers. Good pond management should include regular drying of the pond soil. annual or more frequent assessment of the source waters' quality should be made. Outcome Given the strategies suggested here. For both the juvenile production ponds and the growout ponds. the application rates will vary in relation to each ponds' soil characteristics. 20C >40ppm Measuring Device pH meter. or lab analysis Test kit. 150 to 300 kg/pond) may be achieved. . one to two weeks of drying prior to the next stocking is required. Pond preparation mainly involves additions of lime.0ppm 1 x/year as necessary as necessary Other aspects of pond management include pond preparation.g. Such analysis would be conducted by a laboratory. Depending on the source of the water used for the farm. 30 to 70cm Max.500 and 3. 31C Min. checking of source water and pond drying. Once these materials are added the pond is filled and then left for about a week prior to stocking with juveniles. improving substantially over the first few seasons. particularly for pesticide residues and other potentially toxic materials (e. 20kg DAP and 150kg of lucerne chaff. or > 80% satur.

If this approach is adopted. the potential returns can be very attractive (see Economics section). Crayfish farming Associations operating throughout the State will provide access to existing farmers whose experience will assist those new to this enterprise. a broad range of skills and knowledge and a commitment to a range of principles.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 25 It should be clear from these notes that redclaw farming is an intensive farming activity which requires daily attention. . those interested in starting a redclaw farming operation should obtain as much information as possible. Because of the skills and knowledge required.

total) Feeding (what. allowing flexibility for expansion) position of central facilities (minimise travel distances). if you're serious about a systems approach to farming. For example your strategy for supplying juveniles to your farm may be to produce 100.g. repairs & maintenance) 3.26 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE FARM MANAGEMENT Clive Jones I have defined 7 steps to a systematic approach to redclaw farm management. Recognising the Processes Next. i) Farm Layout (see Figure 2) • • • • positioning of ponds (optimising use of slope. This objective might be something like: To create and operate a redclaw farm where facilities and operations are organised to optimise efficiency and to maximise output of premium product and financial return. etc. feed storage.) supply and settling ponds drainage . when. environment) Post-Harvest Marketing Application of good business principles (book-keeping. • • • • • • • • Supply of juveniles (farm production. Strategies for all the processes should be defined. how much. water quality. costs.000 x10g male only crayfish in your own dedicated juvenile production ponds each year on a continuous basis. Developing the Strategy The third step is to develop a strategy of how you plan to carry out these processes. netting. 2. general storage. a Mission Statement which sums up what you plan to achieve. you need to recognise the various processes which collectively make-up redclaw farming. fencing. you need to have set some overall Objective. culling. predators) Harvesting (partial. electricity supply. cash flow. pipes. purchased) Stock management (broodstock. 1. tanks. Your Objective Firstly. minimising materials e. how often) Pond management (pond preparation. health/disease. sorting/packing area. blower. office.

e. and production rate of 3 tonnes per hectare) vi) Pond Management • • pond preparation to include liming (100kg/pond). re-used v) Feeding • • • • good quality pellets to be used (15-20% protein) feed to be stored in bulk silo (4 tonne capacity) feed purchased in bulk requirement for 48 tonnes of feed per year (based on feed conversion ratio of 4. dissolved oxygen and secchi (3x/wk). DAP (20kg/pond). other farmers or overseas) all crayfish 50g + to be sold to market. lucerne chaff (150kg/pond) water quality will be measured in all ponds including pH. hardness and alkalinity (once/yr).000 advanced juveniles) juveniles to be sold only if excess available iii) Stock Management • • • • • • • breeding and growout will be managed as separate processes broodstock will be actively selected from each growout harvest (i.000 advanced (5-20g) juveniles per year (based on stocking densities given below) farm requires 4.000 breeding females (+ appropriate number of males) to generate juveniles (based on production of 50 advanced juveniles per female) breeding ponds to be stocked at 100 females (25 to 100 males)(to generate 5. ammonia and nitrite (as necessary) . all year round health and disease status will be monitored predation proofing will be applied iv) Harvesting • • • growout ponds to be harvested by total drainage and flow-trapping (once every year) breeding ponds to be harvested by total drainage and flow-trapping (every 3 months) pond water directed to settling pond.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 27 • • • netting fencing aeration ii) Juvenile Production • • • • • produced on farm farm requires 200. best 100 female and male) everything under 15g at growout harvest will be destroyed/discarded crayfish 15 to 50g sold to juvenile market (e.g.

reagent test kits for hardness. For example. only 40 (4ha) are for growout production. ammonia. Harvesting each growout pond once per year = 60ML. for fertiliser. Your resources must be allocated in a way which makes optimal use of them. secchi disk. or flushing as determined by water quality ponds will be dried for at least 2 weeks between crops 4. dissolved oxygen meter. water supply.. • Flowtrap. maximum capacity 50kg • Balance.5 metres per year (for South-West Qld. i.5ML.28 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE • • • water quality of source water will be measured annually by full analysis. general equipment 5. Clearly. approximately 33. Water required 297. enough to hold at least one total harvest (300kg). or preparation time for new ponds etc.000 juveniles if you have no facility to handle them or there are no ponds ready to be stocked. One is sufficient. • Feed. at 10kg per crate = 30 crates. 6 tanks 2. Plus seepage and other uses = 10ML. alkalinity.000l/min capacity • Habitats. pump capacity etc.5m average depth = 82.5 Megalitres. Possibly a second with different specifications for juvenile harvesting. e. and 215ML/yr for successive years.5 hectares of water (including all ponds) at 1. with some excess. Harvesting breeding ponds every 4 months (3x/yr). • Air Blower.5ML for the first year. it is both possible and extremely desirable to map . regular additions of fertiliser. • Scoopnets • Crates. for weighing harvested crayfish and feed quantities. including pesticides and heavy metals the pond environment will be maintained by keeping pond depth at full. 5. Highrise and mesh bundles. enough to handle at least one total harvest (300kg). hay/chaff. 15 breeding ponds will service 40 growout ponds.) = 137. sufficient to run 6x100mm airlifts per pond. Minimum of 100 of each per pond. pH meter. savings can be made by re-using water at harvest.500 cubic metres = 82. capacity to handle crayfish etc. boxes. Factor water required into supply dam size. lime. • Ponds. nitrite. Harvesting each breeding pond 3 times per year = 67. ponds.5m diameter. Each breeding pond to be managed to produce juveniles for one growout pond. Allocating Resources Your strategies should be realistic in regard to the resources you have on hand.e. it is not much use producing 200. Anticipate evaporative loss of 2.g. It is important to note here that even though there are 55 ponds. • Water. for weighing individual crayfish • Water quality equipment. • Tanks. silo with 4 tonne capacity • Buckets. • Store-room. at 10kg/m2 = 30m2. Setting Timetables Because there is a certain amount of predictability to growth rates of crayfish.5ML. and production rates are based on these. sufficient for feed distribution • Scales.

000 5 to 15g juveniles to be produced from each breeding pond Stock Management. i. all year round Stock Management. some measure of the feed required to achieve a certain crop size is essential.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 29 out activities in relation to time. Broodstock selected .5. An obvious example is water quality.. Measuring and recording all processes so they can be compared against the assessment criteria previously set. water quality measured twice per week (pH. Growout production of 150 to 300 kg per pond Harvesting. sampling growout ponds 3x per year each.0. number of mortalities. For example. or that pH should be between 7. odour. adjusted relative to sampling results Pond Management. if the strategy is to provide 50 to 90g crayfish to the market all year round.0 and 8. For example.fungal growth.0-8. . If optimal feeding efficiency is desired. quality of feed . Quantity of feed per pond based on prepared schedule. each of 15 breeding ponds to be harvested 3 time per year. Feed provided every day at dusk. It should be possible to set some criteria or value for most processes on the farm. • • • • • Juvenile Production. >120g (at 12 months age). You should already be aware that dissolved oxygen should always be above 4 parts per million. hardness/alkalinity 20-100ppm. time taken to retrieve harvested crayfish Feeding. clumping. tail blistering. DO. colour etc. minimum of 5. you need standards against which to measure your performance. approximately every 9 days Feeding.0ppm).e. disease symptoms.e.external growths. ammonia/nitrite <1. dust. DO >4. Assessing Performance This is clearly the next step after identifying assessment criteria. Where a discrepancy occurs. Growout stock health/condition . feed purchased in bulk every month to maintain freshness/quality. Measuring of performance is all about feedback. secchi 50-70cm. Processes/parameters are measured or observed in relation to the criteria and standards set. i. blue-green or other algae 7. Aeration provided midnight to 8am 6. percentage of crayfish caught by flowtrap Vs percentage left behind (95:5). Similarly.lively. It revolves around good record keeping. Identifying Assessment Criteria and Standards To ensure that all activities and processes are operating optimally. then a harvesting timetable which permits this is essential. standards should be set on all processes.5. Feed silo cleaned out once per year to prevent fungal contamination Pond Management. • • • • • Juvenile Production. each of 40 growout ponds to be harvested once per year. if adjustments are to be made in search of improvement. to check health/condition and to gauge size (relate back to feeding rate) Harvesting. approximately 1 every week. the quantity of feed used for a particular pond. secchi). water quality levels (pH 7.

Many farmers may suggest that this Systems Approach is too involved and impractical. add lime. will be vastly improved if a methodical. just different terminology. I accept that many of the aspects I have covered might be observed rather than measured. The practices of TQM and QA are most commonly applied to the post-harvest and market sectors.0. pH is greater than 9. Whatever they may be called. flush the pond. Hardness is less than 20ppm. However. The flowtrap catches only 80% of the crop. but is by no means the whole story. your mission. the likelihood of achieving your objective. and might be remembered rather than written down. . clearly defined systematic approach is applied. and that the setting of criteria and standards to measure performance is effectively Quality Assurance (QA). For example. review the procedure. the value of these philosophies for the production chain is also clear. It's true. it should give you a start in developing your own systematic approach to redclaw farming. It has to be something you as a farmer are committed to and feel comfortable with. Conclusion This listing is reasonably comprehensive. Nevertheless.30 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE some action should be taken. Some of you may have recognised that this Systems Approach is similar to the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM).

The quality of water in ponds has a direct effect on crayfish health and performance. Proper management of the water commences with pond preparation and continues throughout the life of the pond. Pond Preparation Liming Liming deals with problems associated with the acid . Finer particles cause a stronger pH response. Good pond managers will be able to predict when water quality deterioration may occur and take remedial action. Liming is not fertilising but may increase the response of fertilisation by mobilising nutrients. but provides additional data to foster informed decision making.base relationship in soils or water. disease and migration. Table 4. Formula CaCO3 Compound Calcium Carbonate Common Names Neutralising Value (%) 100 136 Agricultural limestone Ca(OH)2 Calcium Hydroxide Hydrated lime Builders lime Slaked lime Caustic lime CaO Calcium Oxide Quick lime Unslaked lime Burnt lime CaMg(CO3)2 Calcium Carbonate / Dolomite Magnesium Carbonate Calmag blend CaSO4. . Agricultural lime has an arbitrary neutralising value of 100. Measurement of water quality does not replace observation of the crayfish stock. crayfish become predisposed to retarded growth. Reacting to poor water conditions as they occur or after the fact is not good practice.2H2O Calcium Sulphate Gypsum Al2(SO4)3 Aluminium Sulphate Alum 179 109 nil nil The neutralising value of agricultural lime depends upon the fineness of the particles.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 31 WATER QUALITY Millin Curtis A basic understanding of some of the properties and dynamics of the pond water is essential for maximising crop yield. Liming and non-liming compounds used for aquaculture ponds. against which all other liming agents are compared. If water quality deteriorates.

Mud pH can be determined by inserting a pH probe directly into a well mixed solution containing equal parts of distilled (but not de-ionised) water and mud. Application of gypsum is useful when the water is deficient in calcium (soft water) but has a high pH. Dolomite is a calcium-magnesium carbonate blend. Similarly. Detoxification of very acid pond bottoms is best achieved by applying quick lime to moist mud. total alkalinity and hardness will remain above 20 mg/l CaCO3 after 3 or 4 weeks. necessary for shell growth. The two main factors are pH of the bottom mud (this can be quite different from pond or source water pH) and soil type (Figure 3). A build up of uneaten feeds and crayfish wastes on the pond bottom contributes to anaerobic conditions in the substrate. preventing large daily swings in the pH value. Liming in conjunction with sun drying effectively conditions ponds for re-use. the more lime it will require. If the selected rate is adequate. Quick lime is highly caustic and can easily burn the skin. • • • Lime requirements The amount of lime required during pond preparation is complex and dependent upon many factors. These nutrients are essential for shell growth the decomposition process of organic matter is accelerated. Many people incorrectly use the term 'alkaline' to refer to non-acid waters. particularly if there is any perspiration.32 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Hydrated lime is caustic and care should be taken where there is potential for exposure to the skin or eyes. heavier soils will require more lime than sandy soils. If applied to water. Outcomes of liming ponds include: • • • pH of the water is raised to acceptable levels for crayfish production pH of the mud substrate is raised so that important nutrients such as nitrogen. Besides effective liming. providing a potential food source more rapidly pond bottoms are detoxified between growout cycles. this material will generate bubbles as it transforms to calcium hydroxide. The more acidic the mud. this product provides magnesium in addition to calcium. although alkaline waters commonly have a higher pH calcium (and magnesium) are provided as a nutrient source. Gypsum is a good source of calcium but will not effect pH. phosphorus and potassium are mobilised and produce plankton blooms the alkalinity or buffering capacity of pond waters is increased. Increased alkalinity has been attributed to significant production increases in penaeid prawn culture. . It can be used to remove high carbon dioxide levels commonly experienced after plankton crashes or in bore water.

0 4. .0 pH OF MUD Fertilisers Fertilisers can increase the productivity of a pond. Subsequent fertiliser applications become necessary when blooms drop below about 70 cm. kg/ha 16000 14000 12000 heavy loam or clay 10000 8000 6000 sandy loam 4000 sand 2000 0 4. Blooms take 9 to 14 days to peak at about 35 to 60 cm secchi depth at Walkamin. Application of a fertiliser that contains a good balance of both these nutrients will increase the likelihood of establishing and maintaining a good plankton bloom. Variation of conditions between and within farms precludes any "recipe approach" to pond fertilising.5 6.5 7.5 5. Nitrogen is the second most limiting nutrient. Initial applications of around 200 kg/ha of DAP and various amounts of lucerne pellets. The two types of fertilisers are : • • Chemical: these are compounds that dissolve in water releasing nutrients Organic: these are manures or agricultural by-products that slowly release nutrients when decomposing Phosphorus is the main limiting nutrient in most aquaculture systems. chaff and chicken manure hung in sacks have been successfully used at Walkamin to promote plankton growth. Fertilising should not be carried out when overcast weather inhibits phytoplankton growth as nutrients will become bound in the bottom mud.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 33 Figure 3.0 5.0 6. The appropriate amount of fertiliser to add to each pond is largely dependent upon the available nutrient content of the existing soil. Lime should be added to ponds well before phosphate based fertilisers to displace phosphates from colloidal mud. (modified from Boyd. Estimating agricultural lime application rate. 1990).

There are many advantages of maintaining phytoplankton communities in ponds. Phytoplankton are the microscopic plants (algae) inhabiting the water column that give the pond colour. provided there is no interference from clay turbidity. especially juveniles. Phytoplankton can raise the pH to levels more conducive to crayfish culture and the dark shading cover that it provides may encourage foraging behaviour outside of regular feeding times. Due to higher oxygen levels. Re-fertilising the pond to provide nutrients for phytoplankton before they become eaten out by zooplankton will cause an equilibrium to occur between the two communities (Figure 4). Zooplankton is an excellent source of cheap natural food that is nutritious for crayfish. Zooplankton are microscopic animals that can sometimes be seen moving around the pond in cloud-like formations.34 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Managing plankton Ponds are fertilised to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom that provides an abundant food source for zooplankton to feed on. A secchi disk may be used to measure plankton density. Organic matter additions should only be undertaken when oxygen levels can be maintained at acceptable levels. Zooplankton numbers will rapidly increase until there is no more available food. Figure 4. fertilise High PLANKTON DENSITY phytoplankton fertilise zooplankton Low 1 2 TIME (weeks) Bacteria populations proliferate in the presence of organic matter. However. 3 4 . Zooplankton may also feed on the microbial communities associated with organic matter. ponds with healthy phytoplankton blooms can support a greater biomass of crayfish than clear ponds. the phytoplankton photosynthesise to generate oxygen in the presence of sunlight. bacterial breakdown of organic matter reduces oxygen levels substantially. Typical changes in plankton density after pond filling in well managed ponds. Like all plants.

REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 35 Pond dynamics The changes to water quality conditions in a pond over a 24 hour period can be quite dramatic. Water density is dependent upon temperature. A maxima-minima thermometer can be used to measure the temperature range over any time period. The pH will remain high after sunset until the effects of plant and . Redclaw have a broad temperature range over which close to maximum growth occurs. The following figures illustrate typical changes to the most important water quality parameters . a steady increase will occur after dawn as phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from the water during photosynthesis. Crayfish growth is largely dependent upon temperature. These cost about $30 and can be purchased from any scientific supplies. Temperature (C) 30 28 LIGHT DARK 26 24 22 20 dawn noon dusk midnight dawn Morning temperatures in the pond steadily rise from just after daybreak reaching their peak around dusk and then steadily decline throughout the night until dawn. pH may be quite low before dawn (Figure 6). where crayfish predominantly occur. Temperature (and all other water quality parameters) should be measured just above the pond bottom.temperature (Figure 5). Ponds become thermally stratified when the water is not well mixed and the bottom is appreciably colder and denser than the top. Figure 5. Typical water temperatures over 24 hours in a redclaw pond in north Queensland during summer. Installation of a series of air-lift pumps serviced by a blower is a cost effective method of de-stratifying ponds. On a sunny day. pH (Figure 6) and dissolved oxygen (Figure 7).

ammonia toxicity increases tenfold with every one unit rise in pH and doubles with every 10 degree Celsius rise in temperature. The major source of ammonia is from crayfish excreta. pH Low Alkalinity Moderate Alkalinity dawn noon dusk midnight dawn One of the dangers of high pH levels in ponds that have a large crayfish biomass and high feeding rates. causing a steady decline in pH until dawn. An average quality pH meter will cost around $200. where daily pH swings are greater.36 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE animal respiration result in net carbon dioxide production. Typical pH levels over 24 hours in a redclaw pond in north Queensland. Potential danger situations occur in the late afternoon or evening when temperature and pH are elevated. this may reduce oxygen to dangerously low levels and may contribute to shell staining. Ammonia exists in two basic forms. unionised (NH3-highly toxic) and ionised (NH4). . The addition of organic matter can also reduce pH as acids are released during decomposition. Low pH levels can be treated by liming and dangerously high pH levels can be reduced by flushing. As a general rule of thumb.09 mg/l may reduce growth in freshwater crustaceans. Levels are given for low alkalinity (<20ppm) and high alkalinity (>50ppm) water. Documented studies indicate that ammonia concentrations as low as 0. However. Figure 6. is ammonia toxicity. This problem may be exacerbated in poorly buffered ponds.

Supplementary aeration should be provided. DO meters are very expensive (at least $1500 for a reliable one) and require regular maintenance. DO should be measured very early in the morning as this is when it is lowest. Supplying oxygenated new water while discharging poorer quality bottom waters will provide some relief to crayfish when DO levels drop. Clearly.evening (Figure 7). crayfish emerging from the water. the potential danger period for crayfish is during the night and very early morning. commercial growth rates cannot be achieved under these conditions. Typical dissolved oxygen levels over 24 hours in a redclaw pond in north Queensland. where the crayfish live. Natural oxygen generation from wind and phytoplankton is insufficient to sustain long term commercial production of a large biomass of redclaw. DO (mg/l) LIGHT DARK dawn noon dusk midnight dawn Dissolved oxygen (DO) is lowest in the morning and steadily rises to a peak in the late afternoon . Although redclaw are extremely hardy and can survive long periods at very low DO concentrations. DO levels should be maintained above 5 mg/l. A low oxygen situation may be indicated by crayfish rolling on their side in shallow water exposing their gills to the air-water interface.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 37 Figure 7. or dead animals found in baited traps. Pond DO concentrations are most often lowest on the bottom. .

Plankton die-off will also result in a reduction in available oxygen as bacteria use large quantities of DO to decompose the dead plankton. cloudy days where there is little oxygen generation from phytoplankton or mixing of the water column and elevated temperatures reduce the ability of the water body to contain dissolved oxygen. . Additions of excess organic matter will cause the same result. still. It also assists you to become proficient at predicting deterioration of water quality by comparing with conditions and outcomes previously recorded. Prevention is cheaper than cure.38 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Conditions which commonly occur before a potential oxygen crash are hot. Record Keeping Keeping accurate records of water quality measurements for each pond is an effective way to rapidly increase understanding of pond dynamics.

vehicles. Capital costs for items such as sheds. the economic analysis is applicable to redclaw aquaculture throughout its existing range of operation in Australia.30/kg and $7.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 39 REDCLAW ECONOMICS Andrew Hinton and Clive Jones This paper was prepared originally for a farm diversification project for Atherton Tablelands farmers.68/kg for farms with pond liners. At present the average price received is about $10. examined alternative crops for Tobacco farmers.87/kg for farms without pond liners and $8. Variable costs for both model farms represented about $0. The project named 'Choices'. Included in these costs was an allowance for family labour and depreciation. Census data was used to help prepare profitability figures for model redclaw farms that have 53 ponds with each pond measuring an area of 750m2 which is equivalent to 4 hectares of pond area.012 including pond liners and $217.a model farm with pond lining and one without pond lining.00/kg. Many farms from the MareebaDimbulah region have sandy soils and it is recommended that these farms use pond lining. A competitive advantage exists for farms that can produce redclaw without lining ponds compared to those that need pond lining. While specific reference is made to conditions prevailing in the Mareeba-Dimbulah district.87/kg with and without pond lining respectively. Two model redclaw farms are presented in this paper. Payback periods of between eight and twelve years are necessary using the model redclaw farms.62/kg. equipment and using alternative pond designs. The longer payback period applies for farms requiring pond lining. Farms with clay based ponds do not require lining since levels of water seepage is usually low. This analysis is based on data collected from existing redclaw farms. After allowing for growing and overhead costs there are low margins for both model farms. . The large establishment costs may however be reduced through the use of existing land. Pond lining is expensive and for this reason two scenarios are presented . Costs are in Australian dollars as at 1994. If existing farms are able to use existing capital equipment for redclaw farming then opportunity costs (value of next most profitable use) rather than new values need to be incorporated. These large up-front costs plus the uncertainty that is associated with a new industry presents barriers for new entrants. Summary At present the redclaw industry in Australia is undergoing rapid change as it expands and is still at an infant stage. Overhead costs were $7.078 without pond lining. To set up a redclaw farm with 53x750m2 ponds costs $376. electricity connection and workshop equipment would also need to be adjusted. According to existing farmers this size operation is considered sufficient to support a family-based operation. The costs of producing redclaw for the model farms were $9.

Pond lining would be necessary if the farm ponds are located on sandy soils to prevent excessive seepage.50/kg for farms with ponds located on clay based soils that do not require pond lining compared to those that require lining. The capital cost of pond lining is high and places farms with sandy soils in the Mareeba-Dimbulah district at a competitive disadvantage to those on clay soils. management and size.40 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Economies of size are significant due to the large overheads involved. For this reason the following analysis uses parameters.6 hectares for farms required to line ponds compared to 2. a farm with pond lining and a farm without pond lining. Three existing growers were consulted by DPI&F&F to help develop the following economic analysis. location.87/kg with and without pond liners respectively. There exists a competitive advantage of about $1. Negative returns to capital and management result if pond areas are less than 3. Introduction Since the redclaw industry is at such an infant stage with few growers it is difficult to derive a typical redclaw farm. representing savings of $0.44/kg and $7.6 hectares for remaining farms. Soils and water costs for the farms consulted are significantly different from potential farms in the Mareeba-Dimbulah region. Farms on the coastal region south of Innisfail have clay based soils and access to either creek or bore water. that according to several growers in the Far North Queensland. The Mareeba-Dimbulah region has generally sandy soils with access to irrigation channel supply.24/kg and $0. By expanding the operation to six hectares reduces total production costs to $8. Results The results of the analysis are presented as follows: . Farms that require pond lining require a yield improvement of about 15% to obtain similar levels of returns to management as remaining farms. The model farms were unprofitable with reductions in farm-gate prices below $9.40/kg or $7. All these grower's farms are located on the Queensland coast south of Innisfail.00/kg. As total pond areas increase the overhead costs per kilogram decrease. Both farms are 4 hectares in pond area (8 ha total farm area required) considered to be sufficient to support a family-based operation by existing growers on the north coast. In the analysis that follows two scenarios are presented. Methods used to line ponds may vary depending on the pond site. Significant variations exist between farms with each farm having unique soils. Based on the 53x750m2 model pond farm with pond liners it is estimated that an improvement in yield by 10% would double the return to management. For remaining farms the return to management would improve by 50%.90/kg with and without pond lining respectively. are considered to be conservative and representative. Such differences meant altering the capital and operating costs.

Fertiliser used in the ponds will assist in the development of a rich microbial flora and fauna. The rate used in this analysis is $200/ha dolomite and $100/ha fertiliser (DAP. For the purpose of this analysis $430/t was used based on recommendations by DPI&F technical officers. Table 5 summarises the feed cost calculation for the model farm in a steady-state situation which is achieved by the end of year 3. The rate of application. Estimated feed costs for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds. Table 5. liquid fertiliser) each year.109 Production of redclaw (t/ha/yr)* Total production of redclaw (t/yr) 8. Dolomite and fertiliser. Sensitivity analysis to show what effect changes in prices received and yields have on profitability for the 53x750m2 pond model farms. The different feed conversion ratios and the variety of feeds available make this estimate difficult to calculate. each are defined as follows: Variable costs. adjusts the pH level and water hardness.3:1 required:animal sold) Feed consumed (t/yr) 10. is dependent on local conditions.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 41 • • • Cost of production and profitability for 53x750m2 pond model redclaw farms with and without pond lining. particularly for newly constructed ponds. Variable costs consist of the following: • • • Feed Dolomite Fertiliser The following estimates are based on actual costs incurred by existing redclaw farms on the coast with the exception for water charges which are adjusted for the MareebaDimbulah region. Feed costs may vary between $400/t and $800/t.5t/ha growout pond) Overhead costs. Cost of production and profitability for varying pond areas for farms with and without pond lining.44 Feed conversion ratio (feed 1. Feed. Item 2. hay.717 *Calculated for total pond area (equivalent to 2. Costs of production and profitability Costs presented in the analysis can be broken down into variable and overhead costs. Overhead costs consist of the following (see Figure 8): .97 Cost of feed @ $430/t ($/yr) $4.

Repairs and maintenance. bank fees. Hired labour.0 Allowance ($) 4. A value of $3.1-6. Table 6. An additional amount of labour was allocated for the initial construction of the farm.0 >6.600 is used (based on $1.4. Fuel and oil are used to operate the farm tractor and utility.0 4. accountancy fees. Water is assumed to be supplied from the irrigation channel and is pumped to the farm. The overall cost of fuel per year is estimated to be $2. Electricity. This analysis assumes the price of diesel is 65 cents/litre and that 321 litres are used per month. This allowance is a reward to the owner for the labour and management of the farm.42 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE • • • • • • • • • Allowance for owner's unpaid labour Hired labour Administration Fuel and oil Electricity Water charges Repairs and maintenance Depreciation Interest on capital invested Allowance for owner's unpaid labour.000 is used. This estimate will vary on management style. An estimate of $4.000 Administration costs. Permanent casual and permanent hired labour is required for various farm sizes.1 .504. . driving the aeration units in the ponds plus lighting and workshop equipment. An annual rate of $5. Water charges.000 is used. Allocation and costs of hired labour for redclaw farms of varying size.400/ha).400/yr. size of machinery and price of fuel.000 25. The cost of repairs and maintenance to farm machinery. Electricity is used for operating pumps. Fuel and oil. Table 6 below shows the hired labour allocations assumed for various farm size groupings. earthworks and buildings was based on farmer estimates. Type of hired labour None required Permanent casual Permanent casual Permanent Range of total pond area (ha) < 3.700 is used. Included in administration costs are rates. The figure of $25.1 3. telephone and licences. This amounts to a cost of $2. The cost of water supply is based on 20 ML/ha being used each year at a cost of $30/ML.000 15.

333 3.15 0.000 158. plumbing) Habitat Blower/air lift pumps Pond inlet filter Bait trap Scales Bins/flow traps Meters (pH.10.2.500 per 750m2 pond to depth of 1 m.000 3.333 5. To line the 750m2 pond to a depth of 1 metre costs about $3. See the Appendix for stocking details.5.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 43 Depreciation and interest. drains.15 0 1 Based on a contract rate of $1.214 for farms with and without pond lining.10.10.) Workshop equipment Tractor and slasher Utility 4x4 Bearing females/juveniles4 Total including pond liners Total excluding pond liners New value ($) 80.5.8. used as an underlay and covering above the liner.4. 4 Bearing females and juveniles represent the initial stocking of the ponds. 2 Pond lining for the model farm is based on one layer of PVC lining with sand.012 217.000 10.100 1.020 8. These opportunity costs represent the values of the items based on their next most profitable alternative. Depreciation and interest are estimated to be $34.000 31.000 3. Capital item Earthworks1 (ponds and channels) Pond lining2 Land3 Roads (access roads) Shed (20ftx20ft) Pond fencing (zincalume) Piping (incl. Based on the discounted cash flow used in this analysis an annual depreciation and interest cost was calculated from the replacement value of farm assets. located on the farm.375 376.15 0.10.10.5.600 400 417 500 1.18 0 0. trenches and fittings) Bird netting (incl.12.000 2. posts) Electricity (3 phase) Holding tank (incl.10 0. respectively. labour and sump construction.5.14.000. The analysis assumes that all capital items need to be purchased at the start of the project.000 20. The value of $1.000 8.000/ha is the opportunity cost (value) of the next most profitable alternative. If existing farms can use equipment already owned for redclaw farming then opportunity costs rather than new values need to be incorporated.697 and $18. The total cost of establishment for year 0 is shown at the bottom of the table.000 8. 3 Based on 8 hectares to yield 4 hectares of ponds. access roads and buildings. The depreciation and interest cost represents an annuity or payment of equal instalments for capital in 1994 dollars. This cost includes liner.16.10. Total capital costs for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds.000 11.10 0 0 0. Table 7.078 Scrap value (%) 20 100 30 10 100 10 10 10 20 20 10 10 20 40 Years of purchase 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.O2 etc.15 0. Table 7 lists the major capital costs for establishing a redclaw farm.6.15 0 0.933 8. A characteristic of redclaw farming is that the costs . Discounted cash flow analysis is used to determine the annual cost of production and profitability of redclaw farming.000 12.5. This makes provision for pond walls.10 0.

It is therefore important that the valuation of costs and benefits takes explicit account of the time at which they occur. The present value is calculated using the method of compound interest and the rate by which the present value is computed is known as the discount rate. Tables 8 and 9 illustrate the discounted cash flows for the model redclaw farms with and without pond liners. Table 10 summarises all the costs on a per farm and per kilogram basis for farms with and without pond liners. In the following analysis a project life of 20 years is used with a discount rate of 6% (real rate) to calculate the net present value (NPV). That single amount is known as the present vale of the future stream of costs and benefits. The NPV of a project is the difference between the present value of the benefits and the present value of the costs.44 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE and returns they give rise to are spread out over time. A project creating a positive NPV is generally considered acceptable. . People are not indifferent with respect to the timing of costs and benefits -usually they prefer to receive benefits as early as possible and to pay for costs as late as possible. Discounted cash flow analysis reduces a time stream of costs or benefits to an equivalent amount of today's dollars. Thus the discount rate is in effect an `exchange rate' between values today and values in the future.

.766 5. Discounted cash flow for model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds with pond liners.00% 112.26 14500 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 623786 54385 1020 5. 6% Project benefits Year Percentage Yield Revenue TOTAL FEED LIME ELECT.35% 133.853 114117 2. CASH CASH FLOW FLOW ($) ($) -390512 -15152 22457 31255 33853 22015 41020 44755 47353 51505 18956 55686 56967 58550 58997 45007 61860 63027 64307 65891 129846 IRR(%)= 7.38 8.898 75938 2.58 $/farm/yr 95..08 0 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 64232 5600 105 0.70 0 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 27528 2400 45 0.00% 45..50% Total(PV) Farm av/yr Av/pond/yr Av/kg 0...70% TOTAL COSTS/YR= TOTAL COSTS/HA= TOTAL COSTS/KG= -390512 -405663 -383206 -351952 -318099 -296084 -255064 -210310 -162957 -111452 -92496 -36809 20157 78707 137704 182711 244571 307598 371905 437796 567642 89082 22270 9. Farm size (ha).62 9.792 111670 2.70% 138.4.49 0 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 28718 2504 47 0.80% 135..975 119011 3.60% 141..731 109223 2. FUEL & TOTAL & MAINT.25 12500 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 299248 26090 489 2..884 115341 2..700 108000 2. CHARGES LABOUR LABOUR COSTS OIL OPERATING COSTS ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) 0 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 4588 400 8 0..45 Table 8.00% 116.180 1796 10 0 0 37969 4717 75938 4717 84375 4717 87750 4717 91125 4717 94500 4717 97875 4717 101250 4717 104625 4717 108000 4717 109223 4717 110447 4717 111670 4717 112894 4717 114117 4717 115341 4717 116564 4717 117788 4717 119011 4717 120234 4717 1098431 54099 95766 4717 1796 88 10 .949 37969 1..00% 100.90% 132.30 SUMMARY TABLE (all NPV format) Total project benefits less variable costs equal gross margin less overhead costs equals Return to management Internal rate of return .917 89.00% 120.006 120234 109... 53 Real discount rate..616 104625 2..00% 129.531 101250 2. of ponds... REPAIRS WATER FAMILY HIRED ADMIN.761 110447 2.914 116564 2..945 117788 2.00% 90.447 97875 2..194 87750 2..70% FERT.15% 139..00% 104.00 No.363 94500 2.....67 ANNUAL ACCUMUL.00% 108.49 0 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 9176 800 15 0.58 95776 0.109 84375 2..68 TOTAL CAPITAL COSTS ($) 376012 0 360 0 777 15990 360 0 777 0 35923 417 360 0 777 15990 360 417 360 0 -58732 379973 34697 651 3. steady state (t/ha/yr) from PROJECT (%) total area crop BENEFITS ($) ($) ($) ($/yr) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 0.68 0..72 2000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 47880 4174 78 0.25% 136....165 6.685 7.44 0 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 53909 4700 88 0.45% 130.278 91125 2..000 0 0.05% 142.31 $/kg 10..822 112894 2.850 83.84 1098431 9..04 0 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 34410 3000 56 0.00% 128.00% 124.....00 0...

.25 12500 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 25000 299248 26090 489 2..45% 130.914 116564 2.766 5. 53 Real discount rate...15% 139.68 TOTAL CAPITAL COSTS ($) 217078 0 360 0 777 15990 360 0 777 0 35923 417 360 0 777 15990 360 417 360 0 -58732 240287 20949 393 2.949 37969 1.80% 135. of ponds.432 13....731 109223 2....13 0 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 2400 27528 2400 45 0.417 20.278 91125 2. steady state (t/ha/yr) from PROJECT (%) total area crop BENEFITS ($) ($) ($) ($/yr) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 0...792 111670 2.884 115341 2.363 94500 2.38 7.00% 112. Discounted cash flow for model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds without pond liners.70% 138.850 69. Farm size (ha).00 No.4..25% 136.62 9.00 0...46 Table 9.04 0 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 3000 34410 3000 56 0.50% Total(PV) Farm av/yr Av/pond/yr Av/kg 0.00% 116..006 120234 109.49 0 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 2504 28718 2504 47 0.08 0 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 5600 64232 5600 105 0.35% 133..84 1098431 9.24% FERT...531 101250 2. CASH CASH FLOW FLOW ($) ($) -231578 -15152 22457 31255 33853 22015 41020 44755 47353 51505 18956 55686 56967 58550 58997 45007 61860 63027 64307 65891 125846 IRR(%)= 13.700 108000 2.24 TOTAL COSTS/YR= TOTAL COSTS/HA= TOTAL COSTS/KG= -231578 -246730 -224273 -193018 -159165 -137151 -96131 -51376 -4023 47481 66438 122124 179091 237640 296637 341644 403504 466531 530838 596729 722575 75334 18833 7.00% 124.975 119011 3..447 97875 2.00% 120.00% 45..945 117788 2..00% 90...26 14500 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 53120 623786 54385 1020 5....05% 142.58 95776 0.49 0 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 9176 800 15 0.00% 100.87 SUMMARY TABLE (all NPV format) Total project benefits less variable costs equal gross margin less overhead costs equals Return to management Internal Rate of Return .853 114117 2..180 1796 10 0 0 37969 4717 75938 4717 84375 4717 87750 4717 91125 4717 94500 4717 97875 4717 101250 4717 104625 4717 108000 4717 109223 4717 110447 4717 111670 4717 112894 4717 114117 4717 115341 4717 116564 4717 117788 4717 119011 4717 120234 4717 1098431 54099 95766 4717 1796 88 10 .60% 141..44 0 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 4700 53909 4700 88 0.822 112894 2.898 75938 2.917 89.72 2000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000 47880 4174 78 0.58 $/farm/yr 95. FUEL & TOTAL & MAINT.000 0 0.616 104625 2.31 $/kg 10..194 87750 2.761 110447 2. REPAIRS WATER FAMILY HIRED ADMIN..25 2....19 ANNUAL ACCUMUL.. CHARGES LABOUR LABOUR COSTS OIL OPERATING COSTS ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) 0 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 4588 400 8 0.00% 128.00% 104.. 6% Project benefits Year Percentage Yield Revenue TOTAL FEED LIME ELECT.109 84375 2.90% 132....00% 129.00% 108.

25 7.49 0. Where the line crosses the horizontal axis represents the time required to achieve a positive accumulative cash flow (payback period). using a farm-gate price of $10.917 3. Item 1.68 9.432 10.0 2.400 4.717 800 400 5.97 217.700 69.44 3. A payback period of between twelve and eight years are required for the model farms with and without pond liners.44 1. .08 0.58 0.26 0.685 10.08 0.5 8.49 7.0 8.417 75.44 2.504 5. respectively.70 95.62 0.26 0.917 3.766 4.00/kg.25 0.13 Figure 8 shows the accumulative cash flows for the two scenarios.512 ($/farm/yr) ($/kg) Without pond lining 53 45 750 4. Physical description Number of ponds Number of growout ponds Area/pond (m2) Total pond area (ha) Total farm area (ha) Production/growout pond (t/ha) Total production of redclaw (t/yr) Feed conversion ratio Feed consumed (t/yr) Capital costs of establishment ($) 2.766 4.49 0.31 0. Summary of economic analysis for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds.19 2.082 6.600 4.700 83.400 4.04 0.000 2.174 20.090 2.600 4. Financial description (NPV format) With pond lining 53 45 750 4.58 0.72 0.000 2.090 2.5 8.62 2.25 0.0 8.165 89.62 0.078 ($/farm/yr) ($/kg) (a) Gross income (b) Variable costs Feed Dolomite Fertiliser Subtotal (b) (c) Overhead costs Repairs & maintenance Fuel & oil Electricity Hired labour Depreciation plus interest* Allowance for owner's labour Water charges Administration costs Subtotal (c) Total costs (b+c) (d) Return to management [a-(b+c)] *Assuming a real rate of interest of 6% 95.47 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Table 10.949 26.3:1 10.174 34.72 0.3:1 10.30 0.87 2.44 1.0 2.504 5.717 800 400 5.334 20.31 0.04 0.697 26.00 0.49 8.97 390.00 0. The payback period is the time required to recover the initial project outlay.

892 54. The yield achieved at year 20 would place the growers in far north Queensland with comparable yields achieved by southern Queensland redclaw farms.432 -2. Price is expected to remain constant for the twenty years.991 58.414 49.856 -12. Table 11. The farm without pond liners has a significant competitive advantage.315 44.009 6.739 35. A margin of about $1.50/kg exists between the two model redclaw farms.261 30.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 48 It was assumed that steady-state production was not achieved until the end of the third year and that yields from then onwards are increased gradually over time.297 Farm-gate price ($/kg) 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 . Prices could reduce to $7. Such improvements are included in the analysis because a conservative yield is assumed at the start of the analysis and yields are expected to improve as more research.892 10. Variations in farm-gate price on return to management for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds.279 -22. Return to management ($) With pond Without pond liners liners 64. Sensitivity analysis Variation in redclaw farm-gate price Table 11 and Figure 10 in the Appendix show the effect that farm-gate price has on the return to management for the model redclaw farms.838 39.568 68.586 16.469 1.685 20.045 -8.144 77.90/kg and the farm without pond liners would still obtain a positive return to management whereas $9. more growers coming into the industry would create little competition and the extra demand created from a more widely accepted product is expected to keep prices at the same level. experience and information becomes available to farm operators. According to existing growers.162 25.40 is required for farms with pond liners.

49 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Variation in redclaw yield Table 12 shows the effect that yield has on the return to management for the model redclaw farms.5t/ha growout pond is used as the control (achieved in year 3).104 56.5 ha and 6.447 43. The same yield improvement increases the return to management about 50% for the model redclaw farm without pond liners.790 29. Hired labour inputs vary between pond area (see Table 6) and for this reason the reduction in costs of production per kilogram is not continuous as size increases.75 A 10% improvement in yield would double the return to management for the model redclaw farm with pond liners.852 52. .642 29.209 65.875 3 3. Table 13 and Figure 11 shows how changing pond area causes significant economies of size.01/kg for 2 ha and 7 ha pond areas respectively.5 ha results in higher costs of production per kilogram due to higher labour thresholds.e. A conservative yield of 2.125 3.999 47.685 20. Return to management ($) With pond Without pond liners liners 6.6 hectares. Cost of production and profitability for varying pond areas Economies of size are believed to be significant in redclaw farming.895 38.31/kg to $7.090 24.195 33. i.78/kg to $8. The transition between areas 4 to 4.25 3. Table 12. Variations in redclaw yields on return to management for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds.342 34. Another interpretation could be that a yield improvement of 15% is needed above the control level for the farm with pond lining so that the returns from the two scenarios are similar.46/kg shifting from a 2 ha pond area to 7 ha pond area for the model redclaw farm with pond liners. This model farm becomes unprofitable at pond areas less than 2. When pond lining is excluded the total costs reduce from $12.75 2. It appears that it is unprofitable to farm redclaw with a pond area less than 3.5 3.537 20.5 2. Costs of production reduce from $13.6 hectares for this model farm.747 43.432 15.957 Increase in yield (%) Control 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 40% 50% Yield (t/ha growout pond) 2. To test this effect various pond areas were incorporated into the two redclaw farm models.0 to 6.

910 8. Table 14 provides a description of the pond allocation and costs for the 53 pond model.63 -4.5 5.082 10.742 8.41 16.432 8.73 19.5 6.44 22.78 -17.400 9.866 7.704 11. Cost of production and return to management for redclaw aquaculture with various total pond area.46 25.29 42.490 9.01 49. With pond liners Cost of Return to production management ($) ($/kg) 13.80 26.615 Total pond area (ha) 2.401 10.0 Provision of Initial Stock The ways and therefore the costs of initial stocking of the ponds can vary greatly across farms.09 -767 9.0 5.16 5.5 7.831 8.5 3.645 7. For this analysis the cost of stocking the ponds in the first year is based on a proportion of bearing females.830 10.25 -1. This represents one way of stocking the redclaw farm with 6-12 months before the first harvest and up to 3 years before steady-state production levels are achieved.87 20.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 50 Table 13.64 11.206 7.86 14.00 42.021 8.204 8.41 33.557 Without pond liners Cost of Return to production management ($) ($/kg) 12.5 4.685 9.825 7.31 -10.262 7.24 9.0 3.87 1. Each method will have different affects on redclaw yields for the first 3 to 5 years before steady state production levels are reached.69 -10. .0 4.171 7.0 2.30 6.0 6. juveniles and advanced juveniles being purchased.

25 0. Stock purchased No.of ponds Brooding rate (j/fem) Stocking rate for new juveniles (no.30 Total cost per pond ($) 250 1.000 500 0 -500 0 5 10 15 20 Year . Accumulative cash flow over time for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds. per pond Price per unit ($) 2. Accumulative cash flow ($'000) 1./m2) n/a 10 5 No.51 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Table 14.750 5. Cost and pond allocation for stocking a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds.125 Total cost per farm ($) Bearing females Juveniles Advanced juveniles Total 28 10 5 43 75 n/a n/a 100 7500 3750 7.625 31.875 1.000 18.375 Figure 8.50 0./m2) 10 n/a n/a Stocking rate (no.

Percentage breakdown on overheads for model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 52 Figure 9. Return to Capital & Management ($'000) 80 60 40 20 0 -20 -40 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Farm-gate Price ($/kg) . Price and return to capital and management for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds. Figure 10.

53 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Figure 11. Total pond area versus return to capital and management for a model redclaw farm with 53 x 750m2 ponds. Return to Capital & Management ($'000) 40 20 0 -20 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Pond area (ha) .

There are also too many unknowns (variables) and a lack of set farm procedures. almost all product is sold on the domestic market but I feel this can be expanded greatly with better marketing and packaging techniques. Demand for Juveniles to China At present there is a very strong demand for juveniles to China.large crayfish. This. This needs to be addressed. The economic analysis included with these notes will go a long way towards alleviating this problem. Shares are still available at the original price for farmers wishing to buy into the company.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 54 INDUSTRY OVERVIEW (1994) by Greg Love Regional Activity The redclaw aquaculture industry throughout the State is expanding very slowly.50 per kg. ACM is working towards a compilation of a Business Plan. given that there are at least 35 farmers producing. primarily because their accountant or bank manager cannot make an informed decision. This is a little daunting for some. Firstly. ACM has made a lot of overseas contacts recently. However. better purging and holding facilities would be advantageous. lack of a business plan available for new farmers prevents many from making a start. Actual production was probably considerably higher. I believe is due to a number of factors. Markets At the moment. Direct contact with chefs. none of us are becoming millionaires. somewhere in the area of 70 to 80 tonnes. ACM can't do a lot until production increases over and above that required for the Domestic Market. I believe that the industry will expand when farming techniques are improved and become more consistent. ACM ACM (Australian Crayfish Marketing) a company owned by farmers was set up to aid the marketing of redclaw . juveniles and associated technology. . Prices are reasonable but numbers required are large. Production Total production for the State for 1992/93 was 40 tonnes as per the annual farmer survey. access to the information contained in the seminar notes will be of great benefit. Again. the value of the industry is in the order of one million dollars. Inspection costs to get them out of the country are taking the cream off this market. At an average farm-gate price of $14.

Other Issues It would also be an advantage to be able to accurately determine the age of a crayfish. This was brought home to me at a recent North Queensland Aquaculture Consultative Committee (NQACC) meeting where barramundi Farmers are facing severe marketing problems through excess barramundi for this size of demand from the southern markets. These Associations help farmers through dissemination of information. Our problem is not enough product. even though the base of information is solid and accurate. One of the good points for the industry is the operation of strong Crayfish Farmers Associations. Industry expansion will be greatly aided by development of better food and a suitable cheap habitat. enabling us to pool results and resources. I think that with each answer there seems to be more questions.55 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE DPI&F Service Information available from the DPI&F is adequate for beginning farmers and is improving with time and research. . However. In finishing. climates and situations and therefore it is difficult at this stage to develop cut & dried procedures. It's this attention to breeding that I believe has set farm bred stock well ahead of wild caught animals for aquaculture purposes. These will be solved more readily if we are able to maintain a close working relationship between farmers. I will say that there are bright prospects in this industry. They also help to overcome problems by allowing farmers to pre-empt problems through discussion. There are many different farming techniques. The prawn farmers have an Association and are having no problems marketing large amounts of products at excellent prices. They are now trying to start a Barramundi Farmers Association. it may sometimes have to be adapted to your own particular situation. This would help in the selective breeding process on most farms.

Data gathered during this trip is being used as the basis for a business plan that is currently in its final stages. The next largest are Belgium and Germany with 200 tonnes each. Prior to the mid 1980's Turkey was the major supplier of freshwater crayfish to European markets. Australian Crayfish Farming (ACM) was formed in 1992 to address these and other relevant issues.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 56 REDCLAW MARKETING by Maurice Downing Introduction Commercial farming of redclaw crayfish is a relatively new industry and is faced with a number of challenges such as small production volumes and a low level of consumer awareness. Total consumption is approximately 10. Asia . Freshwater crayfish attract an import duty of between 15 and 18 percent on entering most European countries which tends to make them an expensive item. While ACM has concentrated on developing export markets. Overseas Markets Europe Freshwater crayfish enjoy a higher level of consumer acceptance in Europe than anywhere else. In addition to import duty some European countries will only allow entry to frozen or cooked product due to their concerns regarding disease. Made up of 35 members. each with a $500 shareholding. The major player in meeting this demand is North America. ACM accounts for 98 per cent of redclaw production ACM and gives growers a vehicle by which they can achieve more by collaborating than by acting individually. in the short term it also has a significant future role to play in co-ordinating the domestic marketing of redclaw.000 tonnes per year. In the middle of 1993 ACM undertook a market visit to Asian countries. when the crayfish plague devastated this source a shortfall of between 3000 and 5000 tonnes was created. each accounting for between 3000 and 4000 tonnes annually. However. This paper has drawn on this information plus existing literature and interviews with wholesalers and restaurants to provide potential new farmers with an overview of the marketing environment facing redclaw crayfish. France and Sweden are the largest markets.

In Hong Kong samples of redclaw were given to five star hotels and were judged to be satisfactory. a similar situation to that in most markets. those who place a higher value on food products produced in clean environments. At around 400 grams it is significantly smaller than traditional crayfish of 800 to 1000 grams. The hotels insisted on dealing via an importer/wholesaler as they were not interested in dealing with single product suppliers. In Japan animals of 120g or larger were the preferred size although there was a strong preference for seafood rather than freshwater crustaceans. mainly from Louisiana. A number of large farms are being established. They are already producing North American species of freshwater crayfish and they can land the peeled tails in the USA more cheaply that the American industry can produce their live animals.57 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Information from the market visit to Asia by Australian Crayfish Marketing (ACM) reveals that China is undertaking major expansion in the production of redclaw. Most likely order size for redclaw was expected to be 200 kilos per week. some with up to 2500 hectares of ponds. By regulation only farmed animals can be exported from Australia. It is important that we try to identify these niche markets as the Chinese are expected to have significantly lower costs of production. While prices quoted during the trip were $17 per kilo it was also mentioned that the Australian industry should work towards producing the product for around $6 per kilo (farm gate) to be competitive in the long term. this figure had risen to 140 000 in 1993 according to information gained during ACM's recent overseas marketing trip. The vast majority of this output was consumed domestically. USA A 1991 report compiled by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Economics (ABARE) reported that the USA's production of freshwater crawfish was 50 000 tonnes.. With this volume of production crawfish in the USA are able to be graded by size: . ACM has reported that since returning from the trip it has had to reject five orders for weekly shipments of 1 tonne because of the limited output of the industry. For example. This may then open the way for niche marketing by Australia producers because large volume suppliers traditionally miss smaller market segments that may have particular needs different from the majority of consumers. While this has remarkable production potential and may initially be seen as a threat to the Australian redclaw industry it may also be of assistance in that it will help raise the level of awareness of redclaw in the marketplace.. However. As mentioned earlier a portion of this production is exported to Europe to meet the significant shortfall in this market caused by the crayfish plague. The Maine lobster coming in from the USA looms as the major competitor for redclaw in this market.

Being a freshwater animal redclaw were reported as tending to have a more subtle taste than seafood. attracts the highest price followed by redclaw and the yabbie.9 In the catering industry redclaw also competes with saltwater prawns. Animals in the size range of 50 . Crayfish Marron Redclaw Yabbie Total tonnes 10 46 97 153 $’000 226 690 1253 2168 $/kg 22. Domestic Market Three species of freshwater crayfish are commercially farmed in Australia. Approximately 70 percent is consumed domestically with the balance being exported.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 58 Size (cms) 6 7. scampi. at an average of 200g. unlike the situation in the USA as mentioned earlier where there are three grades each with its individual brand name. mainly to Europe.6 15 12. This is primarily due to the small industry size. and the various species of saltwater crayfish. Detailed below are the estimated production and value for each species for 1991. For the current year production of redclaw is expected to be 60 tonnes according to industry sources. Once larger volumes are achieved product can be graded accordingly which opens the way for a broader product range to be offered to customers thereby increasing the industry's ability to satisfy their individual requirements.80 grams and are significantly larger than their North American competitors. When production volumes increase it may be possible to also develop various grade sizes. By doing so you are able to offer customers a wider product range so that they are able to choose a product that better meets their specific requirements. .80g are preferred by restaurants as any larger specimen would not enable them to put 3 or 4 on a plate.75 Name hotel whale big daddy In Australia redclaw have only one common grade of 50 . Marron. Product Issues All redclaw sold fall into the one size category of 50-80g.5 8. Size is a major determinant of the prices received.

the public considered this a little too expensive. Chefs are reluctant to use an unreliable product that may embarrass them and possibly disappoint a customer which will result in lost sales. Restaurants primarily present redclaw as an entree with two portions per plate. If they do not enjoy it the first time they are unlikely to ever order it again . people are often hesitant to try it. When ordered as a main course the diner will typically receive a serving of four. Marketing licences issued to farmers dictate that product can only be sold to "licensed seafood marketers holding either a Processor Class A licence or a Commercial Buyer Class A licence". For this reason consistent supply is of prime importance to wholesalers and restaurants. However. If they enjoy it they are likely to have it again which leads to increased sales and market growth. No product is sold at the retail level although one wholesaler reported that they used to sell them at their own shop for between $17 . Animals should be clean and free of parasites and/or stains. Quality within the industry is determined by : • • • Thickness of the shell Degree of vigour Being free of parasites and discolouring Thin shelled animals are preferred by the market. Distribution There are three major elements in the distribution chain for redclaw. Two major prerequisites for successful marketing are consistent quality and supply. Should a consumer be confronted by a substandard product the industry risks losing future sales. This is vitally important for a new product such as redclaw because. Once formulated. However. restaurant menus are set for six months at a time. Product is typically handled in 10 kilo lots. Effective and conscientious wholesalers can play a major role in increasing the market penetration of a product. As a result packaging requirements are minimal. Farmers can sell product themselves if they have the appropriate licence. a feature that . as with anything new. an opportunity lost.$18 per kilo.59 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE Practically all redclaw are sold live. For a relatively new product like redclaw it is imperative that only a consistently high quality product is sold. While selling direct to restaurants may result in slightly higher returns the practice can have a limiting effect on market growth. Given the animal's ability to survive out of water freezer vans are not required for short distance deliveries. product is allowed to be sold in a chilled or frozen state but no other processing is currently permitted. farmer to wholesaler to restaurant. as are healthy animals with strong vigour. largely because they did not have a clear value concept for the animal.

Summary Redclaw is a relatively new product and it is worthwhile to put this in perspective. Although illegal.60 and $16.50 per kilo.. wild caught redclaw can be bought for $8 per kilo. Essentially it is positioned as a "fine dining item". In marketing terms redclaw is at the early stages of its product life cycle. Small production volume 2. Wholesalers and chefs have tended to position redclaw lower than lobster but higher than prawns. However. Pricing & Its Implications According to the most recent industry survey the average farm gate price for redclaw is $14. diners did not place the same value on redclaw as they did for the other items with the result that sales were restricted. you must attempt to "stand out from the crowd". Restaurant are reported to need margins on around 400 per cent on the cost of inputs to cover preparation and other overheads. Interviewees also felt that the more relevant competitors for redclaw were scampi and small champagne lobsters of 250-300 g. Because of the price paid for redclaw restaurateurs had to charge prices similar to lobster and mudcrab.REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 60 is especially helpful to fledgling industries struggling to develop markets. This attribute then becomes the central theme of all promotional activities. Single product or limited product range . characteristic of most fledgling industries. Unlike other seafood products the price of redclaw is predominantly stable on domestic markets. However. The following characteristics are typical of such a situation: 1. before truly effective promotion can be undertaken something that is different or unique about the product must be identified. Wholesalers are currently paying $13 per kilo and selling them to restaurants and hotels at between $15. Some consumers were reported as thinking redclaw were baby lobster. Promotion To date very little promotion of redclaw is done. In short you must give the customer a reason for buying your product. It was considered that a slight reduction in price would enable redclaw to be used in buffets that would induce more people to try them which in turn helps to establish consumer acceptance and consequently build market demand. Wholesalers have the ability to cross-sell a new product while servicing a customer from there existing product range.50 per kilo. including both domestic and export sales. Wholesalers typically need to achieve margins of at least 20 per cent to remain viable.

61 REDCLAW CRAYFISH AQUACULTURE 3. I believe there is an equally critical. If this issue is not addressed then when the industry finally arrives at their desired destination in volume terms the customers wont be there to meet them. Rather. Ultimately it is the consumer who decides how much value a product represents for them and. Some said it was closer to lobster.e. where it is positioned in the marketplace. that it is something they prize and are willing to pay a premium for. lobster or Moreton bay bugs. others said it was unique and did not have a close substitute and herein lies the challenge. the industry must endeavour to ensure that the customer has the same value concept of redclaw as it does. issue that also needs attention People had a difficult time deciding exactly where redclaw fitted compared to other available products i. While it is agreed that the Australian industry needs to boost production a lot of thought also needs to be given to where redclaw is to be positioned in the minds of consumers. Relatively few customers. how much they will pay for it relative to possible substitutes such as prawns. therefore. . Low level of customer awareness 4. However. Popular opinion suggests the most critical issue facing the redclaw industry at this stage is a lack of supply and therefore the inability to put significant volume onto the market. Should this happen the industry may find itself in the position of having to discount prices to attract customers. albeit more subtle. Struggling to establish a clear identity among competing products 5.

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