When Larry Fortuna is done milking a couple hundred cows on his northern Wisconsin dairy farm, he goes to another building to take care of 30,000 other livestock – Pacific white shrimp. Larry and his wife Laurie started North Country Shrimp to supplement their income. They built a new building, added 20 swimming pools, and air lines.
Larry says the key to raising shrimp is maintaining the water quality. But once they got that figured out, shrimp care got a lot easier especially since the crustaceans are fed three-times a day.
"It’s not a set schedule so it kind of fits in with the cows, like the cows got to be milked at a certain time," he says. "Of course, you have breakdowns on the farm so we don’t have to feed the shrimp at 6:00 in the morning, and then noon, and 6:00. It could be 8:00 one morning, it could be 10:00 the next morning, and then we just adjust the other feedings throughout the day."
The baby shrimp are shipped overnight from the Florida Keys and are the size of an eyelash when the Fortuna’s get them. It takes three-to-four months and five-to-six stages of shrimp food to raise them up to saleable size.
When they’re ready, Larry sells them right off the farm. Shrimp doesn’t get any fresher.
"Ninety-nine percent of our sales is by appointment. They call up and leave a message, we get back with them and set up a time when they’re coming through," says Larry. "We catch their shrimp for them and either we have them on ice or if they want us to catch them in front of them, they’re more than willing to come in there and watch us catch their supper for them."
A shrimp barn beats a cow barn in the wintertime. Larry says the water is kept around 80-degrees, so the building is always warm and tropical.
Learn more about the Fortuna’s North Country Shrimp business.