Producers converting old hog barns into fish farms is one of the primary ways aquaculture has been introduced in Iowa. That kind of transition naturally raises questions of how different raising one animal is from another.
One challenge in raising fish as opposed to hogs is water quality. Producers can easily sense air quality for hogs – they’re both breathing the same stuff, but that changes with fish. Producers who do well raising fish have to be hands-on.
Doctor Joe Morris with Iowa State University’s Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management says there’s another key area where producers have to be hands-on and that’s with marketing.
Dr. Morris said, as a kid 30 years ago in Southwest Iowa his father picked up the hogs and moved to the Omaha stock yards. But today we don’t have those so a lot of hog operations are contract now. Morris also stated that, until fish farming grows to a larger scale and is accomplished by contract as hogs are currently, fish farmers will need to engage customers face-to-face and have more of a retail mindset.