How Much Do Crawfish Farmers Make
An economic analysis of crawfish production should be based on sound production cost estimates and realistic income projections.
Crawfish are cultured in a variety of ways, but most commonly in cultivated forage ponds or in double-crop rotation systems with rice or soybeans. For details on these production practices see SRAC publications 241 and 242.
Cultivated forage ponds are constructed and managed solely for crawfish production; planted forages supply the detrital food on which crawfish feed. In rice-crawfish double cropping rice stubble supplies the detrital food chain and the harvest of rice provides a second income source each year.
Table 1 itemizes projected costs for cultivated forage ponds and rice-crawfish double crops. These costs are based primarily on a 1990 survey of 39 commercial crawfish producers, with supplemental information from researchers and Extension personnel.
The survey collected information on production, harvesting, and marketing practices. Costs have been adjusted to reflect 1998 values. Cost estimates are presented on a Òper acreÓ basis so they can be applied to different size operations. Fixed costs were based on a 120-acre production unit consisting of six 20-acre ponds.
The average annual interest rate on the investment in the pond, well, and specialized equipment was assumed to be 6.4 percent. Although projected costs for the rice-crawfish double crop are considerably more than for the cultivated forage pond, an additional income of $405 per acre can be realized from the rice crop.
Table 2 shows break-even selling prices required to recover costs for four alternative yield levels.
To evaluate the feasibility of beginning a crawfish operation if you are not already farming, use the ÒPrices required to cover total specified costs and general farm overhead. Established farmers considering diversifying into crawfish should use the Prices required to cover total specified costs. Prices required to cover direct expenses should be used to construct a cash flow statement or to estimate out-of pocket expenses.
Table 2 shows that farmers who are producing rice are in the best position to start crawfish production.
Many of the costs associated with producing crawfish have already been covered by the rice operation.
Any aquaculture venture should be approached cautiously. A business plan should be devel-oped that includes production, economic and marketing data.
Remember that the cost estimates presented in this publication are based on data collected in Louisiana on relatively large farms (120 acres in 6- to 20-acre ponds). This data, while valuable for estimating average production costs, may show some economies of scale and should be used cautiously by small or very large crawfish production facilities.
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