Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LARGE SCALE METHOD FOR OYSTER GROW-OUT BAGS

Other countries have been farming oysters a lot longer than us here in the States and so they have some industrial sized operations going on. If you like growing in oyster bags I thought these pictures might give you some ideas of what you could do in the future with a little rebar, some welding, a water column permit, and a whole lot of bags. This is like "rack and bag" on steroids!

Each one of these units is hoisted in and out of the water by crane.

Bags can be placed in rebar containers and then filled with oysters and closed.

Notice the rebar pins that keep the bags in place, also notice the black rubber strap with the "s" hook, it has and end that fits into the hole in the bag but won't slip out, easy to install and works nice...here's a picture of some below...we can get these if you are interested.



Alot of companies, will harvest their markets and then store them in the water until they have an order to fill. These baskets are nice because you can pre-count your product not just pre-sort. Also, check out the triangular basket in the background, it looks like it has a pvc piece running through its center so it can spin around, I'm assuming it is for seed growout...interesting, I'll look into that.
This gives a good view of the feet.

Close-up on the rebar pin(simple) and those bag closures.




Great video of these cages or similar ones at work...and no, this is not a local oyster farm I think its in the UK somewhere...either way cool video...notice its one buoy to several cages, deep water, and they are using the rod to close the bags...can get those if interested.


For all of you who are patiently waiting for bags to arrive the container is still scheduled to be here by the end of October begining of November. We'll post it once they are in.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

REMEMBER THAT SEED???

Here's that seed from this spring ABOVE and here it is again BELOW from two days ago. We've said it before don't wait until the fall; get your seed as early as you can. If you don't want to wait on us or other guys get yourself some type of upweller system so you can get your seed direct from the hatcheries as soon as its ready.
Now it doesn't just majically get big without some help.
Got to upwell. There are three tanks in this picture plus two floating upwellers in the background.
We sort the seed out of the upwellers at 1/2" and send it out directly in .5"x.5" cages.
Then we start splitting...
and sorting...
and building lots of .5"x.5" cages...we had a lot of seed...
more sorting and splitting....
lots more...its exponetial...1-2-4-8-16 and so on until you reach that final density for growout.
cages coming in
Splitting seed on the farm, we do this twice before it comes back in for sorting.
Older seed coming in to be sorted, it will go back out in two different grades typically.
Running older seed in QuickTube...huge help, it mows through a hopper of oysters like this and you end up with a good pre-cull for later...we are selling this stuff right now, it blew up over the last month.

Splitting again...this is the KEY to having beautiful oysters in short order... but you need to be on it every two to four weeks depending on how fast your stuff is growing...2-3weeks for us.

Friday, May 28, 2010

GOT SEED????

OYSTER SEED IS AVAILABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
CALL STEPHANIE AND ASK FOR PRICING AT 804-338-6530

If you have an order in with us we should be contacting you soon. If you just need a few thousand for your garden, call Steph and swing over and pick them up. Don't forget we are at the Irvinigton Farmers Market every month with all of our goodies. That is the first Saturday of each month until November.


This is how small the seed was after we had it for a week...it was half that size to start. Your seed will been sorted and ready for you at whatever size you are looking for...3/16", 1/4", 1/2" and up. Prices vary by size.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Splitting Seed in Half by Half Cages


Probably the thing that trips up most new oyster farmers is falling behind on seed work.

When oysters, especially when they are young, have warm water and lots of food they grow FAST!!! If you loaded a bag about a quater full of 1/2" seed today in about two weeks during the growing season you could easily have 1/2 to 3/4 full bag of oysters. If you let that go another two weeks you'll have a solid brick of oysters and the beautiful minature half shell style oysters will start to get real crazy looking as they run into one another reaching for more water and room. It can be an expensive and discouraging mistake to make.
After years of fighting bags and working our tails off to stay on top of our seed (often to no avail)we finally started using .5"x.5" low profile cages to do all of our seed work out on the farm.

Now, we haven't completely gone away from bags because when the seed is humming out of the upweller and it needs a place to go yet its too small for .5"x.5" we put them in 4mm bags. We'll let them ride there for two weeks then into the half by halfs if we are in a pinch. The best scenario is to run them long enough in the upweller so they can go directly into the half by half cages.
A couple of things are great about the half by half cages...
1. Holds a lot of oyster seed
2. Easy to open and close
3. Can be split out on the water in a rapid fashion
4. Can hold the oysters all the way to a size compatible with our 1x1 cages


When we are doing seed splits we will hoist a cage on deck and dump it on the bow as seen in these two pictures.
Once its on the bow we will fill orange bushels to a desired level, usually 3/4's full and we'll use that volume as our guage for reloading the cages to go back in the water. So we will add 3/4's of a bushel to the top and bottom of a lowpro cage.
The amout of oysters that are left over will vary depending on how long you waited to do a split, but those oysters as seen in the picture above will go in another empty cage that we brought out with us. If you want to cut the bill on your seed just hang the bushels over the side and shak'em up until they are nice and clean, we only do that if we let a cage get really loaded or if there is just a lot of junk and we want to rinse it out of the oysters for a fresh start.


Check out the video...


The bottom line seems to be no matter what you end up doing stay on top of giving your oysters room to grow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

UPWELLING AND UPWELLERS



If you want to grow a volume of oysters you need to buy a bunch of seed and at $25/1000 a million oysters gets expensive. So this would be the first reason to have your own upweller. An upweller allows you to purchase seed directly from a hatchery at a much smaller size and price. Right now 2mm seed from a hatchery wil run you anywhere from $7-9/1000 based on strains and genetic characteristics (triploid/diploid). Picture with penny shows 2mm seed.

Some hatcheries will even go a little cheaper by selling it to you a bit smaller say .5mm, this gets a little tricky for some because .5mm is SUPER SMALL!! This stuff acts like dust once it gets dry and will blow away and its near impossible to varify the count (infact we wonder if the counts at this size are as accurate).

What is upwelling and why does it work?

You can upwell or downwell; one moves water up, one moves water down...the diagram explains it better.

When you are trying to set spat on microculch (tiny pieces of oyster shell) to get single oysters a method known as downwelling is used and is most frequently a closed system (recirculating water). Once the spat are set upwelling is used and it can be an open or closed system but the methods we will refer to are all open systems or flow through.
Upwelling brings a constant supply of nutrient rich water past your animals. All they need to do is open up and feed, which they do constantly as long as the food is in the water. This method produces hearty oysters in short order that continue to feed at a rapid pace when placed out on the farm.
BUCKET UPWELLERS
Since our spat come so small we use a bucket upwelling system first.


As you can see in the picture its a series of buckets (in this case literal 5 gal buckets) that have mesh in the bottom and hold the seed. The buckets are in 4x10 tanks. Water is brought into the tank from a 4" pump (low pressure high flow) which fills the tank and the only way for the water to escape is to pass up through the buckets, taking the algae rich water passed the young oysters. The water is then sent back into the bay. Bucket upwelling is a simple priciple that can be applied to any size tank, container, or bucket. This method is great for handling small seed but inorder to get speed and volume it is essential to move to a floating upweller system.

FLOATING UPWELLERS
We reccomend and offer two kinds of floating upweller systems...BIG and BIGGER.
Both systems operate on a similar principle...remove water from a trough, the trough is filled back up by a silo and the seed sits in the silos. The big one is an 8x20 floating dock with a fanblade sumersible pump that moves the water out of a trough @ 800gpm and can handle 1million animals. The bigger one is a 20x30 floating dock that uses a paddlewheel to move the water out @3000gpm or more, and handles 10 million or more animals and is expandable.
Bonuses to these systems are...
- cheap to run
- high rates of growth
- high animal capacities
They are inexpensive to run because you are moving the water laterally so gravity and equilibrium take care of the rest of the work.
8x20 FLOATING UPWELLER
KIT When you buy the entire kit you get everything pictured above and we supply the hardware and instructions so you can build the frame below (you purchase the wood on your own).


Upweller floating dock finished with doors, ready to launch. Below in use with doors up, doors are optional, make for a nice working surface when shut, and looks just like a floating dock. Complete upweller assembled and deployed.



PADDLE WHEEL UPWELLER
Cleaning upweller (note the gantry for hoisting)
Paddle wheel assembly being hoisted into place. Includes, paddles, drive, chain, sprockets, speed control, motor, chassis, safety housing, shaft and drawings for trough, silo sections, and floating dock. Easy to truck to your location country wide. Silos can be purchased directly from us as well


PADDLE WHEEL ASSEMBLY (front right)
PADDLE WHEEL ASSEMBLY (back left)

Guards for paddle wheel and drive system. Its chain driven, its not stopping...

Flow through one of silos. The trough on the first one of these was made out of fiberglass and that had to be changed to a galvanized one because the paddle wheel drew so much water it ripped the fiberglass trough off. Its metal now, no worries.



Friday, January 8, 2010

SPAT ON SHELL EQUIPMENT

 SPAT ON SHELL One of the hottest things going right now is the ability to set oysters on old shell and plant them on your lease. The yield so far has been for every bushel planted 2-3 bushels are harvested, and that is in 12-18 months. Below is a list of some of the things we carry that you might need to do SPAT ON SHELL ...
oyster shells
shell washing machine (QuickTube Sorter)

tanks (fiberglass 4x8x2  or 4.5x10x2)

filter bags
shell bag material 1000' roll
a blower
eyed larvae

Here is the link to the all inclusive spat on shell "HOW TO" guide published by the state http://web.vims.edu/adv/frg/FinalSpatonShell%20Project.pdf?svr=www
We can take care of all of your needs in this department. Again, we can help you if you want a bushel of spat on shell already set or if you want to do hundreds of bushels on your own.



SHELL BAG MATERIAL (sometimes called OSN1)
Can be used for spat on shell, shoreline stabilization, or natural spat collection.
Below is a bagging operation, all you need is a 6" piece of PVC and a shovel.







Below are some pictures of shell bags in action. PenderWatch & Conservancy (all volunteers) created these shell bag reefs with shoreline stabilization and restoration in mind and we'd say they hit a homerun. When you can create a living shoreline for stabilization with oysters at the base and all things that live on or around oysters... you can't do much better.



Here are a few facts:

The reef is on the western side of the Intracoastal Waterway in Pender County, NC. The reef has two sections, each having about 400 shell bags. The reef was built in August 2008. The objectives were to support oysters and other creatures and to stop marsh erosion from boat wake on the ICW.
The water in these pictures is spat rich. Shells put in the water and kept relatively clean during the spawning season will catch the spat. The oysters in this region grow intertidally. The tidal range is about 3 feet on average.
PenderWatch operates 6 shell drop-off points. They expect to collect something over 1,000 BU between Sept 1, 2009 and May 15, 2010.