OYSTER FARM BUSINESS PLAN GUIDE
Growing Oysters is one of the most environmentally friendly businesses around. While being a highly profitable venture, it requires lots of patience. Why is patience required? It is required because oysters need up to 2 years to reach maturity.
In this article, we will discuss the important details required for starting an oyster farming business.
Here is a sample business plan for starting an oyster farm business.
- What do Oysters Feed On?
Many people are curious about the nature of feed fed to oysters. An interesting and shocking (for many) fact is that oysters require no feed whatsoever. So what do they survive on? Oysters feed on algae. All they need to thrive on is brackish water which is rich in algae. In other words, fresh and salt water meet to provide the ideal water needed by oysters.
This body of water (brackish) is found mostly in estuaries (a partly enclosed body of water). For specifics on the salinity of the water, it should consist of at least 8 parts per thousand (8ppt).
- Oyster Farming Startup Costs
Before you embark on this journey (of starting an oyster farming business), you need to know what the start-up costs are. The start-up costs depend on the equipment you have on ground. However, if you own none of the required equipment, it will cost you about $60,000 to $70,000 to set up a new farm. This includes labor costs as well.
- How long until it is Mature for Harvest?
We earlier mentioned briefly that it will take two to three years for your oysters to reach maturity. This requires some patience on your part as the oyster farmer. During this time, a lot of attention is required in ensuring that the best conditions for growth are maintained. You can own multiple farms depending on how much capital you have at your disposal.
With multiple farms, you will not need to wait that long (2 to 3 years) before harvest. While one farm is ready, another might be ready in a year’s time or less depending on when you started. Multiple farms lessen the long waiting times. However you need to have enough financing and man-power to guarantee success.
- Bay Leasing
In starting an oyster farming business, you need to be able to apply for bay leasing. Bays provide the best conditions for oyster farming. States with access to bays are the highest oyster producers in the United States. These are led by the state of Louisiana which produces almost half of all oyster harvests in the United States.
Different states may have their requirements for bay leasing. For the State of Delaware, oyster farmers can lease a combined 5 acres.
- Requirements for Bay Leasing
When applying for a lease, there are basic requirements you must meet. Such requirements are put in place to ensure that those selected are capable of running a successful oyster farm. The requirements for bay leasing include a business plan, questions on how your plans will be unveiled, an operational plan, and proof of financial capacity for the project.
- How Much Oyster can 1-Acre Produce?
As an oyster farmer, you need to have an idea of how much oyster to grow in 1 acre space. A minimum of 100,000 oysters per acre is recommended for farmers. This enhances the growth conditions as well as the potential for profits.
- Lease Survey
You need to conduct a survey of your lease to ensure that the best or optimal growth conditions are provided for oysters. As an aquaculturist, you will need to contact professionals to get the job done. Hydrographic Surveyors or Land Surveyors offer such services.
Between the two, land surveyors charge much less. Their fees can range from $500 to $3,000. You should expect a fee of approximately $5,000 for the services of a hydrographic surveyor.
- Profit Potential
After laboring for 2 years or more, your oysters are ready for harvest. It is important to note that after reaching maturity, you may have lost some due to several factors. Hence an acre of oyster farm with 90,000 oysters can yield up to $80,000. You can multiply this figure by the number of acres you have. This can be significantly more.
- Saving on Feeding
This is an area oyster farming is better than most types of livestock farming. No expenses whatsoever are incurred in feeding. This impacts the environment positively as a single oyster can filter about 50 gallons of water in a single day! This is huge and has significant benefits on the environment. This is a way to save the planet too.
- Baby Oysters
These are hatched using a variety of techniques. As a farmer, you will need to get your stock from reliable hatcheries. Such hatcheries provide reliable stock which is best suited for your region.
Initially, these are so tiny that they can’t be seen with the eyes. But with time, they grow to the size of a dust particle. If you are more interested in getting only those mature enough to be placed in your farm, there is a provision for that too.
Raising baby oysters can be a quite interesting. However, this may take some time and patience as well.
- Is there a Market for Oyster farming?
In starting an oyster farm, you need to first find out if there is a ready market for it. It is obvious there is a huge market for it. However, you need to identify these channels and make necessary contact and arrangements beforehand. When matured, these will be harvested and sold without delay.
- Treat it as a Business
While oyster farming is an interesting venture, it is important never to lose sight of the main goal. You should treat this as a business by providing all necessary requirements and structures.
Starting an oyster farming business can be a lot more profitable if you follow all the processes involved. It is also important to discuss with more established oyster farmers to learn from their experiences.