Fresh salt-water shrimp in HC?

—Windy Rock Shrimp open for business
“I thought it was interesting that the Midwest can grow shrimp. I wanted to give peace of mind for those who buy the shrimp.” —Jen Reis, Windy Rock Shrimp


Lime Springs - Jen and Jason [Reis] had a farm; E-I-E-I-O. And on their farm they had some shrimp; E-I-E-I-O. 
On a farm? 
In Howard County, Iowa?
Yep. And it’s called Windy Rock Shrimp.
It all started a few years ago when the Reises were looking for some healthy shrimp at the grocery store. All they could find was shrimp from Asia, which are raised in less than ideal conditions.
“Then we found an article in a farm magazine about a shrimp farm in Cedar Falls,” Jen recalls. The couple researched a little more and toured a couple shrimp farms in Indiana and western Iowa. They never did check out Cedar Falls, but they had found they were interested in the concept of growing fresh salt-water shrimp on their farm.
“I thought it was interesting that the Midwest can grow shrimp. I wanted to give peace of mind for those who buy the shrimp,” Jen commented.
They liked the tiered system, rather than the swimming pool system.
In the tiered system, the littlest shrimp, which are about the size of an eyelash when they arrive, are put in the nursery, the top level. “They stay there for 30 days and are transferred to the second level. After 30 days they are transferred to the third and then the fourth level,” Jen explained. Each level has a different mixture of food. The youngest group gets liquid, and then small pellets are fed to them, then a little bigger as they grow.
“Shrimp are always eating. We have automatic feeders that I fill up every day. It dispenses food every hour.”
Getting started
Jen was the most intrigued about the concept of growing shrimp. She went to school for food science and then worked in a lab at POET Biorefining in Preston, Minn. She later worked in the Quality Department at Cresco Food Technologies, so she was accustomed to testing, which is imperative to keeping the shrimp healthy.
She tests for alkalinity, ammonia and nitrites, to name a few. In the beginning, she was testing twice a day. “That was getting to be a lot of work. I talked to our consultant, who said I could cut back on testing.”
The couple also had to construct a building big enough for their 32 tanks. It took 14 pours to get all the concrete needed for the project. The bottom tanks, for the biggest shrimp, are 27 feet long and eight feet wide.
The first shipment
Jen and Jason received their first shipment of shrimp the end of February 2016 from a company in Florida. A normal shipment consists of 40,000 shrimp, with 10,000 going in each of four tanks. At that time, the shrimp post larvae are about 10-12 days. 
One thing Jen is happy she purchased was a shrimp counter, which is an amazing piece of technology.
It is a five-gallon bucket with a lid that counts the shrimp, measures them and takes a picture. “It has already paid for itself,” she announced. One of her orders was way short of what she paid for. She sent the company her information and was credited the difference.
Jen keeps meticulous records so she can determine how much food each tank should get. 
The water is kept at a steady 84 degrees. To keep it from evaporating, a piece of bubble wrap is placed over the top. 
The only time new water is added is because of evaporation. Otherwise it is reused. 
That may sound gross and unclean, but it is actually one of those marvels of Mother Nature. The water contains biofloc particles, which are made up of the bacteria and protozoa. The biofloc feed on the shrimp waste, and the shrimp eat the biofloc.
Between the pellets and biofloc, the shrimp continue to grow until they are ready to be harvested. 
Jen said she enjoys the business because of the flexible hours. She can be up at 5:30 a.m. doing chores and then go to the house in time to see their daughter, Taylor (age eight), off to school, while awaiting son, Easton’s (age five), preschool class in the afternoon.
“That’s about six hours a day but seven days a week! There’s always something new happening.”
Seven days a week leaves little time for a get-away, but Jason’s brother and father are both backups.
Half the kids enjoy the shrimp. “Taylor helps clean them and de-vein them. She also likes to eat them!” Jen said. Easton on the other hand doesn’t want to look at them or touch them!
The name
So how did they come up with their name? Jen gives a little smile and says, “It’s windy here, and we use a lot of big rocks from the fields for our landscape.” Simple. Just like raising healthy, antibiotic-free food.
Not an uncommon commodity
Although growing shrimp seems like a totally new concept, it is becoming more and more common. 
Sherlock Shrimp in Ridgeway started researching the business at about the same time as Windy Rock Shrimp, but they had a head start on having a building — Ridgeway Elementary School.
Other fairly local places that are up-and-running or in the process are at Fayette and Forest City, Iowa and Spring Valley, Minn., as well as Arcadia, Wis.
Retail store
Windy Rock Shrimp started selling its product in October 2016.
One of the favorite parts of the lobby is the fish tank, which contains a shrimp for visitors to view. Kids and adults like to see a shrimp up close.
When a person orders shrimp, they are harvested from the next room and put on ice, which shocks and preserves them for the ride home.
The business sells shrimp at 18-22 count per pound. They also provide ice and sell coolers for those who came unprepared. Scissors for de-veining are also for sale. 
Jen also shares some of her favorite shrimp recipes with customers.
“Everything tastes good with bacon,” Jen jokes. “Bacon-wrapped shrimp is good, as well as shrimp scampi and coconut shrimp, which I didn’t think I’d like, but I do.”
The retail store is open Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. - noon, or by appointment at 507-421-6308. It is located at 19523 85th St., Lime Springs.
The couple are thinking about selling the shrimp at Farmers Markets in the area, but that is still in the talking stage.
A person can also check them out on Facebook at Windy Rock Shrimp or e-mail them at They are currently working on a website that should be available this spring.
Buy fresh, buy local is a big deal right now. You can’t get much more fresh or local than Windy Rock Shrimp, right here in Howard County!

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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