(HOLSTEIN, IA) - When you think about shrimp, Iowa probably isn't the first state that comes to mind. Chad and Keely Dutler started raising shrimp at their home in Holstein in February.
Before this all began, Chad was working as an engineer for Ida County and raising cattle and growing crops with his dad...while Keely worked as a personal trainer. So how did shrimp become their livelihood here in Midwest? It all started with a little curiosity.
"We were looking into the fish so the greenhouse side of thing, the aquaculture part of it which led us into looking at shrimp on the other side of things more economical, disease-free, chemical free," said Chad Dutler, co-owner of Shrimp 59.
Chad Dutler is familiar with all sorts of farm equipment, but for him a shrimp net is a new tool.
Chad's wife Keely said for about eight months Chad had been talking about raising shrimp, but she didn't realize how serious he was until he a took a trip to Fowler, Indiana. It's the closest shrimp farm nine hours away.
"I thought this is a great way for me to be able to be at home or be able to do things at the school or coach and do different things with the kids. This will be an opportunity for me so I should probably jump on board here," said Keely Dutler.
"Laid this building out myself, and then part of that my dad, my mom, Keely helped here, put everything together. They did a lot of the pools. We did a lot of the plumbing work in here, water lines, the air lines from there. It was just all in my head and we just kind of laid it out," explained Chad.
The process starts before you can even spot shrimp in the water
"We order them from a hatchery in Florida and they are overnighted FedEx to the Sioux City FedEx store. And I got up there and pick them up. They're in a normal size box in a cooler. They come in two bags and we usually right now, we're getting 30,000 at a shot," said Keely.
The shrmp grow in nursery tanks for about 30 days. Then, they take a trip to the big tanks where they'll grow for the next three and a half months. Then, they're ready to sell.
"There's a lot of people that ask if they're alive, if they're frozen. And yeah, we tell them they're raised here in our facility in this climate controlled. They are stunned. A lot of people have never seen a live shrimp so that's another thing that they're amazed about," laughed Chad.
They squirm and jump just like a fish! Once they're ready for your dinner plate, the Dutlers offer up their shrimp by the pound to pick up at Shrimp 59.
"Right now we're fulfilling the public what they need and I don't know if we would pick up a restaurant if we would be able to fulfill them and our public. We do have room to expand so if we get something going, we'll go that way," said Keely.
Over the holidays, they want to get another order of shrimp the first week of January, but they're not sure they're going to be available then. So they might have to wait a couple more weeks for that next shipment of shrimp.