Poultry to Fish

Some serious creative thinking took place when Pilgrim’s Pride ceased operations in the central part of the state. Larry Lanier, partner in Little River Trails Aquaculture, in Bunn Level, NC was one of those thinkers, and went from poultry to fish:

“Its been about 5-6 years since we raised poultry. There were a lot of people who had to change tactics when they shut the facility down.”

After some research into possible uses for the poultry barns after the chickens were gone, and with some help from NC State, fish were decided upon, so Lanier set out to convert his poultry barns to accommodate fish tanks:

“You wouldn’t even know they used to be poultry barns. We completely gutted them and added other structures. We completely rewired and replumbed it.”

While Little River Trails started out in flounder production, and there’s still a few on the farm, quite by accident they switched to striped bass:

“We stumbled into that. NC state had a bunch that they were doing a study on. It was an off season and they asked us if they wanted them. We put in a bid in and got 12000 of them. And they worked out well.”

So, from about 12,000 fish to start with to an annual production of:

“We are at about 300,000 pounds per year. Most of them go through a co-op.”

All fish leave the farm whole, either packed in ice, or in live tanks says Lanier.

And Lanier isn’t shy; he couldn’t have done this without expert help and advice:

"The NC Small Business Association has been great with us. The schools have been good as well, they have helped us in so many ways. Going to the aquaculture conferences in places like Florida where their business is a lot bigger than ours, they are just amazed at the help we get from the state and from the universities.”

Larry Lanier of Little River Trails Aquaculture in Bunn Level, North Carolina

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