The common yabby (Cherax destructor) is the best known of the freshwater crayfish species native to Australia . It occurs west of the Great Dividing Range in NSW, through the Murray Darling basin into QLD, Victoria and South Australia . Feral populations exist in Western Australia . It is the most abundant and successful of the Australian freshwater crayfishes.
The NSW yabby aquaculture industry is small in terms of production. Production is mostly extensive in farm dams, with little intervention in the rearing process by farmers. Research into mono-sexing and hybrid species is likely to intensify and increase production substantially over the next decade. This species has excellent market potential in NSW, and the availability of a multi-site aquaculture permit in NSW has opened up significant areas to culture.
Production has dropped over the last few years due to drought and irregular climatic conditions. Growers are investigating new production methods to increase yabby production, such as hybridisation (monosexing), and integration or polyculture with other crops. See the NSW DPI aquaculture production report for the current figures.
Average prices for yabbies in past years has been strong, although farm-gate prices have dropped in recent years. For average price figures see the NSW DPI aquaculture production.
Generally farmers receive higher prices for larger animals, and better prices than wild caught product, due to greater quality controls. Demand for farmed yabbies also seems to be much higher than supply, with estimates of a latent demand 5 times higher than the current national supply of 300t/pa (Ruello 2001). Opportunities for expansion of the industry are very attractive for this reason, given that supply is only modest at present, and yabbies are still relatively unknown by many consumers. The price is also competitive compared to similar products such as prawns of the same size.Some farms have expressed a strong interest in export, particularly to European or Asian countries. Critical mass has yet to be reached in NSW for market access, however some groups have investigated the establishment of marketing cooperatives.
Investors can obtain marketing information from the following sources:
Ruello and Associates, (2002). Yabby Marketing Cooperative Feasibility Study . Report to NSW Fisheries and DSRD.
ABARE (2001). Profitability of Selected Aquaculture Species - Yabbies
Piper, L, (2000). Potential for Expansion of the Freshwater Crayfish Industry in Australia . Report to the RIRDC.
There are tools available to assist investors examine the economic viability of yabby aquaculture, including the interactive model "Redclawprofit Economic Information Package' developed by the QDPI. Copies of this model can be purchased at www.dpi.qld.gov.au/shop
Economic analysis for farms of variable sizes and intensity have also been undertaken in the following reports and publications:
Wingfield, M (1997). Economic Model for Yabbie Farming in South Australia. Report to DEET and OLMA, and Primary Industries South Australia.
Roe, J, (1996). Yabbies From WA Farm Dams - An Economic Perspective. West Australian Fisheries.
Tull, M, (1996). Economic Prospects for Yabby Production in Western Australia. Department of Economics, Murdoch University.
RIRDC, (1998). The New Rural Industries - a Handbook for Farmers and Investors.