Yabbies back in abundance for western Victoria farmer after drought makes way for flooding rains
Jess Davis, Mon 20 Mar 2017
Two years of drought may have wrought havoc on a yabby farm in western Victoria, but this year the rains and the freshwater crayfish are back in abundance.
High end restaurants overseas call them freshwater crayfish, while Australians call them yabbies.
Titles aside, the small creatures are big business and are grown around the country to be .
For Trevor Domaschenz, a yabby farmer from Edenhope in western Victoria, they were a lifeline during the tough farming years in the 90s.
"We were shooting sheep and all that sort of thing and [there was] no money in wool or lamb," he said.
"We were just lucky that yabbies came along at that time."
If they had not come along, Mr Domaschenz said he would have lost the farm.
In recent years however, his ponds had dried up and the yabbies did not grow.
"It's been dry for a long time and now there's just an explosion of natural food," he said.
"This year everything lined up, a lot of water, a lot of food. They bred like mad."
Mr Domaschenz first got into yabby farming through a friend of his in 1990 when his property was being continually flooded from increased drainage upstream of his property.
"We really didn't want to drain our swamp so we started banking some off and storing the water," he said.
"It just got so wet here we tried to make the most of it."
In the first four years, Mr Domaschenz sold four tonnes of yabbies a year and they were exported all over the world.
But in 1996 that all changed.
"We either had a shifting climate or it stopped raining or whatever," he said.
"This is the first year since then we've had above average rainfall."
There is an abundance of birds and wildlife on his property including plovers, brolgas and rare ducks which now come to breed every year in what could be described as his artificial wetlands.
"We just try and replicate nature as much as we can because no one's been able to grow yabbies better than your natural swamps," he said.
"One of the reasons we went into yabbying was just to conserve a bit of water and enjoy nature."
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