Mathew Ryan is living every red-blooded Aussie’s dream, by going fishing every day, after taking the plunge and leaving the family’s dry area farm.
But there is an element of risk in Mr Ryan’s venture putting on his waders and starting the only cod farm in the region during the late 2000s.
His Bilbul project is a product of the former pastoralist growing tired of being dictated to by the markets, mother nature and machinery.
He looked elsewhere for his family’s bread and butter, and having studied a Bachelor of Rural Science decided to start his own agronomy business.
“Whenever you had a whole heap of grain it was worth nothing and whenever it was worth good money you didn’t have it,” Mr Ryan explained.
“That’s what drives price – supply and demand, it was frustrating.”
Mr Ryan was splashing around with the fish farm, running both businesses in conjunction with each other.
But his commitment to his new venture and selling of his agronomy business seems to be paying off, with the business recently being “floated” as a public company.
“The beauty of the fish is, that there is a big demand out there for the product and very little supply,” Mr Ryan said.
While fish farming seems worlds away from pastoral work, Mr Ryan said there are still a surprising number of similarities.
“You need to be vigilant, monitor of your diseases and treat things on time, if you use those protocols it leaves you in good stead,” Mr Ryan said.
Comparing the cod to the prime lambs Mathew once raised, the main difference for him is managing water quality to keep his fish happy taking up 70 to 80 per cent of the work load.
The cod’s life starts in his hatchery in Grong Grong, and just like the cod’s furry counterparts they are specially selected for their breeding and growth genetics.
From the hatchery they are brought to the nursery at Bilbul, and grown from fish-lings often weighing less than a gram.
The cod is nurtured to a size of about 100 grams taking six-to-nine months, before reaching weight and being moved to dams and eventually out of the region to market.