Project number: 1994-075
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $350,948.14
Principal Investigator: Noel Morrissy
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) WA
Project start/end date: 20 Jul 1994 - 25 Mar 1999


1. To increase harvests from WA farm dams by providing farmers with: Population control method(s) which increase the proportion of yabbies of marketable weights
2. Quantified methods for reducing dam environmental factors limiting yabbie production and causing variation in dam productivity
3. a manual of methods for stocking and managing farm dams to increase harvest per dam

Final report

ISBN: 0 7309 1984 6
Author: Craig Lawrence
Final Report • 1998-11-23 • 1.78 MB


Farmers receive higher prices per kilo for large yabbies.  Yabby farmers have reported that the majority of yabbies trapped from farm dams are below market size (< 30 g) and therefore of no economic value.  In addition, farmers also report that while dams produce large yabbies when first harvested, after a number of years the proportion of large animals gradually decreases.

To identify why yabbies in farm dams stunted and how farmers could increase the size of small yabbies the project had three main experimental areas: Research station experiments, industry farm dam recording system, and Genetics and Reproduction Laboratory.

This project has shown that population control methods to increase the proportion of marketable yabbies are required. This study has also shown that it is possible to convert yabbies below market size (< 30) to high value animals by improving feeding and management practices. The application of these results will produce larger yabbies and directly result in increased returns to farmers. In addition the increase in market-sized yabbies from farm dams will provide a higher catch rate per unit of trapping effort.  Consequently, the harvesting of yabbies from more isolated dams will become economically viable. 

Keywords:  Cherax albidus, crayfish culture, pond culture, aquaculture techniques, feeding, stocking density, reproduction, hybrid culture.

Final Report • 1998-11-23 • 10.01 MB
1994-075 Yabby Farming Book Frequently Asked Questions Lawrence Morrissy2000.pdf


Yabbies are indigenous to central and eastern Australia and have created considerable aquaculture interest. Although some yabbies are produced in ponds on purpose-built farms, the vast majority of commercial aquaculture yabby production in Australia comes from trapping yabbies in farmers’ dams. This use of existing farm dams originally built to water stock has enabled rapid expansion of the industry due to low entry costs. The yabby industry currently harvests around 4,000 farm dams, with most spread throughout Western Australia’s  wheatbelt region.

The aim of this information is to assist farmers already engaged in this interesting and unusual new industry,  and to encourage more people to become involved.  Much of the information contained in this publication is the result of a research program jointly supported by Fisheries WA, FRDC, Aquaculture Development Fund (WA), the WA yabby industry, Agriculture WA and The University of Western Australia, Animal Science Group, Faculty of Agriculture. This document replaces Yabby Questions and Answers (1995) by N Morrissy, Aquainfo #1, Fisheries Department of WA.

Related research


SeSAFE – Delivering Industry Safety through Electronic Learning

1. INFORM, via an independent review, the design and application of user-pay funding models in Australian primary industries, the potential for a similar model to be introduced by SeSAFE in the fishing and aquaculture industry, and steps recommended to realise this outcome.
Smart Fishing Consulting