Heartland Catfish Facts
- US Farm-Raised Catfish is known for its consistency. Achieving that consistency begins with the selection and mating of mature catfish. Mature catfish remain in production an average of 12 years and lay 3,000 to 4,000 eggs annually per pound of body weight. Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, they are collected and taken to special hatcheries designed to replicate the natural environment.
- The eggs hatch after seven days and the “sac fry” emerge. They are called “sac fry” because the yolk sacs remain attached to supply their food.
- As the food sacs are depleted, the tiny US Farm-Raised Catfish begin to swim and are moved to special ponds where they grow into fingerlings. When the fingerlings are about 4 to 5 inches long, they are placed in man-made ponds filled with freshwater pumped from underground wells.
- US Farm-Raised Catfish is raised in the quality controlled environment of man-made above-ground ponds that average 10 to 20 acres size and are between 4-to-6 feet deep. The ponds are filled with pure, fresh water pumped from underground wells. Approximately 95% of the nation’s US Farm-Raised Catfish is raised in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana.
- US Farm-Raised Catfish is fed puffed, high-protein, grain-based, floating food pellets produced by area feed mills. The specially formulated grain-based feed is one reason for the consistently mild taste of US Farm-Raised Catfish.
- 18 to 24 months after being stocked into the growing ponds, the catfish fingerlings have now reached an average size of 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each. These fish are harvested with large seines and loading baskets, then taken alive to processing plants in aerated tank trucks.
- Once the US Farm-Raised Catfish reaches the plants, the entire process takes less than 30 minutes, making top quality US Farm-Raised Catfish among the freshest fish available. The catfish is cleaned, processed, and prepared for packaging. The processed fish can either be packed on ice to be shipped out as fresh product or individually quick frozen (IQF), where the product is passed through a freezer set at a temperature of 40 degrees below zero. This quick freezing method preserves the taste and quality of the fish.
- US Farm-Raised Catfish is sold in many forms, both fresh and frozen. You can purchase it as skinless whole fish, steaks, fillets, strips, and nuggets. There are also several further-processed product forms like marinated and pre-breaded.
- The consistently mild flavor and firm texture of US Farm-Raised Catfish has taken this Dixieland delight to new heights. Once considered a fried, Southern fare, US Farm-Raised Catfish is currently the sixth most consumed fish in America,because consumers are learning you don’t have to fry it to love it. It is served year round in restaurants across the country and is readily available in most supermarkets.