We have so far done ten successful spawnings. Because we started spawning earlier this year, we were able to do first cull earlier then move some of the fry selected to grow on into other fry ponds, thus freeing some ponds to be used again. We can only do this by being very strict with our culling and keeping only the very best. It’s the way we have always worked except that each year the number of successful spawnings has gone up and so for each spawning we keep a lower percentage than previous years. We have seven fry ponds in total so to do ten spawnings and have room for all the fry is quite an achievement. 😀
In Japan they tend to cull the grade outs that they don’t want to grow on, but here we have always had a ready market for them. It is the income from these koi that has helped to pay for some of the facilities that we use today. Some of the people who buy these koi are hobbyists who want to grow on maybe a thousand and see how they turn out, and some are people with a lake who want to stock it with koi. Others buy them in their thousands to grow on and sell when they are bigger to their local market. Either way, we have quite a demand for them and have so far sold every koi that we decided not to grow on this year. From an ethical viewpoint I much prefer this to culling. Our last lot of spawnings are now out in the mud ponds and are doing well. In 2-3 weeks time we will have lots of, on average, one inch Shusui, Sanke and Chagoi available. I already have forward orders for many of them, but if anyone is interested in growing on some fry, let me know. They are the same price as last year – £100 per thousand (plus VAT) which works out to 10p each plus VAT. We don’t send fish by overnight courier so you would have to collect them but we are only 10 minutes drive from either junction 6 or 8A of the M40 so we are fairly accessible.
The koi that we bred at the end of May are now reaching second selection size. We have some fantastic Hariwake, Ogon, Purachina, Goshiki, Shiro Utsuri and Showa and now have the difficult job of deciding which of these beautiful little koi to grow on and which to sell now, at roughly 2-3 inches. Last year, demand outstripped supply of these koi and I had to work on a first come first serve basis, leaving some people disappointed. We are now selling these at 75 pence each so if anyone thinks they might be interested in having some of them, let me know now and I will put you on my database.
As with all koi breeders, whether they are Japanese or from any other country, it is the sale of these smaller fish that helps finance the development of the facilities on the farm and pays the bills whilst the few higher grade koi are being grown on. They provide an introduction to the hobby of koi keeping for many people and for those on a lower budget, give the opportunity to own some very pretty koi that are very good value for money. For more experienced koi keepers they are an opportunity to buy small koi and watch the way they develop and grow over time, providing a valuable learning experience along the way.
We have bought several new brood fish this year, some of which we spawned and some which we will use in the future. Some of the bloodlines we have used this year include Momotaro, Ofuchi, Omosako, Kazuto and Dainichi amongst others, with a few of our own bred koi used in some spawnings also. The Matsunoske Showa female that we used last year with such great results was crossed with our two Kazuto males this time. We should be carrying out second selection on these in the next week or so but it looks like we have a lot more Shiro Utsuri in this spawning as opposed to last year where there were very few. We have also done two Shiro Utsuri spawnings with two new females. We used the same males with both females which means that we can get a good idea of the quality of each female and decide which one we would prefer to use again in the future and which will become and ex-Oyagoi!
Here are a few pictures from the Showa harvest. It’s interesting to see how many pale koi are in the harvest, considering we spent so much time taking as many out as we could before they went into the pond! However, many of the pale ones also have some black on them which is why they were kept and the darker ones just don’t show up so well in the photographs.
The first photo shows how we cull – the keepers are in the tray and the grade outs go into a big holding tank. We had a really good harvest from this pond. A good survival rate means a better choice when selecting. The horrible insect is a great diving beetle larvae. Some ponds have an annoying number of them, chomping their way through the koi and some ponds have none at all – weird!