How To Get Started Frog Farming
Shared From MOTHER EARTH NEWS Written By: Pat Patera
Raising bullfrogs — then — can be fun, profitable, and easy . . . if you’ve got a couple of acres to work with, have just a little bit of common sense, and are willing to let an “old-timer” in the business help you get off on the right foot.
“You don’t need as elaborate a setup as I’ve got when you’re just startin’ out,” Slabaugh advises. “Forget about breeding stock and havin’ five ponds and all the other extras, at least in the beginnin’. Just buy live tads — they can be shipped cross country — and keep ’em clean and healthy in one pond. Then, as they start sproutin’ legs, move ’em over to a second pool and let ’em grow. The hardest part will be waitin’ two years until your first batch reaches market size but, after that, you’ve got it made. Then you can start plowin’ money back into the operation until it’s as big as you want to make it.”
And if that route into the frog business doesn’t appeal to you, Leonard suggests another approach: “Dabble” your way in. “Catch a coupla wild bullfrogs or buy a pair of breeders for about $30 from someone already well established in the game. Then just let nature take its course and see how well you do experimenting with your amphibians’ whole life cycle on a small scale for a couple of years. After that — if you like the business — you can start building ponds and go into this thing in a big way.”
And how will you know if the fellow you purchase your original breeding stock from really does sell you both a male and a female frog? Easy. Look at the eardrums (the black circles just behind the eyes on each of your critters). The male’s eardrums will be larger in diameter than his eyes are (or about twice as wide as the space between his nostrils). The female’s eardrum, by contrast, will be just about the same size as her eye (or slightly smaller than the space between her nostrils).
And you probably are better advised to purchase that first pair of breeders, rather than trying to catch them in the wild. Bullfrogs are classified as game animals in some sections of the country and their capture is subject to regulation. In Missouri, for example, a bill of sale from a licensed frog raiser must accompany every shipment of brood stock. In many areas, it’s even illegal to transport a wild bullfrog across a state line for any purpose!
The Short Cut of Frog Farming
Of course, if you really want to get into the frog business right now and with the fewest missteps possible, there’s always Leonard Slabaugh. After 35 years of trial and error and profitable operations, he stands as about as good an authority on the subject as anyone . . . and, as this article has already demonstrated, of Leonard truly enjoys introducing others to the many mysteries of his profession.
Of course you can’t expect Slabaugh just to give away all the knowledge he’s worked so hard to acquire. But the onetime fee of $1,500 which he charges for his “complete course” of bullfrog farming trade secrets seems to be reasonable enough . . . especially since it does contain all those secrets, a list of proven markets for the animals (both live and dressed out), and a followup consulting service (just in case you run into snags in your venture later on).
You can contact this “Wizard of Frog Hollow” by writing to Leonard Slabaugh, Route 3, Box 59, Poplar Bluff, Missouri 63901. Or call him by dialing (314) 785-7517. Or just drive on down to Poplar Bluff and visit the farm (parts of it are open to the public). You won’t have any trouble finding the place, especially at night: It’ll be the one that’s filling the air with more croaks and groans than The Great Dismal Swamp.
Doesn’t all that noise bother Leonard Slabaugh? Would it bother you . . . if you knew that each one of the 20,000 or so bullfrogs you own was worth up to $25 apiece?
To continue reading about Pat Patera’s frog farming business, check out There’s Big Money in the Secret Art of Frog Farming on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.