Hatchery Improvements

By Bruce Drecktrah and Mike Mitchell | November 15, 2011
From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2011

Conservation Department hatcheries have been in production for more than 75 years and annually produce millions of fish. In addition to raising sport fish, MDC hatcheries also participate in research and breeding of rare or threatened animals such as mussels, Topeka shiners and hellbenders. Recent improvements to these facilities will ensure that their role in Missouri’s management of aquatic animals will continue into the future.

Cold Water Hatcheries

Bennett Spring, Maramec Spring, Montauk, Roaring River and Shepherd of the Hills

Improvements to the five cold water hatcheries focused on facility efficiency and increasing production space for early development stages of trout.

To increase the number of fish they can produce, Shepherd of the Hills, Roaring River and Montauk installed liquid oxygen systems. Montauk combined their liquid oxygen system with a recirculation pump and a backup power source. During flooding events, the combination of these systems protects existing trout production from muddy water with low oxygen levels. The liquid oxygen system at Roaring River is used with a recirculation pump that maintains oxygen levels in raceways during periods of low spring water flows and oxygen levels. At Shepherd of the Hills, a liquid-oxygen system is used to combat low-oxygen levels from water received from Table Rock Lake before turnover.

Roaring River, Maramec and Bennett Spring renovated and repaired existing raceways that allowed water loss, thus making them more efficient. Shepherd of the Hills installed covers on raceways to prevent fish loss from kingfishers, green herons and great blue herons. Maramec also installed covers that keep fish from leaving raceways during flooding.

Shepherd of the Hills and Bennett Spring each had a new facility built. The Shepherd of the Hills facility is dedicated to producing brown trout. The Bennett Spring facility is dedicated to producing rainbow trout eggs, fry and fingerlings.

Warm Water Hatcheries

Blind Pony, Chesapeake, Hunnewell and Lost Valley

A variety of improvements are underway at all four warm water facilities that will increase fish production, reduce costs and ensure that hatchery infrastructure will last many years to come. Paddlewheel aerators will be installed at all four warm water hatcheries. These aerators provide high levels of oxygen in the pond water while reducing fresh water needs.

Pond water control structures and harvest kettles are being replaced at Blind Pony and Hunnewell hatcheries. These structures control water into and out of the pond. When a pond is drained, the harvest kettle is where all the fish are collected, counted and weighed prior to being loaded on a delivery truck.

Expansion of the hatchery production room at Blind Pony will begin in the near future. This improvement will provide needed egg, fry and fingerling production space.

Modifications have been made on several ponds at Lost Valley to eliminate groundwater under the pond liners. This will allow the pond to drain out totally and the fish to reach the harvest kettle. Bird netting is being installed on several ponds at Lost Valley to protect fish from bird predators.

At Cheseapeake, a diesel-powered pump was replaced with an electric pump to supply a more consistent and less expensive water supply for the hatchery. A monitoring/alarm system and flow meters have been installed to monitor water flows, water temperatures, heat pumps and water supply pumps.


MDC partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use Sport Fish Restoration Act funds to help with up to 75 percent of the total construction cost. These improvements will allow MDC hatcheries to operate much more efficiently, making the best use of available production space while conserving water and energy demands. With these improvements, our hatcheries are ready to produce fish for another 75 years for Missouri anglers.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler