$4500 for eight days' work

Cate RocchiThe West Australian

Two Lake Grace brothers have earned thousands of dollars rearing and harvesting yabbies and have bought their first cars with the cash.

In two big hauls over the past six months, Brock and Mitchell Argent have made $4500.

They estimate it took about eight days work throughout their school holiday breaks.

Brock, 12, used the money he made to buy his first car, a blue 1973 Holden HQ ute.

His older brother Mitchell, who turns 17 in October, said the last catch was worth $2405.50, and he too bought a car last week - a SV6 Commodore.

The operation cost a bit to get started. Mitchell said $800 was spent on nets and the boys stocked 21 dams scattered across their parents' wheat and sheep farm with yabbies.

"Recently, over four days, we got about $2400, and it is pretty hard to find a part-time job that pays that much," Mitchell said.

"I didn't think I'd make this much money and we are extremely happy with it."

Mitchell said anyone with a dam and nets could do it, but care had to be taken not to overstock individual dams.

"If there are too many yabbies in one dam, they will be very small and you won't make as much money," Mitchell said.

He said yabby farming was time-consuming, but a bit of hard work had well and truly paid off.

"I want to be my own boss when I am older and it has taught me about managing my own little business," Michell said.

He plans to become an apprentice electrician next year and continue with the yabbies to supplement his wages.

Brock said he was pleased to raise the money to buy his own ute because that was "pretty cool".

Brock said most of his friends wanted to spend their money on Xboxes and "stuff like that".

He said the 1973 Holden ute was a classic old car, an Aussie icon.

"When I am 50 years old it would be cool to take my grandkids out in that, then it will be a 100 years old," Brock said.

He plans to stay in the yabby business and will use the funds to help restore his new car, with his dad's help. Both boys board at Guildford Grammar School but travel home regularly to play footy for the Lake Grace Bombers.

Nicole Argent said she was very proud of her boys and surprised at the large sum they made.

"We never thought Brock would earn the money for a car, but he did and we couldn't renege on the deal and had to buy the car," she said.

Mrs Argent said the boys had set up their operation professionally and had been paid well for their efforts.

Ian Nenke, of Cambinata Yabbies, said the school boys were effectively making $123/hour from rearing and harvesting yabbies.

"Over the past six months. Cambinata Yabbies' farmgate prices for live yabbies has increased by as much as 70 per cent on sizes as small as 30 grams," he said.

"This is the largest increase in 20 years. Farmers have responded very positively and are excited to be receiving up to $19.50 per kilo for their yabbies."

Cambinata Yabbies is the only EU-licensed yabby premises in Australia.

The business - founded in 1991 by Michael and Mary Nenke and their six children on the family's wheat and sheep property on the outskirts of the Wheatbelt town of Kukerin - sources yabbies from dams across WA's Wheatbelt.

For nearly 25 years, Cambinata Yabbies has marketed and sold yabbies locally, interstate and internationally.

Apart from best-selling yabbies in jars of brine, the enterprise makes spicy yabby soup and serves that at its function centre in Kukerin. That features a commercial kitchen and caters for large-scale events where guests are seated in an adjacent converted shearing shed.

Yabbies are also featured in meals for guests in the family's newest enterprise, Mary's Farm Cottages - a self-catering accommodation on the Dumbleyung-Lake Grace Road on the outskirts of Kukerin.

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