As you look across your dairy herd, or walk through your sheep-filled fields, have you ever wondered what other animals you could be tending to? Here is a quick taste of farming from the other side!
Crickets are considered a crunchy delicacy in many Asian countries, especially Cambodia and Thailand. Tourists are even starting to ask for special packaging from stall-holders so they can take the deep-fried delicacies home with them to the United States, Ireland, France, Australia and China, among other destinations. If you are picturing yourself farming these creatures, just remember even though you will have a farm, you’ve still got to catch them! But there are advantages. They cost less to produce than traditional livestock, and need mush less space. The profit is there for those that are risk-adverse.
Insect farming is becoming increasingly viable as a source of protein in the modern diet. Beef and conventional meat forms are being criticised as the industry churns out large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas.
Cricket protein seems to be catching on. In New York, a diner decided to serve up a cricket burger. It was an instant hit with the Instagram generation. So get on it, Irish farmers.
Frogs are raised commercially in certain countries and frog legs are considered a delicacy in France, Portugal, Italy, China, the Caribbean and in parts of the USA. Many frog farms are natural marshy areas, swamps or shallow ponds with abundant food and habitat suitable to the needs of wild frogs. At some frog farms, culture methods simply consist of increasing a shoreline area, erecting a fence to exclude predators and retain the frogs, and stocking wild frog eggs or tadpoles. The frogs usually are left to raise themselves.
The common bullfrog often reaches 8 inches in body length, so is the most preferred and commonly attempted species for farming. Frogs are cold-blooded animals that grow slowly, not a particularly desirable trait for farming. Even in temperate climates, it may take a year or more to transform the tadpole into a young bullfrog. However, Ireland does seem to have a climate suitable for frog farming. Anyone game?
Crocodiles are farmed throughout Australia, and the meat is typically available in some restaurants and specialty meat outlets. Crocodile farming and has an international reputation for its production of skins, meat and by-products. Most Australians are no strangers to crocodile pies!
Juvenile crocodiles are housed in compounds specifically designed to enhance the skin quality and growth rates, whilst minimizing stress and disease. Animals selected for culling are two to three years old and up to 1.8 metres long. Abattoirs ship meat not only across Australia but also to the EU and Singapore.
But why not here? Sure the crocs will hate the weather, but we do too, so they can just get over themselves like we have to.
Want to try a croc steak? You can order one here if you are based in Dublin.
Pigeons are raised and eaten in parts of the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the USA and Europe, where the young birds are known as “squab.” Special towers are visible all over Egyptian villages, where these pigeons are raised. They are considered a delicacy served as a main course with rice. The best squab producers cross breeds that consistently produce a uniformity and type that satisfy the demands of the marketplace. At times, pure breed varieties of proven breeding abilities can be introduced to these cross-bred families to gain a market advantage. Most squab farms are relatively small enterprises housing between 500 and 1500 breeding pairs. They are usually family run and rarely employ outside labour.
We don’t even need to farm them here. All we have to do is put up a statue of Enda Kenny and they will come and poop on it. Then, we catch them.
Many Irish retailers sell pigeon meat already, including wood pigeon.
Camel, while not eaten in Europe and North America, is consumed in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Although not often eaten in Australia, it is somewhat of a novelty – camel lasagna is available in Alice Springs.
Camel meat has been eaten for centuries. It has been recorded by ancient Greek writers as an available dish in ancient Persia at banquets, usually roasted whole. The ancient Roman emperor Heliogabalus, born and raised in Syria, enjoyed camel’s heel.
Camel Farms in Australia are now becoming a solution to the historic problem of feral camels. An estimated 800,000 feral camels roam throughout the Northern Territory causing extensive environmental damage. So lasagna is an excellent solution to this problem.
But why not in Ireland? Sure they’d hate the weather, but they could sit around with the crocodiles giving out about it. We couldn’t find a camel meat supplier in Ireland (correct us if we are wrong) but you can import it from the UK.
Kangaroo is now a popular meat in Australia, because being native animals, their impact on the environment is much less significant than non-native animals such as cows and sheep. However kangaroo farmers have discovered that there is now a worldwide growing market for the more exotic gamey flavor of the ‘roo. The meat can also be smoke cured and makes an interesting prosciutto! And ‘kanga bangers’ aren’t half bad!
If you want to try it here in Ireland, it is as easy as going to Lidl and Aldi, they sell it in their exotic meat section in the frozen foods aisle.
And if you think they wouldn’t survive here, you’d be wrong. In fact, an island off the coast of Dublin is in fact covered in wild wallabies, which thrive in the same climates as kangaroos do.
There you go, for those who are interested in farming exotic animals, Ireland is your oyster. Yummy!