CRAZY CROPS

CRAZY CROPS

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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

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, 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!

 

FROGS

Frogs are raised commercially in certain countries and frog legs are considered a delicacy in France, Portugal, Italy, China, 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!

 

CROCODILES

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.

 

PIGEONS

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 labor.

 

CAMELS

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!

 

KANGAROOS

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! As of 2004, the traditional regulatory restrictions on the sale of kangaroo meat in the Australian domestic market make kangaroo farming economically unattractive. Nevertheless, the industry is worth around A$200 million annually. And ‘kanga bangers’ aren’t half bad!

 

Do you farm an alternative meat or crop in Ireland? Tell us about it! Email us at editor@oldmooresalmanac.com.

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