HomeAustralian PrehistoryHistory - AustralianAustralian CultureAustralian IdentityAustralian animalsCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other Countries


Share |

Blue-tongue
A true-blue battler

Dingo
Unfairly judged?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Feral cat
Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Rabbits
Perhaps not so adapted to Australia

Wombat
Keg of muscle


 

 

Email

 

Kangaroo and baby

The Kangaroo Industry

Should we eat skippy?

In pre-colonial times, the kangaroo was a staple of the Aboriginal diet and was considered a poor substitute for beef and lamb during the early days of European settlement. Today; however, there is little market for the consumption of roos. Some people have proposed that this should change because kangaroos are more environmentally friendly than cows and sheep. Because Roo has padded feet and leaves enough of the grass to ensure it survives tough conditions, it is less likely to cause land degradation.

One of the deficiencies of kangaroos is that they are virtually impossible to farm in an economic way. Unlike Sheep and Cows, Roos jump fences and won't herd nicely to an abattoir or to a different paddock. If a mob of roos is scared, individuals run in different directions. Furthermore, if they are caged, they lose up to 30% of their meat.

Tim Flannery proposes Australians eat kangaroos

Because they are almost impossible to farm, all roo meat sold in supermarkets is from wild stock that has been shot. In 2013, this was in excess of 2 million kangaroos. To ensure sustainability of the population, shooters were not allowed to kill in excess of 40 per cent of the roos in one area.

The harvesting of wild animals brings additional barriers to market acceptance. One problem is fear of food poisoning. In the 1990s, large supermarket chains withdrew kangaroo meat for human consumption after a scare that a bush-shot carcass was at greater risk of spoiling than animals killed in an abattoir. Not only was there a risk of the carcass spoiling in the heat, but it was impractical to impose abattoir Code of Practice requiring protection from dust, flying and crawling insects. The supermarkets did; however, keep selling roo meat for dog food where fear of food poisoning was not so great.

Another problem with wild harvesting is that the females shot can potentially have three babies depending on her; one semi-adult discovering life outside the pouch, learning to eat grass, but still feeding off the mother, an infant curiously watching what goes on from the safety of the mother's pouch and embryo the size of a thumbnail awaiting signals to be born. While general farming is confronting to the average sensibilities, it can be tolerated. Killing mothers and letting their babies die slowly of the next few days is just a bridge too far for many.

Only targeting the big males and sparring the females is also problematic because it removes the strongest breeding stock from a wild mob.

A final problem is that roo meat is very low in fat that makes it extremely dry when well cooked. As a consequence, it is recommended that it is eaten in a virtually raw state but considering the way the animal is harvested, it is one of the riskiest meats to eat raw. In any case, it just doesn’t taste very good.

Even if Australians don’t eat kangaroos, they will continue to be shot as they are competitors for cows and sheep on agricultural land. Farmers will therefore always want them killed. The question is essentially whether the kangaroo meat gets used for pet food or human consumption.

 

More info

The NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES)

Media information on the roo industry

Conservation links

 

Environmental Issues

Environmental problems
Defining problems; debating solutions

Sustainability
The economic versus government approach

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?

Bush fire prevention
To go native or exotic?

Landscapes

Antarctica

Outback

Rainforests

Great Dividing Range

Coast