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4 BY-PRODUCTS

In most instances skin production will be the primary aim of crocodile rearing but the sale of by-products, notably the meat, can be significant in some circumstances.

4.1 Meat

Crocodile meat is white or pink in colour and has a close texture rather like pork or veal. The flavour (at least in fish-fed crocodiles) is slightly fish-like. The meat is high in protein but the fat values in table 5 could be misleading. In fact there are very thick deposits of fat, especially in the tail and particularly in farm-reared crocodiles. The fat values in Table 5 were obtained from meat after the gross fat had been cut away. Relatively little fat is present as marbling in the lean cuts.

1/ Antiseptiques Progiven, 6 rue henri-murger 93300 aubervilliers, France.

Table 5 Composition of Alligator Meat (from Moody et.al. 1980)

Cut of
meat

Crude
protein

Crude
fat 1/

Moisture

Ash

  %

%

%

%

Tail

21.3

1.5

76.5

1.3

Torso

21.1

1.2

73.0

1.3

Jaw

22.3

1.2

75.9

1.3

Leg

21.1

1.0

76.8

1.3

1/ After removal of gross fat deposits

For comparison the composition of lean pork is given as 13% protein, 20% fat and 57% moisture approximately.

The value of crocodile meat to the skin producer depends on the available markets. Local people will usually welcome a supply of fresh meat but only if it costs no more than meat or fish in the local market place.

Hotels which cater for tourists will often take small quantities to serve as an exotic speciality but the requirement will usually be for a steady supply and sometimes for a limited season. It can be very difficult for a skin producer to arrange his culling schedule in accordance with this.

Sales to the nearest big cities, either to a processor or direct to hotels and restaurants, are likely to be the most profitable and trouble-free.

Export of crocodile meat will involve meeting the health and quarantine regulations of the importing country and overcoming the economic constraints of transporting frozen meat. Dried meat can be sold in some Asian countries but drying crocodile meat is laborious and is unlikely to be profitable. Not only must the meat be removed from the bone but all gross fat must be cut away because it becomes yellow and unpalatable in the drying process.

Tables 6, 7 & 8 show the quantities of meat that can be expected from animals of different sizes. The alligators used in compiling the tables were wild-caught. Farm reared animals would probably be fatter although tail weights (as a percentage of live weight) were found to be quite similar (about 19%) from farm-reared crocodiles in Papua New Guinea.

Table 6 Alligator Yields: Including Bone From Moody et.al. 1980

Total
length
cm
Live
wt.
Dressed
wt. Head
off
(washed)
Skin
wt.
Waste
wt.
Head,
viscera,
feet
Tail
meat
cut
Leg
meat
cut
Torso
meat
cut
Jaw,
meat
cut
143.5

8.2

5.2

1.3 1.9 1.7 0.68 2.2 0.14
196.8

22.4

13.9

3.6 5.0 4.6 1.8 6.2 0.4
225.5

38.0

22.9

5.5 8.6 7.8 2.8 11.2 0.64
279.4

119.1

72.3

15.8 27.1 22.1 9.1 37.7 3.73

All weights in kilogrammes

Table 7 Alligator Yields: Boneless Meat From Moody et.al. 1980

Total
Length
cm
Live
wt.
Dressed
wt.Head
on
Deboned
tail
meat
Deboned
leg
meat
Whole
torso
Rib
wt.
Bone
meat
Deboned
torso
meat
Jaw
meat
139.2 7.27 5.9 1.14 0.32 1.91 0.73 0.45 -
188.0 18.9 14.0 3.14 1.0 5.5 1.23 2.54

0.27

219.7 36.3 26.8 6.0 1.86 10.95 2.73 4.23

0.68

289.6 90.7 65.4 14.8 4.91 28.95 3.04 19.2

2.64

All weights in kilogrammes

Table 8 Alligator Yields As Percentage of  Live Weight From Moody et.al. 1980

Total
Length
cm
Live
wt.
kg
Deboned
tail
meat %
Deboned
leg
meat %
Ribs
%
Deboned
torso
meat %

Jaw
meat
%

139.2 7.27

16

4

10

6

-

188.0 18.9

17

5

7

13

1

219.7 36.4

17

5

8

12

2

289.6 90.7

16

5

3

21

3

If crocodile meat is to be sold for human consumption the local health regulations may prescribe not only the conditions for meat preparation but also the place of slaughter. This could present an insurmountable problem for some crocodile farms. The legal definition of crocodiles can be the crucial point in law. Different rules must apply to domestic stock, fish and game animals.

In the American State of Louisiana, for example, alligators are classed as 'seafood' and so need not be slaughtered within the confines of an approved facility (Moody et.al. 1980). They must, however, be placed under refrigeration at a maximum temperature of 7C within four hours of being killed, and must be dressed in an approved processing plant meeting the minimum requirements of the State Sanitary Code within 24 hours.

Meat not required for human consumption can be fed to the crocodiles provided it is fresh. In some cultures there is a reluctance to do this on the grounds that it may encourage cannibalism but the belief is not supported by evidence. Many farms routinely feed crocodile meat to crocodiles with no harmful effects whatever.

4.2 Other By-Products

Certain parts of the crocodile, notably the gall bladder and penis, are used in traditional Oriental medicine. They are sold in dried form but the status of the market and possibilities for developing an export trade remain speculative.

Crocodile oil, obtained from the fat, may also be saleable in the east.

There is a small, limited demand for skulls/skeletons as biological specimens.

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