Feral pig hunt haul becomes 10 tonnes of tucker for crocodiles
What do you do with a massive pile of dead pigs after the biggest boar hunt in Australia?
You feed them to crocodiles.
That was the ingenious plan hatched by the organisers of the Big Boar Hunt in central Queensland who sought help from the local crocodile farm for a solution to its waste problem.
“There was close to 10 tonnes, if not a bit better, that went their way,” event organiser Jamie Petrie said.
“They’ve obviously got hungry mouths to feed up there with all those crocs so it was a great outcome for both of us.”
One of the crocodiles at Koorana Crocodile Farm eats the leg of a wild pig. (ABC Capricornia: Megan Hendry)
Koorana Crocodile Farm owner John Lever said the 5,500 animals on the farm consume about two tonnes of food each week so he was happy to send a truck to Jambin, near Biloela, to collect the haul.
“Wild pig meat is an excellent food for baby crocs,” he said.
“The baby crocs just love it, their consumption will go up 100 per cent just by feeding them wild pig.”
But it was not just a matter of tossing the carcasses over the fence to the snapping reptiles.
Staff at the farm spent several days skinning and processing about 250 of the feral pigs.
“For a start we have to skin the pigs because crocodiles can not digest hair,” Mr Lever said.
Wild pigs from the Big Boar Hunt are skinned at the Koorana Crocodile Farm. (Supplied: Koorana Crocodile Farm)
“So we take the whole skin off and with the skin comes a lot of fat. We end up with about fifty per cent of it as usable meat for the baby crocs.”
The meat is then minced with the vitamins and minerals the crocodiles need when they are in captive conditions.
“We’ll probably make it last about six months,” Mr Lever said.
His son Adam, who runs the farm’s abattoir, said it had been a tough few days.
“I’m sick of seeing bacon. It’s been extremely hard work,” he said.
Adam Lever butchers a wild pig to provide food for the farm’s crocodiles. (ABC Capricornia: Megan Hendry)
The crocodiles are usually fed chicken frames, fish scraps and beef that did not make the cut at the local processors.
“We consider ourselves probably the world’s only meat recycling centre,” Adam Lever said.
“We get a lot of community support [from] a lot of farmers after floods and cyclones. We’ll help clean up a property if they’ve got cows that have drowned or a herd of sheep or something.”
In the past, John Lever has even been known to pick up roadkill from the side of highways on his way home to the farm.
“We called it a community service, but Main Roads didn’t see it as that. So we let them keep it now,” Adam Lever said.
If the crocodile farm was not an option, Big Boar Hunt’s Jamie Petrie said the carcasses would have gone to the local rubbish dump, or the group would have had to find a landholder in the area willing to dig a huge hole to bury the dead pigs.
With that would have come a number of biosecurity issues.
Outside of major events, Mr Petrie said some hunters take the meat to consume themselves and some leave the carcasses in the paddock where they are killed.
There is also the option of taking the meat to ‘boxes’ where hunters can leave the carcasses and are paid a price per kilogram by game meat processing companies.
“You have to be an accredited hunter for that,” Mr Petrie said.
“They’re few and far between. They’re not open as much as what everyone would like them to be. And they seem to take kangaroo meat more readily (than wild boar).”
Wild pigs from the Big Boar Hunt are transported to the crocodile farm. (Supplied: Koorana Crocodile Farm)