The ongoing pandemic affected importation and exportation of dog treats andchews made from kangaroo organs and other co-products.

Kangaroo may seem a novel ingredients to the global pet food industry, butdogs have dined on marsupial meat and co-products for thousands of years.Dingos have eaten kangaroo for a long time, but only recently have other dogsgotten the opportunity.

Wag, a dog treat brand, uses several kangaroo organ meats, along with otherkangaroo cuts not in high demand among humans, like the tail bones. Wag usesthree organ meats from marsupials: the heart, high in zinc and omega-3 and -6omega acids, the lungs, with iron, zinc and fatty acids, and the liver, whichcan be broken apart as a training treat.

“When you look at animals in the wild, they tend to go after the organ meatsfirst because there’s just a lot of nutrients there,” David Charlson, CEO andpresident of North American sales for Wag, said. “We wanted to make sure thatwe use the whole animal not just the muscle meat. We also use other parts likedifferent bones.”

That includes the bones and tendons of the kangaroo’s tail after the meat hasbeen taken for human consumption. Humans get most of the muscle meat from thekangaroos. Wag gets their dog treat and chew ingredients from a facility thatprocesses kangaroos for human markets. By using the bones, organs and otherby-products, pet food companies increase the overall economic value of theanimal, while reducing waste.

“The thing I’m proud of is that it’s a very sustainable hunting practice,”said. “It’s very heavily regulated, and they actually do a lot of scientificsurvey to make sure. There’s always a quota every year of how many can behunted. Right now, the hunters aren’t able to meet the quota.”

Pet food and treat import, export during pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many shipping and other logistics forthe pet food industry, and Wag wasn’t immune.

“We’ve been doing importing into Canada and the U.S. for four years, so as faras our permits go we have no issues,” he said. “We’ve definitely had portdelays going out of Australia, and then going both into Canada and the U.S.we’ve had anywhere from 30 to even 90 day delays during the worst of it. It’smade me change my supply chain management. I’m trying to stay ahead of thecurve and forecast further in advance.

“I just had a shipment arrive in Canada, I’m already planning for the nextstep right now, whereas before I would wait 30 days,” he said. “Now, I’m liketrying to stay ahead of it. I’ve had to stay proactive more than I ever usedto before.”

While challenges remain for pet food companies using kangaroo meat and co-products, larger challenges once faced the animals themselves.

Kangaroo meat hunting for humans and pets

After approximately 46,000 years of coexistence with Aboriginal Australiansand their dogs, several kangaroo species were nearly wiped out following the1788 establishment of the first British penal colony on the island, asdocumented in the journal Animals. Along with direct hunting of kangaroos formeat and leather, non-native livestock and invasive species devastatedecosystems that the marsupials depended upon. For more than a century and ahalf, the expansion of the English and other Europeans into Aboriginal landsdisrupted Australia’s cultures and ecosystems largely without restraint. Inthe 1970’s, a conservation movement began to protect the kangaroos.Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999protects kangaroos.

Four kangaroo species, along with two wallabies, have now rebounded enough toallow regulated hunting of the marsupials. In some regions, the kangaroos havebecome abundant enough to overgraze the landscape, according to the KangarooIndustry Association of Australia, especially when droughts follow good yearsthat allowed kangaroo populations to boom.

Hunters can take red kangaroo (Macropus rufus), western grey kangaroo(Macropus fuliginosus), eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) and commonwallaroo (Macropus robustus). Officials set quotas for how many of each animalcan be hunted in a single year. Animal welfare proponents have claimed thatthese hunts can result in the deaths of young kangaroos, or joeys, when themothers are killed. However, kangaroo hunting advocates counter thatregulations stipulate that commercial hunters must immediately euthanizedthese orphaned animals by decapitation or a blow to the head. The alternativewould be worse for the animals, they claim, if the kangaroos were to starve todeath after overgrazing an area.

While farmers and ranchers once eradicated kangaroos to reduce competitionwith livestock, some believe that getting rid of the cows and sheep could be abetter long-term choice for Australia. Managing land for kangaroo harvestingcould help restore ecosystems damaged by the hard-hooves and intensive grazingof non-native livestock. Similarly, these kangaroo management operation couldincorporate Aboriginal experience and tradition, creating economicopportunities for those who have lived with kangaroos since the Dream Time.

Source: Tim Wall Petfood Industry

Image: Bigstock

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