Kangaroo & Scratch
We don’t take our ingredient sourcing lightly. We’re a small team that really cares about how business is done and the world that it leaves, so we do a lot of researching the welfare and ethics of all of the possible meat sources available. That led us to choose Kangaroo as the meat source for our original recipe, and also to limit how much we have used as we have grown.
Here is some of what we learnt for us to make those calls.
Kangaroos are amazing. They are perfectly adapted to Australia’s natural environment. Their efficient spring-like movement, their soft padded feet protecting our fragile topsoil and the females’ ability to always be pregnant – but choose when to give birth based on environmental conditions is stunning.
In the last few hundred years, we have totally messed with kangaroos’ natural environment though.
- We have removed their main animal predators, virtually making the dingo extinct in south-east Australia and building a 5000+ km long fence to keep them out.
- We have taken land sustainably managed by Indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years and turned it into broad-acre cropping and pasture land- many species of kangaroos preferred habitat.
- We have added countless additional permanent water sources for stock that kangaroos also utilise
All this results in some species of Kangaroos having lost the natural controls put on their population by nature. This can lead to boom/bust population numbers and outcompeting other native species. We have destroyed the natural balance, so we have a role to play in population management. Unfortunately us humans can do horrible things sometimes, so while we only work with responsible parts of the industry, we definitely think that more needs to be done to protect kangaroos from cruel behaviour.
Kangaroo as the most sustainable red meat in the world.
Being well adapted to the environment means less input and less waste. We don’t need to grow grains or hay, use artificial fertilizers, boost growth with added hormones or dose them with antibiotics and other chemicals to keep them healthy.
Harvesting can be higher welfare than farming.
Kangaroos are not bred just to be eaten. They live wild and free until the moment they are killed. This does not mean a totally stress-free life by any means. But they are not being squeezed onto trucks, moved through sales yards, and subjected to queues at abattoirs like other animals we eat.
Only 6 species of kangaroo and wallaby are able to be commercially harvested. State governments set their own population management plans. States are divided into zones (NSW has 15), and population surveys are regularly conducted by ground and air to estimate each zones population. A quota is then set for how many kangaroos can be harvested from each zone in that year. Each shooter has to be licensed and has to apply for numbered tags that must be attached to each animal they shoot to maintain traceability against the quotas. Currently, there are estimated to be more than 40million kangaroo of the 5 main species in NSW, QLD, SA & WA and harvest quotas are set to 10-20% per year to keep them sustainable. In Australia each year we kill 650 million chickens for meat for context.
Scratch would use well below 1% of kangaroo harvested and for most of the last year we haven’t been accepting new customers to this recipe as drought impacted population health.
Culling vs Commercial Harvesting for Human Consumption.
There is a difference between culling and commercial harvesting for human consumption. Culling is often conducted by National Parks and Wildlife to either prevent a population from growing too fast and threatening its own health, causing too much damage to other protected plants and animals or occasionally as a risk to human life. Farmers in some states can also apply for a permit to destroy wildlife that is damaging their property. These culled or destroyed animals do not make it into the commercial harvesting supply chain for human consumption.
Commercial harvesting standards.
Members of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia have to follow the Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial purposes. This lays out the rules to follow for shooter skills testing, the requirement for headshots and humane methods to euthanise any injured animals or animals not likely to survive. Members also follow the Australian Standard for Hygienic Production of Game Meat for Human Consumption. This controls how animals are processed in the field, how quickly they are cooled as well as the standards and veterinary inspection as processing facilities.
Using the whole animal
One of the key tenets of sustainability and respecting the life of the animal is using as much of the animal as possible. The premium meat is used for human consumption. You now find it in supermarkets and restaurants in Aus as well as exported to 50+ countries. Leather is made from kangaroo hides and is renowned for being strong yet thin and soft.
The remaining meat, organs and bones get to be used as food for lucky dogs and cats.
Kangaroo is actually good for dogs and cats too.
It is low fat and high protein. It is particularly a great option for dogs and cats that have allergies or intolerances to more common proteins like chicken or beef. In this way, it is considered hypoallergenic. And they love the taste.
Not everything is perfect.
It is in the best of interests of the industry, the entire country and the environment that the kangaroo population is sustainably managed and the industry operates at a high standard.
More can be done to ensure compliance with the code and the commercial code should apply to everyone, in all states. Inspection and audits of licensed shooters are hard to do but important for ensuring animal welfare. RSPCA is also calling for more research into the best methods of euthanising animals unlikely to survive. A revision to the Code of conduct is currently being worked on by Agri Futures, RSPCA, Australian Veterinary Association and the industry.
There is always the chance of rogue operators-like in any industry. As RSPCA states, generally issues are worse in the non-commercial areas. If you are aware of any breaches of the Code of Practice or the Australian standard in our supply chain please contact us so we can investigate. Information of any breeches industry-wide should also be sent to RSPCA, Kangaroo Industry Association and the relevant State Government Department of Environment.
Scratch and the Kangaroo we use.
Like any ingredient, quality and how they’re sourced differs greatly. We only use kangaroo that is processed by members of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia and is harvested for human consumption. This ensures that the Code of Practice and Australian Standard is followed.
This provides a more humane, higher quality and more sustainable kangaroo that has been primarily collected for human consumption, not just pet food.
We are also only using kangaroo that has been harvested in Qld and NSW as they have robust management systems in place. We don’t support deliberate wildlife brutalising and our hearts break when we discover something done horribly, so we’ll gladly put our name to industry reforms and not participate in parts of the industry with standards that don’t meet our values.