VIDEO: All crocodile smiles at Koorana with new arrivals
MORE than 1000 young crocodiles have taken up residence at Koorana Crocodile Farm, boosting the commercial facility's numbers to 4000 strong.
With the crocs arriving in specially made refrigerated pods from Darwin, owner John Lever explained the process was a "bit of an experiment" and would be repeated come January when 1067 more metre-long crocodiles will be transported from the Northern Territory.
He explained the new transport system put the farm in good stead to house healthy crocodiles, whose hides would be sold exclusively to Italy.
"A couple of weeks ago now we brought back over 1000 crocodiles from Darwin back to Koorana," Mr Lever said.
"It was a bit of an experiment actually, we developed new pods for them to put them in.
"They are individually housed inside a refrigerated semi-trailer, not refrigerated to the point of freezing them, but reduce their metabolic rate so they went to sleep.
"We used the stunning wand to actually catch the crocs, so they went unconscious for about half a minute to a minute, put them in the tubes, put the tubes in the truck, turned the temperature down and drove back here as quickly as we could.
"When we got the pods out of the truck we simply put them into their new pens and tipped the pods on their side, slid the doors out and left the crocs alone to come out themselves, so we got rid of all that nasty stress they go through with handling.
"Stressed crocodiles tend to die easily, stressed crocodiles don't eat, stressed crocodiles don't grow, and we grow them from one metre long up to about 1.8 metres and at that stage they will be ready for harvesting.
"Then we sell the skins and the meat. We are a commercial farm of course."
The latest addition coincided with the arrival of hundreds of international guests as four busloads of Singaporean Army members toured the facility as they took time out from Exercise Wallaby 2016 at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
Mr Lever said the tourism and commercial elements of the farm remained separate to the public, though each bolstered the other.
"The tourism side of our business plays a very very import role, when we are waiting for money to come in from skins, tourism gives the day-to-day cash flow that we need to keep the place running," he said.
"And of course when you get three to four busloads of the Singaporean Army coming in at one time that enhances that cash flow."
Mr lever said he was confident that in coming years the farm would reach a goal of farming about 10,000 crocodiles.
"Farming throughout Australia is changing, the small family farm can rarely make a profit nowadays," he said.
"You have to get bigger or get out, or get a diversity of incomes.
"We need to get crocodile skin sales up substantially before we can really feel comfortable."