Dr Yemi Popoola, an animal scientist from the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, has said that grass-cutter is the most preferred meat in most urban and rural centres; hence it has higher yield than other animals.
Popoola said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan. He said the preference of consumers for the grass-cutter meat was found to be 49.7 per cent compared with 28.9 per cent and 21.5 per cent for beef and goat meats, respectively.
The animal scientist emphasised that apart from its high protein content (18.1 per cent), the cholesterol content of the meat was low (48.5-53.4 mg/100g fresh mass) compared with values for the rabbit (135mg/100g), beef (58.9-68.6mg/100g) and goat (61.5-76.1mg/100g).
He added that the nutritive value of the meat was among the important factors that influenced the meat quality and consumer acceptability as the main components of the meat quality are protein and lipid contents.
“Like rabbit meat, grass-cutter has a very high mineral, iron, calcium and phosphorous content, compared with beef, mutton and chevon. Though it has a much smaller body weight, the meat yield is higher, with a higher dressing percentage compared with the major livestock species, such as sheep, goats and cows.
“The meat-bone ratio is also higher for the grass-cutter. The meat suffers only a minimal chilling loss of just two per cent, compared with a minimum 11 per cent for rabbit meat.
“The grass-cutter produces white meat that is similar in taste and texture to seafood, depending on the age at which they are slaughtered. It is high in protein, yet low in fat,” he said.
He also said that a recent research compared the nutritive value of chicken and beef with that of grass-cutter meat and found that grass-cutter meat was better from the health point of view, as it contains less fat, no chemical and less cholesterol.
Popoola further remarked that the demand for grass-cutter and other white meats in local and international markets was fast growing as latest statistics showed that current grass-cutter meat production was not enough to meet increasing demand in Nigeria.
“It is expected that during the next decade, grass-cutter meat may gradually replace traditional types of meat, as it is currently marketed in various ways, including smoked, grilled, roasted, sun-dried and fresh.
“Although grass-cutter has great potentials as a micro-livestock species for poverty alleviation, there is very little information on basic production parameters for efficient economic exploitation of the animal under captive breeding.
“The paucity of information on the biology of the animal has translated into poor production performance under captivity, compared with the rabbit,” he said. (NAN)