by Leigh Godchaux
I never would have thought a crocodile farm would feel homey, but straight off the bus we were welcomed with four noisy little dogs and a smiling staff, offering homemade juice and a hot meal with a beautiful fruit and vegetable spread. The entire facility including the crocodile ponds were impressive and clean.
The family-owned farm was eager to share not only their hospitality but their passion and great respect for the crocodile and details from breeding to hatch to harvest. They also collaborate and share information with other crocodile farms in the country in an effort to learn new technologies and processes that can help improve the industry as a whole. This is in stark contrast with alligator farms back home who do not allow visitors and are very secretive and protective of how they raise and harvest their gators.
The other major difference from the alligator industry back home is that the farming of crocodiles is done in captivity. The reptiles breed and lay eggs in captivity. The eggs are collected and incubated. The crocs are raised to proper size then harvested, while others are kept for breeding. Again, this is in contrast with the alligator industry in the US where the eggs are collected in the wild from wild alligators and then incubated, hatched and raised to harvest size or release size, where a percentage of the hatchlings must be released back into the wild.
The size and power of some of the crocodiles we saw was almost unbelievable. I can't imagine facing a female crocodile protecting her nest in the wild.
I'll stick with the gators.
From Vermilion Parish, Leigh Godchaux is a general partner of P & G Acres and is active in the management and production of rice, cattle and alligator on the 6,000 acre Live Oak Plantation property, owned by Godchaux Farms. She also is a limited partner/managing employee of Abbeville Family Partnership and a limited partner/communications consultant for Planters Rice Mill. She attended Vanderbilt University for two years and played collegiate soccer before returning to Louisiana to earn a bachelor’s degree from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in public relations and marketing.