Ostrich and Emu
WHAT ARE OSTRICH AND EMU?
Ostrich and emu are both large, swift-running, flightless birds.
Ostriches are native to Africa and emus come from Australia.
Ostriches are 2.5m tall, weigh 160 to 200kg and can run 65 km/h.
WHERE ARE OSTRICH AND EMU PRODUCED IN BC?
Ostrich and emu farms in BC are in the Okanagan Valley, the Lower
Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
HOW MUCH OSTRICH AND EMU DO WE PRODUCE?
Production is small as this is a new enterprise. In Canada, the
market is for breeding animals. It will be a few years before the
production of meat and hides is viable.
HOW ARE OSTRICH AND EMU PRODUCED?
and emus are both specialty livestock animals. They can, however, be
raised in conventional barns. An ostrich hen is mature at 2.5 years;
a male at 3 to 3.5 years. A hen will lay about 50 eggs a season. It
takes 42 days to hatch an egg in an incubator. Young ostriches are
fed a high protein feed. They can grow 30cm a month. Chicks are
susceptible to pneumonia and must be kept warm, fed and dry.
Emus are easier to handle than ostriches. Hens bury their eggs in
the yard so care has to be taken when collecting them. Each egg
weighs 700g. By comparison, a large chicken's egg weighs about 56g.
Eggs are incubated for 52 days.
Each ostrich requires 0.12ha of relatively flat land. The area
needs to be flat to minimize the risk of birds tripping and injuring
themselves. These birds will also eat anything shiny, like nails or
the buttons on your clothing. Fencing should be made with a woven
wire, approximately 1.6m high. Adults are capable of protecting
themselves from coyotes or stray dogs with a strong forward kick.
Ostriches eat 1 to 2kg of feed per day. Their feed is one-half
chopped alfalfa and one-half grain. Birds can live up to 70 years
and produce eggs for 40 of those years.
WHAT DO OSTRICH AND EMU LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Ostrich meat is eaten in upscale restaurants and is exported to
Europe, where it is considered a delicacy. Ostrich feathers are used
in feather dusters and as decorations on hats. Ostrich hides are
valued at about $200 to $250 each. Hides are used for shoes,
clothing, hand bags and luggage. Ostrich eggs are decorated by
artists as collectibles. Emu oil, from a thick layer of fat on the
back of the emu, is used for skin care products.
WHAT HAPPENS THE OSTRICH AND EMU AFTER IT LEAVES THE FARM?
Right now, ostriches and emus are sold to other farms as breeding
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE OSTRICH AND EMU PRODUCERS FACE?
There are very few ostriches in Canada, so purchasing breeding
stock can be quite expensive. A large initial investment is
required. An ostrich egg sells for $35; a day old chick $125. An
adult breeding pair can cost $1,000 to $5,000.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING OSTRICH AND EMU?
- Ostrich and emu producers
- Feed suppliers
- Equipment suppliers
Interesting Fact About Ostriches:
As many as 14 pairs of shoes can be made from each ostrich
- Contacts and other resources:
- BC Ostrich Association
- Canadian Ostrich Association
- InfoBasket: Your Portal to Agri-Food Information on the Internet
Ostrich Producers of Ontario