Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae
Other common names: N/A
The tall, shaggy Emu is endemic to Australia, where this successful species is widespread in open habitat. As the second largest living bird, the flightless Emu can be viewed as Australia's answer to Africa's Ostrich. It's somewhat smaller and more manageable but it offers lean red meat, large eggs for crafting, and even an attractive leather. As a bonus, its oil has proved to be a valuable skin cream. An interesting note: One female can produce as many as 50 1-1/2 pound eggs a year, with each dark green Emu egg the equivalent of around 10 eggs from a domestic chicken. Because of the dark shell, coupled with a lighter inner shell, this eggshell is particularly good for carving.
However, also like the Ostrich, in North America the Emu became the focus of speculators in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The price of breeding pairs became so high that it wasn't profitable to raise birds for any purpose except to produce chicks to be sold to other start-up breeders for a high price who then also produced chicks that they in turn needed to sell at a high price...a classic pyramid scheme that ultimately collapsed. Today, the market is more stable, and prices of breeders are quite reasonable, but a responsible person will still get the facts from a reputable source like the American Emu Association (AEA).
The shaggy brown Emu can stand over six feet tall, with the adult females somewhat taller than their mates. It has no keel, and its tiny, vestigial wings give the impression of a wingless, as well as a flightless, species. There are beautiful white and blond mutations sometimes available. A fully adult female can make a drumming or booming sound much different from the male's grunt.
41- 63.5 kilograms (90 - 140 lbs.)
Like other birds that spend a lot of time on the ground, Emus may need a de-worming schedule. You will want an experienced veterinarian who is capable of handling a large bird capable of giving a hard kick. Get a referral from other Emu breeders.
Behavior / temperament:
Emus can be gentle, charming birds that eat from your hand. Despite their size, they can be considered the sweetest of the ratites and far less dangerous than an adult Ostrich. Their courtship and breeding behaviors are also fascinating to observe. The female “drums” to attract the male, lays the eggs, and then slips away, leaving the rest of the incubation and chick raising duties to him...while she goes in search of another male. A successful female may end up laying three clutches in a season. Fortunately, the male Emu is a dedicated father indeed, because he may lose up to one-third of his body weight during the 8 weeks he invests just in incubating these large eggs. He may then spend as much as another 18 months raising the babies to full adulthood.
On the downside, Emus are strong, powerful birds, and if they feel they must defend themselves or their young, they can certainly cause an injury. Check your property to be sure they can't escape, because wandering Emus look scary to law enforcement personal or members of the public, and you would not want a harmless pet shot by someone who thought they were under attack.
A pair of Emus will need 2,500 square feet to roam, although they may pace the fence line no matter how large the territory. These birds are known escape artists, and you should be prepared to install a fence at least five feet – some advise six feet – high. A shelter should be provided against extreme weather, and it would be a good idea to train them to visit the shelter by feeding them there or at least offering hand treats like the sliced apple there. Provide clean, dry straw for bedding and a sand pit for dust bathing.
Wild Emus might seem to be omnivorous birds willing to eat anything that sits still. However, they don't have the same internal digestive system as an Ostrich, and they can't benefit from the extremely high fiber diet that an Ostrich often enjoys. You are strongly advised to feed a pellet that is specifically intended for Emus if you can find it, although many people do have success with a general ratite pellet if that's all they can get. Supplement the pellets with treats like alfalfa, rye grass, greens like romaine lettuce, and fruits like sliced apple. Always have fresh, clean water available.
Written by Elaine Radford
great snake catcher, large eggs, comical personalities, bird meat, sixfoot tall bird
Chasing, peck, little smarts, powerful kick, tall fencing, sheer intimidation
Emu farming, fairly quiet bird, shiny objects, boomingdrumming sound, lower protein diet
Emu’s are funny birds. Quite the clowns if you ask me.
Things that make me laugh or smile:
1. They just fall down for no apparent reason. The jumps up as if nothing happened and continued with whatever they were busy with. ?
2. They have these races they compete in. One would start running around the camp and the rest will follow.
3. They like to take a dust bath.
4. They make a drum like sound when you stand to close to the fence. It is beautiful.
Please note the following:
Keep your small dogs out of their territory. A year after we acquired our emus, my brother’s 2 month old Jack Russell managed to find his way into their camp. My mother and I were sitting at the breakfast nook chatting about Christmas preparations when something made me look in the emus direction. I will never forget asking my mother on which side of the fence Buddy was. Her expression was enough to make me rush outside. In the meanwhile little Buddy realised he was in trouble and tried to push his fat little body through a diamond meshed fence. As I approached the fence, one of the emus decided to come and see who the visitor is. They are very curious. Just then Buddy whined as he got stuck. The emu gave Buddy one look and launched an attack. As he kicked for the puppy, I hit the fence momentarily scaring it. I still don’t know how I managed to get Buddy unstuck. All I know is I had my hand pushed in the cavities, threading in and out to the top with a fat groaning puppy in tow.
Emu’s don’t need a lot of space. They are also easy to keep. We keep ours in camps. They do like the shade trees provide.
What to feed your emu
Emus like ostriches are omnivores. They basically eat the same things. We feed our emus grass clipping, Lucerne, and commercial pellets. They like lots of clean water.
Women power. The female approaches the males. Poor male. The females can sometimes be a bit over zealous. Keep them in pairs. This way your eggs will stay whole. Or remove the eggs, they might break them if there are too many together. Keep in mind that they need grass and twigs for nesting.
Uses for them
Emus are bred for there:
Meat – not used or sold in South Africa, but definitely in Australia
Fat – we breed them for the oil. It can be used in cosmetic and pharmaceuticals. I tried the plain facial oil once. I didn’t like it.
Eggs – is edible but the colour of the shell thus far has put me off trying it. Green large eggs don’t make me want to try them. But I would make jewellery out of the shells.
Leather – the leather is good and last if you want to create leather products.
Once again I would advise you to:
1. Do your homework
2. Buy from a reputable breeder
3. They are hardy birds. When they fight it gets ugly. I have seen them recover where other birds die..
From dekkertjie Sep 29 2015 1:34PM
Emus, the perfect gamebird.
I have always been fascinated by flightless birds: what do they think when they see other birds soaring high above them? Do they miss the sensation of flight? Or, is it perhaps that the species has not flown for so long that it does not matter anymore.
At any rate, that is what I prefer to believe about my 3 emus. They seem so calm and unperturbed about the whole flying thing that I find it somewhat disconcerting. Nevertheless, during the time I have had my emus, I have come to the realization that they are the perfect birds to live with people who suffer from nervous dispositions. Emus are just never flustered, and there is none of that hopping, skipping, and flitting about that can tire you out just by looking at it. They are quiet too- which is great advantage if you can't abide the screeching and squawking of for instance, parrots and chickens.
Another great thing about emus is that they look after much of their dietary requirements themselves. Don't get me wrong here, emus will eat what you feed them, but they do not have that sad-faced look about them when the see their empty trough. No sir, they just turn about sharpish, and head off into the middle distance to see about getting what they want themselves, which is something of mystery because one day they will eat all the grashoppers they can find, and just when you think you have the final solution for the locust plague, they refuse to so much as look at a locust the next day.
I thoroughly enjoy the calmness and sense of order my emus bring to the menagerie on my little farm: strutting about self-importantly in an impossibly dignified manner, they seem to be forever challenging the ducks to a strutting contest, but the ducks being ducks, have yet to accomplish anything even remotely resembling an emu-strut. Silly ducks, what were they thinking? The emus also seem to have the chickens under control, whether by design, or by sheer intimidation is not quite clear but whenever the emus are around, the chickens are quiet and unusually well behaved. There may be something in the colective racial memory of the chickens about vicious chicken-eating emus, but I am not sure about this. All I am sure of is that the emus keep the chickens quiet and under control.
While it may seem somewhat debonair to have three big emus picking corn kernels out of your shirt pocket in turns, I do not recommend emus as pets unless you have at least a small farm for them to rule, or if you like your gamebirds to be bit livelier and/or clown-ish. Emus need a lot of space, a lot of food, and a proven appreciation of their dignified manner as bare minimums. If you can provide these things, by all means keep them, but if not, you are better of with something smaller. Like chickens for instance. Or ducks..
From reinier1 Apr 2 2015 2:39PM
You know, I really don't see the charm in these birds. They are often violant, easily angered, and not very pretty. Yet many of the big farms feel the need to have them as pets. Yard ornaments. Whatever you would like to call them.
Emus aren't very good meat birds, at least not as far as I know. And while I haven't eaten the eggs myself, I've heard that they're actually fairly good. One egg could feed a good three or four people, and the yolk is exceptionally thick.
They don't get sick very often, and can usually recover from any injuries. I once worked with an emu who had lost her eye and never received et treatment, leaving her to heal by herself. She wasn't very trusting but it there were ne'er any health issues from te lack of care before arrival at the foundation.
The male emu is te one who sits on the eggs and will stay ther even hurricanes. Keep an eye on him during hatching season!.
From paintedzipper May 24 2014 1:03PM