Scientific name: Struthio camelus
Other common names: Common Ostrich; African Black Ostrich
The Ostrich is the largest living species of bird, and is one of the most instantly recognized avians in the world. Although the once widespread Middle Eastern subspecies was apparently hunted to extinction by the mid 1940s, the Common Ostrich continues to be a successful, visible bird over a wide area of open habitat in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
At times, the Ostrich has also been an economically important bird which has become infamous over the years for its place in “boom and bust” speculative trading. The birds were first hunted and then farmed for their feathers, one of the most valuable exports from South Africa in the early 20th century – quite a claim, when you consider that two of the other top exports from that nation were diamonds and gold. As the practice of wearing feathers became distasteful, the market collapsed. The chaos of two world wars didn't help either. A second boom came to North America in the late 1980s and early 90s, when ostrich breeders were selling the birds to other beginning breeders at inflated prices that made it impossible to produce meat or leather at a profit. This pyramid scheme collapsed of its own weight. Today, people are more cautious, and responsible breeders will identify a market for the birds, meat, or leather they produce before they buy or sell birds. An organization like the American Ostrich Association should probably be your first step if you plan to keep or breed Ostriches.
Everyone knows the Ostrich – an eight foot tall bird with a naked head and neck and only two toes on its powerful feet. The adult males have a mostly black plumage accented by white feathers in the tail and wings, while the females are more of a grayish-brown.
As of 2014, Somali Ostrich (S.molybdophanes) has been recognized as a separate species which is easily told apart from the Common Ostrich thanks to its grayish-blue neck and thighs. The Somali male's skin will turn a deeper blue in those areas during the breeding season.
68 - 159 kilograms (150 - 350 lbs.)
Like other birds that spend a lot of time on the ground, Ostriches may need a de-worming schedule. You will want an experienced veterinarian who is capable of handling a large, dangerous animal. Get a referral from other Ostrich breeders.
Behavior / temperament:
Ostriches are large, curious, and entertaining. Their behavior is fun to watch. They just look silly performing simple activities like rolling around in the dust bath. Their breeding behavior can be fascinating, with the females laying eggs in a single community nest and the male spending much of his time sitting on those eggs, especially at night. However, there's a dark side to the protective male, since he can become aggressive and even dangerous toward other males or toward humans. Because of the size of the bird, even a kick from a female can be painful. For that reason, Ostriches can only be recommended to experienced livestock keepers who are willing to get hands-on experience from more advanced Ostrich breeders.
The social behavior of the Somali Ostrich may be different, since they are usually seen in pairs rather than in the flocks favored by Common Ostrich. However, you are far less likely to encounter them in captivity.
A pair or trio of Ostriches requires 5,000 square feet of range or even more. You must have proper fencing to make sure that these birds, especially the aggressive breeding males, do not escape. Birds on other people's property or on public highways have, unfortunately, sometimes been shot by frightened or frustrated wildlife officers or members of the public. Make sure that they have shelters. Your Ostriches may have to be taught to use the shelters, by feeding them there – but you'll be glad you did the first time you have a storm advisory and need to secure your birds. Don't forget the need for a huge sand pit to give them a good dust bathing spot.
Ostriches have a reputation for trying to eat anything, up to and including bags of cement mix, so be cautious about what you leave out in a wheelbarrow (or anywhere else) within reach of their long necks. They are grazing animals that have no crop, so they swallow small stones to help grind up the grains they eat. Their wild diet is tough and high in fiber. You are strongly encouraged to offer a pellet formulated specifically for Ostriches, supplemented with alfalfa or other browse, and treats like broccoli and carrot. The estimates for how much water Ostriches will drink is all over the map, from a claim that they can get all their water from their green food to a statement that they will drink several gallons a day. We strongly suggest you always have plenty of clean water available to your Ostriches, and they'll take what they need.
Written by Elaine Radford
Ostrich meat, ostrich egg, meat, great adaptability
gastrointestinal perforation, upper respiratory problems, low temperatures, potentially lethal kick
large living space, strange flightless beasts, anger management issues
A walk on the wild side
So our reasoning for getting ostriches was a little unusual. We actually got them because we had a problem with coyotes killing our chickens ducks and turkeys. Adding a bird that was as big as a person, well, actually at least twice my size, took care of the problem.
A side benefit that we got was that these guys had gigantic eggs. Imagine one egg making omelets for a dozen people. Flavor wise the eggs are very similar to duck eggs with how rich the yolks are.
We did actually slaughter a couple, and they were entirely dark meat and it was wonderful. The two major problems with these guys is, they eat a lot, and a bad winter means they will need lots of feed. The other is that they are somewhat aggressive. It was a plus for the coyotes, but we could barely pet them as they were very temperamental. I should also note that obviously they need a ton of space to run, due to their gigantic size..
From AnimalLoverr Mar 26 2016 7:12PM
Best Security system
As I write the heading, I smile. Living in South Africa make for an interesting life. Almost every small holding or farm these days has an ostrich or two for obvious reasons. I still want to see the person who can outrun or fight one.
My advice to potential breeders are as follows:
1. Do research. This is vital. Know what you are getting into.
2. This is not a short term project. Can be costly.
3. Start small.
4. Buy from a reputable breeder.
5. The sex of an ostrich chick is hard to determine when they are small. In other countries you get DNA kits to help you. Why am I listing this? There are breeders who will use your lack of knowledge to make a quick buck. We found that out the hard way. In the beginning, we paid the breeder for 5 male and 5 female. Only to find out that we bought 8 females and 2 males. So be warned.
6. Beware of bird flu. It will wipe out your entire flock.
Ostriches are suited to dry climates. I have never seen them in subtropical areas. They like huge camps. Make sure that the camp has different size rock. Why? Because they swallow them. It digests the food for them. A combination of grass, sand, and rocky area is advisable. They like green grass, especially coming from the garden. Trees are important for shelter from the heat, but is not a train smash if you camp doesn't have them.
ALWAYS work in teams of two. The male is extremely territorial. Take a broom with. One gives water and feed, while the other one watch the male.
What to feed your ostrich
They are not picky and can be self efficient if the following requirements are met:
1. Need to be near a water source
2. They are omnivores just like us, so they will eat dry grass, insects, small lizards and tortoise. :-( I am not a lizard kind of girl, but I do like the tortoises.
3. Do add Cornish crystals to their water once a week. It improves their immune systems.
What we feed them:
We feed our ostriches a mix of grass clipping from the garden, vegetable peelings, commercial pellets, and lucerne. Please note. Not at the same time, though.
When an Ostrich male's legs turns a flamingo colour, you know that they are entering mating season. The darker the colour the better. This is also the time I have to advise you to be extra careful around them. They will attack you.
Things to take note when you breed them.
1. They need the right conditions or they won't breed. And if they do, the eggs will rot.
2. Breed one male and female at a time. The female might lay the eggs, but it is the male who hatches them. Too many females breeding at once is not advised if you are just starting out.
3. Always leave one egg in the nest when you remove the eggs for incubation. This way the female will keep laying eggs. Remember, they count the eggs. The male will know. Don't remove it when they are watching.
Ostrich chick are not very hardy. The fatality rate in their first year is very high.
I like the meat. I must say I prefer it to beef. I have used it in all sorts of dishes. But beware it is very rich. Adding wine to a casserole might not suit a delicate digestive system. Ostrich meat tends to be a bit dry if you use very high heat.
Fun things about ostriches
1. They provide an interesting ride. Way back before my mum owned a small holding, I had the privilege to ride one. :-) I liked it. Why not put it on your bucket list.
2. I love watching them dance after it rains. I don't think it will ever get old. Wish I could explain this in words.
3. The males are very flirty with women. At least ours are. He likes to perform his mating dance and showing off..
From dekkertjie Sep 29 2015 11:18AM
There is a Fine Line...
When I was a teen, one summer I spent a month in Oklahoma on my Great Uncle Juniors Ostrich farm. I was initial excited about the opportunity to work and learn how to care for Ostriches. In the beginning, I found myself in awe of them, they are after all a very unique and interesting bird, however that awe quickly turned to hatred! Now hate may be a bit strong so I guess I will say that I developed a strong dislike to those strange flightless beasts!
At the time of my visit, Uncle Junior owned 12; 6 female and 6 male which he had owned for a little over 4 years. His Ostriches had been purchased from a breeder in Oklahoma once they had reached adult maturity. My uncle went on a few years later to raise additional Ostriches that he had raised for their meat production, but his original 12 he only raised for their egg and feature production in addition for procreation which meant these 12 lived a very long time and were extremely hardy and healthy.
The Ostriches were kept in large enclosure with high fences. My uncle taught me that Ostriches, even though larger in size, did not actually require a very large living space and were very easy to care for. They required little food considering their size and that while they originated in Africa they did well in most environments and were being raised successful throughout much of the world.
Uncle Junior taught me a great deal but some lessons he let me learn on my own. For instances he failed to tell me how mean Ostriches can be and that they will constantly take any opportunity to spit on you! To say I got spit on was an understatement cause I got showered, daily! It seemed that my general animal magnetism did not translate to Ostriches! Those 12 devil birds seemed to hate me! They actually went out of their way to spit on me. In addition, they chased me, which by the way you can't outrun an Ostrich, at their best they can reach speeds as high at 40 mph. They also enjoy kicking which is extremely painful in addition they are quite inept at smacking a person with their wings and they do and will bite. Long story short they are devil birds!
By the end of the month, I was soaked, bitten, bruised, and thoroughly abused! My intrigue, excitement, and yearning to learn about Ostriches was completely diminished and I could not wait to leave that farm and all those two legged beast behind! I suspect Ostriches suffer from a crippling case of flight envy which is where there anger management issues stem from. For me my Ostrich experience taught me a valuable lesson: there is a fine line between awe and hate!.
From jadielyn Mar 1 2014 10:24AM