Raising ducks, chickens, quails or pigeons commercially has already established as an industry in many countries around the world. But ostrich farming is comparatively a new business idea compared to those birds. Nowadays, many countries around the world have started ostrich farming as a new business venture. The feather of ostrich is extremely valuable, which is mainly used for home decoration purposes. Their skin is also very valuable, and their meat is considered as very delicious food and has high demand in the international market.
The Scientific name of ostrich is ‘Struthio Camelis’. Ostrich is the biggest bird among all the bird species. They also produce the largest eggs. An adult male ostrich weights between 63 to 130 kg (140-290 lbs) and an adult female ostrich weights about 155 kg (340 lbs). Adult male ostrich feathers are black colored, primary and caudal feathers are white colored. Female and baby ostrich feather can be of gray or white colored. The neck of the both male and female ostrich is almost featherless.
Long legs and neck keep their head 1.8 to 2.75 meters high from the ground. Their eyes are also of gigantic sized. Their big eyes help them to monitor their enemy’s activities. Their legs are very strong, and featureless like other birds. Most birds have four finger in their feet, but ostrich have only two fingers. When they spread their wings, the distance is about 2 meters. They provide shadow to their baby with their wings. The lips of the ostrich are flat, wide and the head is slightly curved. They have no food and gall bladder. The urine and crap system is separated from each other. Generally, ostrich gain sexual maturity within 2 to 4 years of age. At maturity the height of the male bird is about 1.8 to 2.8 meters and the female bird is about 1.7 to 2 meters. For the first two years, the birds grow at the rate of 28 cm per year weight about 45 kg.
In earlier the northern Africa, southern part of Sahara, Eastern Africa, southern woodland of Africa and Asian minor was the habitats of ostrich. Then their habitats were limited to the open territory grassland of Africa and they started roaming in the desert or semi-desert areas of South-Western Africa.
Behavior of Ostrich
During winter season, they used to stay in pair or single. In breeding season or in dry seasons, they stay in a group of 5 to 50 birds. One female ostrich of the group lives as a status of queen. They usually used to roam with zebra and deer. They stay in the grassland in day time, and occasionally in moonlit night. They have a great power of vision and hearing. By using their vision and hearing power, they can understand about their enemy’s position, and keep themselves free from lion or other wild animals. When they attacked by any wild animals, they can move very fast at the rate of 70 km per hour. Among the two leg animals, ostriches are the fastest than others. While running, they use their wings as a rudder. So they can easily change their direction. While running, they can cross a distance of 10 to 15 feet in one step. Among the wild animals, ostriches are in second position in speed. When they get infected, they lay down their head and neck in the ground. They use their long and strong leg to protect themselves from enemies.
Ostriches generally eat plant, grass, fruits, flowers, tree leaves and grains. They also eat insects occasionally. For commercial ostrich farming, you can feed them usual poultry feed. A well balanced and nutritious ostrich feed list is shown below.
- 20-24 % of crude protein
- 12-19 % of crude fiber
- 1.2-2 % of calcium
- 0.6-1.1 % of phosphorus
- 10,000-15,000 IU/kg vitamin A
- 1,500-2,500 IU/kg vitamin D
During breeding period, the feed formula will be the same, but add 2.8 % extra calcium in their feed. Also provide them green leafy vegetables and grass, with pelleted feed and Add some extra trace elements.
Ostrich meat is lower in fat, compared to other animal meat. As a result you can cook it quickly. Ostrich meat also has low fatty acid. See some notable features of ostrich meat.
- Ostrich meat contains less than 3% of fat.
- Generally, their meat is collected from thigh, leg and back for consumption.
- Their food conversion efficiency is much better than other animals.
- Ostrich meat also contain unsaturated fatty acid.
Like chickens, ostrich also eat small stone pieces for digesting food properly. You will find about 1 kg of stones in the stomach of an adult ostrich. Ostrich can survive without water for a few days. They collect water from their consumed grass or leaves. But if they found water, they drink and often take a bath. Ostrich can tolerate frequent changes of temperature. Even they can tolerate daily temperature change of 400°c. During excessive cold weather, they cover their legs with their large wings, which helps to keep their body warm.
Generally, ostriches gain sexual maturity at their 2 to 4 years of age. Female ostrich gain sexual maturity 6 months earlier than male ostrich. Breeding season stays from March or April to September. This reproductive process can be very according the the condition of weather. A male ostrich bird can mate with more than 2 to 7 female ostrich. Ostriches make special type of sound during their mating time. Male ostrich spread their wing for attracting the female ostrich. If the male bird can impress the female bird, then they go in calm place and leave others. A female bird lays their eggs in a hole of 30 to 60 cm depth and about 3 meter wide. Male ostrich dig this hole for their ladies. On an average, an egg can be about 15 cm long 13 cm wide and weights about 1.4 kg. The egg shell is thick and glossy cream colored. There are some little spots in the egg surface. Both male and female ostrich hatch the eggs one after another throughout the day and night. Usually it takes about 35 to 45 days to hatch the eggs. The male ostrich take care of the chicks and teach them feeding. Ostrich chick survival rate is very low. In the wild, their main enemies are lions, fox, vulture etc.
Ostrich chicks need special care by keeping them inside the house for about 8 weeks. The temperature of newly born ostrich chicks house should be 280 to 300°c. Serve them food 3 to 4 times a day, for their first week. After that the room temperature would be at least 300 c for next three weeks. Feeding the ostrich chicks is very difficult and expensive. Provide essential amino acid, protein, energy and trace elements with the chick’s food.