Commercial ostrich farming is a profitable business. But it is not as popular as duck, chicken, pigeon, quail or other poultry birds. It is comparatively a new agribusiness, but it is highly profitable.
Ostrich is the world’s largest living bird. The males on average stand about 2.4 meter tall and can weight well over 100 kg. But the females/hens are slightly smaller than the males.
Ostriches can’t fly. Their great body size but reduced wind size rendering them incapable of flying. Generally, ostriches have a long neck, long bare legs and two toes. Neck and thigh muscles are well developed and unfeathered.
Ostriches have long and strong legs, and they are the fastest bird. They are able to run up to 70 kilometer per hour when necessary, with strides of up to 8 meter.
Currently, many countries around the world have started commercial ostrich production. The first commercial ostrich farm was established in South Africa in about 1860, mainly for harvesting the feathers.
And commercial ostrich farms began to spread gradually to other countries around the world. Especially Australia, Egypt, New Zealand, Argentina and United States started commercial ostrich production.
Total number of ostriches raised commercially reached over 1 million by 1913. But the ostrich feather market crashed and the number of total commercial ostrich farms dropped significantly after the First and Second World Wars.
Then the industry managed to survive on a much smaller scale in South Africa. And commercial production grew steadily thereafter, not only for their feathers but also for their meat and hides.
South Africa alone exported a record high of 90,000 ostrich hides to the United States in 1986. And after 1986, the shortage of ostrich skin caused prices to rise.
Today, commercial ostrich farming is expanding gradually as a profitable business. You can start this business if you have enough money and if you want to produce something different in your farm.
Uses of Ostrich
Ostriches are used for many different purposes. They are actually a multipurpose bird. Previously, they were used mainly for feathers, but now they are used for their meat, eggs and also skin. Main uses of ostriches are:
- Feathers: The feathers of ostriches are extremely durable and valuable. You can start harvesting the feathers when the birds reach around 60 kg body weight or more. Ostrich features are used for making dusters for cleaning, hat and home decorations.
- Meat: Ostrich meat is very nutritious and generally sold at high price. The meat is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. It is a good source of protein and iron.
- Eggs: Just like the size of ostriches, the eggs are also large in size. The eggs are about 6 inches long, 5 inches wide and weight around 2 kg. A female bird can lay about 15-45 eggs per season. The eggs are rich in protein. One ostrich egg is equivalent to 25 chicken eggs. The egg shells can be used as water vessel, cups and vase. In addition, the egg shells are also used in making necklace beads. Most of the producers don’t eat the eggs. Rather they keep the eggs for hatching.
- Skin: The ostrich skin/leather is thick, soft and durable. It is of very good quality, and used to make clothing, boots, carpets, handbags etc.
Advantages of Ostrich Farming
You can ask, why should I start ostrich farming? Well, it’s a relatively new and profitable business idea.
There are numerous advantages/benefits of starting this business. Here we are trying to describe the top advantages of commercial ostrich farming business.
- Commercial ostrich farming is definitely a profitable business. Many people have already started this business for making profits.
- Ostriches are very hardy, and they are adaptable to many different climatic conditions.
- They generally require less caring, and the caring process are very easy.
- Diseases and other health related problems are less in these birds.
- Commercial production will require high investment. But the ROI is relatively good, and you will get your invested money back soon.
- Ostriches eat a different types of food. You can feed them easily available foods.
- Demand of ostrich products is increasing. The price of the products is also very high.
- Commercial ostrich production can be a very good business. It can be a good employment source, especially for the educated unemployed young people.
- If you are willing to enjoy ostrich eggs and meat, then producing your own can be a great way.
How to Start Ostrich Farming Business
Starting commercial ostrich farming business is not too easy. It requires knowledge, and high investment as compared to other poultry farming business.
So, we recommend having practical knowledge or training before starting this business commercially. Try to complete a training from an existing farmer, or from any govt or non-govt institution.
Here we are trying to describe more information about starting and operating a successful ostrich farming business from purchasing birds to caring and marketing.
First of all, we will recommended you having a short/full training about ostrich raising and it’s management. Without proper training, you will not be able to raise these birds successfully. And it will be very good if you can learn practically from an existing farmer.
Select a Good Location
Selecting a good location is very important for starting commercial ostrich farming business. It will be better if the selected area is free from all types of noises and pollution.
Try to avoid residential areas. Ensure good/easy source of clean and fresh water in your selected area. Also ensure good transportation system.
Select Right Breed
There are actually 5 different types or subspecies of ostriches are known. Select any type depending on the availability in your area.
- Arabian ostrich (also known as Middle Eastern ostrich)
- Black necked ostrich (also called Southern or Cape ostrich)
- Blue-necked ostrich (also called Somali ostrich)
- Masai ostrich (also called Kenyan Red ostrich)
- Red necked ostrich (also called North African ostrich)
Making a good shelter/housing system is a must for commercial ostrich farming business. Ostriches are large birds, and they can tolerate almost all types of weather and environmental conditions.
The size of the house will vary depending on the number of birds. Generally, each mature bird require between 60 and 80 square feet housing space.
Ostriches are tall birds. So, the house must have to be high enough to accommodate the birds easily. Average height of the mature birds is about 7-8 feet. So, the house must have to be 10-12 feet high.
Ostriches prefer sandy place to live. You can add some sand inside the house. Select a calm and noise and pollution free place for building the house.
Always try to keep the house clean. And ensure that the house is very comfortable for the birds.
Making a fence around the farm area will be very effective. A good fence will help the birds to stay inside, and the birds will not be able to escape and go outside the farm area.
A good fencing system will also help you to keep your farm free from predators and harmful animals. It will also prevent the entrance of unwanted people inside your farm. Wire net is a good fencing option.
Feeding the birds with very good quality and nutritious food is the most important part of commercial ostrich farming business. Because, good food not only helps the birds to stay healthy but also helps them to grow better and produce more.
Ostriches generally eat plant, grass, fruits, leaves, flowers, grains etc. They also eat insects occasionally.
For commercial ostrich production, you can feed them ready-made poultry feeds. A well balanced and healthy food should contain the following:
- 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
Add extra 2.8% calcium in their feed during the breeding period. Also provide your birds with adequate greens, vegetables and grasses.
Ostriches are large birds, so they will drink a good amount of water daily. Ensure availability of adequate water according to their demand.
Like many other domestic poultry birds, ostriches are also naturally very good breeders. They will breed easily if you keep good ratio of male and females in your farm.
Generally, ostriches gain maturity at their 2 to 4 years of age. The females generally reach maturity about 6 months earlier than the males.
Breeding season starts from March or April and stay up to September. Although, this time can vary depending on the weather condition.
Generally, one male bird is enough for breeding 2 to 7 females. The birds make special type of sound during their mating time.
The male birds spread their wings for attracting the female birds. If the male bird can successfully impress the female, then they will go in a calm place and then mate.
The male birds will make a 30-60 cm deep hole and the female birds will lay eggs there. A hen can lay between 15 and 45 eggs in a season.
After laying all the eggs, both male ad female birds will hatch the eggs (one after another throughout the day and night). Generally, it takes about 35 to 45 days to hatch the eggs.
The males take care of the chicks and teach them everything. Ostrich chick survivality rate is very low. Although, you can increase this rate through proper care.
Ostriches are very strong and hardy birds. They generally require less caring and other management.
Although, taking additional caring will help the birds to grow better and produce more. So, try to take good care of them.
Vaccinate them timely and always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area. Never provide them contaminated feeds or polluted water.
Ostrich products are gaining popularity gradually. Although, it’s not too easy to sell all the products in the local market. So, you have to set your marketing strategies before starting this business.
These are the common steps and ways for starting and operating a successful ostrich farming business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!