An ostrich farm for beginners - practical recommendations
Ostrich breeding in our country is still considered something exotic. But the farmers who contain these flightless birds are sure that ostriches are one of the most unpretentious animals. They have excellent immunity, some breeds endure the cold, although in the wild they live only in Africa and Australia. But today, ostriches are bred even in the Krasnoyarsk Territory! At the same time, an ostrich farm is a very profitable event, and market demand is at least ten times higher than supply. So why not give it a try?
What ostriches can I breed?
Today, around the world, ostriches in agriculture breed three varieties of these large flightless birds. These are African ostriches, emu (Australian) and nandu (South American). Moreover, from a scientific point of view, ostriches can only be considered African ostriches. This is the only modern representative of the family. Ostrich (Struthionidae).
Emu until the 80s of the last century was assigned to the same family, but then scientists came to the conclusion that this is a representative of the same family - Emu (Dromaiidae).
Nanda, who look like African ostriches, but have half the height, scientists also refer to a separate family and genus - Nandu (Rheidae).
Both real and conditional ostriches have their own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. The right choice of breed depends on what you want to get at the exit - meat, eggs or have a non-waste production. In addition, these birds have a different temperament, which also needs to be taken into account.
Black African ostrich is most common in Russian farms today (there are still varieties of African ostrich: Namibian, Zimbabwean and Masai).
The benefits of breeding black African ostriches
Unlike emu, which is bred because of dietary meat, or nandu (egg breed and it is the most unpretentious), black African ostrich is meat, and eggs, and skin, and feathers, and fat, and even eyelashes and claws ! That is, practically non-waste production. And, which is also very important, the black African ostrich is the most calm and docile among its relatives.
But only males have a black color. Their feathers are black with a brilliant shimmer. The females are gray. Nature took care of the coloring of the female ostrich. Indeed, in natural habitats, when the eggs are hatched, the females should be invisible so as not to stand out against the background of the same tones of the native oasis. Because it is gray. And the male is dark - as he hatches eggs at night.
Today, a black African ostrich chick costs about 8,000 rubles. When it reaches 1 month, then its price increases to 10,000 rubles. A six-year-old ostrich is already worth 18,000 rubles, and a one-year-old ostrich is 25,000 rubles. When the ostrich reaches adulthood (2 years), its cost will increase to 45,000 rubles. That is, ostriches can be raised not only for the sale of meat and eggs, but also for young animals.
Ostrich meat is considered very tasty, healthy and dietary. After dressing, the skin of this bird is elastic and beautiful. She is very much appreciated and expensive. If you find a market for ostrich feathers (for example, offer them for costumes and fans in the theater, for sewing outfits in exclusive ateliers), then there will be another good income item.
Ostrich eyelashes are used by women in order to use them as their own. And from the claws of these birds make fasteners for fur coats. Ostrich eggs are large. One is enough to feed 8-10 people with fried eggs! Exclusive souvenirs are made from shells.
Another area that will help to generate income, but not to slaughter a bird, is ecotourism. Tourists, especially with children, are happy to visit such farms, feed ostriches, admire them.
Ostriches are centenarians among birds. Under good conditions, they live up to 75 years. An adult male weighs about 150 kg, and a female in the region of 120 kg.
What is needed to keep ostriches?
Today, African ostriches are bred even in the Urals, where they, sometimes, experience winter periods with temperatures of –40 ° С. Of course, this requires a fairly warm barn. Room temperature should never fall below 0 ° С.
Ostriches need a bed of hay, especially in the cold. If severe frosts promise, then these animals need to put more hay. You can even cover them with this dried grass so that the birds are warmer. Drafts should be excluded in the shed, but good ventilation should be organized.
Since these birds are very large, they should have enough space for walking and keeping. Stalls at the rate of 10 m² per one mature individual. The scope for walking should be much more than the "house". One adult ostrich will need about 250 m² for an absolutely comfortable life! Young places can be allocated much less.
To organize such a territory, fences 150 cm high are usually made. For this, logs or beams that are dug around the perimeter are used. Between these posts horizontally stuff boards.
Sometimes, instead of boards, a metal mesh is used. But it is important that it be with small cells. If the gap between them is large, then the ostrich can stick its head between the rods, get stuck and do great harm to itself.
In summer, ostriches are kept in such walks for almost the entire fine day. In winter, they are also allowed to stretch out if the thermometer does not fall below - 15 ° C. But then the walks are reduced to 30 minutes. At the same time, note that each ostrich must have a separate exit from its stall in the barn to the walking area. In another case, it is necessary to equip ostriches with covered canopies, where they can freely shelter from the weather.
The shape of the territory for walking ostriches is preferably rectangular, since these birds like to arrange hauls in a straight line.
The diet and diet of chicks and adult ostriches are different. Young ostriches should always have food. Usually they do not eat up to 2-6 days of life, as they receive nutrients from the yolk sac, which is located in the umbilical cord of a recently hatched bird during this time.
Young animals are fed with special feed for ostriches. If this is not available, then you can use compound feed for turkey poultry or for meat and egg chickens.
When the kids are 2 weeks old, alfalfa and clover leaves begin to be included in their menu. These plant products are ground. This applies to the nutrition of not only small, but also adult ostriches, as these birds have no teeth. Even babies from this age begin to give a grated apple, carrots chopped in the same way.
If there is no special balanced feed for ostriches, then 5 grams of vitamin B and biotin are added to each prepared plant food daily.
Young ostriches should always have food. When they turn one month old, then the babies begin to be transferred to five times a day. When adolescents turn six months old, meals are reduced to 4 times a day. Older ostriches are fed 2-3 times a day.
Even small and large birds should always have clean water, and chicks should have shells, small stones, sand. It is also necessary to put shells, limestone, in the tank, to help their bones be strong.
Adult birds are fed twice a day. Moreover, 2/3 of their diet is plant feed, 1/3 is feed and some mineral additives. Vegetable feed includes white cabbage, which these flightless birds are very fond of. It is crushed, a little carrots, beets are added to it.
Here's what a balanced diet for adult ostriches looks like:
- compound feed;
- in the winter - hay;
- mineral supplements.
About 3 kg of feed is consumed per adult ostrich per day.
Ostriches should not be given potatoes, parsley, and livestock are contraindicated for chicks.
Ostriches are polygamous birds. Usually one family consists of one male and three to four females. There is one dominant female in this harem. There are cases when, after the death of a beloved male, he began to yearn, refused water, food, and died.
In puberty, these birds enter into 2-3 years. The onset of this period in the male is very simple to determine. The color of his plumage and skin becomes brighter, limbs and neck acquire a reddish tint.
But that is not all. An ostrich, ready for mating, begins to show the female its mating dance. At the same time, he spreads his wings in front of her, bounces, falls to his knees, whirls. All this interesting action is accompanied by loud sounds made by him. When the female is ready for mating, she sits on the ground. When the male fertilizes the lady of his heart, he switches his attention to another representative of the harem, shows the marriage dance to her already.
In the wild, ostriches breed in the warm season, and in artificial conditions, it is possible to ensure that the ostrich will be carried all year round. To do this, increase the temperature in the barn, increase the duration of daylight by artificial lighting.
Since ostrichs build nests in the sand, then to lay eggs here, you must first pour sand in a suitable container (for example, in a spacious trough). There should also be grass nearby. When the female lays an egg, she will cover it with grass. At night the male incubates the chicks, and in the afternoon - the female. One and a half months after the start of laying, a chick will appear from the egg.
On ostrich farms, after the appearance of an egg, a person takes it, disinfects it and puts it in an incubator. But you need to take the egg very carefully, since the male is very aggressive during this period. It is also necessary to observe safety precautions when feeding animals at this time, since the male can consider all who came to be potential enemies and even attack them.
The period of egg laying in the female lasts up to 2 months. Moreover, one fertilization is enough. When the female lays the first egg, then the next one begins to form, in two days she will lay it. Thus, the first egg-laying cycle begins, which lasts for half a month, during which the ostrich will lay 15-17 eggs. Then rest follows. After it comes another cycle of egg production lasting a fortnight.
An adult bird can lay up to 80 eggs in a year as a result of 4 cycles of egg laying. Note that the weight of one egg of a female black African ostrich is from 1.5 to 2 kg!
Dear readers! Every year, there are more and more people who want to breed ostriches in our country. This is an interesting process that, if properly followed, will meet your best expectations.