Why you should raise ostrich

HAVE you ever seen an egg that weighs about one and a half kilo and when it hatches into a chick it is as large as a full-grown hen? That egg comes from a long-necked mother, which is taller and heavier than most men and has powerful legs that can run at maximum speeds of about 72 kilometers per hour.

Are you scared? Don't be! It's just the ostrich, the largest living species of bird that lays the largest egg of any living bird. Ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 130 kilograms with exceptional male ostriches weighing up to 155 kilograms.

A native to Africa, ostrich is now raised in the Philippines for its meat and eggs. Ostrich meat is red and it looks and tastes like beef. However, it has a nutritional content similar to chicken and turkey.

Compared to beef, the ostrich red meat contains less fat, calories and cholesterol. It is high in high in calcium, protein and iron? This makes it a tremendous alternative for beef for health conscious people, said Michael Gross, farm manager and owner of the Nueva Ecija-based Gross Ostrich Farm, one of the largest ostrich raisers in the country.

Ostrich meat is being served in fine dining establishments throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Ostrich meat is fast becoming a popular menu item wherever it is served and whenever it is consumed by the gourmet diners.

At the Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farms, Incorporated in Barangay Malanang in Cagayan de Oro City, visitors can try such famous ostrich recipes like Asian ostrich kebobs, Asian satay with sesame seeds, baked ostrich burgers, chicken fried ostrich, ostrich and shrimp in garlic sauce, ostrich appetizer crescents, ostrich chili, ostrich cutlets, and ostrich cutlets diane.

There are also the delectable ostrich fillets with shallots and brandy, ostrich fillets with wild mushroom, ostrich hors d'oeuvres, ostrich schnitzel, ostrich steaks, ostrich steak marinated with fresh black pepper, ostrich tenderloin fillets, over roasted ostrich, peppered ostrich cutlets, stir-fry ostrich and tomato and sweet and sour meatballs.

Ostrich eggs are also popular in areas where the birds are raised.

At the Davao Crocodile Park, where ostriches are raised next to the crocodiles, the eggs are sold at P500 apiece. A mother ostrich, from as young as 18 months to as old as 20 years, can lay three eggs a week.

Around the world, ostrich is farmed particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used for feather dusters. The high demand for feathers actually led to the domestication of ostrich in South Africa in 1860; other countries followed suit.

After the invention of the artificial incubator in 1870, ostrich farming became a worthwhile endeavor. After 1914, the demand for feathers begged off and the industry crumpled-which prompted ostrich feathers to be--more popular and replaced feathers as the most profitable--part of the bird, according to Gross.

The ostrich, for its skin, produces the world’s premiere exotic leather. "Because ostrich skin pins down oil, the leather is defiant to cracking, stiffening and drying," Gross told a publication.

The quality leather can be recognized by its distinctive plume follicle pattern and appealing striation. Universally, ostrich leather is renowned for its strength and suppleness. Its unique quill pattern makes ostrich leather the premium leather of choice for high end exotic leather products produced around the world. Brand names such as Gucci, Tony Lama, Nocona, and Justin Boots use large quantities of ostrich leather in producing their top of the line leather products.

In September 1929, Mechanix Illustrated reported that "Ostriches are raised in great numbers in Czechoslovakia for a purpose other than plucking their feathers for decorations. Ostrich racing is supplanting the usual horse classics of the turf in that country and, according to observers, is far more fascinating and exciting to watch."

Throughout the world, ostrich growers are rapidly expanding their flocks to meet the increasing demand for high quality ostrich livestock and ostrich products. In the Philippines, ostrich farms can now be found in strategic places in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Raising ostrich is highly profitable. A mother ostrich could lay as many as 100 eggs each year, with a maximum selling price of P500 apiece. This means a mother ostrich can provide the farm an annual income of P50,000.

On a daily basis, a matured ostrich consumes only two kilos of commercial feeds, the same food given to chicken, ducks and other domesticated fowls. Mortality rate is low among matured ostriches, which are sometimes infected with diseases common among chicken. Among chicks below two weeks old, the mortality rate is 20 percent.

An important factor in ostrich farming is fences. When constructing your fencing, experts recommend that you take time to plan a layout.

In the Philippines, breeding season of ostriches is from February to October. A good ostrich hen lays an egg every other day if the eggs are removed for artificial incubation. If the eggs are left with the birds to incubate, the eggs are set after a clutch of a dozen or so eggs are laid.

Most producers begin the incubation process one day a week to ease the workload. After approximately 42 days of incubation with controlled temperature and humidity, an ostrich egg hatches.


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