The ostrich farming industry is one that is being watched. Many say that it has great potential in the near future. There are several good reasons and serious considerations to ponder before deciding this is for you.
An ostrich farmer doesn’t need to have a lot of acreage in order to raise ostriches. They don’t require all that much on which to graze. If you plan on having a pair of ostriches for breeding, you’ll need about 1/3 of an acre of land. A mere ½ acre of land is required if you add a third bird. In comparison, cattle and sheep need several acres on which to graze, so the initial output just for land would be higher.
Ostrich breed a lot earlier than beef cattle and more regularly as well, which is another great advantage to ostrich farming. A female ostrich is capable of producing eggs by the age of 2 and from then on, can lay anywhere from 30 to 90 egg yearly.
Ostrich meat tastes similar to beef, but it is a much healthier choice in the red meat category. For those at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, red meat can be prohibitive. However, given that ostrich meat is extremely low in fat and cholesterol, there is an emerging market for it; especially among consumers who are more health conscious.
Farmers benefit from almost every part of the ostrich when it is slaughtered, which means they can recoup their investment, plus make a profit.
The feathers are sold to the fashion industry for the making of beautiful boas, fans, and other items. The automobile industry purchases ostrich feathers too. They use them during the final stage of painting new automobiles.
The meat is sold to both restaurants and meat distributors.
Ostrich leather is one of the most sought after, as it is very supple and creates a high quality product such as clothing, purses and wallets.
Believe it or not, even the feet can be used for profit. They are actually ground into a very fine dust and then sold as an aphrodisiac to people in the Far East.
The eyes of an ostrich are many times purchased by research companies to further their research on human cataracts.
Even the eggs are painted and sold for decorations.
The internet is a great tool for farmers. It enables them to stay in contact with other ostrich farms in other countries, such as New Zealand, the United States, and Australia. Not only that, they are able to use the internet to purchase eggs and chicks, equipment and everything else they need to run a successful operation, all without having to leave their responsibilities on the farm.
Why does all of this make a difference and why should anyone consider ostrich farming as a full-time endeavor? It is estimated that in the United States, there are around 28 billion pounds of chicken, turkey, beef and pork consumed each year. There is growth potential for ostrich meat. Even if they could corner a 1% share in meat consumption, then nearly 3.5 ( or more) million ostriches would be needed to go toward meat production. The currently ostrich population (including breeders who wouldn’t be slaughtered), is around 400,000 to 700,000.
If and when the demand for ostrich meat increases, more birds would be needed. Currently, the meat is too expensive for the average consumer since there aren’t enough birds available for slaughter.
As with any business, there are cons to starting up an ostrich farm. Initially, the outlay of money to get started seems overwhelming. A profit from ostrich farming won’t likely be seen for approximately four to five years.
So someone interested in this type of work, will need to be prepared financially to incur the costs of beginning the operation, without the expectation of a quick return on their investment. Breeder costs, egg incubation, feed costs, fencing, and the proper shelters, are some of the top expenses.
It’s imperative that the facilities provided to raise ostriches are clean and well-suited for them. Otherwise, the chick mortality rate could rise, therefore causing further delay in actual profit.
Also, a farmer must keep in mind that it will cost him money to have each ostrich slaughtered, the hide tanned and for the transport of the meat and hide to the proper markets.
If an ostrich becomes ill, veterinary costs will be incurred. These costs all go against the bottom line.
Long hours, the high cost of getting started and the somewhat long wait prior to seeing an actual profit could all be deterrents to some getting into ostrich farming.
However, great rewards can be had by those who are willing to work hard and be patient.