The Future Farm Bird of America

2. Raising Ostriches

Ostriches can live to 70 years and reproduce for approximately 40 years.  Each hen lays between 30 and 90 eggs a year which will produce an average of 20 to 40 chicks.  Many factors are involved in determining how many chicks are successfully raised per year.  The quality of the breeding stock is important.  The number of fertile eggs, quality of the incubation and hatching procedures, attentiveness of the rancher, weather conditions, living environment, and many more factors determine the resulting numbers.

Eggs are laid and gathered every other day during the summer, as early as March and as late as October.  The eggs are put in incubators for 42 days.  The chicks are very carefully watched for the first twelve weeks.  They grow very fast, about one foot per month for the first six or seven months.  At six months and older, ostriches require very little daily chores, simply feed and water.

Ostriches reach breeding age at two to four years, with the hen maturing earlier.  Ostriches can be bred in single pairs or in colonies of 2 males and 5 females to 5 males and 12 females.  A pen of about one eighth acre per bird attached to a barn or shelter with about 100 square feet per bird is all that is required.  Large pastures traditional in cattle raising are not needed or desirable.

Ostriches are very adaptable to different climates.  In hot weather they need a shaded area.  In cold climates they need a shelter to retreat to.  Ostriches are raised in South Africa, France, Canada, throughout the United States, and many other parts of the world.

To capture just one percent of the current meat consumption in the United States, about 5,000,000 birds per year would need to be raised for slaughter.  This will require 250,000 breeding hens.  The number of birds in the US is steadily growing.