Ostrich farming

Posted on 21 February 2019 by Makhosi Mahlangu

Ostrich farming in the Eastern Cape (South Africa)

Ostrich farming is a rapidly growing industry in animal husbandry, with a number of countries starting to get involved in ostrich production. The production of ostriches is gradually becoming a lucrative business which may justifiably become a significant means of livelihood for rural communities. This assertion may be supported by a notable increase in the consumption of game and non-domesticated animals/birds over traditional red meats. The adaptability of the ostrich, and the quality of its primary products can be considered for livestock diversification in rural development. Various degrees of confinement to animals lead to different production systems. There is a low level of productivity on communal lands due to the fact that animals are grazed on communal land and receive a limited amount of feed and care.

Developing countries have the highest levels of poverty and unemployment. In South Africa, the unemployment rate is nearly 30 per cent, with most of the population communally settled. Ostrich farming evidently contributes to social and economic developments in communities practicing it, with notable improvements in food security for the communities. As such, ostrich farming should be strongly considered in policies seeking to address important facets of people’s livelihoods, such as unemployment, economic empowerment, development, and other socioeconomic issues.

The three main marketable products from ostriches are the skin, meat and the feathers. Increasing the likelihood of chick survival is thus a vital prerequisite to ensure economically viable production of such products, and subsequently, profitability for ostrich farmers. Successful ostrich farming heavily depends on the production of sufficient numbers of viable chicks. This is of prime economic importance, particularly in ratite production. Ratite chicks reared intensively are affected by numerous welfare risks such as poor diets, extremes of environmental conditions, inappropriate feeding space, lack of trained stock personnel, poor water management, handling and transportation issues.