Professor Scarecrow Emus

Types History Production Shipping Nutrition
Vocabulary Quiz


Emus are a growing commodity in North Carolina. The North Carolina Emu Association is working with emu breeders to increase the supply and the quality of emus. In July, which is national emu month, they work especially hard to make people aware of the bird and what it can be used for.

There is basically one type of emu breed. Emus are a ratite, flightless bird, and are related to other flightless birds such as ostriches and rheas. Most emus are about 6 to 8 inches tall at birth and by the time they are adults they range beween five and six feet tall. Adult emus weigh about 110 to 150 pounds and are usually black and brown in color. Emus are a friendly, docile bird, living about 35 years and producing about twenty chicks a year for twenty years of more.

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Emu originally came from Australia. Aborigines who lived there used the emu for their food, clothing, shelter and medicines for thousands of years. Emu was first imported or brought to the United States in the 1930's.

Originally emu was used only for oil. Now the oil is used in lots of products and not just by itself as it used to be. Today their meat, oil, hide, feathers and other products are in demand. Emu oil is a complex, primitive oil that is non-toxic, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. It is an excellent moisturizer and emollient, soothing and softening the skin. The oil has also been known to treat muscle aches, sore joints, inflammation and swelling. It also used an as arthritis rub, oil for burns and stings, shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, hair sprays, etc. Each emu can yield an average of five to six liters of deep-penetrating natural oil.

Emu leather is also used in the fashion industry. It is made into clothing, purses, boots and other accessories.

Technology has changed the industry by providing useful nutrition information. Breeders now feed the emu better based upon this information and new practices are used to keep the emus healthy. There are also more regulated USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) slaughter facilities available. Because of this, many more people want to use the oil, hide, feathers and meat of the emu in their products than ever before.

The emu industry is changing everyday. It is moving away from a breeder industry to a commercial industry, mainly a slaughter market. This means that more and more people are using the emu for its meat than just having the emus to use for its oil. Studies are being done to fully understand the emu oil's benefits and all of its uses. Since emu meat is still a new product to many people, it is necessary to do a lot of promotions and advertising for it to increase people's awareness.

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Emu is raised all over North Carolina. There are more emus being raised in the Piedmont and less raised on or around the Coast. The difference between production from area to area is the difference in the knowledge of emu. It appears tht more people in the Piedmont are aware of the ins and outs of raising emu more than anywhere else in the state. This may change as the industry grows and more and more people become educated in owning and raising emu.

Emus are kept outside on a large lot or field. Usually there is a three-sided shed or lean-to which the emu can go into to get away from the sun or rain. Most of the time if it does begin to rain, the emu just sit down in the field that they are in. Even during the worst of storms, emu will sit down in the field, ormay go into the shed.

Emu are large animals and require a proper diet. Emu are fed daily. Some breeders measure out the proper amount of feed for each emu and set it out for each one. Some emu are free fed. This means that feed is put into a large bowl or trough and the animal feeds itself from this. It is important that emu have the right food. An improper diet causes them to have less meat and fat.

Breeders don't use any special equipment when raising emu. Because of this, they require very little land. The average emu farm is less than fifteen acres. The only thing that is used is vaccinations. Coastal breeders do vaccinate their emu to protect it against infections. Emu ranching is experiencing a growth as people are finding it rewarding and relatively easy to get into.
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In North Carolina the emu go from the farm to the slaughter house where the bird is made into a meat product. From here the emu goes to the Tarheel Emu Cooperative who helps to market the product. From here the meat goes to a broker who does the actual selling of the product to the supermarkets, restaurants, etc. Once the broker sells the meat it can be found in a retail outlet for people to buy. Some of the emu is being exported, but the majority of it remains in-state because it is still a new product.

When emu leave the farm it is carried in a horse trailer behind a car/truck to a slaughter house. After the emu is in a ready-to-eat form, it is transported in trucks. These trucks must have a freezer unit to keep the meat frozen. Since the industry is so new, this is how it has always been done.

Once the emu leave the farm and before the meat is packaged, emus must go through an inspection. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will do the inspection. The USDA sets the standards for emu grading. Each emu is graded separately from the rest.

Once the meat is packaged, it is ready to be shipped. Emu meat is delivered in freezer containers to a variety of outlets. Most emu meat is usually sold frozen. In North Carolina emu meat is found in a variety of ways: ground, patties, steaks and breakfast sausage. The meat is vacuum-packed to make sure that it stays fresh. Vacuum-packed means that the product is sealed with no air inside the package. It is done this way because the meat can stay fresh longer packed this way.

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When you go to buy emu meat make sure to look at the meat. Make sure that there are no discolorations on the meat. Remember to check the label. All emu meat must carry a label. Each breeder of emu has its own label.

Emu is another choice for people to make when eating from the meat group of the food pyramid. It is recommended that people eat two to three servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts daily. Emu meat is a healthy alternative to beef for red meat. It is 97% fat free. It is also higher in protein, Vitamin C and iron than beef and lower in cholesterol than chicken.

Emu are a great choice for eating and for using in lots of products. Make sure to look at the items you buy from the grocery store like hair spray, lotion and lip balm to see if it contains emu oil. And remember that Goodness Grows In North Carolina!!

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1. docile: manageable and obedient; easily taught things
2. primitive: simple; how it is at first without any changes
3. emollient: something that softens or soothes, especially the skin
4. anti-bacterial: kills bacteria (germs)
5. anti-inflammatory: acts against imflammations which are when part of your body has redness, swelling or pain due to an injury or infection (sickness)
6. anti-microbial: capable of destroying the growth of microorganisms which is a plant or animal so small you need to look at it under a microscope to see it.
7. non-toxic: not poisonous

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