Goodness Grows In North Carolina
Emu Outline


Association Name Commodity History Regional Information Production
Packaging Shipping Buying Nutritional Information

I. Association Name: NC Emu Association

A. Commodity Represented
Emu

B. Types of Commodity
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 between 5 and 6 feet tall. Adult emus weigh about 110-150 pounds and are usually black and brown in color. Emus are a friendly, docile bird, living about 35 years and producing approximately 20 chicks a year for 20 years or more.

C. Is there a National Promotion Month for the Commodity? When?
July is the national promotion month for emu.

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II. Commodity History

A. North Carolina Background
1. Is the animal originally from NC? Where in NC? Was it brought here from another area/country originally? Where?
Emu is originally from Australia. Aborigines have used emu for their food, clothing, shelter and medicines for thousands of years.

2. When was it brought to NC?
Emu was first imported into the United States in the 1930's.

3. How was it brought to NC and by whom?
Unknown

4. Was it brought to a specific region? Is this the same region in which it is now mainly produced?
Unknown

B. Uses
1. How is it used?
Emu is used for food, and a variety of oil products such as arthritis rub, oil for burns and stings, shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, hair sprays, etc. Each emu can yield an average of 5 to 6 liters of deep-penetrating natural oil.

2. Has today's use changed from its original use/purpose?
Yes

3. If yes, how was it originally used and why was there a shift in use?
Originally emu was used only for oil. Now the oil is used in a multitude of products. 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.

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

C. Industry Changes
1. How has technology changed the industry? What are some of these improvements/changes?
Better nutrition information and practices are now used and there are more USDA slaughter facilities available.

2. How have the uses for the product changed over the years?
The oil is still what's in high demand, but there are an increasingly new amount of products it is used for (shampoo, lip balm, etc.).

3. Has consumption/use of the product increased/decreased? Why?
There is an increase in the use of emu because of the increased knowledge of what it can be used for.

D. Future Outlook
1. How is the industry changing currently?
The industry is going from a breeder industry to a commercial industry (slaughter market--selling emu for its meat).
Studies are also currently underway to fully determine the emu oil's benefits and applications.

2. Are there any future projects that would change how the industry is maintained?
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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III. Regional Information

A. Region
1. Where in the state is the commodity raised/produced?
Emu is raised all over North Carolina.

2. If more than one location, where is it the most abundant? The least abundant?
There are more emus being raised in the Piedmont and less raised on or around the Coast.

3. Why the difference in production from area to area?
The difference between production from area to area is the difference in the knowledge of emu. It appears that more people in the Piedmont are aware of the ins and outs of raising emu more than anywhere else in the state.

B. Weather Conditions
1. If the weather is inclement, where do animals go?
Most of the time the emus will sit down in the lot/field that they are in.

2. In emergency weather conditions (frosts, tornados, hurricanes) where do animals go?
Even during the worst of storms, emu will sit down in the lot/field. Most lots have a lean-to or three-sided shed for the emu to take shelter in, though this is no guarantee that they will use it.

3. In emergency weather conditions what precautions are taken? Are precautions usually preventative (advance) or reactive (as it occurs)?
None

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IV. Production

A. Housing
1. Are the animals kept indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors

2. Are they confined or let loose? Why?
Emu are let loose inside confined pastures or lots.

3. How are they housed?
Emu basically stay in the lot at all times, though most have access to a shed.

B. Food
1. What are they fed? How often or how much food do they need?
Emu are fed daily and some emu are free fed.

2. How does their diet affect production?
An improper diet causes less meat and fat in an emu.

C. Production Materials
1. Is there any special equipment used during the whole production process? If so what is it?
With no special equipment being used and with very little land required to raise emu (most farms average less than 15 acres), emu ranching is experiencing a growth as people are finding it rewarding and relatively easy to get into.

2. Are vaccinations used during production? What are the most common types? What are they for? Are they harmful to the animal or the end user?
Coastal breeders vaccinate for Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis which is a mosquito born viral disease.

D. Grading
1. Is there an inspection that the product must go through before being packaged/sold?
Emus must go through an inspection.

2. Is this inspection cunducted by county, state or national officials?
NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS) or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

3. What agency is responsible for the grading/testing and setting the standards?
USDA set the standards of grading.

4. How is the grading done? Is it for each individual piece, or per field, per farm, etc.?
Grading is done on an individual piece basis.

5. Give a basic breakdown of the scale used and what it means.

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V. Packaging

A. Is the product usually sold fresh, frozen, dried, etc.?
Emu meat is usually sold frozen.

B. If product is sold in a variety of ways what is the most common in NC?
In North Carolina emu meat is found in a variety of ways: ground, patties, steaks and breakfast sausage.

C. Is the product packaged? If so, how? (bags, boxes, bottles, etc)
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.

D. Why is it done this way? Is it economical, prevents bruising, industry standard or for shipping purposes, etc.?
It is done this way because the meat can stay fresh longer packed this way.

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VI. Shipping

A. Distribution
1. What is the most common method of distribution in your industry?
Emu meat is delivered in freezer containers.

2. Is the product sold mainly to retail, foodservice, wholesale, specialty outlets or a variety of outlets? What is the most common?
Emu meat can be found in a variety of outlets.

3. Does the product go to one place, then another before ending up on a grocery store shelf or restaurant? If yes, where does it go?
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 purchase.

4. Is the commodity exported? Domestically, internationally?
Some of the emu is being exported, but the majority of it remains in-state because it is still a new product.

5. What is the product used for? Are there different uses?
Emu meat is sold only for food while its hide is used for leather which is made into a variety of products (wallets, boots, etc.). Its oil is used in many products also (lotion, shampoo, etc.).

B. Transporting
1. How is the commodity normally transported (from farm to retail outlet)?
Emu are transported 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 to retail outlets.

2. Does the transportation vehicle require special features (refrigeration, etc.)?
The vehicle must have a freezer unit to keep the meat frozen.

3. Have methods of transportation changed over the years? (Before automobiles, etc. how was it transported?) Or has method of transportation stayed the same? And if so, how is it done?
Method of transportation hasn't really changed since the emu meat industry is so new.

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VII. Buying

A. When purchasing/inspecting the commodity (at the store) how do you know it is fresh?
When purchasing meat check its looks.

B. Is there a trick to buying and finding fresh product? (Smell, color etc.)
Make sure that there are no discolorations on the meat.

C. Labels
1. Is your product required to carry a label?
Emu meat must carry a label.

2. Is there an industry standard for the label, or is it individualized for each company/producer/grower?
Each grower/producer of emu has its own label.

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VIII. Nutritional Information

A. Food Pyramid
1. What group of the food pyramid does the commodity fall into?
Meat

2. Is there a recommended daily allowance of this?
Two to three servings

B. What nutrients are found in the commodity? How is this helpful?
Emu meat is a healthy alternative to beef for red meat. It is 97% fat free. Emu meat is also higher in protein, vitamin C and iron than beef and lower in cholesterol than chicken.

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