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The Bird

The ostrich is a member of the ratite family, flightless birds. There are three breeds of ostrich; blue, red, and African Black. The ostrich is the largest living bird. The adult male can grow taller than 8 feet and weigh up to 450 pounds. They can run up to 40 mph and live up to 80 years in the wild.

Ostrich farming began in South Africa. Early demand for the bird was for its feathers. The industry declined in the early 1900's as the popularity of feathers declined. In the late 1940's revitalization began as the demand for ostrich leather increased and meat became a viable product causing the industry to grow into a multimillion-dollar business. South Africa had a monopoly and was the only country in the world with enough birds to participate in this industry growth until US farmers began raising birds in the mid 1980's.

Ostrich are highly adaptable to almost any climate and they require only about 1/3 to ½ acre per adult pair. The young chicks grow 10-12 inches per month for about six months. Ostrich require no routine shots, have virtually no odor and are not noisy or aggressive unless threatened.

The female ostrich will lay up to approximately 40 eggs during the breeding season. The egg requires 42 days of incubation, using a low humidity. In the wild the male and female ostrich will set the nest. One ostrich egg can weigh between 3 to 4 pounds average with some even larger.

The ostrich is territorial. The males are more aggressive during the breeding season.



NCDA&CS Markets Division, Joe Sanderson, Director
Mailing Address: 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1020
Physical Address: 2 W. Edenton Street, Room 402, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3100; FAX: (919) 733-0999