Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Beyond hens: Emu Farming

Native to Australia, these soft-feathered and flightless birds are mostly farmed for their meat, oil and leather. Emu meat is considered to be low on fat and cholesterol. Its fat is used to produce oil for cosmetics, dietary supplements and therapeutic products. The feathers and eggs of emus are used for arts and crafts purposes and emu leather is used in combination with other leathers to make items like wallets and shoes.

"Emu" sting facts

Average Life Span: 10-20 years
Sexual Maturity: 2 to 3 years
Breeding Years: 25+ years
Mating Season: November to March
Eggs per Year: 10-60
Incubation Period: 48 to 52 days
Emu Products: Eggs, meat, oil, feathers, leather


Whether being farmed in Australia, the United States, China or India, emus can survive in a variety of climates. One of the biggest advantages of farming this bird is its excellent feed conversion ratio. An emu can reach up to 2 meters in height and around 65 kg in weight, and yet its annual feed intake does not exceed more than 600 kg. Besides this, emus have a hatchability rate of more than 80% and a chick mortality rate of less than 10%. They are even immune to bird flu!

Another advantage is the fact that it requires very minimal investment in facilities and land area. Research shows that around 68% of the investment has to be made in purchase of breeding stock. The rest of the investments go on the farm and hatchery. Feeding cost per breeding pair per annum was estimated to be Rs. 3,600.

According to the Emu Farmers Association, there are currently around 900 emu farms across fourteen states in the country, with a majority of them in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Most of the income is generated through the eggs, which can fetch you somewhere around Rs 600 to 1000 per egg in the market. Since a pair of chicks can cost as much as Rs 15,000, farmers are hesitant to sell emu meat, even though it can be sold for anywhere between Rs 300-750 per kg.

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