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  • latest reply 1 year ago

1 year ago

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I'm considering getting a pair of the critters. We do have farm market customers who have indicated they would buy emu products if they were offered. But my immediate goal is just to see if we like them enough to get into them on a more moderate scale. The coyote problem in our county is to the point where I'm drawing plans to construct 6 foot welded wire runs for the valuable breeding chicken flocks I own. It would be easy enough to make a couple pens big enough for emus to run. Looks like I can order commercial ratite feed from a local feed store or potentially have the mill I use do a custom grind.

Anyone own any emu that could give me the pros and cons?

NoraWI says 2017-02-22 05:33:17 (CST)

Not my own experience. There was an "emu fad" here in southwestern Wisconsin some 20 years ago. Several friends went heavily into raising these birds. Even though my view was from the outside, I can tell you several things that contributed to the demise of the industry.

The high fencing was an expensive proposition with which you, apparently won't have a problem as you already own the materials.

The eggs were a valuable commodity with artists who both carved and etched interesting designs on the double walled and colored shells. There definitely was a market for that.

The fat was a plus. My friends ultimately made more on the emu fat that was sold for making lotions and cosmetics than they ever made on the meat.

Slaughter was a problem. It became the ultimate problem because the slaughter house that handled the emus shut down. One friend ended up with 150 emus without any way to dispose of them.

Wrong cooking instructions given to purchasers was an immense problem because no second sales were made. Emu meat is not marbled and should be handled like venison... lightly cooked, not over-cooked as people were instructed to do. The meat became hard as jerky, not tender at all.

The investment in freezer space was costly, especially as the stockpile of frozen meat increased.

There were probably other factors as well in the actual raising and handling the birds which I don't know. There are no more emu being raised around here.

I view this as just one of the farming fads that sometimes appear. Those who enter into it initially sell breeding pairs for extraordinary money. When the area is as saturated as it will get, they get out and leave the others to create a market for themselves. Not to say that there aren't still a few left out there who have managed to find that niche and are continuing to fill the demand. Farmers are usually doers and not very good at marketing. From what I observed over the years, these fads have included emu, ostrich, llamas, miniature horses, alpacas, and a few others. They become extremely popular but their popularity curve usually takes an abrupt dive a few years down the line due to the fact that the market had not previously been researched nor developed. My advice to you is to find the niche market first, then fill it at the least startup cost you can.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Todd NE WY says 2017-02-22 08:59:42 (CST)

Very wise words Nora. We had the Emu/Ostrich fad here in WY about that same 20 year time frame ago as well. You still see remnants of the high fences, etc but no birds. It ended here just like you said, almost a here today gone tomorrow type of thing.


1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-02-22 09:56:47 (CST)

Nora, you hit the nail on the head. What you are saying pretty much covers all aspects of farming where it is not protected by subsidies. Know your market before you invest!!! I wish farmers all over the country could have such wise advice!
The old adage " Build and they'll come " may have worked in some sectors of the economy, but " grow/raise and they will buy" has never worked that well.
Your words of experience show how valuable this forum can be for people who visit regularly!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wanderosa says 2017-02-22 21:29:12 (CST)

If Project Flightless Birdie ever gets off the ground (ha!) I don't ever see it going beyond 4 emu at a time unless droves of people beat down my door looking for emu products. I have a woman who teaches Russian egg art that is a regular customer of the exotic colored chicken eggs I raise. She has expressed a desire for emu eggs and doesn't bat an eye at the potential cost. Based on my average customer profile the market for meat, oil, and hides would likely be a small but steady niche. Just selling a few of the chicks and hatching eggs looks like it could at least make a dent in the feed bill.

I need to do more extensive research on this, but emu meat may be non-amenable in Virginia. Bison is, oddly enough.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

G.D.Rose says 2017-02-23 10:01:42 (CST)

One thing that was a common problems with these birds in my area (northwest Nebraska) was their toes freezing off in the winter. The couple of people I know of had sheds for them go into and out side runs but the toes couldn't handle the snow and the cold.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2017-02-24 06:49:59 (CST)

On a small scale, it may work for you. Another plus that I remember my friend commenting on was that one emu egg made an omelet for twelve! :)

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Koty says 2017-02-24 07:13:26 (CST)

I'm told that in Texas, 15 to 20 years ago, there were literally hundreds of Emu and Ostrich turned loose to roam because there was no slaughter facility, and no market. Farmers lost their shirts!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Sharon Anderson says 2017-02-24 08:19:26 (CST)

No personal experience with the market...but, this brought back a memory of those years of the prior fad...
At the time, we lived on a very rural, country road in Ga...the road had several branches that forked off, with all being dead end...going back in the woods about 5-6 miles. Neighbors were few, but known...nearest about a mile away.
One day, one of them...a VERY well educated young woman, that worked from home, as a court reporter, called me frantic!! "Sharon, I know you have chickens...have some of them gotten out?" I told her, no...She went on to say,"Could you please come down to my house? I've got the biggest chicken, that I've ever seen, in my back yard and I'm afraid to go outside!" When I asked her how big...she told me, it was up to her waist!! I drove over, thinking she was hallucinating, drinking...something!! Of course, when I pulled up, I saw the emu, wandering around her house!!
Come to find out...a farmer, about 3-4 miles in the other direction, had bought into the fad, 2 years before. The market ended, he sold many of them, but had 5-6 left over...couldn't sell them, so he turned them loose in the area!!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wanderosa says 2017-02-28 16:25:55 (CST)

A dear friend of mine is an ER nurse at a hospital in rural southern VA. She told me about a patient she triaged that had puzzling slash-puncture wounds all over his upper body. They were so odd looking that she thought they surely must be self-inflicted. Hand on the phone to call for a psych consult, she asked the patient what happened. His wife started laughing so hard she had to leave the room. The man explained that he had had one too many to drink and decided to wrestle with the family's pet emu like it was a dog. "They don't appreciate that," he mused.

As far as she knows, my friend is the only one at her hospital to ever have to fill out an "emu attack" report for the local health department. lol.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Jonathan Shively says 2017-03-03 08:11:04 (CST)

If you buy an emu, they are not like chickens. Have to have a pair to get eggs. Also they are a big bird and do consume a good quantity of feed. Fly tiers love their feathers so that is another market to sell to. They cannot kick back like a horse, they kick forward and that middle toe nail will gut you. Grab them by their wings with your chest against their back side and guide them where you want them to go. Easiest way to maneuver them. If you can drive your team or ride your horse past an emu in a pen, there isn't much that will bother those horses. They are very intimidating with their snake like movements of their head as well as their sideways eyelids.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Uncle Jed says 2017-03-05 13:24:25 (CST)

"'They don't appreciate that." he mused."' Gotta love that! Goes along with, Watch this! Here, hold my beer. Thanks for the laugh!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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