How To Raise Ostrich As Beginner
The ostrich aroused the imagination of the ancients from the earliest times onwards. We have known ostriches to be a part of Bushmen in ancient times as they provided them with food, clothing, utensils and adornment; though they endured persecution for their meat, skin, feathers and eggs.
Time evolves, now ostriches can be raised in homes under a watchful eye. Though when raised well they can be good for security in the homes kept but can pose danger to society. AS we all know how dangerous ostriches can be, it advisable that they are monitored at all times not in stalking way of monitoring.
We learnt from school about ostrich defence mechanism which may be deadly. So start out with a day old ostrich that can be easily tamed and their survival will be determined by the environment they are raised in.
Ostrich Classification And Description
The ostrich is the only living species belonging to the Struthionidae and it is the largest of living birds. Like most flightless birds, it is highly adaptable for a terrestrial life because of their long and powerful legs, with an elongated neck, making up for the considerable part of the bird height. Ostriches have unusually prominent eyes and long black eyelashes.
The ostrich has only two toes on each foot, the original third and fourth digits, of which the third is the largest. The reduction in the number of toes from the normal five is an adaptation to a predominantly running and walking mode of life, giving greater strength and thrust to the foot. The large inner toe and occasionally the smaller outer toe carry a powerful nail. In addition to locomotion, the legs are used for striking opponents and small predators, for scraping the ground, and for scratching the head.
Ostrich have a remarkable tolerance to heat; they can withstand temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius without much stress. They can be domesticated for either longer or short periods depending on the individual’s purpose of breeding the ostrich.
Ostriches can only be petted as adorable chicks but they quickly grow into bad tempered giants with sharp claws. They need patience when taming so they grow to know the family they are kept in and they can quickly adhere to the voice of the owner whey they start to misbehave.
When ostriches are threatened, they can either low on the ground so they are unnoticeable or they run away. If concerned, they will attack with a kick with its powerful legs. Do not be in their path because their flight speed is estimated to be 55 – 70km/h.
Since ostriches are the largest living birds, they are eggs are also the largest of any living bird.
Ostriches are found in a variety of open habitat. They avoid areas of thick bush or of heavy tree cover and rarely seek shade. They are totally diurnal, sitting down at dusk and remaining inactive throughout the night unless disturbed. They are on their feet for most of the daylight hours, except when dust bathing, resting or nesting. The chicks and juveniles are strictly gregarious (always remaining in compact groups); adults are less so.
Their feed consists mainly of plant matter which is shrubs, seeds, fruits and flowers. They also eat invertebrates (animals without backbone like insects, earthworms, aquatic animals, etc).
When ostrich are feeding on forage, make sure there is adequate clean water which is part of their daily maintenance ranged to be at 70 percent.
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Breeding Habits And Sounds
When exposed to environmental changes, the birds first try to modify adverse conditions or they leave to look for more suitable places for their needs.
Farming a particular species profoundly alters the natural selection process by providing the birds (or animals) with food and shelter and by partially or totally restricting their freedom of movement.
Depending on the new environment in which they are kept, farmed ostriches can, therefore, be very dependent on their housing system.
Ostriches have a variety of vocalizations, but they are normally silent. During the breeding season, territorial males produce a deep booming trisyllabic “ohh-oooh- ooooooo² with descending pitch at the end.
How To Raise Ostrich To attract females or against other males, the call is uttered mainly by day (especially early morning) but occasionally at night and can be audible up to 3 km away.
Other calls include a soft “booh” or “twoo”, which are possibly contact calls and may also be associated with anxiety and distraction displays.
In addition, hoarse guttural calls, “hurp”, hisses, beak snapping and stomach rumbling are produced in threat or aggression. Chicks in anxiety or distress utter entirely different, melodious, trilling “quirrn-quirmr” calls.
Before starting to construct ostrich facilities, a number of points need to be considered and addressed.
- Farm location – distance from traffic and industrial areas is an important factor to consider. Disturbances caused by heavy traffic, airports, factories, trains, etc. can affect the birds’ performance, particularly during breeding. Overhead high-voltage cables can emit electromagnetic radiation.
- Land topography – Hilly, mountainous, sloping, rocky or steep ground is not suitable since ostriches prefer flat open terrain. Excessive tree covering can be a problem and also attracts wild birds. Sandy soil is best for efficient water drainage. Ground should be cleared of nails, screws, wires, holes, etc.
- Availability of water and electricity supply.
- Positioning of buildings.
- Design of facilities – facilities should be designed to allow ample room for manoeuvring vehicles and trailers.
Bedding Materials For Adult And Chick Ostriches
Various bedding materials are or have been used in ostrich operations throughout the world; some are elaborate and some are quite simple.
A bare concrete floor is not practical for chicks or young birds since it is hard, cold, retains moisture and germs, and is abrasive on chicks’ feet. If rough, it is difficult to clean and if smooth, it becomes too slippery in the presence of any small amount of moisture or dirt.
Similarly, a dirt (soil) floor is not practical since it is virtually impossible to clean, retains odours and can easily lead to ammonia build-up. Dirt floors also become dangerously slippery when the soil is mixed with faeces and urine.
Removable floor materials such as artificial turf, carpets and rubber mats have also been used. High quality artificial turf and grass-like carpets are expensive and tediously difficult to clean.
Rubber mats are reasonably priced and appear to provide good flooring with ease of cleaning. However, the surface of the rubber sheets should not be too smooth.
One of the latest types of flooring for ostrich chicks is heated floor pads. These combine rubber sheets (or other types of matting) and a heating element to keep chicks dry and warm.
Needless to say, the cost of these systems is high, but so is the survival rate of the chicks. There is also a significant saving in traditional heating sources. A combination of different types of flooring and bedding materials has also been used.
Fencing should be at least 150 cm high for birds up to 12 months and 165-170 cm for older birds. It must be:
- easily seen by the birds;
- strong enough to withstand birds colliding with it;
- resilient enough not to injure the birds;
- free from projections and sharp parts;
- be of a type that a bird’s head or legs cannot become trapped.