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Ostriches

Ostriches

Ostrich

They lay colossal eggs (weighing up to 2 kilos and 25 cm long, diameter 15 cm), are native to Africa, said to be very shy and, although they are the largest birds on earth, do not fly. They are called 'Struthio Camelus', but are known to friends as ostriches, and although it may be hard to believe, are easy to come across in Europe.

Though they cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners. They can sprint up to 43 miles (70 kilometres) an hour and run over distance at 31 miles (50 kilometres) an hour. They may use their wings as "rudders" to help them change direction while running. An ostrich's powerful, long legs can cover 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) in a single stride. These legs can also be formidable weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill a human or a potential predator like a lion. Each two-toed foot has a long, sharp claw.
Adult males stand 2.4 m tall and can weigh well over 100 kg; the hen is slightly smaller.

Since ancient times, ostriches have aroused people's interest. Apart from being hunted for their flesh and plumes, ostriches were kept in captivity, tamed and semi domesticated by the early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Egyptians and Roman women of noble birth rode ostriches on ceremonial occasions. There are descriptions in Tutankhamen's tomb of the king hunting the birds with a bow and arrow; a privilege that apparently was kept for the Pharaohs. In the Arabian Peninsula, ostriches were hunted for their meat, while their skin was used to make protective clothing. Unlike those of other birds' feathers, the barbs of the ostrich feather are equally long on both sides of the central shaft. This is why the ostrich feather was adopted in ancient Egypt as a symbol of justice and truth.

The first commercial ostrich farm was established in South Africa in about 1860 solely for harvesting the feathers every six to eight months. Ostrich farms began to spread gradually to other countries, particularly Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Argentina, until the total number of ostriches raised commercially reached over 1 million by 1913. With the First and Second World Wars, however, the ostrich feather market crashed and the number of ostrich farms dropped significantly. By keeping ostriches not only for their feathers but also for their meat and hides, it grew steadily thereafter. The world ostrich industry had finally begun and continues to grow steadily.

Today, ostrich farms are considered to be among the most profitable agricultural projects. They are often referred to as "the farms of the future" because of the large variety of possible products and hence their high profit potential. Ostriches are raised commercially for their meat, hide and feathers.

Feathers

Ostrich feathers are used for cleaning fine machinery and equipment as well as for decorations and in the fashion industry. The quality of feathers produced from ostriches raised in Europe and North America differs from those produced in Africa. The best feathers come from the more arid regions of the world.

Meat

Ostriches produce red meat that is very similar in taste and texture to veal and beef depending on the age at which they are slaughtered. It is high in protein yet low in fat.

The ostrich meat is far better from the health point of view as it contains far less fat, and particularly less cholesterol, than other types of meat. Lately, with greater consumer awareness of the problems of high cholesterol levels in the blood and the possible association with increased incidences of heart attacks and cardiovascular difficulties, the demand for ostrich meat in the international markets has been growing. The latest statistics show that current ostrich meat production is not enough to meet the increasing demand, whether in Europe, North America or Japan. It is expected that during the next decade, ostrich meat may gradually replace traditional types of meat. It is currently marketed in a variety of ways, including cold cuts, frankfurters, pâté, fillet steaks and sun-dried (jerky or biltong), in addition to fresh meat.

Hide

Ostrich skin (hide) is considered to be one of the most luxurious leathers, and some even place it on a par with crocodile and snake skin. Ostrich leather is thick, durable and extremely soft and can be manufactured into a variety of products, such as shoes, bags, purses and jackets.

In addition to their meat, skin and feathers, ostriches are being explored for medical and medicinal purposes. The tendons of the ostrich leg are used to replace torn tendons in humans as they are long and strong enough for the human leg, and recent research in ophthalmology points to the possible use of ostrich eyes in corneal transplants. Ostriches are able to see clearly for over 12 km, and the cornea is large enough to be trimmed down to fit the human eye. Furthermore, the ostrich brain produces a substance that is being studied for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

Believe it

or not, ostrich meat is also a well-known aphrodisiac.
Even the feet can be used for profit. They are actually ground into a very fine dust and then sold as an aphrodisiac to people in the Far East.

Comparison of Ostrich Meat

Species Description Protein % Fat
Grams
Calories Iron
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Ostrich Cut Composite 26.9 3.0 142 3.2 83
Chicken Whole (no skin) 28.9 7.4 190 1.2 89
Turkey Whole (no skin) 29.3 5.0 170 1.8 76
Beef Retail Composite 29.9 9.3 211 3.0 86
Pork Retail Composite 39.3 9.7 212 1.1 86
Veal Retail Composite 31.9 6.6 196 1.1 118
Duck Meat Only 23.5 11.2 201 2.7 89
Deer Meat Only 30.2 3.2 158 4.5 112

Source: USDA Ag handbook 8 – except ostrich data obtained by Texas A&M University (avg of ten major muscles – study done 1993 & 1996)

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Last modified onSunday, 10 May 2015 08:37
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