Ailing emu- any help appreciated


Jan 27, 2021
I have a pair of emu, both 5 years old. Over the summer my boy was running from a butterfly and hit the mud and slid. He had a slight limp but nothing more that. (The vet suggested he might have pulled something similar to a human when they slip) Never had any other problems with them until now. I went out to check them in the dark about three weeks ago. They were both in the barn. It was low thirties with a snow rain mix and it was windy. My male was huddled in the corner shaking. When I put my hand under his feathers his skin was cold. So I brought him into the outbuilding that I keep at 50 degrees all winter and I have him isolated and on straw. Once he warmed up he was eating well. I'm feeding him 16% layer pellets (as advised by the man I got them from and both emu have been on since they got off starter)A week in and now he is now hardly eating. He does, but its a lot less then than it was. He still drinks, although I feel its less than normal (however I also am completely worried) He lets me pet him, but if I startle him he trembles hard. His limp is far more pronounced. My vet isn't returning my phone calls now and I am struggling to find another one that knows what an emu is.
Is there anything I can do?

There is no discharge on his eyes or beak.
No sores
access to food and water 24/7
No swollen legs toes or muscles that I can feel.
Knees and hips both have standard range of motion
No lacerations that I can see or feel

the pen is about 50'x100'
the pair got along- I have a motion camera set up to observe them (originally for their antics) so in the last couple years they have gotten along wonderfully

Does anyone have any kind of advice?

matt swenson

Feb 1, 2019
Cape Cod
you said he's not eating. is your female eating? both my emus barely eat this time of year, so the not eating might be typical behavior. I call this time the "winter fasting" and i think it's all part of their breeding behavior. however, even though they arn't eating dry pellet feed my emus will still munch down cut up apples and greens. so maybe try that, if your're worried about him not eating.
i feed my birds ratite proformance pellets from Poulin. it is 23% protein and has a bunch of other like lisine and methionine. i dont think you have to feed ratite feed but i think that 16% is low. not saying that's your problem but could be a factor.
this time of year my male gets extra aggressive, from the breeding hormones. sometimes he lashes out at fences and buildings, other creatures, and even me. i've seen my male try to attack a guniea hen through the fence. so maybe your bird injued it's self in that manner.
also i'm wonderif being apart from his mate is also infuencing your males behavior. Emus get really weird when there hormones are up. like i said, mine dont eat, my male gets agressive, but he also tries to court me, which makes it really strange to deal with. Somedays he wants to "make love" and other times he tries to attack, and there is no way to predict what he'll do on a given day.
I know this isn't really advice, but you have covered the major bases ...eyes, stool, wounds, etc.. so i'm thinking it may all be homone related.

just reread your post, you said his skin was cold under the feathers. my birds are never cold. does the snow stay on their backs or does it melt off? ranchers use this to determine if cattle are under weight. if the snow melts the animls lack the layer of fat that insulated them and the snow melts off. that could co back to using 16% feed. maybe that enough to maintain a healthy bird but not enough to put on winter fat.
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Jan 27, 2021
Thank you for your response! I forgot about the winter fast in my worry. My hen is hardly eating either, but I think because my boy was shaking my panic hit. I don't know about the snow melting. They both sleep in the barn. They always have since the beginning. I'll check out a higher protein food and see if that makes the difference.

I had him out in the big pen today with the hen and he ran for a couple laps but I put him back into the outbuilding with for the night.
He still stands with his foot in the air. He let me check his foot without injury to either of us, nothing that I can see is lodged or cut. Is it possible that there is a muscle sprain that he needs time to heal? I also read about their legs can turn out. Is this something I should worry about with him limping as he is?

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