Emu Or Ostrich For Beginner Ratite Keeper?

Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by Feather Hearts, May 21, 2019.

  1. Feather Hearts

    Feather Hearts Crowing

    Oct 4, 2016
    Northland, New Zealand
    So my biggest question is emu or ostrich and why? My mom prefers ostriches as we went to this private sculpture park and the ostriches were so friendly, but I'm leaning towards emu. I mean, emu seem more manageable size wise, I'm pretty confident around larger animals (my parents own cows and bulls and horses) and have enough room for them (24 acres, fully fenced). I've been doing as much research as I can, but there's not very much out there to compare the two.
    So I do have a few emu questions:

    I've incubated chicken, duck, turkey, japanese quail and button quail eggs before, all with hatch rates in th 90% range, so would you suggest I incubate the eggs or buy live chicks. I'm a pretty impatient person, so the waiting would be torture, but I feel if you have the chick from hatch the connection/bond with them might be stronger? Is this true?

    There is no available pre-made ratite feed in the country I live in unless I buy it in two pound bags and get it shipped to me. I could do a drive down every month to get larger quantities, but I'm not sure my parents will be willing to pay fuel costs. So is there any mixture that would be suitable, would all flock work?

    What kind of fencing is needed, I watch a youtube channel (called White House On The Hill) and their emus are kept in by a standard electric netting fence. The fences on our property are pretty secure, but not that tall, so would they need a more enclosed area?

    What do emu need in terms of shelter? I'm not a great builder, but I can get my parents to help me.

    How long do they need heat for, and what kind of heating would you reccomend? I have heat lamp, a brinsea ecoglow and a hot water thing that I used to brood a lone chick once.

    Can you keep one emu? I'm going back to homeschooling next year (after spending a year away from my chicken babies, in the city) so I will have all the time in the world to spend with my animals. So would one emu on its own be more tame and/or docile? Could I raise it alongside a chicken/duck or turkey?

    So yeah thats all of my questions, if anyone could help me out that would be awesome!
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi

    Mar 27, 2012
    My Coop
    Emus over ostriches. They are smaller, so they are more manageable, and they are friendlier and less aggressive.

    If you want to make sure you actually get emus, buy chicks. Eggs are a gamble. You can't even make sure they are alive until they start wiggling, which is on day 35 at the earliest usually, and some never wiggle and still hatch, so sometimes you really don't know until you've left the egg in the incubator for 60 days and it didn't hatch.

    But hatching is fun, so if you're willing to take the gamble that you don't end up with any emus, then it's a cool thing to do. I've hatched all of mine, but out of 14 eggs, I hatched four chicks. The eggs were also shipped, so that's a factor too.

    There are some mixtures you can use. I think it's usually a mixture of layer feed and rabbit pellets that people who can't get ratite feed use.

    Electric fences don't really phase emus. If they're staying in electric fencing, it's because it's either too tall for them to go over it, or they've never tried getting out. I have seen an emu shoot right through electric horse fencing without feeling a thing.

    You want a fence that's strong, but has some give, because sometimes they will get running and bounce off the fence. I'd recommend making the fencing at least six feet tall, because they can absolutely get over anything shorter if they want to.

    They don't need a lot. A small barn/run-in type thing will be sufficient. As long as they have room in it to get out of the weather and not be overcrowded.

    They need heat for awhile as babies. I usually just judge based on how mine are doing. I use a heat lamp, because they are rapidly too big for a heat plate brooder. My current babies from this year are now approaching ten weeks old, and I still have a heat lamp available to them, if they want to use it. It still gets chilly at night here, so they still use it.

    It is always recommended to keep at least two emus. They don't always travel in mobs in the wild, but it is best for them to have a companion of their own kind. My older female is very sweet and tame, and she grew up with a hatchmate.
    CarpCharacin likes this.
  3. Feather Hearts

    Feather Hearts Crowing

    Oct 4, 2016
    Northland, New Zealand
    Awesome thank you for this advice, it's really helpful!
    Pyxis likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: