Emu questions: Feed, Fencing, and raising a single bird?

Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by QueenMisha, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Hi there everybody. I'm looking into hopefully getting an emu chick next spring, if all goes well, and I've got a couple questions about them.

    The first is feed. What protein % should they have as chicks, juveniles, and adults? What about calcium? What ages should they transition to their juvenile & adult feeds? I'm planning on raising them with my multi species chicken/turkey/guinea/peafowl/waterfowl flock. That flock is currently feed a mixture of 22% turkey grow, 20% flock raiser, and 16% (low calcium) rooster mix, with a bit of oyster shell offered in a seperate but nearby feeder. Will I need to make it so the the emu cannot get to the chicken's feed, or can they eat this mixture?

    I use Bar Ale feeds. The only ratite feed they have is a "18% Ratite Maintenance Pellet." What life stage would this be used for? What should I use for the other ages? Can any kind of chicken feeds be substituted? (I'd really prefer to stick with Bar Ale feeds if possible. I work at a BA dealer so it's significantly cheaper for me).

    Second is fencing. Some sources say 6 foot is necessary; others say 5. Mine is a 5, it's welded deer/garden fencing. The squares are 2x4 inch. Not terribly strong but it stands up when my turkeys bounce against it. It does eventually begin to fall apart if it gets daily wear (found this out when I used it for a couple of gates) but can be fixed somewhat easily with zip ties. As for the run itself, it's L-shaped, and about 4,000 sq. ft. (That's an estimate. I've never properly measured it. Suffice to say, it's big.) The coop, on the other hand, is 16x16 foot, with a 6-7 foot sloped roof. Plywood and cattle panel design to protect from bears. Dirt floor with deep litter pine shavings. Anything sounding terribly inappropriate for emus? Any suggestions for fencing or improvements?

    The chicken run borders on the garden. There are a few bushes and small trees within a foot or two of the fence on the inner sides of the L-Shape. Should I expect to see the emu leaning on these areas, trying to get to the plants? How would you suggest I reinforce the area if so?

    The third question. I would like to raise a very friendly emu. I also am hoping to keep only one. If it's raised with lots of human interaction, and gets used to having only chicken companions, will it be alright? Is it possible it will develop any human aggression? I also read that males are often friendlier than females. Is this still true if it is raised on it's own?
  2. Kingheman

    Kingheman Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2014
    Wow, these are alot of questions! I can't answer them all at once, but I can help you go through and answer them bit by bit.

    We have 4, 6 and 8 ft fences. They jump the 4 & 6 foot fences if stressed. It's only happened when two ganged up on the third and he had to flee. Once we split them up into no more than two males per pen, they haven't jumped any fences.

    What kind of plants? They have gone crazy for the herbs - those I put a 4 ft garden fence around. The shrubs and blueberry patch (when not fruiting) have been left alone completely.

    Anything within a foot of the fence will be tromped through. They walk fence lines and will make a dirt path all the way around. I like it, because it's completely eliminated the ivy/grasses/etc around my fences.

    The feed we get is from southern states, and it's the same grower mix used for turkeys. They will eat whatever they can get their beaks on, so you may want to consider seperating.

    One thing you didn't ask about, but comes up when reading some of your other questions, is cohabitation. Our baby emu loved his chicken friends, but as they grew up the Emu became hazardous to chicken health. Emus are incredibly NOT graceful and, as they got bigger than the chickens and would get excited and sprint around, they trampled chickens more than once. We thought perhaps the chickens would catch on and avoid the emus, but that never happened. We lost one and ended the cohabitation experiment. All good with dogs, alpacas and pigs though!

    Hope you enjoy your Emu adventure!
  3. Kingheman

    Kingheman Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2014
    oh, and yay for northern california! I'm from Ophir :)
  4. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Alright, well I do only plan on having one, so I imagine that the fences should be OK. There is one short length of 4 foot fence along the garden, but I plan on tearing that out and putting in 5 or 6 foot prior to getting the bird.

    The plants near the fence include young fruit trees (apple and pear I believe), a pomegranate bush/tree, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

    Thankfully the only thing on their side of the fence is some mountain misery I would be glad to get rid of.

    My birds actually get majority turkey grower feed, so that might go nicely. It's usually mixed about 1/2 bag 16% fancy rooster mix, 2 bags 22% turkey grow, 1 bag 20% non-med chick start, and sometimes some 16% layer pellet thrown in if I got a torn bag for cheap. Plus a bit of oyster shell.

    I can't say I'm too worried about the chickens. They currently cohabitate with some 40+ pound turkeys, who do the exact same thing, except the kicking is often intentional. They have learned to keep out of the way; they also have a large (takes up about 1/4 of the pen, ,maybe 50 foot long) grove of manzanita trees, which I doubt an emu could even get into. Most of the chickens spend their days inside this grove, also because the turkeys rarely enter it. Granted I would probably have to raise my yearly Cornish Cross somewhere else, since they would no doubt be trampled. I'm putting in a separate turkey/large gamebird pen this winter, so that may be where my meat birds are raised as well.

    Also, what sorts of waterers and feeders do they require? Are they able to drink and eat from the basic hanging plastic feeders and 5 gal. basin chicken waterers?
  5. clark-farm

    clark-farm Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 18, 2013
    As a start would never just have one bird, they will just pace the fence all day long and be lonely. In my experience they are an animal that requires others of its species to survive happily.

    Also for feed, I find chicks will devour layers and growers.
    The adults I have will only eat the larger nuts so I use sow breeder nut or pony nut, pony is the cheapest to use and contains nearly identical minerals as ostrich food which all mine including rhea hate.

    And fencing, standard 3 ft stock fence doubled so it's 6 ft high will be ok but they tend to fight against fencing and hurt legs so I ran 1 inch chicken wire tight to the bottom section to stop legs going through the gaps.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by