HELP! New Emu chick questions

Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by kimcurnow, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. kimcurnow

    kimcurnow New Egg

    Feb 22, 2013

    We just picked up 3 emu chicks today. One DNA tested male and two unknowns. We will have those 2 tested soon. They are approximately 3-4 weeks old. I have done research, but I am confused about some things.

    I can't get them to eat or drink. We just got them home a couple hours ago, so maybe they're just stressed but I'm very worried about them! What should I use for their feed and water? I forgot to ask "the hatcher" what he was using.

    We are raising them as pets and want to make them very tame, so they are in the house with us for as long as possible. The man we got them from ("the hatcher" should I call him?) still had them in a large box in his bathroom. They have not been outside yet.

    He told us he was feeding them chick crumbles, I believe, but we have Flock Raiser for our other birds and he said if we fed that it would be fine. Is it okay to feed them Flock raiser? And what do I feed them in? They don't seem to know what anything is, and they just trip all over everything. Another thing, I can't get them to drink. Currently they are in a large dog crate with a towel on the bottom. I also covered the crate to make them feel safer. I hung a small measuring cup over the side of the wire for water, and the same for their food. We will have them out of the crate quite often and will probably put a dog exercise pen in the living room to keep them in (for a bit until they outgrow it or i get tired of the poop smell!), just as we did with our geese. I got very tired of that quickly, because dang are they messy! When I had the geese in there I was using doggie pee pads, but I went through them like crazy. It was really expensive, but much better than rinsing out and washing a hundred towels a day.

    We will eventually move them outside, but I'm not sure where yet. The barn? The back patio? The shed where the chickens are? I have a chick brooder I made out of a kitchen cabinet that is fairly large, but I'm sure they'll outgrow it quickly.

    Any advice is much appreciated! I'll post pictures as soon as I have a few extra mintues away from these babies! I thought 3 was a good idea because I'm always worried when I have 2 of something that something will happen to one of them and the lone one left will be lonely. The more the merrier I always say, but taking care of these 3 babies is already a handful. And I have husband and kids home today to help me. Don't know what I'm going to do Monday when everyone goes off and leaves me alone with these lil things!
  2. foulman007

    foulman007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 29, 2010
    Columbia SC
    They usually wont have much interest in food till they are two or three days old. You have to teach them to eat and drink I won't sell mine till they are eating drinking and up and running. To teach them you need to mix in some tiny cut up greens mix them in with the crumble or starter feed a bit damp so the feed sticks to the bits of lettuce celery and broccoli. Peck at it with your fingers wiggle it around get their attention till they peck it and get the idea to eat it. Same thing with the water put a bit of bright green or red in the bowl and flick the water. You will see them " get it" and then look out they will eat a lot. Give them alll they can eat and lots of greens. Good luck make sure they have lots of room to run a small box will not work . Much exercise is as important as feeding them. Many hours in the yard is what mine get. Soon they will flock around you bobbing about and come to you with a whistle or a clap. Three birds will need as much room as you can allow them with proper fencing to keep them in and predators out. My outside fencing is 4-6 feet high 2x4 wire. And hurricane fencing. Inside is wood rail. Never use electric or barbed wire as they are ineffective and deadly to emu .
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  3. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    If they are 3 to 4 weeks old they should be eating with no problem.. and they should be outside as much as possible

    At that age I have mine on a 50/50 mix of layer pellets (for the calcium) and rabbit pellets.. adding in chopped kale and collard greens. You said the food dish is a cup you have hanging on the side? (i don't think I can picture how you have it in there). I feed my emu chicks from dog food dishes on the floor of their brooder / pen (small bowl in their brooder.. larger bowl once they are outside)

    confining them to the large dog crate is going to lead to leg issues.. they need to be able to run and stretch their legs.. they are not chickens or geese.. they MUST be able to run to exercise their leg muscles unless you want to put them down (kill them) at a young age because of lameness, hip and leg issues.
    just make sure that whatever pen you put them in outside has small enough holes that they do not squeeze through it. I would NOT put them in with chickens since the chickens will more than likely peck at the "invaders" to their coop

    Their adult pen should be of sufficient height (no less than a bare minimum of 5 feet tall.. taller is better) and VERY sturdy since emus will go running at top speed and many times will slam into the fencing. I know foulman mentioned 4 feet tall fencing.. but it would only be for the tamest of emu and even then if one were to get spooked they can easily flip over it. so I would recommend higher fencing just to avoid any possible problems.. and to repeat what Foulman said.. please do not use barbed wire or electric fence
  4. Calla

    Calla Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 6, 2012
    England UK
    Very naughty to sell you Emu chicks when they not eating yet...once they eat, they never stop no matter where they are,how would you know, if Newbie, sounds they are more like ..3-5 days lol
    PM sent with pics,
  5. Tame Emu Guy

    Tame Emu Guy Chillin' With My Peeps

    You guys have answered a question for me:

    I was intrigued when I watched Boy Emu’s chicks hatch over five days. I wondered why the little critters, certainly the one that hatched first, simply didn’t keel over from hunger.

    But it makes perfect sense now: the chicks are sorta ‘in neutral’ while dad is waiting for the last (viable) egg to hatch.* The chicks shouldn’t eat ‘cause it’s best that they be close to dad. (They stayed literally inches away at first, and a few feet later.)

    Then, thirsty and hungry, they all up stakes; move to water; the chicks watch dad drink; the chicks drink; they move to a pasture; the chicks watch dad peck; they peck.

    Voila! Everything in order!


    *I swear, guys, by the afternoon of the fifth day, you could see the evolutionary cogs goin' around in Boy Emu's head. Nine eggs sat on; seven chicks out over five days -- two taken; two eggs left. I observed about five hours that day. The activity-in-the-egg makes sense to me now: surely the male gets 'lead information' about those last two eggs: they're about to hatch . . . they contain no living chick.
    The chicks were clearly restless at that point. Then Boy Emu finally stood up, about an hour before dusk, and began moving slowly towards water.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  6. kimcurnow

    kimcurnow New Egg

    Feb 22, 2013
    Thanks everyone for your answers. I think yesterday I was just in a panic because I wasn't quite sure what to do about these emus. You think you've researched until all your questions are answered, until here you are sitting with 3 baby emus and nothing is predictable! I moved them into the living room in a doggie exercise pen with newspaper on the floor and they are still using the heat lamp. I'm guessing by other's photos that they are about 3 weeks old. There is still frost here at night and it's pretty cold, so I've left the heat lamp on for them. I take them outside quite frequently, about 4 times today for about 30 minutes each time. The man I got them from still had them in a box in the bathroom and never outside yet, which seems odd to me. I thought I have read that they need to be introduced to outside by one week? Anyway, they love it outside and they follow me around like puppies. They even were introduced to the creek and waded in just a bit. They seem to be eating the Flock Raiser just fine today. Tomorrow when I go to town I will buy them some greens to add to that. I have a chicken waterer in there and a larger measuring cup "just in case", and they seem to be doing okay. I read NOT to put a large bowl in for babies because they can drown easily? Is that true? I let them out and they follow me around the house, and they've used the dog water bowl also. That seems perfect to me, but I don't want them to drown! I guess I will move them outside in a couple of weeks, but I just don't know if I can part with them! I love having them here with us, and I want to make sure they are very tame so I'm introducing them to anyone and everyone. They follow my German Shepherds around like they're mommies! I'm not sure if I should keep them in the barn when I decide to move them out of the house for a couple of months, or just let them out into the goat pen with a shelter. Suggestions? Should they be locked up at night, and if so, for how long? I can keep them in a stall in the barn and walk them out to the goat corral every morning, but what a pain!

    So my next question is fence. I know someone said NO ELECTRIC, which changes everything for me. I was planning to put them in with the horses and that pasture is fenced with a 6 strand poly rope electric fence. It is Equibraid and guaranteed to be the safest fence out there. Is there a particular reason electric is bad for emus, other than it just won't hold them? Is is ALL electric, or just certain types of electric? Zareba website says their electric works if using the correct fence charger and rope spacing.

    Can someone tell explain to me the issues with electric fence and emus, other than just "don't use it"? Thank you!
  7. foulman007

    foulman007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 29, 2010
    Columbia SC
    Due to their insulating nature of feathers they won't get the shock. They will be out and roaming the countryside in minutes. As for easy to drown as soon as mine can hold their necks up they are swimming. In a cramped space with a big bowl and their need to dog pile , that's a unfamiliar thing to me.
  8. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens


    Mine love their water bowl.. i can't imagine trying to water them from a little chick waterer

    i would lock the babies up at night.. mainly for their own protection from predators like raccoons or roaming dogs

    BTW... You may want to use something on top of the newspaper.. they need something with traction. Newspaper is still pretty slick even for a 3 week old. .
  9. Tame Emu Guy

    Tame Emu Guy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hey, Kimcurnow,

    it’s worth reiterating the importance of exercise for the chicks. If the cardboard box in the bathroom didn’t provide good traction, these cuties are already behind the curve. Watch them in their doggie exercise pen. Do you see them slipping and sliding about at all? If so, they are still not getting enough exercise.

    The time you are providing for them outside is great. Give them hours and hours – and outside is just as good a place to interact with them. Whatever pen they’re in, just sit in the middle and talk to them and play with them.

    The fact that they went voluntarily into such cold water at around three weeks tells you a little about how basically hardy they are.
    The bottom line is: security is primary; after that, massive doses of sunshine and running about.

    Keep hunting for information about ‘emu chicks + Other Critters = ??’

    Yes! Fresh vegies for them: kale and spinach and carrots and broccoli. Chop sultanas and apple very fine. I bet they’ll gobble that up to.

    Supreme Emu
  10. Raptor65

    Raptor65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2012
    Emus are like sports cars, they can go very fast but if you don't give them the room they'll never reach their full potential, and they really love it.

    It's part of Gerry's morning routine to get out in the field and run for about 30 minutes while I egg him on, the faster and louder you whistle the faster Gerry runs, I usually stand by the fence and when he starts coming around towards me you can see him kick into high gear and those legs start pumping away so hard if he were a sports car he'd be doing a wheel stand. He's quite a showoff. [​IMG]
    Sometimes the Horses get in on it and even they can't keep up with him, once he's worn himself out he comes walking back over to me as if to say "Okay I'm done." and we both walk back to the house for breakfast.

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