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Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by chickenzoo, Dec 25, 2010.
I want my egg to hatch and grow up as wonderfuly spoiled as Jazzy!!!! (Except my egg is named 'Edward' or 'Edwina' from the children's books by Sheena Knowles). My emu is going to be like a big feathery puppy!
Chickenzoo, are emu adults friendly? tame? dangerous?
Can they be kept singly? Are males or females preferable? Why?
I'm mulling over possibilities, completely undecided but wanting to know a little more about their care and temperament. Do they eat flowers and shrubs if they free range in the fenced yard? I lost a goat one time who ate azaleas which are poison....I didn't know it at the time of course, but now I'm very cautious with a breed I know nothing about.
Emu can be very friendly and tame, if raised from a young baby and exposed to all types of stimuli. Jazzy was raised in the house, he was by himself for the first month, then we got another. They stayed in the house until they were old enough to reach things off the counter, then they went outside. Jazzy is very friendly, Merlin was a month old when we got him and is less friendly than Jazzy, but still follows you around and tolerates petting. Jazzy is an attention hog. hehe
Emu are pretty easy to raise, much like turkeys.... just bigger but don't eat as much. You use Chick starter and I also give broccoli, show them with your finger how to eat, make sure they have a good source of light and good footing and space to walk, as leg development is the main problems associated with emu chicks. When they get near adults you can switch to an Emu chow, but mine didn't like it and get a mix of sweet feed, chicken layer, dog food and greens.
You want to desensitize emu chicks to being touched and handled. They are prey animals, much like horses, and their legs are their main means of safely keeping distance between things that eat them. Emu do not tend to like their legs touched when standing. As chicks, touching their legs helps them accept it when older. Make sure to touch their mouth, face, beak, wing arms etc..etc.. this will make handling an adult easier.You can train them to walk on a dog harness. Do not ever put them in a fence, pen etc.. that can not contain them, if they push it over, they learn not to respect fences.
Emu are fairly docile animals, but very curious about shiny, dangley objects....( when they are not afraid of something.) They do not know what "personal space is". To them, you are mom Emu and anything you pick up with your hands is kind of like Mom Emu's beak. So if you pick up a nail, screw etc.... well mom Emu ate it, it must be ok. They must have stomachs of steel for all the strange things mine have ingested.
I do not know about the bushes, they have never went for mine in the front yard. They do eat some of the weedy plants/vines that grow on the fence and grasses. They like some fruits and veggies. They eat dirt, rocks and stones. LOL In fact, if you start digging a hole, they are drawn to it and stand their eating the new fresh sand. They are suppose to eat insects, small mammals and lizards... but I've never seen mine eat anything except pick off a bug on the llama or something. Mine seem to be finicky.
I have not had or been around a mean Emu. They seem docile, except sometimes with each other, but never with me...infact sometimes they love me TOO MUCH. LOL. Males tend to be friendlier, as they are the ones that sit on the eggs and care for the young. You still have to understand that these are not dogs, cat etc.. but emu and respect that, but they can be just as tame as any of them if you remember what they are. The only time mine show any threatening tendencies is if you try and grab their legs, they can kick and those toe tails can be like razors. Even if it is a minor kick, as to say "stop that, I don't like that" their toes can still hurt or injure. My one male Merlin fell and got pinned between fences. I went to pull him out, he started flailing his legs trying to wright himself. He slashed through my pants, into my stomach and I almost had to get stitches. He didn't mean to, but even the slightest graze can cause injury. Luckily you don't find yourself in that situation often with tame Emu.
They have various noises they make, grunts, hisses, drumming in females. Females make a drumming sound that sounds like bass in a car stereo. Males make a grunting sound that sounds like a cold starting chain saw. Hisses can mean anything from Hi, how are you, what's that, I don't know about that, I don't like it..... Yuck, get away from me.
Emu are very territorial and make good livestock guardians, if you keep somethings in mind. Anything an Emu has grown up with is "there flock", anything new to that area is considered a trespasser until the Emu understands that it is now part of the flock. I have never had them be aggressive toward new people, only animals. New dogs, cats, chickens, geese, etc... have to be introduced in a separate area so the Emu can look at them and get use to seeing them. Then slow supervised introduction should be used until the Emu is disinterested in the new animal. Sudden movement and noise excites an Emu and they may chase the newcomer... so make sure the newcomer has a place to hide if need be. My Emu are out with tiny Serama chickens, geese, ducks, turkey, peafowl, llama, mini horses, horses, dogs, mini cattle etc... and get along with everyone. It took some time for the geese and ducks, as they are very animated in movement and get the Emu excited. Excited Emu run , jump, kick, roll and stomp..... even in playing. Although again, they never did with people... mine played "chase" with my 3 & 4 year old nephews and just when you started to get worried the Emu might catch them, the Emu would fall down on the ground, roll and run the other way. LOL
You do have to be careful with eyes and ears, fingers etc... sometimes shiny eyeballs look like marbles and painted fingernails jewels.....
Jazzy will lay down when I ask him too, have kids sit on him, tolerate dressing him up.... He loves to give hugs, loves attention and if you are petting the dogs, he comes and lays down in the middle of them and sticks his head in the way. He plays with my hair clips, pretty much understands and more importantly listens to the NO command. He knows he's not suppose to bite or take things... although sometimes he can't help himself..... They have a innocents about them, maybe because they have short attention spans like a child, but they can be so fun and enjoyable if treated properly.
Sorry about the book.....
Thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful information!!!!! You are so sweet to give me lots of info to help me decide if this is right for me or not. I have a couple of specific concerns. I live on the water, have a bulkhead and dock above the water line by 3 ft or more but no fence. I understand emu swim. Do you think they would be tempted to step off into the river? There are alligators out there. I have a 4 ft. chain link fence all around the rest of the back yard. Would they fly over it? I wouldn't want to build or keep him in a pen. How tolerant are they to cold?
How soon do you know if you have a male or female and do they look different? Do you ever have babies for sale?
Emu get about 125lbs, 5-6 ft tall and can't fly..... hehe, their wing arms are about the size of a plucked chickens... If taught to respect the fence and raised from babies, many emu are kept in 4 ft fences. The bulkhead may be a problem..... Emu are curious, love water and are decent swimmers, although I don't think swimming is their first option. They rather splash and wallow in the shallows. They are not the brightest of creatures........ and when they do their playful running and jumping they may fall off the edge into the water. I can see it now - Loch Ness Monster Found in Northeast Florida...
If their was a way to fence off the bulk head, then that would be best. Sometimes you can tell males from females by their striped patterns on the head, most males are suppose to have a bullseye pattern, but it can be very hard to tell. Vent sexing after a few weeks is possible.
They are tolerant of cold, emu feathers are used as insulation in jackets etc.... Most of mine do not use a shelter at all, but hunker down in a corner.
Thanks Chickenzoo, I'm not able to fence off the dock, but probably could do the bulkhead. Have to think that one over. How, pray tell do you teach a 125 pound bird to respect the fence?
At some later date, if I think this might work for me, would you be kind enough to let me come and see Jazzy just to get a feel for the breed? I have to say, I'm a little apprehensive about a bird that is as tall as myself and more than half my weight. I want to be sure both of us are safe when handled. HA!
I keep remembering the famous quote: "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and good with catsup"
Sure you are welcome to come see him. You teach them to respect fences by making sure what ever you put them in as babies, does not fall over. If they push it over, then they think any fence is like that. Jazzy has only gotten over our 4 ft fence once, the dogs were chasing him in the chase game, and Jazzy didn't pay attention to where he was going...... he flipped over the fence. When I went out in the morning I couldn't find him until I felt like I was being watched....... LOL.. There he was, in my neighbors yard, pressing against the fence, trying to figure out how to get back in... hehe He was looking at me like "Don't just stand there, get me back in". Good thing he was taught to lead as a baby.
Emus.... sorry I love emus!!!
Good to hear that 4 ft. fences are just fine. I've been contemplating the emu thing for a while.
Can they be raised with chickens. All i have is my old chicken pen and they always fly into it even when the gate is shut.