Warning to perspective first-time emu owners!

Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by ES Emus, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. ES Emus

    ES Emus Chillin' With My Peeps

    It seems like emus are becoming fashionable to own again, as I have been contacted by record numbers of perspective egg and chick buyers. Many of these people have never raised or even been around an adult emu. One of the first questions that I ask any potential customer is, "how much space do you have for your pen?".

    I have been amazed at the number of people who have not considered how much room an adult emu requires and planned to raise then in an "old dog or chicken pen". When I get that for an answer, I refuse to consider selling them an emu, even if they get mad or offer me more that what I would normally charge.

    Emus are very large birds (duh?) and need to be able to run in order to strengthen their legs and get their exercise. They are not birds that can typically be kept in a back yard "cage" or even the typical residential back yard!. They can run at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour and take up to 9' in a single stride! Their pens need to be very long (120' or more), although they can be narrow in design.

    If you are thinking about becoming an emu owner, remember that an emu, as a rule, requires about the same space that a horse would and you would not (hopefully) think about keeping a horse cooped up in an old dog pen!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  2. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    Actually.. they were never "fashionable" to own until the past couple of years

    The only reason they became available to the general public in the U.S. was as an alternative to beef. So they were being bred as livestock.. to one day grace someone's dinner table. Later on the emu farmers here found out that emu oil was also useful,, so it (as well as the leather) became a byproduct of the meat industry.

    Even though some people do keep them as pets now.. they are still being used as a meat, oil and leather source... (and emu meat is quite delicious!).

    I have spoken to several people who thought it was "just horrible that anyone could ever eat an emu".. then I have to remind them that if it wasn't for those people who were farming them for their meat.. that 1) they would not have one as a pet now.. and 2) most of what we know about hatching and raising emus came from those very same people who were producing them for their meat, oil and leather.

    the sad thing is that there are a lot of people out there who think that keeping an emu (or ostrich) would be "cool" and never stop to realize that in essence they are wanting to own a "100+ pound dinosaur" that can become a hazard to other animals, their neighbors, traffic and so on should it escape .. lol.. it's not a chihuahua or designer dog that you can carry around in an over sized purse!

    I love my emus.. but as I have been saying a lot lately.. they are NOT for everyone. They require thought as to their diet, enclosure, socialization.. plus they can live for 25+ years in captivity with proper care. They should also consider what they will do with them if they ever have to move or find themselves unable to keep them any longer.
    2 people like this.
  3. poultrylady

    poultrylady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2008
    Delano, Tn.
    Excellent advice! I have a question for you please, I have considered getting a few emus myself, I have a 5 acre field, it has field fence all around it with 2 strands of barbed wire and one strand of electric wire on top of that. I am sure that is large enough for a few emus. I do have 3 milk cows that are very tame that run in this field- how do you think emus and cows would get along? Would it be a bad idea to run them together? Thanks for any info.
  4. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    If the fence is tall enough they should do fine. The electric fence won't have any effect on them (and btw.. we hate barbed wire for emus because they will try to plow through it/over it resulting in shredding their skin).
    How tall is the field fence?

    Emus will USUALLY get along with larger livestock (miniature horse size and up).. though they will attack dogs, cats, other poultry, other unknown emus and so on. Would you be getting adults, babies or hatching out eggs?
    if you were getting adults you would need to confine them into a smaller area at first until they got used to seeing the cows.. if you get babies I would advise the same thing.. mainly so you can keep them 'tamer" until they get used to their new home, the feeding routine and you; before releasing them on 5 acres.

    How visible is the fence? When an emu gets going they will tend to run into a fence especially if they don't know it's there..
  5. ES Emus

    ES Emus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good question poultrylady! Unfortunately, there is not a sure answer but I will tell you what I think would happen. First, that is plenty of room for emus. However, that being said, I think the electric and barbed wire are possible recipes for disaster! Emus are very curious birds and if there is a place for them to stick their heads, they will! Most people who raise emus will tell you that they need a 6' tall fence and would recommend againt barbed wire which they would probably injure themselves with...My experience with emus is that they tend to do better when introduced to livestock in the livestock's pen, possibly because they are too busy orienting to their new digs than trying to pick a fight. When livestock are introduced to an existing emus's "home turf" the emu(s) tend to defend their territory and often will fight with the new intruders. Sometimes these "fights" are more bluffs and sometimes there is bloodshed. So unfortunately, there is no surefire answer, but the larger the enclosure is , the better the chance that they will live and let live!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  6. poultrylady

    poultrylady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2008
    Delano, Tn.
    I do see how the barbed wire and electric strand would be a problem. I really can't do away with them though because these cows will destroy the field fence without it. I have been considering getting some emu eggs to hatch so I can raise them up and hopefully have tame ones. I am not new to birds, I have everything from chickens, geese, peafowl, pheasants, quail, etc... I have just wanted some emus for years now. But I can't redo the fencing just for them. Well, Maybe someday I can have a few of them.
  7. DallasCriftins

    DallasCriftins Chillin' With My Peeps

    I was, well long term, still am considering Rheas or Emus
    I put up 2M high Deer proof stock fencing around an acre of my land last year

    I then started to think about the realities of such large birds as I have a 10 year old son who would often be out in the field with his Ducks on his own
    so I have decide to wait a few years so the post above from the OP is spot on

    "remember that an emu, as a rule, requires about the same space that a horse"

    so that is what we did :)

    Bought Two of them (well Shetlands) and some tiny little Soay Sheep
    Even the Sheep in their paddock have 1.2M Stock fencing as they can also jump very well!

    Bouncer aged 4


    Bouncer the Bamboo rustler


    Pixie aged 14


    And 4 Soay Sheep

    Samannemm and SnowPeeOstrichU like this.
  8. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    You have some lovely animals!

    Your 10 year old would probably be ok with the emus.. but unfortunately they would probably see his ducks as invaders. Mine got along great with all our other poultry for quite awhile (they were raised with them).. now they only tolerate ONE Muscovy drake.. if any of the other birds venture anywhere into "their territory" they immediately chase it down and proceed to try to stomp it to death.
  9. ES Emus

    ES Emus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Great pictures Dallas!
    DixieEmu likes this.
  10. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Emu all have different personalities. Mine get along fine.with all my great pyrenees dogs.....fainting goats...mini horses...mini cows...llama...alpaca. ....mini pig....horses etc. Never had them.be aggressive towards any new animals.of that size. Smaller poultry are normally a concern. I have some Emu that won't bother the.chickens...the younger 2 like to chase them sometimes...but not the ducks. They don't bother the geese to much either...but during breeding season my one male.will chase the geese. They don't mess with the swan or.cranes.....the turkey.and peafowl chase the Emu..... So I think for the most part, if it won't run and it stands its ground the Emu leave it alone. The fun for th is the chase. I have roosters that will beat up a Emu....lol
    But smaller birds that run are a target and anything that gets an Emu excited.
    Never had any of mine be aggressive to people but have heard of some.
    Luckily most of the people who contact me ask a lot of questions about them before deciding on one and I wouldn't sell one to someone who wasn't fully.committed and prepared.
    They surely aren't for everyone.

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