Why do people breed emu's, ostriches and rhea's??

Happy Chooks

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Jul 9, 2009
Northern CA
My Coop
My Coop
about 15 years ago they were a craze here for the meat and oil. The prices people were getting for them were ridiculous. Now it seems for most, it's just a hobby.

Having seen Mary (The Warden) emu's, I can see why people get attached to them. They are hilarious and goofy!


10 Years
Mar 29, 2009
People here breed Ostriches for meat. It is supposed to be low in cholesterol.
I have had Ostrich roasts and steaks. The meat is red, very delicious, doesn't shrink when you cook it and tastes a bit like the very best cut of beef.
I am sure there would be more Ostrich Farms but the trouble is finding a abattoir that will do the processing. Not many want to handle the birds.


8 Years
Jul 24, 2011
Vista, CA
I raised mine for meat and eggs...but they were more pricey to keep and ratite feed here in San Diego County was obnoxiously & rudely high so during the off months, I would give them rabbit pellets till about a month before breeding season then I'd give them the ratite feed...before the end of the season, I'd go back to the pellets.

I do miss them. Had a great hen that would love to have her neck rubbed and would fall asleep with her beak on my shoulder.


13 Years
Dec 21, 2009
All 3 were bred for meat, the production became too great for the demand...not enough people wanted it because most people are so close minded to anything but cow, chicken, pig, and fish. So now it's more so just a hobby thing. Ostriches are still being bred for meat more than Emus and Rheas. I still breed Rheas for pets, and Cassowaries for Zoos or people that are interested and pass my check list for a good home. Cassowaries are the only ones still worth alot of money, and were never bred for meat. They are extremely hard to breed and raise. Oh and about feeding Ostriches...dog food works alot better than the ratite junk. It's much higher in protein and fat content, and you don't have to feed them as much of it. I feed all of my ratites dog food.


8 Years
Aug 19, 2011
Central Florida
Yeah I feed my Emus the same "All Flock" pellet that everyone else gets. I did not see enough difference in the specifications to justify paying that much more for the emu feed, especially since all my animals have access to pasture/orchard.

Let the Emus mix with the other birds today, they still panic the geese and "act" like they are trying to run them over... soon put the geese up because I did not want them stressed. I still am not sure if the Emus would actually make contact with the Geese, or would not actually step on them of the Geese did not panic and evade.

I hope you are right casarius and the Emus get less "playful" as they grow up and stop chaseing everyone else. Still think they are fantastic pets.

About Rheas as pets.. I thought they were mean. What do people do with them? Just watch them from across a fence like other exotics?

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