Emu ostrich: description and characterization of lifestyle and habitat
The real advantage and hallmark of Australia after the kangaroo are ostriches. This family has 15 species. The ostrich emu (or as it is also called - the Australian) is sometimes mistakenly attributed to them. In this article you will learn what kind of bird it is, how it looks, and what are the features of its breeding.
This bird was first met by European travelers in the 16th century on the Australian continent. She amazed everyone with her long and powerful legs, which allow you to reach speeds of up to 50 km / h and take a step of 275 cm.The first documentary description of this bird dates from 1789. For a long time, many scientists have wondered: “Emu - who is this? Ostriches or cassowaries? ”
In appearance, they were classified as stasiform, but in the 1980s the classification was revised. It is scientifically proven that emu is a relative of cassowary. They got their name for their large size ("emu" in translation from Arabic or Portuguese - "big bird"). But there is another hypothesis that claims that the bird owes its name to a piercing cry during the mating season.
Description and Characteristics of Emu
In appearance, this bird is a cross between a cassowary and an ostrich, however, they have their own distinctive properties that allow them to be distinguished from their relatives.
The Australian ostrich is one of the largest birds in the world, only the ostrich is larger than it. In addition, the emu does not fly. In appearance, it is similar to both an ostrich and a cassowary. However, unlike the latter, which is the closest relative than the ostrich, the emu does not have an outgrowth on the crown of the head.
|Dimensions||The growth of males reaches 2 m, and females - no more than 1.5 m|
|Torso||Dense, oblong shape|
|Color||Varies from dark gray to taupe|
|Beak||Pink, slightly curved|
|Tail||Down, is a kind of continuation of the body|
|Legs||Long and strong|
Many farmers are interested in how much these long-legged birds weigh. The weight of an adult varies from 30 to 50 kg, sometimes it can reach 55 kg. But the chicks are not born so large (500 g), but by the age of life they can reach the weight of an adult.
There are 3 subspecies of these birds that differ in their color:Emu eyes are protected by a membrane and have long eyelashes. These birds can boast excellent vision. They are able to see a moving object at a distance of a hundred meters. And since these animals lead a separate lifestyle, they try not to let large animals or people close to them.
The skin of the neck has a bluish tint, it is decorated with a rare plumage. The length of the wings of this bird does not exceed 25 cm. At their tips there are underdeveloped claws. When the emu is working, they make wings flapping sounds.
On the neck there is a pouch 30 cm long, in which the trachea is located. It is clearly visible during the mating season. Depending on how much air passes through it, the range of sounds made by this bird may vary.
Important! Emu have no teeth, therefore, for better digestion of rough food, they swallow pebbles and glasses.
That is why their speech is mainly loud booms, grunts and drumming, which can spread over a distance of 2 km. Sounds made by males and females can vary significantly. The highest peak of talkativeness of animals falls on the mating season, when females announce their readiness for mating.
Legs are the main defense weapon for these birds. They allow you to reach speeds of 50 km / h, and sometimes even up to 60. If you encounter such a bird, it is able to break bones not only to the dog, but also to the person.
Differences from Ostrich
Emu was not so long ago attributed to the ostrich-like family, however, in the second half of the twentieth century, the classification was revised. The basis for this was the scientific justification of the genetic proximity of this bird to the cassowary. However, due to external similarities, many still call them ostriches.How is emu different from ostriches? Ostriches have a longer neck, which makes them the tallest birds. So, the growth of the African representative of this family reaches 2.5 m, while in emu - only 2.
Long legs allow you to develop tremendous speed. Ostriches develop a speed of 20 km / h more than emu. However, the paws of the latter have three fingers with three phalanges, unlike ostriches, which have only 2. Emu eggs are smaller in size than ostrich eggs, have a dark blue color, they are more like eggs of cassowary.
Habitat and lifestyle
So where does the emu live? By the second name of this bird, it becomes clear that it lives on the Australian continent. They can be found in sparsely populated places where there is no drought and large thickets; not far from roads where you rarely see large shrubs that pose a potential danger to these birds.
Did you know? Emu tolerate temperature well as in +45° C so in +20° C. They are able to calmly endure a drop in temperature at night to -5 ° C.
Due to the increased interest in these animals, special farms have appeared in different parts of the world that are engaged in the industrial cultivation of emu. Such farms appeared in China, the USA, Canada and Peru. For our compatriots who have decided to breed this bird, a logical question arises as to in which natural area emu can be raised.
For breeding, it is best to choose zones with a subequatorial, tropical or subtropical climate. However, in temperate latitudes, they also feel good. With the onset of cold weather, they need an additional source of heat.
Birds prefer to live alone, but sometimes they periodically gather in groups of 7 to 10 individuals, migrate together in search of food. During the nesting period, emu stop in the place where there is a lot of food and a reservoir.They often go to agricultural land, which cause significant harm. So, for example, in the 30s of the last century, the confrontation between man and emu reached its maximum, as a result of which a large number of these birds were destroyed. At that time, the so-called emu war brought up to 57 thousand carcasses a year. Their meat was used as food, and fat as a combustible substance for lamps.
Now the war with emu continues, but not on such a scale, since they fall under the Australian law on environmental protection and biodiversity conservation (although there are often cases when large birds go to farms and destroy the whole crop with their powerful legs).
Did you know? The size of the brain in these birds is commensurate with the size of the eyes and does not exceed 40 g.
Often near the pond you can meet an Australian ostrich, which with great pleasure swims or just relax. At the same time, these birds drink water only once every 24 hours. The real day length of these giants is approximately 7 hours, during which time they constantly move in search of food.
In natural nature, these powerful birds have no enemies. But there are some animals that emu eschew. Foxes are capable of causing an irreparable look to future offspring, but eagles, hawks and dingo dogs prey on adults. As a defense, the bird tries to jump high, waves its legs and wings strongly.
Despite their large size, these birds have a friendly disposition. They easily get along with a person.However, with all this, the animal always lives in some tension. During sleep, they wake up to 8 times, and their heads are never lowered to the ground. However, as in the mating season, these animals become unpredictable and even aggressive.
For industrial purposes, emu is grown to produce valuable meat and eggs, as well as reproduction. An adult bird weighing about 50 kg can produce up to 30 kg of dietary meat. Young offspring can be slaughtered as early as a year, but the most optimal age for slaughtering an emu is 15 months. It is at this age that the net meat yield will be on average about 26.5 kg. To taste, the meat is very similar to veal, however, it remains as lean as chicken.
Dietary dishes, as well as sausages, are prepared for cooking on its basis. In addition to meat, from the carcass of a young emu they receive up to 7 kg of fat, which is used in medicine and cosmetology. That is why the maintenance of ostriches up to 15 months is a cost-effective production.
By-products after slaughter are feathers and leather. From one killed individual, you can get from 1.8 to 2.5 kg of ostrich feathers, up to 2 sq.m. skin. Feathers are highly regarded in the fashion industry and are used for decoration. The feather can be sheared periodically and throughout the life of the birds. For example, in the first 2 years of life, feathers are sheared at 6, 16, and 24 months.
Emu leather is used to make shoes, bags, belts and even as a finish for yachts, cars or airplanes. Approximately 4.5 kg comes from other offal, which include claws and even eyelashes.
The population of these birds is growing rapidly, as one female can lay 20 to 50 eggs in one season. When hatching, the survival rate is up to 85%.
The high productivity of females continues throughout life, and they live for 10-15 years. The first oviposition begins from 2 years, in vivo this period is doubled. After the first laying, egg production increases by 15%.
An emu egg weighs an average of 700-900 g, which is comparable to a dozen or a dozen chicken. Its color can vary from dark blue, which is sometimes mistaken for black, to greenish blue. In their color, they resemble the eggs of their relatives - cassowary. They are used as decorative material (and even spoiled ones are not disposed of, but are used to produce unusual souvenir products).
In the breeding of emu there is another additional by-product, which is also used in various industries. This is an egg shell. She is in demand in jewelry, and designers use her fragments to decorate the interior.
Important! Eggs hatch for 56-66 days, while the air temperature should be kept within + 37 - 38 degrees Celsius, and humidity - 40 - 70%.
Puberty begins at the age of 2 years, and the peak of reproduction - in December and January. The male is engaged in arranging the nest. He also brings up future offspring. The male in this breed of birds can have more than one female. That is why in the mating season, unlike other species, females show an aggressive disposition and conduct real battles for the chosen partner. Such fights can last up to 5 hours.
After the pair is formed, the partners begin mating games. Bowing their necks, they synchronously advance to the nest, which is a small depression covered in grass. Shared accommodation can last no more than 5 months.As a result of such courtship, the female can lay up to 20 eggs. However, there are lonely females that lay no more than 8 eggs. Males hatch their offspring, while furiously driving away all predators and unwanted guests. They leave the nests only by necessity, that is, for food. During the hatching period, the male may lose up to 15 kg in weight. During his absence, the female warms the eggs.
With the hatching of the offspring, the male’s worries do not end there. Chicks are born with a weight of 500 g and a height of about 12 cm. The active nature of young offspring brings new concern to the male. Now he protects them from foxes, hawks or eagles, which strive to enjoy delicious meat. Chicks are fed insects, which allows them to gain weight very quickly and by the year they have the weight of an adult. However, the chicks need the course of the male for 5, and sometimes even 7 months.
Important! At home breeding emu must remember that at least 2 females per male.
Emu breeding features
These unusual birds attracted the attention of our compatriots. And this is not surprising, because the correct content of one emu is less expensive than the content of one pig. As a result, the owner receives not only tasty and dietary meat, which is also exotic for us, but also high quality leather and feathers.
These birds need a large space where they can safely walk. It is better to give preference to spacious pastures where there is a lot of grass and where birds will be protected from predators.In the cold season, emu needs additional heating. To do this, they are transferred to a spacious room, which will be commensurate with the space for walking. There are no special requirements for it, but it is necessary that the conditions of detention have maximum resemblance to the natural habitat of birds.
Breeding emu does not require special efforts, in this process it is necessary to give freedom of choice to the birds. They form their own pairs. If the goal of the poultry farmer is not to profit from the eggs of these exotic birds, it is best to purchase an incubator that will significantly increase the survival rate of young offspring. You can also allow birds to incubate eggs in a natural way.
After the appearance of the chicks, they are placed in a special room prepared for them, where the temperature should be at the same level (+ 30ºС). The area should be large enough, because the chicks grow very quickly and by the age of 12 months they are no different from their parents. The area of the pen is being built with a calculation of 10 sq.m. for one individual. In the warm season, they can be kept in a spacious aviary with an equipped canopy.
What to feed
In a natural habitat, ostriches are unpretentious to food. They with the same appetite regale as grass or wild fruits, and even small insects. In a poultry farm, it is customary to feed them with special combined feeds. You should not overfeed the bird, as excessive weight gain leads to obesity and curvature of the limbs. At any stage of development, birds need enough clean water to drink.
In the natural environment, the main food for these birds is the fruits and leaves of trees, as well as mushrooms and food of animal origin (for example, insects or small vertebrates). At home content of adult emu, the daily norm of a serving of food is 1.5-2.5 kg, which consists of 50% coarse and succulent feed. Very useful for emu alfalfa. In the free market there are a number of specially prepared mixtures containing most of the necessary substances.However, the use of such funds does not exempt from adding components that are not present in the feed you purchased. The table below shows the composition of the mixture per adult emu:
|Product type||Consumption rate in winter, g||Consumption rate in the spring, g||Consumption rate in summer, g||Consumption rate in the fall, g|
|Cake||not required||20||20||not required|
|Chicken eggs||20||not required||not required||not required|
|Fish flour||25||not required||25||25|
|Potatoes||not required||100||100||not required|
|Cabbage||not required||200||200||not required|
|Grass||not required||500-1000||500-1000||not required|
|Hay flour||25||not required||not required||25|
|Fish fat||10||10||not required||10|
With the onset of cold weather, the body of an emu needs an additional source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. That is why herbal flour, silage and various vitamin and mineral supplements are introduced into the diet.
It is worth limiting the amount of barley in the diet, as it contributes to obesity. For the same reason, corn should not be given. Green food in the wet or dirty form is contraindicated. The leaves must be washed and allowed to dry. You should also not give whole milk (this product is replaced with cottage cheese, whey or yogurt). Serum is given instead of water, as it contains a large amount of easily digestible minerals.
It is possible to give fish to an Australian ostrich, however, only its waste is used (and then it is previously boiled and chopped). More convenient to use is fishmeal. Since the industry in our country is more focused on growing chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, then for ostriches you can use compound feed for these birds.
Important! With a properly designed diet, an emu can live up to 28 years at home (while in the wild, the average life expectancy is from 10 to 15 years).
Food can be made independently. Low-grade hay is crushed and poured with heated water. This mixture is left for 30-60 minutes. After this time, the water is drained and bran, salt and other additives (for example, meat and fish meal) are added. The resulting mixture is fed emu. Adults and young individuals feed twice a day.
Water should be freely available to these birds. It is better to drink them in the morning. Pour clean water into the drinkers, and change it as it becomes soiled. In the hot season, water is changed several times a day.
Per diem emu
Like any newborn chicks, an emu needs frequent feeding. However, their nutrition has its stages:
- from the first days of life to three months of age;
- from three months to 6 months;
- up to a year.
From one to three months, the diet of the chicks should contain a minimum of fiber. For better weight gain, you can feed on insects. Below is a table of the recommended diet for emu chicks under the age of 6 months:
|Feed, g||The age of the chicks in months|
|Meat and bone meal||5||10||15||20|
|a piece of chalk||1||3||10||10|
Unlike adults, chicks can be milked for up to 4 months. It perfectly replaces water. From 4 months it must be excluded. You should not give corn grits, as it can lead to obesity. Grazing chicks in the alfalfa field that have not reached 4 months is not recommended. Greens must first be washed and dried. This will protect future offspring from indigestion.
As the chicks grow older, the emu is gradually transferred to 2 meals a day. Young individuals who are 6 months old can be accustomed to adult food. Such a power system will allow you to get the maximum increase by the year, and at 15 months they will be ready for slaughter. Emu quite unpretentious birds in the content.They are a source of delicious dietary meat, valuable feathers and skin. And the biggest advantage for keeping this bird at home is its cheapness.