Ratites are flightless birds which include emu, ostrich, rhea, cassowary and kiwi. Emu is reared commercially for their meat, oil, skin, and feathers. These birds can be well maintained on extensive and semi-intensive rearing systems with reasonably high fibrous diets. Emu birds are well adapted to Indian climatic conditions.
Emu has a long neck, relatively small naked head, three toes and covered with feathers Birds initially have longitudinal stripes on their body till 3 months of age, and then gradually turn to brown by 4-12 months age. Mature birds have bare blue necks and mottled body feathers. The height of an adult bird is about 6 feet with a weight of 45-60 Kg. There are no definite emu breeds that are captive bred. Air sacs hang down loosely in females and is prominent during breeding season when the male may fast. The female is the dominant member of the pair. The male emu sits on the nest. Emu lives for about 30 years and may produce eggs for more than 16 years. Birds can be maintained as flocks or pairs.
Origin : Australia
Adult body weight : 45-60 kgs
Age at sexual maturity : 18-20 months
Age at marketing : 15-18months
No.of eggs/annum/dam : 50eggs
Breeding age : 2 to 40years
Emu products : Meat, skin, eggs, fat, feathers
Incubation period :50-54days
Egg weight : 600grams
- Newly hatched chicks are active and can leave he nest within a few days. They stand about 12cm tall, weigh0.4 Kg and have distinctive brown and cream stripes for camouflage, which fade after about three months.
- The male stays with the growing chicks for up to 7 months, defending them and teaching them how to find food.
- Chicks grow very quickly and are full-grown in 5-6months; they may remain with their family group for another six months or so before they split up to breed in their second season.
- It can also bend its knees to shield its small chicks. At night, it envelops its young ones with its feathers. As the young emus cannot travel far, the parents must choose an area with plentiful food to breed.
MANAGEMENT OF CHICKS
Emu chicks weigh about 370 to 450 g depending on the size of the egg. First 48-72 hours, emu chicks are restricted to the incubator for quick absorption of the yolk and proper drying. By 3 days old, the emu chicks should be active and able to walk confidently around their area/container. They will still spend quite a bit of the day sleeping but over the next few days will become increasingly active.
Emu needs brooding during their early life. Arrange a set of brooding for about 25-40 chicks giving 4 sq. feet per chicks for the first 3 weeks. Provide brooding temperature of 32.2oc at first 10 days and 29.4oc till 3-4 weeks. Provide five water mugs of one-litre capacity and an equal number of feeder troughs under the brooder. A chick guard must be 2.5feet in height to avoid jumping and straying of chicks. Provide 24 hours of light with a 40-watt bulb for every 100sq. feet area. After 3 weeks of age, slowly extend the brooder area and later remove it by 6 weeks. Feed starter mash for the birds housed as these birds require run space for their healthy life. 30 ft run space is required; hence floor space of 40ft *30ft is required for about 40 chicks if outdoor space is provided.
Feed the birds on grower mash up to 34 weeks age or 25 Kg body weight. Offer greens to about 10% of the diet. Provide clean water all the time and feed ad libitum. Provide 40ft * 100ft space for 40 birds if outdoor space is considered. Restrain the younger birds by securing the body sideways and hold the body firmly. Adults can be secured by holding the wing sideway and by grabbing both the wings and placing them close to a person’s legs. Never allow the bird to kick. They can kick forward and sideways. Hence, better securing and firm holding is necessary to avoid any harm to the bird as well as the person.