Nutrition Of Chicks

Although the rearing of young ostriches is a well-established practice, high mortalities are often encoun-tered.[9] Ostrich feed and water should be available from day one after hatch. A chopped fresh alfalfa or grass topping on feed will stimulate chicks to start eating. It was also found in rhea chicks[10] that the first few chicks required frequent stimulation, for example, by poking with a finger or pencil at the food, to induce proper feeding.

Many ostrich producers supplement the starter diet or water of the newly hatched ostrich with a booster pack containing: 1) electrolytes that will ensure that the correct

Table 1 Comparison of the digestive tract of ostriches, emus, and rheas

Region

Length (cm)

Relative length (% of total)

Ostrich

Emu

Rhea

Ostrich

Emu

Rhea

Small intestine

512

51

140

36

90

61

Cecum

94

l

48

6

2

21

Colon

800

28

40

5l

l

ratio of sodium to potassium will be consumed and that the absorption of moisture will be normal during these early stages of life; 2) acidification substances that will lower the pH of the digestive tract and enhance its adaptation to high-protein starter diets; 3) amylase, protease, and cellulase enzymes to ensure more efficient digestion of starch, protein, and fiber; and 4) vitamins A, D, E, and B complex to ensure immunity against infections and other diseases.[8] It is well known that ostrich chicks have poor resistance against infectious and other diseases. The supplementation of any product, for example, yogurt, that might stimulate immunity is highly recommended.

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