Farming of ratites has great potential that has been exploited most often in the countries of origin of the species. Slaughter age is around 12 16 months for emus, 10 12 months for ostriches, and 18 20 months for rheas. Methods and regulations for slaughter are already in place in each country, but more development is needed to decrease the cost of slaughtering, especially plucking methods.
The products are all high quality: soft leather, meat with low-fat and high-iron content, and a fine oil that can be used as a cosmetic base for the administration of topical medicines and as an anti-inflammatory agent, a claim already supported by clinical trials for emu oil. Ostrich feathers have been successfully marketed in the past as a fashion item but this market has virtually disappeared. The meat market is still small and in need of more marketing for further expansion. There is also a need for more scientific input into management and genetic selection to improve productivity and product quality. Recent developments of sperm collection and preservation, and artificial insemination techniques specific to both ostrich and emus, provide the industry with major tools for modern methods of selection.
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