Products and Byproducts

Due to its reputed therapeutic value, emu oil is considered the emu's most valuable product. The oil must be rendered in a special manner before it can be used for medical and cosmetic purposes. Emu meat is another high-protein, low-fat red meat. However, the emu carcass does not yield large roasts and fillets such as can be cut from the ostrich carcass. Again, expert tanners are required to treat the emu hide. Bird size also imposes restrictions here. The hide is not large enough for the production of some leather goods but is well suited for the manufacture of small purses and accessories.

Those who have eaten rhea meat say it is a consistently flavorful product, and it has been used by South Americans for centuries. Some believe that rhea oil also has commercial possibilities.

All the ratites yield feathers at slaughter. Unless there is a rebirth of the millinery trade, the main outlet for the feathers will be costume and jewelry production. Producers often offer for sale blown-out eggs. The eggs are sought after by artists known as "eggers" who use eggs as their medium.

The growth of the ratite industries in the United States has been hampered by some of the same problems that face other young industries. The early years had too many unscrupulous promoters with no real dedication to seeing the industries survive as true agricultural enterprises. Those sincere producers who remain face developing markets, promotion, government-labeling restrictions, and an overall shortage of information. In addition to more publicity about the documented healthy nature of their meat products, the industries will also benefit from continuing research that seeks to verify the beneficial attributes of ratite oils.

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