Are you Setting your Goals High Enough

Newsletter No. 25 – April 2005 Item 3

Taking the discussion above a step further let me cite a few papers that prove the current production challenges facing our industry:

a.  Recent Advances of Ostrich Nutrition in South Africa: Effect of Dietary Energy and Protein on Production
Authors:  Tertius Brand - Elsenberg Agricultural Research Centre and Kobus Nel - Oudtshoorn Experimental Farm

This paper discusses variable rations on what the author's considered to be low, medium and high energy and low, medium and high protein rations.   The paper reports the use of low quality ingredients and does not discuss any details of vitamin and mineral supplementation.

In slaughter birds it reports surprise at the minimal changes in feed conversion between the different rations, and reference their inability to understand this.

The point missed is that the study had proven beyond doubt that all rations were severely nutrient deficient as all birds produced lower slaughter weights than the Degan study carried out in 1991.  The Degan study of 1991 worked with rations designed for Turkeys.   It only makes sense that if birds can produce greater growth on rations designed for different specie, then something must be wrong with rations and management systems that result in slower growth rates!!

b. Are your Goals High Enough?
Author: Kim Bunter - Animal Genetics and Breeding Centre, University of New England, Armidale, Australia

Bunter carried out a major International survey.  The results are from data from over 200 ostrich producers in 35 countries.

Kim Bunter Table 1

Table 1 - Reproductive performance (%) achieved in farmed ostriches
[note: 103 to 110 contributing records in full data; 25 contributing records for >20 hens category]

Table 1 proves the serious problem with breeder production and chick survival.

Quoting Bunter's words:  Currently for each chick surviving to 3 months of age 2.1 eggs on average were incubated, supporting the commonly held view that less than one slaughter bird will result from every two eggs incubated.  After allowing for differences between producers in the percent of eggs incubated, overall efficiency of chick production was very poor (approximately 49%).end quote

Productivity measures of farmed ostrich

Table 2: Productivity measures of farmed ostriches
[Note: 81 to 111 records contributing to full data; 25 contributing records for >20 hens]

c. Latest Feeding Standards for Ostriches
Tertius Brand and Bennie Aucamp - Elsenberg Agricultural College and
Zanell Brand and Kobus Nel, Oudtshoorn Experimental Farm

This paper discusses a similar study to above referenced study carried out on slaughter birds.  The study was based on 9 different diets with differing energy and protein levels and then followed a year later with a further study reducing nutrient levels further.

Latest SA Feeding Standards for Ostrich Breeder Results

Table 3 - Latest SA Feeding Standards for Ostrich Breeder Results

There was no report on chick survivability.  The authors reported that the hens in Study 2 demonstrated significant weight loss during the season.  There was no report on which hens were used for the different studies.  Nutritional history and past performance are exceedingly important when evaluating results in this way.

The study concluded: quote:  The most recent research results indicates that current nutritional specifications for ostrich diets may be lowered under certain circumstances, without a loss of performance. end quote

The study proved quite the proved that all diets resulted in breeder performance that is uneconomic for producers.

d. Conclusion:
Currently most every paper or study one reads proves beyond any doubt that our industry has to change the approach as producers cannot be commercially viable with such low levels of production per hen.

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