Archive for Ostrich Products

Ostrich Feather Thefts in South Africa

Press reports from South Africa this week are reporting the theft of feathers with the perpetrators caught on Monday (8th April, 2013).   These thefts are not from the manufacturers, but directly from the live birds in their pens – birds from the Research Farm in Oudtshoorn are reported as a major target, with several birds killed. The thieves were caught and appeared in court on Wednesday (10th April).  You can read one of a number of press reports of the thefts here.

South African Avian Influenza

A new case of avian influenza was reported this week (April 2013) in South Africa.   To put this outbreak into context it maybe helpful to provide a reminder of the situation over the past couple of years as it has had a major impact on all working to build their business based on ostrich, no matter where they are positioned in the supply/value chain.

Avian Influenza resulted in the South African Ostrich Industry closing their borders to exports of their meat, eggs, chicks and live birds in April 2011, when H5N2 was first identified as officially reported to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) here.  Over the months since then, their veterinary services have filed 13 follow up reports with the last filed in October 2012.

In February 2012 an intitial report for an outbreak of H7N1 was filed - that report is available here with no follow up reports yet filed.   This is the strain reported in the media this week as found on one farm.  To date the follow up report relating to this new outbreak is not yet filed with the OIE as it is early days.

The May 2012 newsletter reported on how the South African ostrich industry were overcoming the export ban on raw meat to Europe by developing heat treated meat as the ban relates to raw meat only.  The press reports state that provided the meat is pre-cooked for 3 seconds at 70 degrees centigrade, it is stated as acceptable for export.  They report that whilst the price is lower than raw meat, the products ensure uninterrupted exports.

The continuation of Avian Influenza in their flock however, does delay the ability for export of eggs, chicks and breeder birds thus opening up opportunities for all with ostrich outside South Africa.

Size of Ostrich Meat Market

Newsletter No. 57 - Items 2 - 3

This newsletter contained signficant data on meat consumption in all regions to illustrate the market potential for ostrich meat and attempt to answer the question "what is the size of the ostrich meat market?"

World Meat Consumption Data

The FAO have been updating their database system and providing improved data, with a greater breakdown of the alternative meats, the market that Ostrich are sold into when doing a request for consumption of all meat.  Previously we had Bovine, Pigs, Sheep and Goat, Poultry and other meats.  Today, Turkey and Chicken meat have separate categories.  Duck, Goose and Guinea Fowl also have their own separate category. Ostrich, because of the low levels of production, currently fall into ‘Other meats’, not elsewhere classified (inc. Camel and game).

We are continually asked about the size of our markets.   Therefore this month’s newsletter will focus on publishing the data with further discussion on how to establish the size of the market.  I have downloaded some of the most relevant consumption data and graphed it for easy analyses.  I have printed them in a pdf document and can be viewed here.  That document formed a supplement to this newsletter. The statistics are not direct comparisons to those published in earlier newsletters as the format in which they are now presented and the country groupings have changed with the new database.

Market Size

There are two aspects when discussing market size.

a.         Existing Market
The ostrich meat has been available for sale for no more than 15 years, with limited production and sales slow to develop as a result of such things as :

  • Low volume
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Inconsistent supply
    • Aggravated by interrupted exports from South Africa as a result of Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease and Congo Fever
  • Fragmented supply
  • Limited marketing

b.         Potential Market
Understanding the potential market should be the area of focus in order to develop a sustainable industry, provided there is production to support the development and the meat produced to an acceptable quality, consistently supplied and at the right price.

Figure 1 confirms the continual rapid growth of meat consumption that continues to be driven by increasing wealth in developing countries.  The total meat market (excluding fish) has grown from in excess of 150 million tonnes in 1990 to 240 million tonnes in 2005.  That is a growth rate of almost 60% in 15 years, thus confirming the predictions of significant growth in meat consumption.

World Meat Consumption

Figure 1 - Size of Ostrich Market

The consumption of all other meats Rabbit, Equine, “Duck Goose and Guinea Fowl” and “Meat Not Elsewhere Classified (including camel and game)” - as illustrated in Figure 1 - is a very small percentage of the total consumption.  The major reason for this is the lack of efficiencies in production of those species that make up that group.  However, it is still a group showing rapid growth, moving from just short of 8 million tonnes to in excess of 13 million tonnes over 15 years (Figure 2).

meat consumption by region

Figure 2 - Meat Consumption by Region

Figure 2 illustrates the regional distribution of consumption of other meats.   A PDF supplement to this newsletter contains a number of graphics as detailed in Table 1.   We are a World Association, therefore it is important to reflect the variations in consumption by region as our markets are all different.  Slide 6 illustrates the consumption of other meats in the different regions and, when studied, readers will be amazed at the significant variations from region to region.   No two regions are the same.

57-supp-index

Table 1 - Supplement Index

So what is the size of the potential size of the market?  To capture just 1% of the world 2005 alternative meat market requires nearly 3m slaughter ostriches/annum.

What is the size of your market potential?

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors - such as:

  • Location
    • Local Market
    • Export market
      • If export market, which market and can you meet the protocols required
  • Identifying your target market
    • Red meat market
    • Low fat meat
    • Cheap meat – commodity market
      • Buyers on open market with limited (if any) supplier loyalty
      • Low price
    • Exclusive Meat – low supply seeking product differentiation
      • Seeking specialty product
      • Recognises need to pay premium price
      • Requires confirmed consistency of supply
  • Production costs
    • Influence selling price required for profitability
  • Ability to supply consistently
    • With Ostrich this requires production systems that ensure:
    • Consistent egg laying
    • Consistent hatchability
    • Minimal mortality
    • Consistent days to slaughter required to achieve meat yields
  • Quality of product for target market
  • Selling price sufficient to sustain consistent supply

Understanding fully the controlling influences of that final point is the key to progressing this industry and to date remains the barrier to progress.

Increasing Demand for Meat Protein

Newsletter No. 56 - Item 3

The following are all interesting articles discussing the future demand for meat protein, the driving forces and the problems this creates.  Please click on the title to download and read each article, they discuss some important and interesting issues:

Can we Feed the Animals?  (Short version)
China’s rapidly growing meat demand: a domestic or an international challenge?
How to feed 2 billion more mouths in 2030? Here are some answers

There are many more articles available with similar discussions - last month’s issue of World Poultry (Oct 2007) carried an article on a similar topic, but that is not yet published on the Internet.   This is a brief summary of their content:

  • further confirmation of the increasing demand for meat protein
  • that increase coming in developing countries driven by the increasing buying power of consumers in those countries
  • developed countries have reached their growth limit when measured in volume as people have a finite daily consumption of meat
  • poultry likely to take the bulk of the increase because of religious constraints on pig meat consumption
  • increased production likely to come in developing countries because of reduced production costs
  • meat production coming mainly from grains in developed countries
  • developing countries produce meat from grazing, crop residues and household waste
  • pressure on our natural resources to produce the additional production
  • technology improving to help provide sustainable agriculture

Ostrich has a role to play in contributing to the increased demand.   As we mention regularly, with ostrich we have one of the most feed efficient of all farmed animals and is probably the most feed efficient of all red meat production animals, when farmed in the right way.  Ostrich meat is acceptable to most religious groups including those unable to eat pig meat, thus providing an alternative to poultry meat – not a replacement, just providing more variability for these consumers.

The table below illustrates the days to slaughter for broiler chicken and different types of pigs, their live-weight and their feed conversion.  It is interesting to compare these figures against the production potential of ostrich.  The figures for ostrich assume 5 years and 10 years of development from introducing management systems that support high levels of production and nutrition that supports the full genetic production potential in the same manner that pig and poultry production has achieved.

Comparative Production Data
Comparative Production Data

How many days do you currently take to get your bird’s to slaughter, what is their liveweight, what are the meat yields and what is the feed conversion?  Whether your production is large or small these are essential measurements of performance to optimise in order to achieve sustainable commercial viability.   Optimising the ability to convert feed efficiently requires fewer resources to produce the meat.  The fewer days taken to take to slaughter, the less area required,  less water to drink and never forgetting that when we feed the birds for maximum production as much as 40% of an ostrich slaughter bird ration is Alfalfa, thus reducing the demand for grains while providing an excellent rotational crop.

During the past month, I have again read articles about excited small producers discussing grazing their ostrich.  We must warn members that depending on grazing grass for ostrich usually results in disappointing results with high levels of chick mortality and other metabolic problems.  It will never be possible to achieve the production efficiencies previously discussed when dependent on grazing ostrich.

 

Marketing Starts on the Farm – 2

Newsletter No. 54

Establishing a market for their products is critical to the success of any business. With livestock, it used to be that you would raise your animal and when it was finished, take it to market. Today that is all changing very rapidly, not just in the EU but also in many importing countries as a result of globalisation, which has resulted in food crossing international borders.

Consumer demand today for greater food security and improved animal welfare makes it increasingly difficult for buyers to source livestock through the market system and retain the ablity to offer these securities.  .

The legislation now in place in the EU and many other countries makes it increasingly challenging to provide the full traceability for animals purchased at livestock markets. Buyers today also seek greater consistency and uniformity as well as security of supply.

As at 2013, the recent horsemeat scandal in Europe has raised further awareness and concerns on food security and traceability.

To achieve buyer requirements the larger meat buyers purchase on contract and lay down stringent rearing standards, over and above those laid down by legislation. These rearing standards are not possible to monitor when they have no direct access to the animals while on farm because the first time they are seen is at the market.

These are some of the areas controlled on farm and if not in place, many buyers will not buy the meat.

- Food Safety/Consumer Health
- Animal Welfare
- Residue Monitoring
- Quality
- Disease Control
- Reliability of Supply

This clearly demonstrates why marketing starts on the farm. If all these things are not in place on the farm, then the market is limited if available at all.

It is not easy to place these factors in any particular order of importance because a failure in any one area can halt market availability even if the farm is perfect in all other areas.

The following illustrate these issues and discuss the role of the WOA in establishing protocols, where appropriate, with greatest focus on the areas that are important at farm level.

Food Safety/Consumer Health
In meat production examples of areas that are important to food safety and consumer health are:

  • Unwanted residues in the blood and meat:
    • Antibiotics
    • Growth Hormones
    • Heavy Metals
    • Pesticides
  • Drugs
  • Bacteria infection
  • Bruising
  • Disease of any nature

A visit to the government web sites indicates how important these issues are today.  The increase in globalisation of agriculture and intensification of livestock production has combined to increase the risks to consumers of contaminated product.

Traceability
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization), which develops voluntary international standards for products and services, defines traceability as the “ability to trace the history, application, or location of that which is under consideration.”  Under EU law, “traceability” means the ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Full traceability is becoming increasingly important in the major markets. With livestock, as can be seen, this is not simply from the slaughter plant to the point of sale, but also where born, where grown, what they have eaten throughout their lives, all medical history including treatments.  To achieve this records are required on such things as:

  • Unique Animal identification
  • Location of birth
  • Location during rearing
  • Feed fed throughout their life
    • To trace any potential contamination
    • Use of prohibited ingredients at any time
    • Supplying feed companies required to maintain full records of ingredient sources in each batch of feed
  • Health records
    • Diseases
    • Treatments
    • Vaccinations
  • Transport

Traceability is a way of responding to potential risks that can arise in food and feed, to ensure that all food products are safe to eat.  It is vital that when national authorities or food businesses identify a risk they can trace it back to its source in order to swiftly isolate the problem and prevent contaminated products from reaching consumers.  In addition, traceability allows targeted withdrawals and the provision of accurate information to the public, thereby minimising disruption to trade.

Past food crises such as dioxin contamination and BSE, have illustrated the particular importance of being able to swiftly identify and isolate unsafe foodstuffs in order to prevent them from reaching the consumer.  As at March 2013 the most recent incident is the Horsemeat found in processed foods labelled as beef and pork DNA found in halaal products.

Animal Welfare
The markets of Europe, Britain and North America are becoming increasingly concerned over animal welfare.  The British Domesticated Ostrich Association is working with DEFRA and the RSPCA to lay down basic standards here in Britain .

The WOA has created a set of welfare guidelins that can be used as a foundation for:

  • governments seeking guidance to develop their own codes
  • buyers wanting to set codes
  • certification organisations needing to learn more on ostrich

The gudielines are available at http://www.world-ostrich.org/woawelfare.htm.  We will amend and update as experience and data becomes more available.

Residues
The following quote from the EU web site:  http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/residues/index_en.htm illustrates the importance now placed on having the right procedures in place to ensure meat is free of residues.

Quote: “Residues of Veterinary Medicinal Products - Introduction        

During their lifetime, animals may have to be treated with medicines for prevention or cure of diseases. In food producing animals such as cattle, pigs, poultry and fish this may lead to residues of the substances used for the treatment in the food products derived from these animals (e.g. meat, milk, eggs). The residues should however not be harmful to the consumer.

To guarantee a high level of consumer protection, Community legislation requires that the toxicity of potential residues is evaluated before the use of a medicinal substance in food producing animals is authorised. If considered necessary, maximum residue limits (MRLs) are established and in some cases, the use of the relevant substance is prohibited. The evaluation procedure is laid out in Council Regulation (EC) 2377/90 of 26 June 1990.

Directorate-General Enterprise is responsible for the rules governing medicinal products and the evaluation of residues of pharmacologically active substances used in veterinary medicinal products and for establishment of MRLs in the EU.  End Quote

Countries will have their own rules and regulations to monitor residues within the meat to protect their consumers.  In the EU, each country residue-monitoring plan is expected to follow the EU regulations:  http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/residues/control_en.htm.  This page provides information for those countries outside the EU wishing to supply the EU.  http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/residues/third_countries_en.htm.

Residues in the meat result from inputs at the farm, and emphasise the importance of the correct controls on the farm.  These inputs include feed, water and all medication, internal and external.

Quality
The aspects of meat quality that are controlled at farm level are discussed in greater detailed in the WOA Factors Influencing Ostrich Meat Quality

  • Age of the animal
  • Nutrition
  • Management Systems

In meat quality, the Nutrition is the most important as the rations fed control the colour, taste, texture and odour of the meat.  They control the animal’s ability to handle stress, and the time required to bring an animal to slaughter.  The younger the animal is slaughter ready, the more tender the meat.

Management systems are also extremely important in controlling meat quality, because any failure in management can result in insufficient feed intake, insufficient water intake, disease control and stress levels.  Insufficient water intake, presence of disease or parasites and stress all result in reduced feed intake and impact on the quality of the meat.

The condition of the animal’s liver and colour of the fat are key indicators of the animals overall health and quality of the meat.  The feed the animal receives directly controls liver condition and fat colour.

Disease Control
The importance of good biosecurity to minimise the risks of disease cannot be over emphasised.  Historically Newcastle Disease (NCD) and Avian Influenza (AI) are probably the diseases that have caused the most disruption to supplies.

An outbreak of NCD or AI in ostrich and/or poultry can shut down movement locally and exports overnight.  AI ended the Israeli Ostrich industry, even though it was not present in their ostrich flock as they were totally dependent on the export market for meat sales as the local population are unable to eat ostrich meat.  Over the years NCD and AI has severely affected the South African industry because they had built their meat sales on the export market.   Australia has also experienced total closure to exports for an extended period because of NCD in poultry.

Chick Mortality has also caused many difficulties in continuity of supply:

Quote "Chick mortality is a serious destroyer with devastating and varied financial implications.   For the last two decades, in all surveys and opinion polls, the vagaries of chick mortality have been listed as enemy number one."  End Quote [1]

There are a number of reasons for chick mortality and these should be clearly understood to ensure correct management to minimise these losses.

Disease disrupts the supply to the market.

Reliability of Supply
Most restaurants set their menus for several months at a time (many for as long as 6 months) and once let down markets are harder to recover.  They cannot afford to to be let down in delivery.

Supermarkets will not tolerate empty shelf space.  Unreliable supplies will result in lost contracts.  Disease is one of the major causes of lack of supply, either as a result of export bans or as a result of high chick mortality.

One other major cause for lack of supply witnessed in Ostrich over the years is the unreliability of egg numbers laid and conversion of those eggs to day old chicks and then survival to slaughter.  Farm management systems must be in place to optimise the numbers of eggs laid and the conversion of those eggs to slaughter birds to ensure continuity and reliability of the supply to the market.

Conclusion:
The above illustrates just why marketing starts at the farm.

-------

[1] The South African National Agricultural Marketing Council “Report on the Investigation of the effects of Deregulation of the South African Ostrich Industry” page 33.

The Greatest Threat to our Industry

Newsletter No. 53 - Item 1

These words were written in 2007

A major buyer for Ostrich meat, who has always strived to obtain quality meat, made this statement:

The greatest threat to our industry is the poor quality ostrich meat we continually see

The buyer of a major supermarket chain has stated they are not interested in placing ostrich meat on their shelves again as a direct result of past negative experiences, proving just how true that statement is.  Those negative experiences included consumer resistance and the refusal of the supplier to change their methods of production to meet their customer needs. The supplier implied that the skin is the primary product and they were unable to make those changes, as the changes would have a negative effect on the skins.

A report of the “First International Ostrich Meat Congress” that took place at the end of February 1997 in Oudtshoorn made up item 2 in this newsletter - see below.  The ostrich mailing list was new and very active at the time.  Prior to going to this conference, members of the list were asked for their thoughts on the slow development of the markets, as it was an excellent channel of communication within the industry.

The issues list members had raised were discussed since they were clearly concerns of all those on the front line marketing and hoped would continue to be addressed.  10 years on, the industry faces the same challenges.  If anything, it is worse.

Item 2b discusses the dangers of bad consumer experiences.  Hearing major buyers complaining of the same thing 10 years later indicates that as an industry this serious threat remains a major issue that the industry continues to fail to address on a large enough scale.

Report of First International Ostrich Meat Congress – February, 1997
Published on the ostrich list on 3rd March 1997

Last week NOPSA - The National Ostrich Processors Association of South Africa (NOPSA) hosted The First International Ostrich Meat Congress in Oudtshoorn.  There were 120 delegates from 21 countries.  The week should be seen as a major event in the history of the Ostrich Industry.  It was not a week of delegates simply sitting and listening to a number of papers presented by various speakers - but was an opportunity for those attending to contribute in general discussion.

Three major areas were covered - The Meat (the individual muscles, their names, grades by tenderness etc.), Marketing Strategy and Hides.  The delegates were also given a tour of the Abattoir, Tannery and various farms in the area.

a. The Meat
As a result of the confusion in the market as to the names and degree of tenderness of different muscles it was agreed that an internationally accepted standard should be set.  An international subcommittee was formed.  Before we departed, the Catalogue numbers of each muscle and Latin names had been agreed.  The grading of several muscles and some trade names are still to be agreed.  There is to be a further meeting of the sub committee to me held in Europe to finalise these matters.

Dr. F. Mellet of Stellenbosch University reported on the pH values of the meat and the Anatomy of the muscles.  He noted that the Ostrich shows characteristics of Birds, Mammals and Reptiles.

The statement was made by one speaker that the industry is rapidly moving from the Hides as the primary product, with the meat the by-product to The Meat as the primary Product with the hides the by-product.

b. Marketing Strategy
A good deal of time was attributed to this important subject.   Some statistics were presented on current numbers of birds being slaughtered, number of approved export abattoirs, numbers of birds etc.  However, it was noted that these were compiled with limited data.   Statistics were also shown on the dramatic growth of the Turkey and Chicken Industries in relation to the total meat market.  It was noted that it would take 15million slaughter birds to satisfy 15% of the European market alone.  The conclusion: there is plenty of room for every one and great potential for growth.

There was an excellent presentation covering what the housewife/consumer is looking for, what makes the consumer buy the product and how to create an international awareness.  Great emphasis was also given to the fact that there will be many people over the next few years buying Ostrich for the first time.  If the product is not good and that first experience is a bad one - that consumer may well never try the product again.  It was noted that there has been an inconstancy in the product in the past, which must be addressed.  This inconsistency is most probably a combination of the variety of ages of slaughter birds, the effects of diet, variety in classification between countries of the various muscles etc.

The price, presentation and colour of the meat were also aspects mentioned.  The health aspects were seen as a major priority - the speaker highlighted the fact that we have a free range meat, that the market wants animals reared on feed free of meat source proteins, routine antibiotics, growth hormones etc.

An International Ostrich Association will be formed to promote the industry.  It will prepare the International Meat Buyers Guide along with other sales literature, videos etc.  It will generate and sustain general public awareness campaigns.   The funding will be a combination of levies, profit from sale of promotional materials and any other means that may seem appropriate from time to time.  Some of the funding will go towards research and development.  The levies will be collected by the National Associations - part to be handed across to the International Association with some retained by the National Associations to promote within their individual country as each country has its own unique culture.

Delegates were warned that any bad press or experience regarding Ostrich will reflect on the industry - the consumer does not think of where that Ostrich was - simply the name Ostrich.  It is essential to work together to ensure the quality and consistency of standards.

c. Ostrich Leather
Whilst this was primarily an Ostrich Meat Congress, this important product was certainly not ignored.  The current grading of Ostrich skins was covered in detail.  Mr. Kriek of the KKLK informed the delegates that the industry often complains that the grading is too kind to the producer - but it has been agreed to retain the standard for the next 2 years at least.  It was acknowledged that there are a number of new producers now in the market and there will be a learning curve to achieve the required quality.

Discussion took place on the effect of slaughter age on the hide.  It was acknowledged that the 10mth skin of a well-fed bird is very acceptable and that the 14mth slaughter age has arisen to satisfy the requirements of the feather trade.  There was considerable discussion on the potential effect on price of an increasing number hides and of lower grade skins possibly coming onto the market.  Examples were given of uses of these hides, which no other leather could compete with, therefore allowing the hides to retain a high value.  An analogy was made with the wine industry.  You will have your very high value wines, the plonks and many in-between – all made from the one product - the Grape.

All delegates visited the Tannery and were shown a large range of skins - of differing grades.  A good deal of excellent discussion took place between the delegates during this visit.

The Congress was closed by the South African Minister of Agriculture - Mr. D. Hanekom.  He passed on the message to the South African Industry that he offered his full support to the development of the industry.  He also announced that legislation is now going through to allow the Import and Export of genetic material.

Footnote:
Note the fact that this was 1997 and it was accepted then that skins from 10 month birds (42 weeks old) are acceptable and that the feather industry was driving the later slaughter.  Slaughter birds as late as 60 weeks is simply not commercially viable for a producer producing good quality meat.

2013: That footnote was published in 2007.  This article discussed a conference that took place in South Africa in 1997 just 3 years after the South African industry was deregulated and the early countries to import ostrich were facing the challenge from importing the foundation birds and transition to commercial production.

Breeding for Meat Quality and High Yield Products

Newsletter No 50 - Item 3

Breeding for Meat Quality and High Yield Products is an article written by a major poultry genetic specialist company.  The introduction states:

Quote: At Cobb, we understand how the quality of these traits impacts on our customers’ profits and for the last two decades we have invested millions of dollars in developing a higher yielding broiler, with breast meat yield increasing 6% of live weight. Our research and development team will continue progressing to keep pace with demands for increased yield and meat quality as well as various aspects of fillet shape, all in an effort to increase white meat yield and sizing yields for our customers. End Quote

This article is discussing the increased weight of breast meat as a percentage of liveweight because it is more valuable than the leg and wing meat.  Take the Fan – OS1046 as an example with Ostrich as a high value muscle because its size makes it a very versatile muscle.  This muscle currently varies enormously and the longer, deeper framed birds will produce a much larger Fan than birds of a more torpedo shape and poor frame development.  The article “The Potential Meat Yield of Ostrich” proves that as an industry, we can more than double the current average meat yields of ostrich and we can do it in many fewer days to slaughter than is the current average.

Meat Quality and Grading Meat

Newsletter 49 - Item 2

The WOA published a document “Factors Influencing Meat Quality”.  The document covers 10 sections that indicate how many things influence the quality of meat.  The influences are the same for any meat production specie and cover many factors throughout the production chain.  The following graphic comes from the book “Garth Pig Stockmanship Standards” and illustrates well just how many production factors influence meat quality.

Meat Quality

Nutrition, in excess of 60% of the input costs of any commercial livestock production, is at the very top as it has the greatest influence.  Many of the factors referenced are dependent on the correct nutrition.  A breakdown in any one of those factors influences the quality of the meat as received by the consumer.

A visitor recently published this message to the American Ostrich Association public forum on their web site.  The message illustrates again the importance of consistent quality, especially when introducing a totally new meat specie to the marketplace.

Quote: I recently purchased several cuts of ostrich. I am writing an article on ostrich and would feel bad if I didn't at least try to put a positive spin on it. But I cooked the filet to medium as I read was necessary for ostrich and I couldn't take how tough it was. The roast was almost inedible. I tried again by pressure cooking it like I do with tough beef cuts. It just broke down into smaller tough pieces. I haven't touched the ground ostrich. What am I doing wrong? Any cooking suggestions or recipes would be appreciated. Thank you. End quote

One factor missing from the above graphic is ‘age at slaughter’.  It is very possible that this lady purchased meat from an old breeder bird.  There are many reasons why meat can be tough.

The WOA has produced a Carcass Grading System that requires understanding and utilisation for all actively involved in our industry.  Grading a product differentiates quality and enables the setting of prices according to quality.  Grading also enables our customers to identify the level of quality they are purchasing.

Ostrich Leather Grading

Newsletter No. 44 - November 2006 Item 2

This newsletter reporte the completion of the World Ostrich Association leather grades and published them on the web here.  Premium and Super Premium are two additional grades not included in the NOPSA Leather Grading that to date has been the industry standard.   These new grades more accurately reflect customer demand and encourage production to higher standards.

Studies carried out by the South African researchers proved the younger the birds at slaughter the higher percentage of Grade 1 skins achieved.  Scars and blemishes determine grades rather than weight, thickness or follicle development.  That study also reported the follicles insufficiently formed and blamed the young age of the birds as the reason, but there is evidence that genetics may also contribute to follicle style and size.

There is further evidence, verified by a study personally carried out in South Africa and published here, that method of rearing controls the age of maturity of the follicles.  The significance of producing acceptable skins at younger age indicates the ability to achieve skins with fewer blemishes and scars and therefore it makes sense to introduce these new grades to improve standards and prices.

Nutrition and management are the major factors influencing age of slaughter, scaring or blemishes.  Overcrowding, batch size, fencing, handling methods, transport are all management factors that influence scaring and blemishes.  We still see many skins ruined by poor handling at slaughter and storage.

Also published is a document to identify the areas of management that influence the quality of the skins that can be viewed here.

There are currently no classifications for follicle size and development even though buyers vary in their requirements, some preferring larger, heavier skins with large follicles, others prefer lighter weight skins with small follicles and others like to roll their skins to flatten the follicles.  These items remain subjective to the individual buyers and sellers. We can develop follicle classifications and quantify other elements as volume increases with industry growth.

The greatest benefit of improving standards of production to produce better quality finished products is that the systems required to achieve those standards also reduce the costs of production to enable commercially viable meat production.

Earlier slaughter requires less feed, less infrastructure and faster return on working capital.  These factors significantly reduce production costs.

World Ostrich Association Publications

The World Ostrich Association (WOA) has a number of publications available to support its members.   All are available free to members of the association and most are also available to download in PDF format.  These are important docucments to support producers, processors and the buyers of Ostrich Products.

WOA Ostrich Carcass Grading processors and meat buyers

WOA Ostrich Yield Payment  processor farmer payment

WOA Factors Influencing Ostrich Meat Quality producers and processors

WOA Ostrich Skin and Finished Leather Grading producers, processors and buyers

WOA Ostrich Feather Structure and Quality producers, processors and buyers

WOA Ostrich Benchmark Performance Targets producers

WOA Ostrich Welfare Guidelines producers, processors and buyers

WOA Guide to Valuing Ostrich Buying, Selling or Insurance claim – how do you value an ostrich?   Available to members only

Ostrich Farming Business Planning Planning Profitable Ostrich Farming from ‘Farm to Plate’   Available members only

Understanding the Productive Value of Alfalfa
This is not a WOA production, but as it is of significant importance in ostrich production, it is included.  It is a link to an external web site.