Ostrich Meat Market Barriers and Opportunities

Newsletter No. 40 - Items 3 & 4

There are mixed feelings today amongst many we talk to regarding the future of our fledgling industry.  Most are aware of the opportunities discussed earlier and the reason for becoming involved in Ostrich production.

The main barrier to success and servicing these market opportunities remains the lack of production caused by the poor production performances on farm, resulting in high costs of production.   These concerns are real as poor egg production, low fertility, low hatchability, high chick mortality, late slaughter and low slaughter weight continue to be the norm.

To overcome these barriers requires greater understanding as to the causes.

The primary reason for these poor production results is due to the poor information that remains prevalent on methods of production; most of this information breaks the rules for successful commercial livestock production.  Some examples:

a.    Ostrich can be produced using low value feed ingredients
Adult Ostrich can survive eating very little; adult ostrich food consumption is only 1.4% of their body weight per day.  In contrast, an adult chicken consumes 8.5% of her body weight in food per day.  The implication of this is that to be productive every ounce of ostrich feed must be nutrient dense in order to provide the commercial ostrich with sufficient nutrients to be able to produce commercial levels of production.

b.    Poultry type rations
Many rations we see for ostrich are poultry style rations.  Ostrich are not poultry.

c.    Misleading Published Information
Newsletter No. 34 discussed recently published papers and the continued references to outdated farming methods including flushing and teasing, mid-season breeding rest, use of poor quality forages and 350+ day slaughter ages.

Newsletter No. 38 discussed information on the internet, most of which was first published over 10 years ago and based on no science or proven experience.  We still hear people quoting certain practices because they have read them somewhere and assume them necessary practices to follow.

Ostrich is a new meat in every market.  Ostrich meat only entered Europe a little over a decade ago with buyers still looking for reliable and sustainable supplies.   The above discussion clearly indicates that Ostrich meat has a place in many markets.  In the long term, Ostrich can supply red meat with the efficiency of Pig and Poultry.  While volumes remain low, Ostrich meat can service the high-end niche markets in all regions.

In January 2005, we highlighted that our competition is not each other, rather our competition is the other specie.  It can be seen that there is room for all, and where pig meat is not an option, ostrich provides the consumers with increased variety of meat.

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