This article published in January, discusses how the quality of ostrich feathers is a key indicator to healthier chicks. Ostrich feather quality is a key indicator to health in the same manner the sheen on the coat of all livestock and pets indicate overall health. Good Health and production potential is all down to good management with the most important element – adequate nutrients fed.
Having lived and farmed ostriches in South Africa, the problems in the South African Ostrich industry have come as little surprise. A few quotes from the article:
Quote: research from Stellenbosch University shows that the brighter the white wing tip, the better the bird. End Quote
Quote: The finding points the way to breeding chicks that are more resistant to disease — possibly even to the avian influenza that has severely curbed the industry, causing losses of up to R1.5bn since the European Union (EU) stopped importing raw ostrich meat. The EU used to import about 80% of South Africa’s ostrich meat. End Quote
Quote: Stellenbosch University behavioural ecologist Maud Bonato said there is "potential" to breed birds that are more resistant to avian influenza, although proving this is difficult as "you can’t just inject birds with avian flu". End Quote
Quote: the finding is "quite exciting, it’s quite powerful … it has significance for the breeding of chicks better able to resist disease". End Quote
The peer-reviewed published research was reported to show Quote: "the coloration of the father’s white feathers … (predicted the offspring’s) immune response to typical avian diseases such as diphtheria, while the coloration of both the father’s white feathers and bill predicted offspring growth rate". End Quote
Quote: The scientists also proved that ostrich hens laid heavier eggs when mated with males with brighter feathers. End Quote
Quote: “less than 100,000 birds would be slaughtered this year, down from 250,000 birds in 2011.”
While writing this article I put “Ostrich Production” into our search engine. This is the list of the articles it produced on just the first page. I had the option to go further – but I think this list illustrates just how low level that area of research is in comparison to the real evidence?
The photo below is a great bench mark illustration of how brilliant healthy ostrich feathers can look. This is a Red Male in the US around 1995. The farmer holding those feathers alongside the bird is 1.9m (6ft 3”).