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Ostrich Farming in Kenya


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Ostrich Farming in Kenya –  The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest bird in the world. The ostrich cannot fly but has strong, long and powerful legs which enable it to run very fast at an approximate speed of 70km/hr.It can maintain this speed for 20-30 minutes. Its foot has only two toes, with the large toe having a sharp claw which is used for defence.The head is small and has a long naked neck which adds to its defence mechanism.

The male ostrich has a black plumage with white plumes on the wings and the tail, while the female has greyish plumage. The Ostrich can withstand extreme weather condition and can survive very well in the ASALs. They are mainly found in the open woodlands or range grasslands. They tend to avoid thick bushes and dense tree covers. The ostrich lays up to 45 eggs and each egg weighs between 1.5 to 2 kg.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Benefits

  1. The demand for ostrich and its meat has increased in the global market thus providing a sustainable source of income for farmers.
  2. Ostrich meat has lower fat, calories and cholesterol than beef, chicken, turkey or beef.
  3. Ostrich oil, which is made from ostrich fat, can be used to help treat asthma and other chest ailments.
  4. The bird’s feathers can be used to make clothing, decorations and stuffing for pillows, duvets and seats.
  5. Ostriches also bring farmers a higher and faster return on investment
  6. Source of revenue through tourism.
  7. Conservation of genetic resource.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Policy Issues

Ostrich farming is under the Kenya Wildlife Service and a permit from them is required. Before issuance of the permit a game ranger has to inspect the farm

Exciting Articles

Stakeholders

Ministry of Livestock Development.
Ministry of Tourism.
Ministry of Environment.
Ministry of Forest Services.
Kenya wildlife services.
Maasai Ostrich Farm
Other Ostrich Farmers.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Feeding and Watering

The birds drink several gallons of water a day, so you will need an adequate supply. Ostriches feed on crops and grasses, and eat smaller amounts than most other livestock.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Housing

You need adequate space to breed them as a male ostrich stands between six and nine feet, while females range between 5.5 and 6.5 feet tall at maturity. The birds can be hard to control and usually require about two acres of a well-drained area if they are a large number.

It is advisable to avoid using barbed wire to fence the birds in as they could hurt themselves on it. Build a pen that is separated by hedges to provide more privacy during courtship displays. And create a clean sand pit for the birds to roll around in.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya

Ostrich Farming in Kenya

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Distinguishing the Male and Female Ostrich

A male and female ostrich are usually distinguished by their colours. A male ostrich is black, while a female is grey. In Kenya, we mainly have the Maasai and Somali species, distinguished by a pinkish or bluish hue on their bodies, respectively.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Diseases, Parasites and Vices

During the first three months mortality rates can be as high as 30-40% and disease control measures should be put in place.
In semi intensive system of production, care should be taken to reduce vulnerability by;

Improved hygiene trough disinfection through use foot baths.
Control of human traffic.
Routine vaccination.
Observation and early treatment of diseases

Parasites

Ecto parasites. The main types include: Mites, Ticks, Large flies.

Control:

Spraying is done once a year using recommended acaricides.Frequent   spraying is not encouraged because of residual effects of the acaricides.

Endo Parasites. Tapeworms are prevalent in birds under semi intensive system of production.

Control:

Routine and regular deworming

Vices

Cannibalism and pecking

Control:

Provision of adequate nutrient supplementation
Treatment of injuries using antibiotic sprays.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Breeds & Breeding

Breeds

Maasai Ostrich (S.camelus massaicus). It is Pink Necked with more quills. It’s the largest and can lay up to 40 eggs in one laying season.

Somali Ostrich (S. camelus molybdophanes). It is Blue Necked with fewer quills that are far apart.  Lays fewer eggs in two seasons/ March & August about 30 eggs. The have    smaller carcass.

Black necked Ostrich (S. camelus camelus.)  Smaller in size and mainly found in temperate regions in Europe & South   Africa.

Crosses of Maasai & Somali Ostrich. Have a faster growth rate, higher mature weight, better quill spacing than the Somali ostrich.

Arabian Ostrich (S.camelus syriacus).

Southern Ostrich (S. camelus australus). This is the black necked ostrich. Found mainly in temperate regions especially South Africa.

Sources of breeding stock

Currently the main suppliers in Kenya are:

  • Maasai Ostrich Resort Farm  in  Kitengela.
  • Kenya Wildlife services
  • Ostri Farm in Naivasha.

Breeding

Ostriches become sexually mature when they are 2 to 3 years old; with hens maturing about six months earlier than cocks. Egg numbers increase with successive years.
Ostriches only breed during particulars seasons of the year as per the breed. The Maasai ostrich have one breeding season, while the Somali ostrich have two seasons per year
The birds exhibit a characteristic mating behaviors .Cock will typically use hisses and other sounds to fight for hens. The cock will attract hens by performing with his wings, alternating wing beats, until he attract a mate. The hen opens her wings, bends the neck with circular head movements and kneels down ready to be mated. The hens crouches on the ground and is mounted from behind by the male.
Mating takes place on a daily basis mainly early in the morning and late in the evening.The cock prepares the nest on the ground where the hens will lay her eggs.
Eggs are laid on alternate days for up to 90 days.
The mating ratio should be ideally 1one male (cock) to three females (hens) .
To synchronize brooding the males are withdrawn to stop the hens from laying any more eggs.

The Ostrich Eggs

Ostriches are oviparous. The hens will lay their fertilized eggs in a nest. The first female to lay her eggs will be the dominant female. The hen will lay between 15-45 eggs per season depending on the species. Ostrich eggs are the largest of all eggs (and by extension, the yolk is the largest single cell though they are actually the smallest eggs relative to the size of the bird. which are, on average, 15 centimeters (5.9 in) long, 13 centimeters (5.1 in) wide, and weigh 1.4-2 kilograms. They are glossy and cream in color, with thick shells marked by small pits.

Handling of Eggs

Eggs are collected twice daily, early in the morning and late in the evening.
Caution should be taken by driving the birds to a safe distance while they are   picked. This done to avoid reprisals from the female bird. Preferably two persons     should be involved such that one person distracts the birds while the other person collects the eggs.
The collector should put on hand gloves because contact between the handler’s body and the eggs may lead to embryo mortality due to contamination.
Dirty eggs should be cleaned with damp warm cloth.
The eggs should be fumigated for 30 minutes with formalin and potassium permanganate.
Store eggs in a cold room at 15 degrees Celsius for not more than10 days.
The top side should be marked with a pencil and then the eggs should be turned twice daily so that the yolk remains at the centre.
Place eggs at room temperature before incubating to regulate the temperature gradually.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Market

Ostrich meat is in high demand, which has seen it attract high prices. The birds are been exported to countries as far afield as France, Holland, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and China.

An ostrich egg fetches about Sh3,500 due to its rarity and large size; it weighs about 1.3 kilos. A chick that is about a month old is likely to be sold at between Sh30,000 and Sh40,000. A year-old ostrich will set you back between Sh70,000 and Sh90,000.Ostrich meat cost about Sh 3,000 per kilogram.

Ostrich Farming in Kenya – Video



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