Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Forums Like "Backyard Chickens" Are Useful Sources Of Information

This request came to the forum from someone on a small island in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Followed by answers from this blog host......

"Questions on Raising 2 Emu Chicks with Alpaca, goats, sheep. We are thinking of introducing emu (1 or 2 chicks) to our little barnyard.."

1. Is it safe to house an emu with 3 alpaca, 2 Nubian goats, 2 babydoll southdown sheep all together? I have heard of people cohabiting emu with sheep and goats and if you heard about Lucy on the Loose BC news coverage then you will know that Lucy lives with a deer. I would think that one of the issues would be the size of their enclosure and whether there are places to take cover. Our emus have been raised with border collies around but never in the pen. Emus are very adaptable with gradual change but if startled will try to run away at great speed or if cornered come out kicking!

2. Is it best to have 1 emu? Emus are very social especially with their own kind. I had a single chick hatch and had to buy 3 Road Island Red chicks to keep it company. Emus on their own will usually make a strong bond with their owners, however it is not the same as another emu. I agree with Briefvisit that two females would not be a good idea. Females are generally the alpha of the species. The likelihood of one trying to drive the other away so that she is available for any passing emu males is very strong. Better to have a pair or two males in my opinion.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
3. Alpacas have big, shiny eyes! Can the emu hurt them? Emus are very curious and pecking is a large part of their daily activity. I would think shiny eyes would be irresistible.

4. Fencing...we have 4 foot fences all around our pastures. Four foot fencing works well with chicks up to 6-8 months. We also use it for our established breeders who are in 100x20' pens with wooden rails between the posts so that they can't get their body weight over . However the growout pens for 8-18 month olds are much larger in area and so we use 6' wire. Remember that a bird being chased by another emu will pickup a good speed and can jump amazingly high when aided with their strong toes climbing the fencing.
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Friday, 21 March 2014

If It Looks Like Poultry And Walks Like Poultry, Then It's Probably Poultry.....NOT

Click to see Emu Feather detail

Emus have feathers like poultry however with specialized characteristics. They range from 1 inch to 1.5 feet long and two feathers come out of the same quill. Their barbless quality (unlike ducks) makes the feathers smooth like fur and easier to puff up for cooling in the summer or creating an insulating air space in winter. Not to diminish the fact that puffing is very effective when impressing your mate or intimidating the competition.

Emu Feathers on a windy day

Most birds have a keel shaped breast bone that enables the wing muscles to attach to the body. Emus are flightless birds and like other ratites and penguins have a flat breast bone (see previous post for skeleton diagram).

And most importantly from a meat production prospective emu is a wise alternative for farmers. Their meat is lean and the pH of their flesh is similar to beef. Therefore, emu is classified as red meat for cooking purposes and heart healthy as studies have shown.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Let’s Get Down & Dirty With This Livestock

A full grown 18 month old emu stands about 6 feet and weighs an average of 120 lbs (ref American Emu Assn).  When facing danger it can sprint 30 mph for 30 minutes (half the speed of an ostrich) and then suddenly drop to the ground puffing up its camouflage feathers to look like a rock.


Emu Footprints In The Snow
Amazing isn’t it that those toes can support that weight. According to the Royal Veterinary College in London (Nov 2013) studies have suggested emus might be an ideal model species for looking at orthopedic issues such as hip joint problems for human applications.  

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Big Melt And Then Back To Business

Emu Juveniles In Growout Pen

The emu juveniles, 8 months old, don't know what to make of this white stuff. Their fresh food and water are available in the enclosure.  Their growout pen (until 18 months old) is 100' x 100' with 6' 6" fences: lots of room to run as emus "are want to do". 

The breeders on the other hand make use of their internal barometer
which signals a slowing down of egg production until the weather returns to normal, to safeguard the accumulating egg clutch. We incubate the eggs so they are collected daily. The video shows a hen soaking up the sun as she replenishes her Vitamin D sources.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Arctic Chill Over BC Doesn't Bother Emu

Emu "cousin" bearing up well in Feb BC Snowstorm
One thing about raising emu is that they are very adaptable. They have been around for thousands of years in Australia from desert conditions to snow capped mountains. They can adjust to wide ranges in temperature, varying levels of food supply and most predators (exception being the dingo). When Vancouver Islanders ask if they wouldn't be happier in a shed or barn we chuckle as the tight quarters would be more upsetting than anything mother nature has in store.