Monday, 26 May 2014

Hatching Emu Eggs

Source: Wikipedia
The physical characteristics of an emu egg introduces a unique set of challenges for the farmer. The average emu egg ranges from 550-700 g with a multilayered shell about 3/4 mm thick. In addition it takes about 3 times as long as that of a chicken egg to hatch. So what are the egg hatching options?

Natural Incubation  Source: Wikipedia

After 6-10 emu eggs have been laid the male goes broody and sits on them for approximately 50 days. As the female averages 20 eggs a season it wouldn’t be practical for an emu farmer with segregated breeding pairs to cut the production of fertile eggs by a possible 60%. So each egg on our farm is collected every 3-4 days and stored until a workable hatch volume can be started. 

During the early 1990's hayday of emu farming typically the farmer’s business plan was to hatch as many eggs as possible. The chicks would then be sold to entry level emu farmers. Proven breeding pairs were going for as much as $40,000.00. As an emu egg is quite large, the garden variety chicken and duck incubators if modified would not produce the volumes necessary. So highly priced incubators came on the market and it was not uncommon to spend $10-15,000.00 for a machine that held hundreds of eggs. A few examples:

Hatchrite Incubator

N'Kobi Big Bird Series Incubator

Now 20+ years later most of these manufacturers have gone out of business. If one can acquire a used machine stored in a shed somewhere and is mechanical or has a friend, these cabinet incubators can be functional again. We had our N’Kobi Big Bird incubator in for repairs at Boulter Machine Works in Duncan this egg laying season and we were told that it was extremely well made and we should expect to use it for a good long time. The Hatchrite has a very strong following with a lot of people still using them since the 90’s. There is an enthusiast in Washington who has instruction manuals, parts resources and wiring diagrams etc, etc. His name is Kevin G. McCoy. Kevin has also recorded some YouTube videos that might help with Hatchrite refurbishing.

On a smaller scale the very reliable GQF incubator does come in an emu egg version. There are specific trays that can be purchased separately and it can hold 36 eggs at a time.

GQF Cabinet Incubator 1500
Large Egg setting tray and positioners

Still another option would be to import from another country such as China.

One of many designs from Alibaba
The price is often affordable and shipping by sea inexpensive if you have lots of time. However keep in mind that their mass target market is chicken and duck producers. One needs to ensure that manufacturer customisation of the egg trays and rotating shelves for emu incubation will do the job correctly.

Now finally, on a very large scale an insulated room can be dedicated for incubation and hatching. We toured this California emu farm linked here and were very impressed with their facility.
So as you can see there are many incubation options available. Start by deciding what size of an emu farm is it that you want and can afford. Then do your research. Remember that incubation is only one part of the infrastructure costs.

This final point brings up a whole other strategy to increase the size of your "mob".  You can source out a farmer that is selling hatched chicks. They are usually sold no younger that a week old from the farm gate rather than shipped. The going rate of around $100.00 factors in the partial expenses of the breeding pair and the operating costs of the 7 weeks of incubation. Sexed chicks would be more as this information would provide one extra leap forward in the plan.
Source: Wikipedia


  1. My husband and I are looking for the manual (or a copy of the manual) that goes with a N'Kobi Big Bird Incubator that uses the Love Self Tune controls. Any ideas?

  2. Thanks for your view of our emu farming blog and interest in incubators. We have two N'Kobi Big Bird incubators. The models seem to be classified by egg capacity. I expect the operating manuals are generic. I am very happy to discuss the control mechanisms in detail with you. Please fill in a request on our farming website at so that I can get your email address. Look forward to talking to you.

  3. We now have the N'Kobi Manual posted on our website at The pages are in jpeg format and can be copied to your printer.