Feed Requirements for Emu

Feed your emus correctly and they will reach their genetic potential.  Don’t feed them correctly and they won’t.  Simple as that.

I know that it is difficult to get emu feed in many areas of the country.  Sometimes you are lucky if you can just get a general ratite feed.  These are usually created more for ostrich or rhea and have 5% more fiber than an emu really needs.A lot of farmers mix their own feed, and this is fine if they know what they are doing

Feed Conversion Ration:

this refers to feed efficiency during the growth stage, in other words, how many pounds of feed does it take to make one pound of weight gain.  It should be noted that emus experience “growth spurts” which will affect the conversion rate.  By one year of age, the ratio of 6:1 is average, higher than that indicates a problem.   Please keep in mind that there are growth spurts between 2 to 7 months which will give much higher FCR’s (4:1, 3:1 or even 2:1)

Adult emus on a good, balanced ration will eat around 1 1/2 pounds of feed per day, averaged out over the year.   Growing chicks and coming 2′s may consume 2 pounds per day, averaged out over a year.

Chicks: 0 to 8 weeks

Chicks need a 20% protein emu chick starter.  Do not feed a higher protein than this or you will have a problem with splayed legs!  Feed free choice and several times per day.  Chicks this age should not need more than 2 pounds per day of a good nutritionally balanced feed.

Chicks: 2 Months to 14 Months

At around 8 weeks the chicks should be moved to a 20% or 18 % Emu Grower and fed free choice.  The birds will be going through growth spurts and the amount they eat will vary but average out to 2 pounds and under per day, provided you have a good nutritionally balanced feed.  Some emu breeders move the birds to an 18% Grower feed at around 6 months.  At fourteen months the birds that have not been pulled for the breeding program are sent to slaughter.


Yearlings for the Breeding program: 12 months to 24 months

Emu that are pulled from the grow out pens and slated for use in a  breeding program should be moved to a 16% or 18% emu maintenance feed and fed free choice.

Breeders: 24 months and up

During the “off-season” we feed the breeders the same 16% emu maintenance feed we give the yearlings mentioned above.  At the end of breeding season the emus will start to eat voraciously for about a month to 45 days.  When breeding season ends varies from one hen to the next, so you may have some still eating breeder feed while the next pen over is on maintenance.

Prior to egg production the breeders are moved to a 20% or 21% Emu Breeder ration.  We try to start the higher protein feed at least one month before breeding season starts, which is nearly two months before egg production starts.  For us in Tennessee, we start feeding breeder feed no later than the first of October.  During breeding season, the amount of feed consumed drops sharply – from 2 pounds per day to 1 pound

There is limited quality research concerning the nutritional requirements of Ratites. However, some dependable guidelines have been established because of work completed in Australia and Africa. As in all diet formulations, a variety of high quality ingredients should be used to meet the nutrient recommendations of the Ratite. Using a wide variety of ingredients helps to decrease the effect of variations that are inherent in all ingredients.