Incubation and Hatching

There are few reports available on incubation and hatching of emu and ostrich eggs. Set the fertile eggs after adjusting to room temperature and place in a horizontal or in slant arranged row-wise in a tray. Keep ready egg incubator by cleaning and disinfecting thoroughly well in advance and switch on the machine for setting the correct incubating temperature i.e dry bulb temperature about 96-97 0 F and wet bulb temperature about 78-80 0F (about 30-40% RH). Place carefully the egg tray in a setter once the incubator is ready with set temperature and relative humidity and place identification slip for date of set and pedigree if required. Fumigate the incubator with 20g potassium permanganate + 40 ml formaline for every 100 cft of incubator space. Turn the eggs every one hour till the 48 th day of incubation. From 49 th day onwards stop turning the eggs and watch for pipping. By 52 nd day the incubation period ends. The chicks need drying. Hold the chicks for at least 24 to 72 hours in the hatcher compartment for reducing the down and to become healthy chicks. Normally hatchability will be 70% or more. There are many reasons for low hatchability. Proper breeder nutrition ensures the healthy chicks.

Ostrich eggs are to be set broad end up. Incubation period is 39-44 days average 42 days. Incubation temperature is 97-98.4 0F (dry bulb) with relative humidity of 20-30% (67-73 0F wet bulb) and increase the relative humidity to 30-40% after the hatch for better drying (Davis, 2005).

Healthcare and Management

Ratite birds are generally sturdy and live long (80% livability). Mortality and health problems in emu and ostrich are mainly in chicks and juveniles. These include starvation, malnutrition, intestinal obstruction, leg abnormalities, coli infections and clostridial infections. The main causes were improper brooding or nutrition, stress, improper handling and genetic disorders. Other diseases reported were rhinitis, candidiasis, salmonella, aspergillosis, coccidiosis, lice and ascarid infestations. Ivermectin can be given to prevent external and internal worms at 1 month interval beginning at 1 month age.

In emu enteritis and viral eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) were reported. In India so far few outbreaks of Ranikhet disease were recorded based on gross lesions but were not confirmed.

Emu and Ostrich Products

Meat from emu and ostrich are of high quality in terms of low fat, low cholesterol, gamey flavour. Valued cuts are from thigh and larger muscle of drum or lower leg. Emu skin is fine and strong. Leg skin is of distinctive pattern hence highly valued. Emu fat is rendered to produce oil, which has dietary, therapeutic (anti inflammatory) and cosmetic value.