Managing Emu Egg Production

Emus begin breeding at about 20-24 months. Young adults and other unpaired adults should be run in groups in large pens allowing each emu to choose its own mate thus forming compatible pairs; this increases egg fertility. (Selective pairing will begin to take place from December/January each year.) If each pen has only one pair of emus, they may be incompatible and poor matings will result, so decreasing egg fertility and possible bird injury.

When pairs form, they can then be separated into individual breeding pens. If the pair performs well, they can be left as a pair or, if you wish to split them, they can be put into the large group pen after the breeding season has finished.

Alternatively, breeding emus can be left as a group in a large pen and not segregated into individual breeding pens. If this option is chosen it is important to give them sufficient space to avoid fighting and to sex the birds so that the male:female sex ratio is about equal.

Hens will begin to lay from mid to late April each year, and most females will have finished laying by October/November.

Most adults are not physically aggressive to farm personnel when they are collecting the eggs. The few that get ‘too close for comfort’ can be bluffed by facing them and holding up an arm or other object to make you taller than the bird. Walking towards them will usually make them turn away.

However, as a basic safety rule, do not stand in front of an emu within range of its feet; keep at least 1 m away. Emus kick and strike forwards if they feel threatened or are caught but can’t kick sideways or backwards. The beak can pinch but generally causes little damage. Keep an eye on the feet.