Stories by Steve Agbota [email protected] 08033302331
Ostrich, scientifically known as Struthio camelus, is the largest and heaviest living bird on earth. It belongs to Struthio genus of ratite family of flightless birds, native to Africa, and is the only extant of genus Struthio.
Ostrich farming business in Nigeria is not very common but it is perhaps the most lucrative and easiest to maintain type of bird farming anywhere in the world. Ostriches produce more meat than cattle and contain the least fat, calories and cholesterol of all meats (beef, chicken, pork, lamb and turkey).
The flightless bird is profitable going by its various products but people are yet to maximise its profitability potential. People who are into the ostrich farming business are regarded as millionaires as they are making their money both in local and foreign currency.
Investigations revealed that Mamadou Coulibaly, an ostrich farmer with a flock of 3,000 birds in his native Mali, raked in an income of $1.4 million from ostrich business in 2011 and continues to grow in leaps.
To give you an idea of the profitability of this business, a breeding ostrich can sell for up to $5,000 and those with feathers, which are highly prized in fashion and décor circles, can be sold for up to $3,000.
Information obtained from American Ostrich Growers Meat Company’s website shows that current international price for chicks 30 to 60 days old sell for $525, chicks 61 to 90 days old sell for $625, juveniles 91 days old and above goes for $975, fresh eggs sell for $45 each, eggs shell sell for $20 each and egg shells per dozen sell for $180.
Due to the big size of ostrich, international market for it is rising, the demand for live export is also on the rise. Countries like USA, China, Holland, France, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and South Africa are demanding for live export of the bird.
The reason you should invest in this lucrative business is that everything about an ostrich is marketable. The feathers of the ostrich can be sold in Europe and America for decoration purposes; the faeces find its use as fertilisers by farmers.
Mostly, ostrich feeds on leaves, fruits, grains, small animals (rats, etc) and tubers like cassava, cocoyam, potatoes, yam and enough water. Today, Jovana has very good feed-mix that can be formulated from feed mill centres to boost fast growth. Concerning mortality rate, as the largest bird in the world, ostrich has the strongest body immunity to diseases more than any other bird in existence. They are given no steroid, hormones, chemicals or vaccines. After about 18 months, the laying of eggs start for domesticated birds, fertilisation of egg is internal. A bird well cared for can lay up to 60 eggs in a year, and each egg is as big as children’s football.
An investor who really wants to go into this business will need at least half plot of land. The land should be fenced only to prevent the birds from moving away on their own from the farm.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Jovana Integrated Farms, Prince Arinze Onebunne, said that every part of ostrich production is profitable, from the meat, eggs, chicks, oils, plumes and hides.
He said, “ostrich meat is red meat with a difference. It is similar in taste and texture to that of beef but unlike beef, it is characteristically high in protein yet low in fat. It is therefore quite clearly preferable table meat from the health point of view and is increasingly recommended by nutritionists, especially for the elderly and people living with chronic diseases that require modified diets.
“The ostrich is very adaptable and thrives under extreme conditions. Your ostrich may outlive you! It can live for up to 100 years and can remain productive i.e. laying eggs for up to 45 years. The ostrich hen can lay between 30 and 100 eggs per year with an average of 45-50 eggs. The ostrich lays the largest egg of any living bird.”
He explained that the world is now switching to ostrich as it is the livestock of the future because it is far more prolific and easier to raise than other livestock, particularly cattle.
“In fact, many cattle ranches are now being converted to ostrich farms. Ostrich skin is the world’s finest leather and therefore most expensive. You can obtain about 14 square feet of leather from each 14-month-old bird with a total of about $400 to $500. This is apart from the carcass value, the eggs, oil and other benefits. When compared with traditional livestock, ostriches rate very highly.
“Whereas a cow produces a calf every year that reaches marketing weight after 654 days from conception, yielding 250kg of meat, an ostrich produces not less than 40 chicks annually that reach marketing age after only 407 days from conception (42 days incubation + 365 days of age) and yield 1,800kg of meat, 50 m2 of leather and 36kg of feathers each year.”