US ostrich farming is one of the fastest growing agricultural businesses in the United States, according to the American Ostrich Association. There are approximately 3,000 ranches in almost every state, ranching somewhere between 400,000 to 700,000 ostrich for meat and other industries.

US ostrich farming began around the 1980's, when a group of cattle farmers decided to import breeder ostrich from South Africa with the intent of ranching the large flightless bird. South Africa still holds the top spot as far as ostrich producers, but the United States is second in line and a major contender in the ostrich farming market.

Why the interest in US ostrich farming? Although the initial output of resources is on the high side, ranchers who work hard and are patient will see a profit turned in four or five years. The ostrich requires little land on which to graze and only small amounts of feed, making it a relatively easy animal to farm. To raise a pair of ostriches, 1/3 of an acre of land is required. If you add a third bird, a ½ acre parcel is needed.

They reproduce pretty quickly, so their profitability is increased over say, cattle. For example, a female ostrich can produce eggs as early as age 2 and can then produce anywhere from 30 to 90 eggs per year.

The market for ostrich meat, feathers, and hides is extremely high as well, so farmers stand to make more money overall from ostrich farming as opposed to raising beef cattle.

The other advantage for US ostrich farming is that once an ostrich is slaughtered, there is very little of it that is wasted.

The meat is sold to restaurants or other distributors, the hide is sold for high quality leather making, the feathers are sold to the fashion industry or automobile manufacturers for the painting of vehicles, the feet are ground into a fine dust and sold in the far east as an aphrodisiac and the eyes are many times purchased by researchers conducting studies to learn more about human cataracts.

The consumer interest in ostrich meat and other products produced from the ostrich is extremely high, so ostrich farmers stand to make high profits.

Ostrich meat is healthier than beef and lower in fat than even skinless turkey or chicken. For those who are interested in preventing heart disease, ostrich meat is a great choice. Ostrich meat has a texture and color that is similar to beef, but it is very low in fat, sodium and calories, not to mention, it is an excellent source of protein and iron.

Ostrich farmers in the United States need to be aware that the government requires a USDA FSIS inspection for all ratites (ostriches included). This regulation was instituted in 2002. The birds must be slaughtered in a federally inspected meat plant in order for the birds and their byproducts to be exported or moved between the states.

There are ostrich farmers in almost every state, so it might not be a bad idea to visit one and take a tour with an established ostrich farmer prior to embarking on your own adventure. Ask pertinent questions and chat with them about their operation.

Always ask for tips on how they got started and what they may have learned from their mistakes along the way.

ostrich farming
view with pop-up blocker off

more about ostrich farming HOME