Ostrich : Happy to be the Alternative
The Filipinos are catching up with the world. As ostrich growers around the globe vigorously expand flocks to meet the greater than ever demand for high quality ostrich livestock and products, Filipinos are embracing the acumen that there’s more to poultry than just the usual inasal. There’s the ostrich.
Considered as the world’s largest living bird, ostriches can weigh between 225 and 350 pounds and could grow as tall as 8 feet, which primarily answers why along with the kiwis, emus, rheas, penguins, kakapos, and cassowaries, ostriches are incapable of flying.
At first glance, one may notice their featherless stretched necks and well-built long legs, which may permit them to run a marathon at 70 kilometers per hour, at most. They’re also endowed with the ability to stride up to eight meters.
Above amazing trivia tidbits and whatnot, ostriches are finding more ways to amaze the world. Ostrich red meat, compared to beef or pork, contains less fat, calories and cholesterol. It shares the same appearance and taste with beef, but has a nutritional content similar to chicken and turkey. That makes them a sensational alternative for health buffs and weight conscious people. Ostrich meat is being served in fine dining establishments throughout the United States, Europe, and the Far East. Additionally, ostrich meat is fast-becoming popular in menus in gourmet diners.
Ostriches produce the world’s premiere exotic leather as well. Collectively renowned for their strength and suppleness, ostrich leather can pin down oil, can be rebellious to cracking, stiffening and drying. Its inimitable quill pattern makes ostrich leather the first-rate leather of choice for high end exotic leather products produced in all the fashion capitals of the world. Brand names like Gucci, Tony Lama, Nocona, and Justin Boots use large quantities of ostrich leather in producing their top of the line leather products.
International designer Marc Jacobs who revealed his fall/winter collection March last year, included in his 2008 assembly of handbags an “ostrich bag”. which according to a Marc Jacobs sales rep in Melrose, is presently selling for $5,000 a bag worldwide. Additionally, the high demand for ostrich feathers have also led to the domestication of ostriches in South Africa as early as the 1900s.
This was primarily why Joann Ching, owner of Red Ostrich Farm, one of the many homesteads of its kind in the country, thought it was a good investment to breed ostriches. As a self-confessed animal lover, she admitted it was easy to devote time and capital to such venture, most especially with animals that aren’t demanding, in terms of nutrition and maintenance.
In the Philippines, what are commonly bred and used for commercial purposes are Blue Necks (Southern African Ostrich), Red Necks (Northern African Ostrich) and African Blacks (domesticated ostrich).
Among these three, the African Blacks are the tamest, has higher egg production that can reach up to 100 eggs per year, and has lesser meat of approximately 35 kilograms. They are actually the result of a crossing between the different subspecies, with selection for nice fluffy feathers, high fertility and easy handling.
Meanwhile, Blue Necks bear stronger chicks that have a higher survival rate and lower egg production; and Red Necks produce more meat and has also lower egg production.
“Red Ostrich is the brainchild of a healthy lifestyle. We saw and recognized the global trend for healthy living and the need for healthier food options. This has led to the venture of ostrich breeding in the Philippines. Ostrich is rich in iron and protein similar to beef, pork and chicken but has almost 40% less fat, calories and cholesterol,” added Eva Panganiban, Red Ostrich’s farm manager.
Set up in 2002, Red Ostrich, situated at Claro Santos Street, Bonga Mayor, Bustos, Bulacan, is engaged in the breeding of live ostriches, supply and processing of clean meat and tasteful ostrich leather, eggshells and feathers. They provide products that are competitive, reasonably priced, of top-quality, and distinct with clearly defined profits and steadfast supply.
Red Ostrich promises birds with the quality and performance characteristics necessary for breeding stock, for meat production and other by-products. According to Panganiban, their ostriches are properly taken care of by educated and qualified farm personnel, while registered veterinarians are continuously conducting monitoring on the health conditions of the birds to guarantee the best breed of ostriches.
Their greatest challenge during the early years of the business involves the grit for proper grinding, digestion and assimilation of feed. It was here that they discovered that the general key factors in chick rearing are genetics, health status, weather conditions, nutrition, brooding practices, stress, facilities and environment management.
And while ostriches are brawny and healthy animals, they should be kept under strict hygiene conditions and good husbandry maintenance. Moreover, diseases in ostriches have to be regarded seriously.
“Now, we follow strict practices in terms of management and husbandry; breeding, brooding and rearing; nutrition, health maintenance and, above all, hatchery management and incubation. Ostriches from our farm are fed with all-natural feeds. Our ostriches are served with clean potable water available at all times. They receive feeds with absolutely essential levels of protein, vitamins, minerals and energy requirements,” continued Panganiban.
Aside from that, Red Ostrich offers other value-added services and products that include educational tours, seminars and creative canvasses made from ostrich eggshells that be decorated, carved, painted or wrapped with printed decorative special paper and can be sold as jewelry box, necklaces, bracelets, beads, lamps, or just as decorative ornaments.
Apart from farm products, Red Ostrich also provides an array of farm services like custom incubation and hatching services, pre and post purchase services to livestock client and ostrich feeds provision to livestock clients and small ostrich farms.
“We were one of the first farms in the country. And we could only be happy that now, more and more people are finding out about alternative healthy foods, like ostriches. This doesn’t just mean more competitors in the business, but a wider and more interesting market, right?” said Panganiban.
Nutritional comparison by species (per 100 grams of cooked lean meat)
Species % Protein %Fat KCal mg
Ostrich 26.9 2.8 140 83
Chicken 28.9 7.0 190 89
Turkey 29.3 5.0 170 76
Beef 29.9 9.3 211 86
Pork 29.3 9.7 212 86
Veal 31.9 6.6 196 118
Red Ostrich Farm can be reached thru +632-363-8812 or email email@example.com
Author : Hans Estialbo