Ostrich farming started in South Africa in the early 1860’s and ostriches were farmed for their feathers only.
We now refer to the beginning of the industry which was from 1863 to 1915 as the first phase and especially the period between 1890 and 1914 as the Feather-boom period. During that time you would get more money for 1kg of feathers than 1kg of gold. The ostrich farmers of Oudtshoorn were known as Ostrich Baron’s due to the wealth they generated from the export of ostrich feathers to the international market. Ostrich feathers were very fashionable and ladies in Europe did not dare to be seen without feathers in their hats or Boa’s around their necks in public.
The original owner of Safari Ostrich Farm became so rich that he built a beautiful mansion called a feather palace from all the money he made from exporting the feathers to Europe. Mr.Olivier named his house Welgeluk, which is Dutch for Good Luck. But Mr Olivier actually did not have good luck, four years after he built this house, the feather industry collapsed and he lost a lot of money.
This was because in those days, they only used the feathers from the ostrich. They were so busy making money from the export of feathers that they did not think of using the meat or the leather. Then with the start of the First World War in 1914 and the invention of the automobile, the feathers almost overnight went out of fashion. As a result, most of the farmers went bankrupt, including Mr Olivier. In 1932 the Lipschitz family bought the farm from Mr Olivier and is still today farming with ostriches. Safari Ostrich Farm was established as a tourist attraction in 1956 which means we are now celebrating 60 years in tourism!