Here at Safari Ostrich Farm we started show-casing just 2 Emus a few years ago to compare to the ostrich. We decided to bring them in as there is often confusion from the visitors between the ostrich and the emu thinking that they are similar in size. The Emus are the second largest birds in the world and belong to the Ratite family. Ratite basically means flat-breasted birds lacking a keel on the breastbone without flight muscles.
We have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of chicks that have hatched since we got the two emus 9 years ago. I am proud to say that our emu population has since then grown to 13. The mating season is May to June. The female emu lays an egg every second or third day until she has about 10-12 eggs. Some females can lay up to 20 eggs. The eggs are emerald green in colour. One egg weighs approximately 700-900 grams and is equivalent to 10-12 chicken eggs in volume. The incubation period is 54 days. Only the male emu incubates and hardly leaves the nest. A few days after they have hatched, the chicks leave the nest to peck around. The chicks grow quite fast and reach maturity after one year.
Emus are primarily farmed for their meat, leather and oil. The oil is rendered to produce cosmetics and therapeutic products. It is proven that the oil has anti-inflammatory properties treating arthritis and joint pain and improving the rate of healing of wounds. The leather is only used for small items like wallets and shoes. The feathers and eggs are used for decorative arts and crafts.
The Emu has a prominent place in Australian Aboriginal Mythology and is the national bird of Australia. It appears as a shield bearer on the Coat of arms of Australia with the red kangaroo.