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Productive Ostrich Breeders

The ostrich industry is a new production livestock industry developing globally at a rapid rate. To date many birds are sold with little or no meaningful production history. There is also limited information and experience available on how to recognise a quality bird. The following photographs provide some comparisons between birds in excellent health and condition, those in poorer condition and the characteristics to look for. Remember it is long understood that an animal's main function in life is to protect and sustain its most crucial bodily functions of life. That life sustaining "individual survival" function takes first priority over anything else and that includes reproduction.

Characteristics to look for in a Quality and Productive Hen
Below are a few comparative photographs, these are the characteristics to look for in quality breeder hens capable of high levels of production:

quality hen

This 8 year old breeder hen at the start a new breeder season, is in perfect condition. Note the excellent muscling, good body with and dense feathers.

This hen is Blue Mountain Nutritional Class 4. She has been raised on Blue Mountain rations since birth, but her parents carried no Blue Mountain nutritional classifications. She has therefore had rations of high nutrient density all her life to support excellent growth and development of all organs, including her reproductive organs.

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Characteristics of a Hen in Poor Condition

This hen received a diet that was high in grains, low in protein, low forage and low vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Note the lack of muscle across the back. Hens in this condition are very common in the industry today.

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Poor Hen

Comparative Hens

Note the strong bones of the hen on the left.

Notice also the difference in the feathers. The well conditioned bird also has a gloss to her feathers, but the poorer bird's feathers have a harsh and dry look to them. The wing feathers are much shorter and less dense.

Quality Hen Back View
Poor hen back view

The photos below are side views of the same two hens. Note the well muscled body and legs in the productive hen and the contrast in body depth.

Note the variations in the feather colourations. Irregular feather colouration is a key indicator to imbalanced diets and diets that are lacking in nutrients.

Productive hen side view
Unproductive Hen

Bench Mark Measurements

The measurements below provide a benchmark on size and condition of your birds. Note again the broad, well muscled back. Read the article Fat vs Meat Production in ratites to understand the aspects of a diet that produce good muscle growth and body condition rather than fat birds or birds that are too thin. Read also Body Condition is Most Important.

Quality Hen Length
Quality Hen Width
Body Depth: 27 inches (68.7cm)
Measure from the top most part of back to the bottom of her fat pan area -- just behind the legs.
Length: 45 inches (1.14m)
Measure from the very base of neck to the very base of the tail
Width 26 inches (66.04cm)
Measure from outside of drum to outside of drum -- tape measure being held straight across back without being bent and estimating outside of drums vertical axis.
Measuring Height

Height 59 Inches (1.5m)
Measure from Ground to Highest Point on Back
Height Measurements must be read with Care…
DEPTH, WIDTH AND LENGTH OF FRAME... are the Critical Factors
Birds deficient in nutrients during the growth period develop smaller frames

Further reading:
Body Condition is Most Important on how to check body condition.
Fat versus Meat Production on dietary factors that influence body condition.

If you have questions or comments, or your birds are falling short of the standards - talk to us.

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