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Ostrich Growth Curves

Understanding the genetic growth potential of an animal is the first requirement to achieving the correct rations to enable optimum growth.  To carry out trials that are meaningful and avoid risks of giving false assumptions, it is essential to have a full history of an animal.  Mainstream species have full records of genetic heritage and management for many years, so when making a small change for testing, a meaningful result is likely to be the outcome. 

The weight gain feed trial reported by Blue Mountain in 1996/97 took place with three separate batches of chicks.   The farmer, Darrell Wagoner and his wife Barbara, are customers of Blue Mountain Feeds. They carried out the study on their own birds and provided the industry with independent benchmark figures.  Click here to read details of The Blue Mountain Weight Gain Trial. The results are included on the graph below.

Why are these trials so important to the industry?

ostrich growth curve

1. The 1992 Gompertz Ostrich Growth Model
In 1992 scientists at the Department of Animal Sciences at Stellenbosch University fitted a Gompertz Model to growth performance data of Ostrich.

These scientists state that “once the growth rate has been described, the nutrient requirements of the animal can be calculated.” They also state that “Gompertz models have many purposes in research to use as a tool to measure management and feeding compared to the potential growth of the animal”.

2. The 1995 Adjusted Gompertz Ostrich Growth Model
Following the study in 1994/1995 that resulted in growth falling well short of the 1992 growth model, the scientists argued that the Gompertz 1992 growth model is the potential growth under “conditions of no restraint” as opposed to the “actual growth results” obtained in the Oudtshoorn region of South Africa and other practical environments. They argued that the study carried out during 1994/1995 at the Experimental farm more realistically reflected the performance of Ostriches in more 'practical' conditions. They produced the 1995 Gompertz Model to reflect this downward adjustment instead of questionning why the results fell so far short of the original model and seeking solutions to improve results.

3. The 1996/97 Blue Mountain Farmer Field Trials
In contrast, the Blue Mountain Feed Trials were carried out by a Blue Mountain Feeds farmer customer recording data from 3 independent batches of chicks. Not only did the average of the 3 batches in a practical farm situation show growth close to the Gompertz 1992 model at 250days, at 280days they broke right through and continued to put on muscle. Muscle is MEAT and meat is REVENUE.

Also worthy of note in this discussion is the fact that the Blue Mountain Feed Trials took place in Midwestern United States and the trial details reported extended periods well below freezing. Note also that this was a benchmark trial to record data to set standards to measure performance. These results were consistently achieved.

Summary:
Worthy of note in this discussion is the fact that the Blue Mountain Feed Trials took place in Midwestern United States and the trial details reported extended periods well below freezing. Another important factor to report is that this was a benchmark trial to record data to set standards to measure performance. The farmer, and others following the same feed and management systems, recorded these consistently until the collapse of the US industry.

References:
Hayes, J.P; Cilliers S.C. & Du Preez, J.J. (1996) Nutrition of the Ostrich for Meat and Leather Proceedings of the EOA World Congress - Hengelo 1996
Smith, W.A & Sales, J (1995) Feeding and Feed Management p10 and p11


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