An adult needs between one to one and a half pounds of feed per day, while growing adolescents need higher protein feed and two or more pounds per day. Specialized emu food can cost as much as twice the price of chicken feed, and you’ll need to secure a reliable source of feed.
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Emus are often referred to as the most useful bird, because so many different products are made from their bodies. A single emu produces usable meat, oil, leather, feathers, claws, bones and eggs.
Emus have lean red meat that cooks well into burgers and steaks, and can fetch as much as $20 per pound in some specialty stores. It cooks quickly and readily absorbs flavor from a variety of marinades. If you’d like to try emu meat before committing to raising one, try a tender, top loin steak marinated and then grilled to medium rare for the tastiest emu sample.
The average emu, harvested at 16 months of age, produces just 26 pounds of usable meat. They’re relatively expensive to process commercially, meaning that profit margins would be quite low or non-existent if they were only useful for their meat. Fortunately, while the meat sales only pay for raising and processing costs, there are many other valuable parts of an emu.
The main reason emus are raised is for their oil, which is used in cosmetics and skin care products, and can sell for as much as $150 per quart. A single emu can produce as much as five quarts of emu oil. Emu oil is made by refining the back fat harvested from the bird during slaughter. Emu use this fat to incubate them from cold weather and as a reserve against hard times when food is scarce.
Beyond meat and oil, emu skin is tanned into a high-value leather that’s used to make wallets, purses and boots. Due to the uniqueness of the leather, products made from tanned emu fetch premium prices, especially in overseas markets.
Emu Feathers, Eggs and Bones
Emu feathers are unique in that they produce two feathers from a single quill, meaning each feather is like two feathers attached at a single point on the emu’s body. This makes them desirable for craft products, fishing lures and high fashion.
Emu bones are also used for craft and science projects due to their light weight and large size. Whole skeletons sell for as much as $150. Decorated emu eggs and preserved emu claws are also commonly sold for their novelty value.
Do you have experience with emus? Share your advice on raising emus in the section below:
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