Ostrich Farming Open Day

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10 months 3 weeks ago #558725 by evertonnz
Ever wondered about ostrich farming? Yes that 1990's next big thing. Will wonder no more. We are hosting our first open day on the future of ostrich farming in Aotearoa New Zealand. Come learn about the potential of the industry, why you should be interested and where you can start. We will be holding the event at Downunder Honey, 1313 Kimbolton Road, Cheltenham 4777, Manawatū on the 11th of June, from 11 am to 1 pm. Please email graeme@everton.co.nz to indicate your interest in attending or if you have any questions. Look forward to seeing you there.

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10 months 2 weeks ago #558729 by WoodyChip
Replied by WoodyChip on topic Ostrich Farming Open Day
Great initiative. It would be great to see an alternative meat source on the market, originally from SA, where ostrich farming was and still is a relatively big industry.

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10 months 2 weeks ago #558734 by evertonnz
Replied by evertonnz on topic Ostrich Farming Open Day
I agree. Land use diversification should be a part of our response to climate change, highlighted by the Climate Change Commission in its draft advice to the Government. Sheep and cows are here to stay, but alternatives like ostriches allow us to rethink the industry and build new practices which focus on value and innovation from the outset, the adoption of technology as a fundamental practice and by reestablishing large manu (birds) as primary grazing animals we can develop new approaches which use these large manu to shape the environment in favour of other manu and the fauna which largely evolved around them. We all know Aotearoa was the land of manu and the only mammals were bats. The ostrich industry didn't fail in the 1990's because it was difficult to breed them, there were 500 farms and 20,000 birds by the early 2000's. The issue is farmers were so used to producing animals and then letting meatworks do all the selling that when it came time to sell the ostriches off the farm they hadn't built the markets to absorb the large volume of birds that were coming on stream. But things have changed. Today we have a South African population here who I know love the meat, the New Zealand palette has changed and people are willing to try new things and we are more aware of health and environmental issues. With its lean iron-rich and high B12 red meat that has one of the lowest methane production and water use per kg of meat, I'd say if you want to keep on eating red meat, this is the animal designed for the 21st-century farm. Saying that they are hard to love and they still scare the app out of me when I go into their pens. Good news I'll have some sausages and burger patties for those who turn up on the day to try.

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10 months 2 weeks ago - 10 months 2 weeks ago #558740 by evertonnz
Replied by evertonnz on topic Ostrich Farming Open Day
We will be sharing more information on the day but here is a report from South Africa, the largest producer of ostrich products, that does a comparison of different meats and their carbon/methane profile. Work needs to be done on examples here in Aotearoa New Zealand but when you consider the potential for genetic improvements, feed management and technology-assisted stock management you get a sense that there is a path to being one of the most resource-efficient and with one of the lowest red meat carbon/methane footprints in Aotearoa. We already know how to scale production, we just need to focus on the value we can create and the markets we can grow. A note on that, the same markets that take our venison are also interested in ostrich 

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10 months 2 weeks ago #558742 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Ostrich Farming Open Day
One of the major problems that we had in the 1990s, when I looked into ostrich farming, was the lack of transport and dedicated killing and processing facilities. Back then it was a requirement that birds could only be processed in a fully licensed bird processing facility. The requirements for ostriches and emus were hugely different than for smaller domesticated meat birds and it was uneconomic to obtain the machinery for the tiny (comparatively) numbers involved. Also ostriches and emus did not travel well by road, so getting them to a centralised meat works was difficult and a humane issue, and building lots of small ones were prohibitively expensive.
The goat meat industry has the same problem. The last time we sent goats on an 8 hour truck and ferry ride to the nearest works, it took them 3 hours to unload the truck because the goats had all piled up at the front of the truck and they didn't want to move. (We also got paid 25% less than their meat value because the works could not differentiate between our goats and others :-( . They jumped between pens, and the staff got so frustrated that they did not try to get the jumpers back with their flock).
You are unable to process in an unlicensed premises even for selling to your neighbour, let alone to butcheries to sell to NZers or other ostrich/emu eaters within NZ.
So until the transport, killing, processing of meat, leather and feathers problems are solved, I suspect that you are unlikely to succeed :-( .
So, you need to start at the end before you start at the beginning, and work out if you can make a dedicated killing and processing facility.

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10 months 2 weeks ago #558768 by evertonnz
Replied by evertonnz on topic Ostrich Farming Open Day
You raise a valid issue. When you don't consider the entire supply chain alongside the value you are creating for the markets you are growing you get the type of distortions that happened in the 1990s. Speculation and over-enthusiasm caused many bubbles in the farming sector during the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, The good news unlike other red meat sectors we have the chance to build the ostrich industry from the ground up with the lessons learned from the 90s, utilising today's new tools combined with a technology-first approach, focusing on genetic improvement, tight control of market and marketing and a system that puts farmers at the centre of the value chain and not on the fringes. A good example and I think the ostrich industry could emulate it is the kiwifruit industry. Tightly integrating the supply chain with a single desk approach to overseas markets, allows producers to focus on creating the best fruit while the marketing and sales teams are managing value in international markets. With a continued focus on creating value for the whole industry, we see how this has led to a sustainable industry.

And to your point on processing, the good news is that in terms of processing and why Manawatū is the place to grow an ostrich industry is that we have an export-licenced processing facility right here in Feilding. I am not saying every region should farm ostriches but where it makes sense why not. Many things have changed since the 1990s, from direct-to-consumer offerings to new options for processing like micro abattoirs. Properly planned we have a chance to not repeat the environmental and social licence mistakes of other commodity producers by keeping the consumer and farmer only two degrees apart and preventing the type of value captured by the speculators in the middle. But like most things, it's about timing and the question is is this the time of ostrich? This could be the industry for young farmers. If you have a minimum of two hectares then come see us on Sunday. Keep the questions and thoughts coming. Happy to answer where I can.

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