is Oudtshoorn and is known as the Ostrich capital of the world and is nestled between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountains.

The ostrich provides the farmer with an excellent yield, a remarkable feed-to-weight ratio and a cost-effective turnaround time from hatching to slaughter. Due to the wide variety and quality of its by-product the farmer can expect extremely low wastage:

  • The ostrich hide provides high-quality leather from which shoes and a wide variety of accessories from handbags to belts, suitcases and even seat covers for luxury cars are made.
  • In the modern world where consumers are extremely health conscious ostrich meat has become sought after as the red meat of choice. It is low in cholesterol. The entire carcass can be utilised with the high thigh and leg providing the high-quality meat cuts.
  • The feathers are sought after worldwide and harvested twice a year.
  • Even infertile eggs are productively utilised as artefacts and decorations made from the strong eggshells.
  • The bones of the ostrich are used in the production of pet food or plant fertiliser to produce bone flour meal because it is high in calcium and phosphorus.
  • The manure can be used as plant fertiliser.

Modern farming

The commercial aspect of ostrich farming can be divided into distinct areas of specialisation:

  • breeding, incubation and selling chicks;
  • raising the chicks to 4 months;
  • farming with the mature birds for feather production, slaughter and breeding

While the ostrich has proved itself as a survivor since prehistoric times it is very frail during the first 3 months after hatching in the crowded commercial environment. The risks are high during this phase and the chicks require specialised and intensive attention. Even under ideal conditions one can expect to have a mortality rate in the order of 15%.

Commercial considerations dictate that the industry needs to produce ostrich chicks in large numbers. The whole production process starts with eggs being hatched on a large scale in incubators. Specialised technology and disciplines are involved in this phase.

Long term planning is essential in ostrich farming and the farmer must have a thorough knowledge of the whole industry. Success in ostrich farming is largely dependent on the choices that are made, thus good management is critical.

It is advised that before an upcoming farmer consider ostrich farming, he or she must contact their local state veterinary offices for assistance and a site inspection (as there are requirements for ostrich farming that needs to be ahead before the farm can be registered as an ostrich farm).

Once the farm is registered as an ostrich farm on the SAOBC’s system the farmer can start trading in ostriches. It is also recommended that the farmer contact the SAOBC for enquiries into ostrich farming beforehand.