Emu Farming - Pros and Cons

Raising Big Birds in Texas

Big birds in our back yard
Big birds in our back yard

What does it take to raise Emu?

We had always entertained hopes of leaving the daily grind with its uncertainties of corporate mergers and layoffs. When an opportunity to raise birds came along, we were ready to jump in. Two of our friends invited us to a seminar explaining the profitability and investment requirements for emu farming. We figured with a small investment into fencing, irrigation, and building a few shelters on our land, we would give it a go. It wasn't long before we discovered what farmers have known for years.

Adult Emu we named Hicks. He was quite aggressive and protective of his chosen mate.
Adult Emu we named Hicks. He was quite aggressive and protective of his chosen mate.

Emu are soft feathered, flightless birds, second largest to the ostrich. Their origins date back to 1696 when spotted in Australia by Dutch merchants.

We were living in an unfinished house on ten acres, building it out as we could afford the material. We thought this would give us the practical experience we would need to run hundreds of feet of chain link fencing, trench the water lines to irrigate the water troughs, and build shade shelters for the birds to get out of the sun. We set out on these projects thinking we could soon buy our birds and get started.

The industry was booming with farmers selling breeder pairs and raising hatchlings from incubated eggs. Breeder birds were selling in the range of forty to fifty thousand dollars for proven mated pairs. The end market expected to supply a healthier source for red meat along with eggs, feathers and other products from the versatile birds.

It all sounded quite promising, but there were some drawbacks. We were not farmers nor had we ever raised livestock. We had a lot to learn.

Arrival of our Flock

Raising big birds takes endurance, patience and consistency.
Raising big birds takes endurance, patience and consistency.

Size Matters

"The largest individuals can reach up to 150 to 190 cm (59 to 75 in) in height. Measured from the bill to the tail, emus range in length from 139 to 164 cm (55 to 65 in), with males averaging 148.5 cm (58.5 in) and females averaging 156.8 cm (61.7 in)." 2

Shelters provide shade and a safe place for the birds to eat their feed.
Shelters provide shade and a safe place for the birds to eat their feed.
A markerAustralia -
Australia
[get directions]

Bird Requirements

We joined the Emu Association and visited an emu ranch located a few miles from our house. The breeders shared their tracking methods for egg production including hatching time frames, identification numbers, ages of the birds and egg production. Their birds had proven track records for laying eleven to twenty eggs per season and producing quality hatchlings

With the cost of a breeder pair out of our reach, we opted to buy six hatchlings. While we worked on constructing shelter and fencing for the birds, our breeders maintained our young stock until they were nearly six months old.

They require at least a 30 x 100 foot pen, fenced with six foot chain link fencing, along with food shelters of at least eight by eight feet. Emus need a place where they can escape the blistering heat while they eat, although, they don't stay inside during the night. This brought to light our first dilemma, that of the radical shifts in the Texas weather.

Visiting a nearby emu ranch with breeder pairs, a hatching barn and lots of birds.
Visiting a nearby emu ranch with breeder pairs, a hatching barn and lots of birds.

Two Full Time Jobs

After a long day of working in our city offices, we would come home and drill holes into the dense Texas soil to set fence poles, build sheds and string hundreds of yards of chain link fencing. When complete, loads of sandy loam for the pens were purchased along with hay bales and food and watering troughs.

We weren't new to hard work, having spent the previous five years constructing our house and detached garage. In addition to the pens and sheds, we would need to trench 18" into the ground for running water lines to the pens from the main meter at the house over 200' away. For this project, we rented heavy duty trenchers and operated the equipment ourselves.

The birds enjoyed a shower during the hot days in the Texas sun
The birds enjoyed a shower during the hot days in the Texas sun

End Products

Little is wasted of the harvested bird with 95% of the end product being put to use. The emu skin is great for leather products like boots, belts, wallets and handbags. The feathers are used in the automotive paint process for dusting. The lean meat is considered a healthy replacement for red meat, high in iron and protein and low in cholesterol.

Portions of the bird were studied for use in surgery for arterial replacement. One of the most promising products is the emu oil which is reputed to relieve the pain of arthritis and even leg cramps.

Up close and personal, big birds are curious. They'll take your pen from your pocket, peck at your rings and steal your sunglasses.
Up close and personal, big birds are curious. They'll take your pen from your pocket, peck at your rings and steal your sunglasses.

Have you ever seen an emu in person?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I've never heard of an emu.
See results without voting

The Birds Have Landed

Finally, the day arrived when we were ready to bring the birds home. Unfortunately, our friend's wife lost her battle with cancer and passed away only days before. To our surprise, this didn't delay the transaction or the delivery of our stock. After the sadness of her funeral, we made an uncomfortable realization.

The birds are immune to the needs of their owners. They need to eat every day whether it's Christmas or the fourth of July; if it is one hundred degrees of blistering heat or a blizzard is howling. Sometimes we found a thick layer of ice covering their water troughs which we would break with an ax. Every single day without fail we carried buckets of food pellets to their pens, cleaned their water troughs and checked in on the birds.

Not only was this a taxing and continuous job, it started to affect my animal sensibilities. I began to dread the inevitable harvesting of the birds.

The first of six young birds to come home with us, this one is around five months old.
The first of six young birds to come home with us, this one is around five months old.

The End is Near

The day that made us take a fresh look at this business began one morning after I left for work. The phone call from my neighbor let me know I'd better get home immediately. My birds were fighting and one was injured and on the ground. My neighbor was trying to keep the other birds off him by barricading them away with a piece of PVC pipe. Left alone, they would continue to pluck him until he was severely injured or dead.

Emus can become extremely aggressive when mating season approaches and they compete for a mate. This guy tried to approach Popeye's girlfriend, Olive Oil. Once he was injured, the rest of the gang jumped in with sharp pointed toes, kicking and plucking the downed bird.

I let my boss at the office know the reason I had to leave and of course he objected. He advised me that I'd better be back in time for an important staff meeting that afternoon which required my attendance. Oh, joy. I headed back toward our rural home an hour away worrying the whole trip about how I'd manage the birds once I was there.

Arriving home, I found one of the male birds lying on the ground with a large section of his feathers plucked out. He was completely bald on one side of his torso and bleeding. For the first time, he let me touch him as he slowly got up and allowed me to guide him into the emergency isolation pen.

Baby Birds

Emu hatchlings around two weeks old.
Emu hatchlings around two weeks old.

Our Bail Out

The injuries, the veterinarian's bill, the rising cost of their food and the energy we were expending was nothing compared to the ominous idea of the harvesting. I'd become fond of my birds even giving each of them names. That's not a good thing when they're destined to become food.

Raised in the city with supermarkets, we had no true concept of where animal products came from and how they ended up on the grocer's shelf. To face this ultimate destiny was just not for us.

The market was beginning to fall. The talk about a viable red meat substitute and the initial frenzy of investing was diminishing for lack of a viable marketplace. The price of breeder pairs plummeted to an all-time low. When we decided we'd had enough, we sold our birds for a fraction of what we originally paid and wrote off our expenses as a valuable learning lesson in what not to do.

Facts about Emu

References

  1. Home to 120 birds in Montana, http://www.wildroseemuranch.com/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu

© 2014 Peg Cole

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Comments 86 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Yup! Never, ever name livestock!

Very informative Hub.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very interesting. If I had the land I would consider doing this, but I know all about the headaches with having livestock...at least I would be going into it fully warned.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Will, I'm just a green horn with no farming experience. It's a wonder we didn't get eaten by those birds. I wish I had a video of the two cowgirls who helped us wrangle them to the ground when it came time for vaccinations - I mean the birds, of course.


ARUN KANTI profile image

ARUN KANTI 2 years ago from KOLKATA

Thank you very much for an interesting and informative write up.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Peg. Isn't it funny the things we try to escape the corporate life. I don't know about elsewhere, but here in So. Cal lamas where the rage for awhile. There were farms along a highway heading down to San Diego where lamas would dot the hillsides. I think their popularity faded also. At least you tried and I think are richer for the experience. Thanks for sharing this with us, lots of valuable information.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I'm with you -- too much of a softie to take them to the butcher. I couldn't even. see selling them. At least you have the experience in what not to do. Very interesting story.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

I have an hour drive into the city for work each day during the week, after we moved to the country six years ago. I love the serenity of the country/small town life and would not trade it for the world. I, too, have thought of other alternatives for work, but only have five more years before I can retire, if I so choose to do so.

Thank you for sharing your interesting story, and I do remember when it was first introduced about the Emu farming and then it did die down.

If I named an animal, I could never eat them or harm them. I just could never do it either.

Such experiences in life do make us aware how many blessings we already have and learn to appreciate them much more than before, and count them as blessings for sure.

You have provided a good insight to those who may be thinking of this and what it all entails.

Isn't air conditioning divine! We live in the deep south, so we have extreme heat, but not so much extreme winter weather, except this past winter (only three days of ice and snow) ...

Voted up +++ and away


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Billybuc, Nice to see you. You're raising chickens, right? We've considered that - until we remember the daily maintenance and ongoing effort required to keep up the grounds, the pens, the fences, the water lines. At least we'd be bigger than our birds. Thanks for dropping in and for the interesting comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Arun Kanti. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and leave a comment. Your article about your mother was quite touching and sweet. I didn't see a comments section but I enjoyed reading it.

Thank you so much for dropping by today.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hey there Mckbirdbks. Mike, we've certainly tried a number of businesses over the years in an effort to become self sustaining. Some have worked out and others, not so much.

Llamas were growing in popularity about this time and we considered that, but the barns and housing would have meant much more construction. As it was, we stopped working on our house to build those pens. It was exhausting.

Thank you for coming by today. It's always so nice to see you here. I hope you and your family are well.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Faith, It is truly wonderful to live out in the peace and quiet of the country, despite the lengthy commute to the office. We made that trip for over ten years until we both were able to telecommute, mostly. I'm glad to hear that you enjoy your country life, too.

Yes, it was a valuable learning experience and something we felt we wanted to try. Had it not been for the radical drop of prices in the marketplace, we might have stuck with just the breeding and egg hatching part of the industry. Still, it would have been hard to let my little hatchlings go off to become food.

Ah yes, air conditioning. We did without for 5 years, but that's another story for another hub. It was sure nice of you to drop by and leave such a sweet comment. Thank you so much.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Oh Peg, i'm so sorry for your misadventure. Who knows what will work these days. I really thought ostriche meat would take off. I bought it and loved the taste, now i can't find it anywhere. Maybe since you have the land you will try chickens. My mama used to raise them. Anyhoo, you gave it a try to learned a lesson. Love your personal pics. Thank you for sharing...


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Flourish, Sorry I skipped over you. Yes, that was something that haunted my sleep - the end product. I'm a softie, too, and a borderline vegetarian, except for sometimes. I grew up catching fish in the Keys so I could still do that if I needed to. Thanks for the visit and for your comment.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 2 years ago from West Virginia

Nice story and I have also learned NOT TO NAME things that you may eat later. I had a semi farm, that I called a farmette and we raised the animals for our own use. Goats for milk, chickens for eggs and well we tried to raise rabbits, named them all and could not eat them at all. They got some congenital brain disease or sinus things and all but 2 died. If you do it for yourself you have better luck...or so I learned...then if you have extras you can sell that. Next time start small. Animals do take a lot of attention and care. Loved your emu's though. I love animals.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Interesting story and well told about your experience with the emus. You learned some valuable lessons and then taught us some. Green eggs? And I've seen the Blue Emu product, but never associated it with the bird. I learned a lot I did not know before. Thank you.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Always. Ruby, it was worth the effort to try and realize it wasn't for us. Otherwise, we would always have wondered. I think that Outback used to have Ostrich and Emu on the menu - not sure if they still do. Hey, that rhymes! I've been thinking about raising chickens and that's probably why I dug up these old pictures - to remind me of the work involved. It limits any ability to travel or vacation unless you have someone you really trust to manage things in your absence.

Thanks so much for coming by and for the sweet comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Lady G. From what we learned, three pair would be about the minimum grouping since these birds prefer to move about in flocks. They get anxious when they are alone. Mated pairs don't always lay fertile eggs so it's a good idea to have a backup pair of breeders and a choice of mates for the females.

Yes, not naming them is a key factor. Bunnies are soft and cuddly. These guys can pinch a purple blister on you in seconds.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with your farmette.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Ms. Dora. It really brings some reality to the story about "Green eggs and ham, oh, Sam I am". We have some great memories of our time working together on the pens and the sheds. Video, too. There were a lot of things which went wrong, like getting punctured by an emu toenail or the time we chased an escaped bird across the field before finally catching it. Ah, good times...

Thank you for telling me you learned something. We sure did.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 2 years ago from West Virginia

Watch out for bunnies though. If you disturb their nest box before the mom wants you to they will eat their babies.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

I never heard of an emu had to google it LOL but a very educational hub though..


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Yikes, LadyG. Killer bunny moms - the new TV series.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Frank, They seem to be making a comeback. Thanks for the educational hub comment. ;)


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 2 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Wow, Peg, what a story! You do now have a pen(s) and a shelter though, in case you think of a different livestock. I agree with Will Starr about naming livestock, though I too named just about everything on our farm.

Once, while trying to think of another way too make money, I got the idea of raising rabbits, or maybe mink, so my dad and I visited a mink ranch. I fell in love with those feisty little critters immediately. Eventually the owner made it plain, then my question: "You mean we have to "kill" them?"

That ended my aspirations of rabbit meat or mink fur. It was bad enough seeing calves butchered and old milk cows leaving for the slaughterhouse. Had your idea been successful, Peg, I would have worded this comment differently.

Good luck on finding something else, and try to keep believing there actually is....


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

Goodness, that was quite an experience. It's similar to the one I had with my goat herd. There is a tremendous market for the milk, but after I lost my sire to a terrible skin disease which even taking him to A&M didn't cure, I gave up my herd and sold them. He was my favorite.

I've always though it would be cool to have an Alpaca farm, but after reading this, maybe not!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

This is interesting, Peg. There are a few emu farms here in Central Florida. I've never been to one, but I've driven by and got a good look at the birds. I had no idea they're aggressive; they're so comical looking!

Have you come up with another plan?


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

When I first saw Olive Oil’s lively expression and the shape of her head, I was immediately reminded of “ostrich”…but she’s an Emu. I’ve never seen one – up close and personal. She looks as though she is quite the character, Peg. :-) This endeavor required an enormous amount of work and commitment; but I can empathize with not wanting to harvest them. (And in distancing yourself from the corporate world.) It’s too easy to become attached to these energy-draining but comical and endearing critters. I’m only sorry that you took a financial loss in parting with them. Still, it was an amazing experience. I enjoyed this engaging and heart-warming hub.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello SubRon7, oh James, that was so long ago that the sheds are long gone and so is the fencing. Straight line winds took them out and what was left of the sheds after a tornado, I had someone haul away.

Our emu ranch was built in 1994 and by 1997 we'd sold all the birds. With the high price of nutritional pellets, the food was costing more than the birds were worth.

Since that time, I opened a Collectibles store in a small building I purchased in a little town nearby. While still working full-time, I ran the store, went to antique auctions and opened for business on the weekends. After that, I tried my hand at flipping houses just as the real estate market plummeted. You can't say I haven't tried a few things. lol

James, raising mink in today's world of fur aversion is maybe not such a good idea. I imagine that was sometime back when people could still wear fur coats without fear of scorn. About the bunnies, awww.

Still, we do what we can to try and become independent. It's the American Dream, after all... I hope things are going well for you. It's good to see you out here and on fB. All the best to you and yours.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Oh, Ann, how terrible for you about your goat herd. That sounds like such a disappointment for everyone and for the females in the group for sure. The folks who just built on the acreage next to us have brought in goats and I can hear them all the way over here. Since the people don't live there, I guess they get lonely. (the goats)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a very interesting hub, Peg. Like you, I couldn't butcher an animal or even ask someone else to do it once I'd met the animal and got to know them. Your hub will be very useful for other people who are considering raising animals for food.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Good hub Peg. We have 40 acres and a family of emus wanders through from time to time. I haven't considered farming them, though I did hear that it was becoming a craze for awhile. I still haven't come across a restaurant or supermarket that sells emu meat so I don't think it really took off. You can get kangaroo meat in most supermarkets here. We have chickens for eggs but can't even bring ourselves to kill them for meat, so emus would be even more difficult. Voted up.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Bravewarrior, Emu farms have diminished around here in Texas. There were three right here on our county road before the bubble burst. I attended a couple of seminars in Orlando back in the 90s when things were going strong.

The birds really do look quite comical but they can be, um, tweaky. Their movements are sporadic and if you try to catch them, for any reason, they use their strong legs and clawed feet to protect themselves.

We've tried a number of things since this (mis)adventure. Nice to see you and thanks for the comment.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

This is such an interesting article, which kept me riveted right to the end. Thanks for the tip on emu oil. It's something I need to try and it's priced very reasonably.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Genna, The birds are truly funny as chicks. They're fun to watch, playful and entertaining, to say the least. I'm trying to convert some of our old video to a format so that I can post it here. It is comical.

This was truly an interesting experience raising them and only sad that it didn't work out. Thank you for dropping by and for the amazing comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi AliciaC, I know what you mean. After getting to know the birds, it was clear that they each have a distinct personality, like dogs. They begin to follow you around and peck at you to show interest. I just could not even think of, well, you know. It's an important consideration.

Thank you for your visit and engaging comment.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Jodah, Wow, 40 acres is a lot of land. How interesting that you get to see these birds on their own wanderings. Yes, it was a craze here in the mid 90s and even still some farms exist. I had always wondered about the Australian perspective on farming these native creatures. I'm with you on not being able to harvest them. It didn't take long to realize that was just not going to happen for me.

Thanks for the great comment, the visit and the votes.


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

Goats definitely do better when there are at least two of them. But I remember, my goats always "talked" to me in the mornings and evenings at milking time. If you're around them a lot, they become fond of human interaction. I used to get out and butt heads with my buck, just playing and he never hurt me, although he weighed when he was in good health around 250 lbs. That's one of the reasons it broke my heart to have to put him down.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

Farm life can definitely be tough and grueling. Animals depend on us and we can't let them down. It is us, after all, who made them dependent.

All of our cows had names too, because it was a small farm. Some of the chickens had names, but I don't remember naming any of the hogs. Just the same, they thought they were pets too.

Sounds like you had quite an adventure. Interesting to read your report.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Ann1Az2, That's funny that you used to play head games with your buck. They sound quite entertaining and gentle. So sorry about his early demise. That must have been really difficult for you.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Au fait, I'd like to read more about your life on the farm. My Dad told us stories about his childhood on their small farm in Georgia. They had milk cows, chickens and hogs, too. They also grew vegetables and had pecan trees. I enjoy looking at the photos and wish I'd learned more about their place.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you'll write a hub about your experiences.


PapaJohn2U profile image

PapaJohn2U 2 years ago from New Jersey

Thanks for sharing your lesson learned with us. Sorry your experience didn't turn out the way you expected.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi PapaJohn2U, We learned quite a bit, although it was an expensive lesson, for sure. It takes a lot of endurance to be a farmer and I gained a lot of respect for those who toil the long hours to raise stock or grow crops.

Nice of you to drop in on this special day for you. (Smiles)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

This reminds me of the last year I have spent raising chickens! When I see one getting pecked and feathers flying I want to jump right in the middle and send them all flying. (and sometimes I do!)

It may have been better if you weren't working too, I mean like wait for retirement; if there is such a thing, lol. Animals are hard work and like you I worry they are not always comfortable. I plan to believe everyone this winter and forget about heaters and the such!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Jackie, Raising chickens is as much work only the birds are smaller. Jumping into the middle of a chicken fight is brave. I've considered raising them, but for the same worries that they would suffer in the cold weather. Ah yes, retirement...


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Peg, I have a friend who owned an Emu Ranch as I wrote in "What are Green Eggs and Ham" It was quite an experience when we took the kids to visit a working emu ranch.

Maureen sold the ranch when it got to be to much for her to handle alone. It place was called the Pierson Ranch, her father raised Arabian Horses.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Shyron, What a great experience to take the kids to an emu ranch. I would imagine it was quite educational for them to see those huge birds and experience the ranch life. I'll get over to read your Green Eggs and Ham hub to learn more.

Thanks for stopping by today.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

I noticed some emus on our way to our daughter's house. I see now they're gone the family must have stopped farming them. I would have trouble killing them. We once had chickens for meat and that was even hard. Thanks for sharing your emu story. Voted up


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Moonlake. There was one emu in a fenced area on our road until recently, too. I never asked the people who bought our birds what happened to them although I talk to them frequently. I just didn't want to know. Moon, just the thought of it makes me want to be a vegetarian.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Wow Peg, it was an amazing thing taking them on, and sorry to learn you had to get rid of them because it was too much. I never realised that they could be used for medical things, especially as it helped you so quickly, I knew about eating them, and yes it is strange that its not taken off as we all thought it would even over here, fascinating read, and the photos were wonderful!


rapidforceads profile image

rapidforceads 2 years ago from India

This is good to know that you are preserving these big birds along with your business and this is an inspirational task for other to do something for other creatures too. Though we would be earning but on the other hand these creature would have shelter for living. All the best dear.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Nell, It's wonderful to see you today. Yes, the emu cream really works to relieve my leg cramps time and time again when they wake me out of a sound sleep. I've been wanting to try it in a moisturizer as well. Glad you liked the photos!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Rapidforceads. We sold all our birds some time ago. It was a lot of work and we were too tenderhearted to see them end up as food. I've heard there is a good business in the eggs, though.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Oh, Peg, what a life we all have - trying all kinds of ways to make a living. I hate myself for being an omnivore, eating almost anything, including animals and birds, in order to stay alive. Though I have never tasted emu. I have seen some emu's down here in South Africa, but ostriches are the most common, and they are truly quite aggressive and even kept as 'watchdogs' on farms.

Voted up, informative and interesting :)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Martie, Reading over your stories I see that we've both tried a number of different avenues trying to get out of the corporate pressure cooker. I feel like I've given it a go on so many different fronts. This was truly an unusual experience. Ostriches are difficult to manage and way taller than me. I can see where they would make good watchdogs.

Yes, I'm also an omnivore, too, with tendencies toward being a pescetarian. Most of my nephews and nieces are vegans. It seems to be a growing trend.

Thank you for the votes, the visit and the great comment.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

This is a totally new concept for me. I am not one to take up farming but it would interesting to visit one of these farms.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Teaches12345, The lady at the breeder ranch was a well-loved substitute teacher in her younger days. I think it would be an interesting field trip for kids to learn about where food comes from.


rapidforceads profile image

rapidforceads 2 years ago from India

But I did not understand reason behind the close of this wonderful and interesting business you were doing. Is this an illegal. I want to know something about this if you have some spare time dear.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Rapid, Our jobs soon changed to require us to travel about 70 percent of the time. I was a project manager for a telecom company with projects across the US. We were not in a position to hire people to feed the birds in our absence. At the time, the food cost far exceeded the value of the birds. It was a matter of cost effectiveness. No it is not illegal to raise emu, just time intensive and costly.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

That's the thing with the latest fad--we rely on people to give us the dirt, but we get it slanted from one angle. If I had emus, they'd be my pets. I could never raise them for anything else, but that's me. I have been called The Lady of the Lake, which I'm sure you heard the original legend.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Lady of the Lake - That was the trouble, Deb. When the reality set in it was just not doable, at least, not for me. They had already become my pets.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Peg,

Gave you all kinds of up votes on this including funny although it was undoubtedly not funny to you at the time. We had a similar venture only with owning part of a vineyard in California. We did not lose much money but we certainly did not make any and had our money stayed put in the stock market, we would have been further ahead. Oh well...lessons learned! :)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Peggy. Thanks for the "funny" vote. It is funny now, not so much back then. It's interesting what we will try in order to get out of the corporate culture. I chalk it up as lessons learned, too. Vineyards? I would love to read about it.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

What a very interesting article. There was a time they were also trying to sell ostriches in the Philippines. I can understand your coming to see them as pets rather than income. Loved the names of two of them, Popeye and Olive Oil. Lol!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Grand Old Lady, Thank you. We also had Rhett and Scarlett as well as Hicks and Ripley from the movie Aliens. Once you've named them it's difficult to think of them as food. I'm wondering if I should try raising chickens. I do love eggs.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

What an amazing and talented lady you are dear Peg! On top of everything else, trying to raise livestock. The only thing that surpasses your courage is your talent. This was a great read though sad for you.

When I lived in the city as a little girl my Dad decided to raise chickens for the eggs and later dinner. Topsy and Mopsy finally made it to the table but the only one who ate was the dog!

Voted up, useful, funny, interesting and shared.


SheGetsCreative profile image

SheGetsCreative 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

Very interesting and honest! More people that are contemplating raising animals as a business should read this! I don't think I could kill anything I had raised, played with and named either...which is why I didn't join 4-H or FFA when I was a kid.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

You and your spouse are definitely not averse to hard work and taking risks, Peg! Sorry your emu venture turned out badly, but you certainly gave it a good try. I think you were immensely brave to undertake and stick with it as long as you did.

I recall the 'emu farming craze' and all the accompanying hype in my state during the late '90s, mainly because I visited a friend's in-laws who were also farming the big birds. We got the grand tour, seeing the emus in their enclosures and being amazed at some large blue-green eggs. If I remember accurately, those folks gave up their emu experiment after a couple of years for essentially the same reasons you did.

I also recall a small cafe in a nearby town that had emu on their menu for a while with a sign in the lobby enumerating its healthy qualities and bottles of emu oil for sale at the cash register.

Another exotic 'farm animal' of the 1990s in this area for a while was the 'guard llama.' Llamas are fiercely protective of livestock and chase away predators, so some farmers had one or two llamas standing guard duty over other more vulnerable animals and fowl.

Voted Up+++ and shared

Jaye


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Very interesting venture you set out on, Peg. I admire the determination you and your husband have to plow right into projects and learn. I enjoyed reading this hub.

PS: when my six siblings and I were kids, we fell in love with Dad's big hog and named it "Chug Chug" -- the day came when we realized it is not a good idea to name livestock.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Tillsontitan Mary, So good of you to drop by to read this farm story. Ol' MacDonald had a farm, eieiyo. Yep, we were much younger and had the energy for all these physical labor projects. I sure wish I had the energy now to do those things. It was my form of exercise.

Oh, poor Topsy and Mopsy...I don't believe I would be able to do it either, although, our dogs have no conscience when it comes to bunny tartare and mouse a la yard. That was another thing. The feed drew in all sorts of varmits who infested the sheds and our garage as well. It got really creepy.

Thank you so much for the votes and for reading and sharing.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello SheGetsCreative, Thanks for the honest comment. I knew someone who had raised a prized steer for 4H and still talked about him years afterward in terms of sadness for poor Maynard. I believe the new generation has a heightened sensitivity to the source of meat. So many of my nieces and nephews are vegans and raising their children the same way. Thank you so much for the visit.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi JayeWisdom, Yes, it was definitely a risk that turned out to be quite a learning experience. We weren't opposed to the work, but we found that we aren't cut out to raise livestock, that's for sure. I'm really glad that we didn't buy the expensive egg incubator equipment that was being promoted at the time. Our friends were really deeply invested, building a huge barn for the chicks and multiple pens for their breeder stock.

We considered Llamas for a brief while after we sold the birds, but opted not to go there. Thank you for dropping in and for sharing the experiences of your friends in this business and this hub. Cheers.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi Phyllis, Oh my, Chug Chug, how unfortunate for him and for you. My Dad had a pet hog that he named Herman. It was also a sad outcome. Many years ago we knew a little piglet our neighbors named Bacon. He grew into about a three hundred pound hog.

Thank you so much for your kind comment and for the visit.


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

I had no idea that they were raised for food. Some people have them where I live and they're kept as pets. They certainly seem like characters. I couldn't sell them for food. I understand where you're coming from.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi WriterJanis, They really do have individual personalities. It's hard to imagine the food aspect of it after getting to know them. Thanks for the visit.


Richard1988 profile image

Richard1988 24 months ago from Hampshire - England

I've always been curious about emu farming - great hub! This was a really interesting read :)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 24 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thanks so much for dropping in, Richard1988. I love your avatar. Is that a llama?


wilderness profile image

wilderness 22 months ago from Boise, Idaho

Most interesting - thanks! I don't think I could ranch, either, and for the same reason you got out. A whole herd of cattle something, maybe, but not a handful I could come to know individually.

But there are several emu farms in my area - I'll have to some checking for the meat and see if I can find some.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 22 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Wilderness, Most of the emu farms around here have gone away. I used to see one lone bird on my way home about a mile from here, but he has disappeared. I understand what you mean about a herd, although, I have what I call a herd of dogs and they each have a different personality. I visited a cow ranch long ago and could not eat hamburger for a long time afterward. Thank you for dropping in today.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 22 months ago from West Virginia

I am back to tell you that I am seeing many Llamas being raised for their wool here. Not sure in your area, but would you give that a go?


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 22 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello again Lady, Um, nope. We learned that these guys need to eat seven days a week which limits any potential for travel and takes us out into the cold (this week it was 24 degrees) every day, even Christmas. Besides, I would end up bringing them into the house with the dogs. :(


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 22 months ago from West Virginia

Well don't you need to eat seven days a week too and so do dogs and cats and just about everything on this planet? The Llamas they have on our local farm are not in any house and are out in the cold, but they have a small structure they can go into. I never seen them in that though. It went down to 12 degrees the night before last. We do get to -6 degrees too.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 22 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thanks for the input, Lady G. I'm just not into raising livestock anymore. Yes, of course, living beings eat seven days a week. I was attempting to be funny and missed the mark.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 22 months ago from West Virginia

No problem! Got a conversation going on your hub anyway. LOL


Shades-of-truth profile image

Shades-of-truth 20 months ago from USA

I do love emu oil. I use it in lots of different ways. The most memorable experience I have had with it, was when I had a rough case of pneumonia a few winters ago. The sustained, high fever I had, made my lips so dry that they cracked and bled. The ONLY thing that healed them, in a few days, was Emu oil! I had tried just about every other remedy that is to be found, for dry, cracked lips - to no avail. From the first application, I had some relief from the pain, and just a couple of days later, they were completely healed.

Needless to say, I keep some Emu oil around, now.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 20 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Shades-of-truth, Thanks for the insight into a new use for the Emu oil. I had no idea that it was so effective on chapped lips. Sorry for the delay in responding to your nice comment. I just found it today. It had been sent to the Spam folder for whatever reason. (?) Not sure why that happened.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma

I think it is a shame that the emu market didn't do better than it did. It really sounds like a very healthy meat source. There were a lot of people around here that got into raising then too. Many of then just turned their lose because they couldn't even sell them. I shudder to think what happened to them!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 16 months ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Yes, Sheila. It was a shame that the market wasn't better prepared for distribution and promotion of the product. At the point where we bailed out, our birds went for practically nothing. The food was costing more than they were worth. I never asked the buyers what happened to the birds.

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