Raising ostriches can provide a viable supplemental income, if you have the land, the time and money available for the upstart costs. The large birds--which weigh up to 250 lbs. and stand 7 feet tall--are raised for their meat, oil and feathers. Ostrich leather is a popular product used for making boots and purses. Ostrich eggs weigh up to five lbs., and sell for $40 to $50 in 2010. They are a popular item in upscale restaurants.
1- Choose a site for the farm. The Texas A & M University Agrilife website recommends 1/4 to 1/2 acre for each ostrich pair, enclosed with a 5-foot woven and pole type fence. Little is needed in the way of shelter for adult ostriches, as long as they have some shade and protection from the wind.
Feed and water pans should be sheltered from rain and snow. A small heated building that opens onto an outside pen is required for raising chicks. Consider where sick or injured birds can be isolated, if necessary.
2- Select a type of ostrich. According the the Texas A & M website, there are three types of ostrich. "Redneck" ostrich is native to East Africa. "Blueneck" ostrich lives in North, West or South Africa. "African black" ostrich is a hybrid of blue and red species. It is shorter and smaller than other species. "African black" ostrich is often preferred by breeders for a number of reasons, including very early maturity in breeder hens, a docile nature, hardy and fertile eggs and an ability to adapt to various climates.
3- Decide how many ostriches you will have. While some farms have as many as 20 pairs of ostriches or more, many breeders suggest starting small and expanding the business slowly. One pair of ostrich can produce 35 to 55 eggs a year.
4- Write a business plan for the ostrich farm. You will need to include your objectives, your expected start-up costs, and your marketing strategy, for starters. A solid business plan consists of many components. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a good resource to contact for assistance with writing your plan.
5- Acquire your ostriches. The Texas A & M website lists several available options, including buying eggs to hatch on your own, or purchasing a pair of sexed chicks 3 to 6 months old, a yearling pair of birds, prebreeders more than 30 months of age or a pair of proven breeders. Proven breeders are the most expensive of the options, but have the advantage of being able to reproduce right away.