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Ostrich farming: a high profitable business

Estimated reading time: 12 minute(s)

The origin of ostrich farming

Ostrich (Struthio camelis) belongs to a flightless bird family (Ratite), the birds belonging to this family are the largest ones compared to all the other bird species. 

Ostrich farming originated in the 1860s in South Africa (Hastings, n.d). However, there is contradicting information about their origin as palaeontologists displayed evidences that ostrich farming has its origin in Asian steppes in the Eocene Epoch about 40 to 50 million years ago. In the 18th century, ostriches were on the verge of extinction because their precious feathers were highly demanded. 

However, in 19th we witnessed an increase in the number of ostriches because at that period the ostrich’s breeding became very popular due to the good profit margin arising from the sale of their feathers.   

Characteristics of the species

Ostriches are game animals, they are omnivores and their diet is based on shrubs, succulent plants, seeds and insects. They can live up to 30-70 years. Males and females can be distinguished by the color of their feathers: males have black plumage with some white shades in the final part, while the females have shades of brown and grey. Ostriches start mating at 2-3 years of age and start to lay eggs between April and August. 

Five types of subspecies of ostriches are known

Breeds Other namesScientific nameOrigin

Red necked ostrich

North African ostrich Struthio camelus camelusNorth Africa (Morocco, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt)
Masai ostrich Kenyan Red ostrich
Struthio camelus massaicus Eastern part of Africa (Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya south of Somalia)
Black necked Ostrich
Southern Ostrich / Cape ostrichStruthio camelus australis
Southern part of Africa (Zimbabwe-Botswana, Namibia (alongside the Zambezi and Kunene rivers) and South Africa)
Blue-necked ostrich

Somali OstrichStruthio camelus molybdophanesEastern Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia and North of Kenya)
Arabian Ostrich

Middle EasternStruthio camelus syriacusArabian Peninsula, Syria and Iraq

However, the Arabian ostrich became extinct and nowadays only 4 subspecies of ostriches are still existing. 

Characteristics that makes ostrich the best bird to farm: 

  • Highly adaptable 

Ostrich can survive under harsh conditions and they hardly need to be in the shade. In addition, their feathers act as a good insulator minimizing the amount of heat coming from direct sun rays (Shanawany, n.d). They can survive without drinking a lot of water being able to maintain their normal body temperature also without a large amount of water intake. The ostriches can either use their wings to dispose of heat during hotter seasons or to keep themselves warmer during winter seasons

  1.   Good predators

Having ostriches acute hearing and eyesight from a distance of about 12 km away farmers do not need to take preventive measures to protect their animals (Shanawany, n.d; Abbas, 2018). They are able to protect themselves from predators by means of a power kick thanks their long legs with two toes on the feet, they are the fastest bird on ground at a speed of 70 km/h (43.5 mph), thanks to their wings that keep them balanced while running (Abbas, 2018) and they can also lay flat on the ground

  1.   Ostrich products
  • Meat: The meat is red with lower fat (3.0 g), cholesterol (83 mg) and calories (142 KCal). It is also a good source of iron (3.2 mg) and protein (26.9 %) (Iwuoha, 2013). 
  • Eggs: The eggs are about 6 inches long, 5 inches wide and weighs 2 kg. The ostriches can lay about 15-45 eggs per season. The ostrich egg is rich in protein, 1 ostrich egg is equivalent to 25 chicken eggs. Ostrich eggs are believed to protect houses from lighting and their shells can also be used as a water vessel, cups and vase. In addition, the eggshells are used in making necklace beads. 
  • Feathers: The feathers are extremely valuable and durable. Feathers should be harvested when the birds weigh 60 kg of more (Engelbrecht, 2014). The feathers are used to make dusters for cleaning, hat and home decorations.  
  • Skin (leather): Ostrich leather is of high quality being thick, soft and durable. It is used to makes handbags, carpets, clothing, boots  etc.  


Ostrich farming is much more profitable than raising other traditional farm animals. Ostriches are loving birds, they are quite easy to raise and require little maintenance from farmers. 

One of the reasons why ostrich farming is a lucrative business is the number of valuables an ostrich has to offer; and very little ever goes to waste.


Abbas G., 2018. Ostrich farming. Retrieved from  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322581843_ostrich_farming 

Engelbrecht A., 2014. Ostrich Manual.  www.elsenburg.com/sites/default/files/ebooks/2015-04-29/Ostrich%20Manual_English%20ed_%202014_content.pdf 

Hastings M.Y., n.d. A HISTORY OF OSTRICH FARMING – ITS POTENTIAL IN AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURE. Retrieved from https://www.doc-developpement-durable.org/file/Elevages/autruches&Emeus/HISTORY%20OF%20OSTRICH%20FARMING%20-%20ITS%20POTENTIAL%20IN%20AUSTRALIAN%20AGRICULTURE.pdf 


Iwuoha J-P. 2013. Ostrich farming – how this amazing business makes million for a Malian entrepreneur. Retrieved from  https://www.smallstarter.com/get-inspired/ostrich-farming-in-africa/ 

Kale S., 2018. Types of Ostriches. Retrieved from https://birdeden.com/types-of-ostriches 

Murchie J. 2008.Struthio camelus, the common ostrich. Retrieved from  http://tolweb.org/treehouses/?treehouse_id=4734 

Shanawany M. M., Recent developments in ostrich farming. Retrieved from  http://www.fao.org/3/v6200t/v6200T02.htm 

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Ramesh Muthu
    11 July 2020 23:20

    Could you please kindly help me i would like to start a ostrich business
    If you have any pdf files regarding please send below my email. Its Big support for as a start up business. Thank you Ms. Diina.

    • Diina Ndakeva
      21 July 2020 11:36

      Thank you very much for reading our articles. Unfortunately, I do not have a PDF file on how to start up an Ostrich business but you can have a look at those books for ideas:

      1. Ostrich farm management book hardcover, 1995. by Andrea Kreibich and Mathias Sommer.
      2. How to start a successful ostrich farm – without breaking the bank by Alan B. Stables
      3. Ostrich Manual by Western Cape Department of Agriculture (www.elsenburg.com) and South African ostrich business chamber (www.ostrichsa.co.za).

      I hope those will be useful.

  • Dage Sebastien
    19 October 2020 13:52

    Please I would like to start an ostriches farm with ten(10) ostriches.7femals 3men can you please sell it for me ?

    • Diina Ndakeva
      19 October 2020 14:33

      Hi Sebastien

      That is a really good idea. Unfortunately, we do not sell ostriches but wishing you all the best in acquiring the ostriches. Thank you for taking interest in reading our articles.

  • hi Diina my question is how big is my fowl run to house 10 ostriches

    • Diina Ndakeva
      18 December 2020 10:42

      Good day Norman

      Thank you very for taking time to read our articles. Unfortunately, I do not have an answer to your question but you can try reading the “Ostrich Production System”. I hope you find what you looking for.


  • Yassine Behri
    29 December 2020 20:04

    Hello, i would like to know how (in general) do you get to sell ostriches. I am located in Morocco and would like to trade e.g in EU how do farmers sell in general? Thank you for putting the breeds ^^


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