Emu bird is the national bird of Australian continents and it is a very attractive bird. It comes under “Ratite” species like ostrich. Emu farming has been tried in India for quite some time due to its useful values for human. Emu has high size and body weight along with reasonable reproductive fitness. It has longer life span even reported as 30-40years. It has been reported to lay average 35eggs and normally hatcheries expect70-80% hatch with standard hatching practices. Fertile eggs are collected keeping Emu as pairs with sex ratios of 1:1. Body weights of Emu have been reported as about 350-400gms at day old, 10kg at 15weeks of age, 25kgs at 35weeks of age and adult breeding time body weight touches around 45-50kg and can consume around 1kg feed a bird per day or little less during adult. Further it has been reported, first egg can come by 2years time or little late. As regards feed conversion for an Emu could be around 6:1 at adult age.
Bird is a very tough bird with majestic appearance due to its height and look covered with brown feather coat. Emu farmers make the farming viable depending on the emu product sale like meat, feather, skin, oil which have demands in specific markets designed. More so the farming community tries to produce Emu chicks through hatching of eggs and sale the birds in pairs after due management and get good realization of value. Now when we consider the commercial viability of Emu farming by selling products it has been reported oil contribute significantly along with skin and Emu meat in the demanded market. But when we consider the cost of production of meat alone it looks expensive due to high FCR thus it demand superior price per kg of meat. Again to introduce any tender meat of Emu for higher price it would lose other sale values on paired grower stock sale, oil, skin etc., due to age effect. Thus this bird could not so far gain the required position for selling tender meat say by 20wk of age which become unviable. When we intend to derive all commercial products like oil, skin, feather etc., from the bird then only it justify the economical viability or commercial project viability subject to regular demand of products with reference to quality of such processed marketable products (oil, skin, meat, feather etc.).There need to be more processing infrastructures to make these Emu products attractive and gain market values which perhaps may come up in the Emu propagating locations through joint venture activities to support Emu farmers for economical values. Processing activities for skin, oil, feather and also for meat (if desired) is now highly essential for boosting such commercial projects. Systematic collections of raw out puts like emu fat, feather, skin etc., are needed and also links with such processing units, so that quality of each commercial output can be preserved for developing final valuable products for consumers as expected. Such chain linkages are not visible widely with better technology so as to translate in to attractive ventures. Emu meat processing has also to be planned along with collection of other out puts so that the meat can be marketed gradually in the demanded markets. There are reports available that some restaurants are now serving Emu meat preparations and getting popular but to locate volume of the market we need to have processing technology involved in Emu sector.
Other possibilities of common platforms for Emu propagation for commercial viability would be to support regular production and marketing introducing integration programs which may attract investors in this sector.
Is it comparable with growth, reproductive fitness, and marketability with chicken?
Meat production could be from any meat producing animal and birds which are responding to controlled breeding programs and selection technique. Any objective changes in any species for commercial production program need to have population size and pedigree information so as to have any genetic response for development in the desired traits . However gestation period of all such meat animal and birds are important criteria for expecting gains in the desired traits per generations for fast developments and deciding the standards. I observe there are many such birds like ducks, guinea fowl, Japanese quails, and turkeys which have commercial values for meat and egg too but could not be propagated by farmers widely so far as alternative meat production programs. The growth of such alternative poultry farming could not touch the levels which were expected at par with chicken meat and egg production. Again Ostrich and Emu could not get so far the expected status of meat producer birds all over world but such birds have alternate commercial values when we consider all its potentialities. For example other animals like buffalos, cattle, camels, horse, elephants all such animal have alternative values and human being explore those values in possible ways and keep bonding relationships while leading the social life on this planets. Even dogs have wonderful bonding relationships with human beings and it has tremendous social values as used as No.1 friend of human beings. Thus Pet culture is very important where there is tremendous friendship felt by human beings in which economics are not involved.
If I look to the arithmetic comparisons of Emu birds with chicken broilers with reference to growth and body weight it is simply not possible due to species difference. Chicken broiler parent female consume around 60-65kg of breeder feed from day one and in turn produce minimum viable 160 chicks from 188 hatch able eggs and having fertility 93% in 68weeks of age, time period. This in turn further generates to produce 320kg of live weight meat in 40days time in next generations. So when I consider chicken flocks, one female chicken broiler breeder generate meat in live weight is 325kg in total ,within a period of 75weeks time by spending 710kg of feed or so. If I look to the mathematical constants it could be 9.5kg feed/week and 4.35kgs of live body weight/week and FCR per week could be arrived at 2.2. Now let us see the case of Emu assuming 3years ie first year bird reach puberty and 2year produce about 35 eggs and third year required to grow up to 40kg body wt when breeding stock maintain sex ratio 1:1 in pairs unlike chicken 1:10 through AI. If I look to the feed consumption of the period of one female breeder and progenies body weights which could be achieved in 3years time then I see a figure of 1130kg body weight and feed consumed could be 1200 kgs for pair with 75% hatchability of the progeny numbers from total fertile eggs of 86%. Now mathematical constants which can be derived would be around 7.24kg/week live wt in156wks time consuming 51kg of feed/week and FCR could be arrived at 7.00. Thus in practical it is very expensive to have Emu farm as compared to chicken broiler farming unless other products like oil, skin, feathers are marketed at good price for which planned programs are needed. If I take up the project with the concept of selling Emu chicks in pair then it is very good but how to complete the cycle of marketing and end users of the bird?
What are the prospects of this huge decent bird in India?
In general it seems to me that the Emu farming has tremendous hidden values which need marketing strategies. The other part of the species is that “this bird can be an ideal pet” which can find place in any farm house just like other pets and birds. We visit Zoo and find Emu birds and all get happy to see such majestic bird. Happiness’ of human being has given space for any animal in accordance to financial status of the family. In the recent past Emu farmers could suddenly realized the direct marketing of Emu products are getting harder although the financial institutions could consider these farming projects considering the possibilities of market values. But it seems there is decline in one state and picking up in other state which is natural as all farming community expects good returns from their investment, labor and time.
1-Emu farming in India can safely continue and new ventures are to be planned by investors for infrastructures on processing back up.
2-Intigration can be tried only when systematic approach is identified and planned for market .However in all such activities cost and benefit ratios are basic deciding factors for which investors have to come up.
3-feed cost can be reduced for this large bird during growing and maintenance period by introducing fodder and other cheap vegetables as part feeding practices. If needed all these vegetable items could be processed for easy digestibility and creating attraction for the bird at low cost.
4- The families of good status who have very fond of animals and birds need to be supplied Emu bird for their farm house only in pairs as these birds can live up to 10-15years easily at any place of India and would add to the beauty of the campus and keep happy all humankinds and create good bonding. This trend would create huge market demand in India the way people have bonding with good size dogs, horse etc.
5- Zoo sector and teaching sectors will have all time demands round the year on regular basis if the bird is available.
6- The size of Emu farming need to be decided as per the market availability in the area and good standard husbandry practices would lead to new path of progress in times to come.