916 views 3 commentsupdate:Dec 17, 2007

Ostrich and other business (agro-tourism)

Eduardo Carbajo
Some EU ostrich producers have suggested agro-tourism as a source of income. I have seen two of these in action: both farms were less than 20 kilometres from a tourist centre by the sea-side and both had a bar with a small shop selling ostrich products.

Some EU ostrich producers have suggested agro-tourism as a source of income. I have seen two of these in action: both farms were less than 20 kilometres from a tourist centre by the sea-side and both had a bar with a small shop selling ostrich products.
Over time one of them closed down but the other is still running, probably due to the transport facilities for visitors. But in actual fact neither one of them were real farms involved in ostrich production.
If ostrich farming is going to get involved in a new activity like agro-tourism, the European Community Funds for research won't be easy to reach for institutions and scientists. It will be difficult to get financial support from Agricultural Departments of European Union member states for tourist activities, even more so if they don't comply with animal welfare regulations or recommendations (i.e. if people visit farms during breeding season or if farm owners organize ostrich races or rides or other activities which could become dangerous for both animals and visitors).
EU research funds will be available to improve animal productions without making animal welfare worse and keeping the ostrich for farming purposes.
Two recent researches in this field, completed outside the EU, were an example of how to obtain funds, improving ostrich productions and permitting animal protection.
Declawing in ostrich chicks is used in some farms in Australia. The method allows reducing harmful behaviour among birds and improving the quality of the skin, not being evident the existence of chronic pain due to neurome development in amputated birds (Glatz, 2005 ).
Another paper deals with the harvest of feathers, a common practice in South Africa, without a significant effect on food consumption, rhythm of growth or conversion index (Brand, 2005).
I am convinced that if research improves, ostrich farming will too, but not agro-tourism. Therefore people that do not have a proper ostrich farm must not wait for their ostrich products to be developed through research funding in the EU. But if they do have a proper farm, including a tourist restaurant or a shop, it is possible, if they do not forget animal welfare and their own animal production.

QUESTION
Your ideas will be welcome on how to research improving proper ostrich farming.......


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3 comments

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    Dr Ross Cooper

    some interesting points raised

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    Dr Mfaume, Simbah A.

    Proper ostrich farming depends on a number of factors, some of which are:
    -the knowledge of ostrich husbandry techniques,
    -control of the extremes of the weather,
    -control of mortalities due to husbandy and enviroment- induced diseases and infections.
    Improvement of the farming techniques is to some extent hindered by the financial constrains, especially due to poor returns. Owners become increasingly unwilling to invest more on an adventure that was once highly regarded.
    The current underlying problem is MARKETING of ostrich products other than leather. Apart from the meat quality being superb, the market in many parts of the world is still small. No farm can run successfully and independently by depending solely on leather sales.In many parts of the world including the middle east farms depend on the sale of leather. That is unheathy for the industry.
    New researches/studies should help in
    -identifying markets and/or
    -creating market for the products,
    -improving communication and understanding among producers so that they can share the markets. It is possible that there are areas where demand exceeds production and areas where demand is a mere fraction of what is produced.
    Thanks.

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    Dr.S.T.Selvan

    Ostrich industry should not be promoted as agro-tourism, other wise farmers would not consider it as zoo birds and would be reluctant to farm the birds. Meat can be promoted as the main product of ostrich rather than skin, for the simple factor, that meat would promote ostrich farming better than skin.

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