Ostriches and Emus

Juvenile Birds

Critical factors that need to be considered when raising chicks and juveniles are : temperature, humidity, fresh air, light and hygiene. Achieving and maintaining these factors at acceptable levels impact on the wellbeing of the birds. Some particular causes for concern from a welfare perspective include –

  • Lighting – no periods of darkness.
  • Stocking densities.
  • Ammonia – from wet litter.
  • Lack of emergency slaughter for weak or deformed chicks.

Ostriches and Emus


The Ostrich is farmed in South Africa particularly for its feathers, hides and meat. Ostrich feathers are used to create a variety of products from fashion boas and plumes to common household feather dusters. The skin is used for leather products to fashion leather handbags and shoes as well as other clothing. Ostrich meat is marketed commercially and is especially popular in European countries.

Adult birds

There are a number of welfare concerns that arise in the rearing, transportation and slaughter of adult birds. National NSPCA Inspectors pay particular attention to this farming industry and regular inspections of farms are undertaken to ensure the welfare of these animals. Welfare issues include –

  • Kept in environments that are not suitable (hot, cold, rain, wind).
  • Transportation.
  • Catching and handling of adult birds. Inappropriate handling leads to injuries and stress.
  • Surgical mutilations – such as toe amputation to prevent hide damage and decreased profits. The NSPCA strongly opposes this cruel practice.
  • Feather plucking – the ripe feathers are plucked from live birds causing pain and bleeding. The plucking of live ostrich is an unacceptable practice on animal welfare grounds and is strongly opposed by the NSPCA.
  • Slaughter.
  • Lack of emergency slaughter or treatment of injured birds.


The Emu is the largest bird native to Australia. Emus are farmed in South Africa primarily for their meat, leather, and oil.

Welfare concerns include the following –

  • Stocking densities.
  • Transportation.
  • Feather removal.
  • Slaughter – there are not registered emu abattoirs in South Africa.
  • Lack of emergency slaughter for injured birds.

Updated: 13 May 2016

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