The expanding emu inventory in the United States
is domestically bred. As research and information sharing increase,
the American emu is emerging as the industry standard. The American
breeder market is vigorous and can be made profitable for small
and large participants.
Emus are curious and docile. They are about 10 inches tall at
birth, with black and white stripes. As 3-month-old chicks, they
turn nearly solid black, changing into a tan, brown, and black
mixture as adults, some with a bluish neck. The feathers are downy,
with no stiff vein running through the center.
The mature emu is 5 to 6 feet tall and normally weighs 90 to 120
pounds. They are flightless and strong runners, reaching ground
speeds of up to 40 miles per hour in short bursts and covering
about nine feet in stride.
Emus adapt well to temperature extremes from in excess of 100
degrees to below zero. No diseases have yet been diagnosed as common
to the species. They can exist on a simple diet and require much
water, drinking 2 to 4 gallons daily. They also will play in water
The Emu hen can be productive for 25 to 35 years or more and may
lay 20 to 50 eggs in a season. A hen may lay as early as 18 months,
but normally laying begins at 2 to 3 years old.
Pairs normally breed from October to April, usually producing
one egg every three days. Incubation time is 48 - 52 days and the
percentage of eggs hatched is approximately 70 - 80%. Chick survival
rates are excellent. Emus are very hardy.
The emerald green egg, which normally
hatches in about 48 to 52 days, produces a chick that will walk
within hours and run within days. The chicks achieve rapid growth,
gaining their height by one year of age. After six months, the
birds have shed most of their chick feathers for the fluffy, elegant
feathers of the adult. For most climate conditions, the birds need
shelter during the first few months, although the birds are very
hardy and adaptable.
For today's U.S. farmer/rancher/homesteader, emu farming offers
an alternative cash crop. With minimal investment in facilities
and land area, excellent feed conversion ratio, and an established
worldwide market evolving, the emu will provide a stable cash return
to its owners now and in the years to come.