OSTRICH FARMING IN SOUTH AFRICA
Ostrich farming started in the Klein Karoo in 1864, just off the South-Eastern coast of South Africa, by chance when farmers started to farm with ostriches instead of crops after a massive drought period in the region.
They could do this successfully in this naturally dry region, since these tough birds feed off a certain grain and do not require grazing fields. The weather and geographical conditions in the Klein Karoo area are absolutely ideal for ostrich production – making Oudtshoorn the ostrich capital of the world.
These flightless game birds grow to a height of up to 2.7m, can weigh up to 160kg and produce an average of 60 eggs per year. One ostrich egg equals 24 standard chicken eggs.
At Cape Karoo International, we utilise the majestic ostrich feathers for fashion items, such as boas, fringes and marabou. Whether plain or dyed, they also make fantastic feather chandeliers and are extremely popular as feather dusters. South Africa manufactures over two billion ostrich feather dusters per year.
The ostrich’s universally recognised quill socket leather is internationally sought after for producing exotic leather handbags, leather furniture pieces and even clothing items and shoes. Ostrich leather is supple and durable, and products made from ostrich leather are remarkably popular in Europe, the USA and Japan.
The health characteristics of ostrich meat makes it a sought-after alternative to conventional red meat – especially in European countries. Ostrich meat contains almost no fat and cholesterol.
From a farming perspective, ostriches are extremely versatile. From an ostrich, the leather (32% of income), meat (62% of income), feathers (6% of income) and eggs can be used.