Protein browsing by tag


Southeast Asian Ostrich Farms – Perlis

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

Ostriches are curious, flightless birds with a height of well over 2 meters and can weigh up to 100 kilograms per bird. Southeast Asia has seen an introduction to commercial ostrich farming with Thailand and Malaysia playing minor roles in this agricultural industry. I have encountered numerous ostrich farms during my travel years, but rarely had the time to pay attention to these. When your SIAMPEDIA Team was enroute to Langkawi by private car, we had the chance to pause at an ostrich farm in Perlis, just 30 minutes south of the Thai border. The big birds were roaming free in an enclosed field – and we could inspect them from very close up.

The pair here was neither shy nor aggressive, rather friendly and social

Ostriches are farmed in pairs or trios with two females and one male. The female birds are slightly smaller. Formerly natives to the deserts of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia as well, they were rotted out in the wild completely in the Middle East, only populations in Africa survived. Commercial farming for their feathers was a big trend in South Africa towards the end of the 19th century. Today’s farming is merely for their meat. The meat is another red meat, but has less fat and cholesterol than beef or chicken.

The Malaysian ostrich farms we encountered were businesses of an agricultural variety, no admissions were charged, no souvenir shops present – the Thai farms commonly charge a fee to visit and are run as half tourist attraction, half farm.

Their long and featherless necks are typical for this species, and so are their naked legs and feet with 2 toes. They can endure temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius in the open and can cover enormous distances in the wild.  Strong legs with an 8 meter stride helped them doing this in their former native deserts of the Arabian peninsula and those few arid stretches of desert and semi-desert in Africa, where they survived in the wild. Their Latin name is “Strothia Camelus”, where the later part refers to a camel. The big eyes and eyelashes plus their endurance capability to survive with little water and nutrition are similarities within the two different species.

The leg tendons of an ostrich have replaced ruptured human tendons in the past and experiments are currently being done with their eyes, which have capabilities to see things in  up to 12 km distance!

Commercial farming of these big birds may hold a solution to feeding a growing world population. It has proven to be much more efficient to cattle- or pig-farming. Agricultural science stepped into the corral recently and it won’t be long until ostrich meat replaces beef and pork to a part in human consumption. I am no expert in this and may develop a more vegetarian approach to my personal diet, as I have a problem with commercial slaughterhouses myself. The more I learn about ostriches, the more I like these creatures.

The male bird here was really eyeballing me and made an almost human noise. He wanted food, I guess and I fed him some grass from outside his compound as that was already harvested by him and his partner down to the bare sand.

Whilst taking close-up shots of him, he was curious if Melona’s digicam was edible too.

That is how she caught this shot of his throat and tongue.

Ostrich farms are dotting the maps in Southeast Asia, if you travel around. Make sure to stop for a break if one is on your path. The experience is awesome! I will add to this, when I have the chance to spot an ostrich-farm that welcomes visitors and has birds roaming their ranges.