The following information is extracted from http://www.fao.org/docrep/v6200t/v6200T02.htm

APPEARANCE
1. The ostrich is the world's largest living bird. Adult males stand 2.4 m tall and can weigh well over 100 kg or as much as two adult humans.
2. Ostriches are flightless birds, with their great body size and reduced wing size rendering them incapable of flying.
3. Their strong legs allow them to run up to 70 km per hour when necessary, with strides of up to 8 m.

HABITAT
1. The ostrich is very adaptable and thrives under extreme conditions.It has a remarkable tolerance to heat, withstanding air temperatures of 56°C without undue stress.
2. Ostrich avoid areas of thick bush or heavy tree cover. They like semi-arid, open and short-grass plains. They are also able to thrive in very poorly vegetated areas.
3. Ostrich are animals of the day. They are on their feet for most of the daylight hours. They like to sit down at dusk and remain virtually inactive throughout the night unless disturbed.
4. A more confident and aggressive bird will hold its head and neck high, with the front of the body tilted upwards and the tail up, while a submissive bird will hold its head low and its tail down.
5. Ostriches are raised commercially for their meat, hide and feathers.

CHARACTERISTICS
1. Male ostriches attain the black-and-white plumage when mature. Females and immature birds have a much duller colouring, with grayish-brown plumage. The young have spiky, black-tipped buff-coloured plumage until they are about four months of age.
2. Full distinction between sexes is reached at about two years of age. The wing quills are pure white in the male, while they are ringed with grey or black in the female. The tail feathers of the male are white or yellowish brown and those of the female are mottled light and dark grey. The thighs of the adult ostrich are almost devoid of feathers.
3. An ostrich egg measures 17 to 19 cm in length, 14 to 15 cm in width and weighing up to 1 900 g. The eggs vary from white to yellowish white in colour and their hard shiny surface is pitted with superficial pores of various sizes and shapes.
4. Eggs are laid every other day in clutches (sequences) of 20 to 24 eggs. The hen stops laying for a period of seven to ten days, after which she starts a new clutch. High-producing females lay between 80 to 100 eggs during the breeding season.
5. The eggs are laid in a communal nest on the ground, with other females laying their eggs in the same nest. For commercial ostrich farming, it is important that all eggs are removed from the nest at least twice daily, since, if allowed to incubate, the female will stop laying until the chicks have reached four to five weeks of age, resulting in financial loss.
6. The overall production of one female ostrich (with 40 chicks / year) during her "economic life" can reach 72 tonnes of meat, 2 000 m2 of leather and 1450 kg of feathers.


Ostriches

Cattle

Gestation/incubation period (days)

42

280

Offspring per year

40

1

Period from conception to slaughter (days)

407

645



MEAT
1. Various studies have indicated that ostrich meat is far better from the health point of view as it contains far less fat, and particularly less cholesterol, than other types of meat.
2. Ostriches produce red meat that is very similar in taste and texture to veal and beef.
3. It is currently marketed in a variety of ways, including cold cuts, frankfurters, pâté, fillet steaks and sun-dried (jerky or biltong), in addition to fresh meat.
4. One ostrich produces not less than 40 chicks annually that reach marketing age after only 407 days from conception (42 days incubation + 365 days of age) and yield 1 800 kg of meat, as compared to the cow which produces a calf that reaches marketing weight after 654 days from conception, yielding 250 kg of meat.

Per 100 g raw meat

Ostrich

Beef

Chicken

Protein (g)

21.9

20.0

21.4

Fat (g)

1.0

15.6

2.6

Cholesterol (mg)

63

86

74

Energy (cal)

114

276

163

Calcium (mg)

5.2

9.0

13.0


FEATHERS
1. Ostrich feathers are used for cleaning fine machinery and equipment. They are also used in decorations and in the fashion industry.
2. The best feathers come from the more arid regions of the world.

LEATHER
1. Ostrich skin (hide) is considered to be one of the most luxurious leathers, and some even place it on a par with crocodile and snake skin. Ostrich leather is thick, durable and extremely soft and can be manufactured into a variety of products, such as shoes, bags, purses and jackets.
2. An Ostrich with its 40 or so chicks annually can produce 50 sqm of hide, as compared to 2.7sqm produced by a cow.