The African ostrich
(Struthio camelus)

          The African ostrich is a bird of the ostrich family. It’s the largest living bird. The ostrich has a long, unfeathered neck, a small head, a massive body, and long muscular legs. The wings are small, with fine but large feathers. The ostrich also differs from other birds by having only two toes on their feet. Ostriches are too heavy fly, but they run fast and steady. They can run up to 70km/h for 30 minutes. Ostriches compete with each other for territory and social status by threatening fighting expressions and sometimes even fights. The winner gets territory and several females. Only the female ostrich, that has a leading position in the group, cares about laying and later about the hatchlings. It was originally found in Africa and Western Asia, but its area of distribution has now shrunk to the East and South Africa. In addition to the natural spread of ostriches, they are also bred on farms and in other parts of the world. In the wild, ostrich is partly a nomadic bird: for food especially the plant, ostriches wander the big areas. Ostriches form flocks composed of both sexes, rarely occurring individually. During nesting, the males sound loud with a booming call and they move through various figural movements. Often more than one female lay egg into one nest, so there can be up to 30 in one nest. Male is often involved in incubation: after hatching (approximately after 40 days) male usually takes care of them all by himself.

Origin: Africa


  • a flightless bird, excels with thigh muscle – a running bird
  • the largest living bird on Earth
  • differs from other birds in the production of both solid and liquid excrements
  • only two fingers working, the longer carries the weight of the whole body, covered with a large claw, a small contact with ground and well developed muscles allow him to develop a short speed in relatively short time (about 60km/h)
  • the running step is up to 7 meters long
  • in the captivity can live up to 60 years and reproduce till the 40th year of the life
  • female is 1/5 smaller then male
  • adult male in maximum back reaches: 140-150cm, with stretched neck about 300cm, its weight is 150kg
  • he has a pair of large, round and lively eyes on a small bare head, allowing him to see the surrounding area within 3.5km
  • it has long dense lashes on the eyelids, moreover the eye can be covered with a milk membrane through which the animal can see
  • the neck is long, movable, composed of 19 vertebrae, the brain on such a large animal weighs only an incredible 40g!

We breed three variations of ostriches in captivity:

  • black — the lightest, morning and the most fruitful
  • blue — medium-sized body frame, average efficiency
  • red — the most powerful body frame, weaker egg-laying

In Slovakia, there are many hybrids between each variation.

The importance of breeding:

nutritious, high-quality diet soft meat, low fat and cholesterol content, easy workable, distinctively red beef-like meat

Nutritional composition:
water 75.4%, fat 1.2%, protein 21.7%
energy: 438 KJ/100 g

thin but very strong, durable and wear resistant, water-impermeable, the skin is beautifully drawn after removing quills, the thicker the holes in the quill are, the more valued the skin is, the skin is originally light brown, and can be colored well

edible, feeds about 8-10 people, ostrich egg is proportional to 24 hen eggs, the shell is thick 2-3mm (endures a weight up to 120kg), when preparing “hard” it requires 60-90 minutes, the color of shell is from cream to light brown, weight in grams and porosity are typical for each laying hen

the most valuable is the white lower wing feather of an adult male, but in Slovakia it’s not possible to make good quality feathers because of adverse climatic conditions.

Sexual maturity:
female 2nd year of life
male 2,5-3rd year of life, even though they are willing to mate sooner

This fact should be taken into account in the preparation of the groups, that means: of triads


It starts in early spring and usually ends in August, it’s desirable for the hen to lay in 2-3 day intervals, the laying is physiologically increased from the 5th lay season, later on it will stabilize (influence of genetic formation, nutrition, housing, etc.). The weight of the egg ranges from 1300-1800g, the optimal laying is 80 pieces of hatching eggs for the season.

40-42 days

Egg incubation method:
After collecting the eggs, we clean all the dirt by scraping if off or with fine sandpaper. We store them for 2-4 days, max. 5 days at 13-15 °C and relative humidity 75-80% (we do not store for longer time, because then the hatchery drops considerably, it dries out). Before the incubation we shine through them to find out where the yolk is and what size of the air bubble is. It is formed within 24 hours after the laying from 4 mm to 4 cm.


36-37 °C (max. 0,5 °C fluctuation)—an important factor, when the temperature is not kept, the chickens are hatched sooner with poor viability, the yolk sac is not absorbed, which leads to death in during the first days of their life.

It depends on temperature, an important factor, if the temperature rises and the humidity drops- in the last phase of hatching it causes that the protein membrane contracts around the chicken body and prevents pulling the head from under the wing, followed by exhaustion, suffocation increases, humidity and temperature are standard – insufficient vaporization of the fluid causes the embryo to drown in the egg.

8x/24 h, essential at the last hatching phase when lung breathing occurs

4x/24 h o 45°, neglect has not such disastrous consequences compared to temperature, humidity and airflow. The breeders’ opinions differs, mostly it’s done manually. In the last days it is recommended to shine through the egg to find out if the chicken moved into the air bubble, it is signal to relocate the egg.

They are placed horizontally in the crate (it is bottom of the hatchery), the direction of the curl up after 12 hours, if there were no signs of hatchery, then we shine through the egg and determine the position of the beak. Then, in the place of the beak we crack the egg (to let air get into the chicken), then we put the egg back, and fix it. If it does not begin to hatch itself after 42 days, we will begin to break the shell in small portions from head to bottom. We need to see if the bloodstream is dry (requires careful handling), also if the yolk sac is drawn.

The male sits on the hatching egg at 12-16 eggs, the female briefly substituting him for a short time during the day. The male is more conscientious incubator than an artificial hatchery; however it is necessary to consider variable conditions. In our conditions, there is more preferable (better) the artificial hatching.