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Introduction

In 1994, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’s aerial surveys estimated Botswana’s wild ostrich population to be about 60 000 with the largest population being in north-western Kgalagadi and south-west Ngamiland. Commercial ostrich farming started in Botswana in the late 1980s. Currently, breeding birds reared commercially in Botswana are estimated to be slightly over 1000.

Ostrich products

Ostrich products for export include leather, meat, eggs, egg shells, feathers and carcass.

Market

Ostriches are slaughtered and processed at an export abattoir and thereafter exported to European Union. However, it should be noted that the first offsprings (F1 generation) of birds produced from parents captured from the wild are not slaughtered for export. There is a great need to increase the supply of ostriches to the abattoir. the ostrich abattoir is operating far below capacity.

 

 
Systems of ostrich farming

Natural breeding

Under this system, hens are allowed to incubate eggs. The male sits on eggs at night and female during the day. Male and female breeding birds are placed in large camps of several hectares with minimal supplementary feeding and attention. Eggs that are laid are allowed to be incubated by breeding birds and the chicks are raised by their natural parents.

Natural Breeding combined with intensive rearing

Breeding hens lay eggs, hatch and rear their own chicks. Chicks hatched naturally remain with their parents for about 3 months. Thereafter, chicks are separated from their mothers and placed in feedlot until they reach 90-100 kg slaughter weight.

Foster rearing without incubators

The first breeding pairs to hatch chicks are allowed to keep them and become foster parents. Chicks hatched from another breeding pair are removed and added to those hatched by this foster parent.

Foster rearing with incubators

In this system some of the eggs laid are taken to the incubators where they are hatched artificially. The chicks hatched can then be given to foster parents to rear as their own.

The Breeding flock

The female ostrich starts their productive life when 1 ½ - 2 ½ years, while males will be ready for breeding at 3-3 ½ years of age. Always ensure that males are older than females when pairing birds for breeding.

 

 

Health Management

Diseases of ostrich include haemorrhagic fever, Newcastle disease, aspergillosis, omphalitis and avian influenza. Both internal parasites (wire worm, tapeworm, nematode worm etc) and external (mites, lice, ticks and biting flies) parasites would reduce performance of ostriches if not treated.

Botswana Ostrich Farmers Association (BOFA)

BOFA exists to protect ostrich farmers’ interest and promote farmers’ productivity, profitability and skills and to disseminate information through newsletters.

Dibete Ostrich Multiplication Unit (DOMU)

DOMU is established by the Ministry of Agriculture on a portion of Dibete quarantine camp. The objectives of DOMU are:

  • To assist in reviving the ostrich industry acting as a catalyst
  • Provision of research, training, practical demonstration, and extension services.
  • Establish satellite farms in the area, which will be under the direct supervision of DOMU.
  • Provision of breeding stock and chicks
  • Provision of hatching facilities.
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