The Pros and Cons of Emu Farming - ToughNickel - Money
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The Pros and Cons of Emu Farming

Author:

Peg lives on ten acres in the North Dallas area. She's a garden enthusiast, animal lover and author of 2 books.

The birds enjoy a shower during hot days

The birds enjoy a shower during hot days

Getting Started Raising Emu

When a couple of our friends started raising ostrich, they invited us to join them at a seminar on raising big birds. After learning the basics about emu farming, we decided to invest in this fast-growing business.

Our house was still under construction out in the rural part of North Texas. We both worked full time in the city at office jobs. Weekends, we tried to make a little progress on finishing out the interior of the house. With our limited construction experience, we set out on this new adventure, hoping to buy some birds and get started on our future.

Visiting an emu ranch near our house.

Visiting an emu ranch near our house.

Big Bird Business

This was the late nineties and the industry was booming with breeder pairs selling for forty to fifty thousand dollars for mated pairs. Birds with a track record of egg production were in high demand with prices rising.

The end market was anticipated as a healthy source of red meat along with eggs, feathers, emu skin products like purses and belts and other uses from the versatile birds. It all sounded quite promising, but there were some drawbacks. We were not farmers nor had we ever raised livestock. Hoping to learn more, we joined the Emu Association and met other farmers willing to mentor us.

This is an emu ranch that housed multiple breeder pairs, a hatching barn and dozens of birds.

This is an emu ranch that housed multiple breeder pairs, a hatching barn and dozens of birds.

Hatchling baby emu.

Hatchling baby emu.

We visited an emu ranch with breeders laying 11 to 20 eggs per season to study tracking methods for egg production, learn about incubators, hatching time, and assigning bird identification numbers.

With the cost of a breeder pair out of our financial reach, we decided to buy six hatchlings. While we worked on building our pens, the breeders housed our young stock until they were nearly six months old.

Emu hatchlings around two weeks old.

Emu hatchlings around two weeks old.

How Much Space Does an Emu Require?

Emu require space to run as they are quite active birds. A minimum of thirty by one hundred-foot (30 x 100') pen is recommended per pair. The fencing needs to be six-feet tall so they can't jump over the top. They are energetic jumpers. They also need shade for their feed pens, around 8 foot-square for the food shelter, although, they don't stay inside the shelters at night.

Using a gasoline powered auger to drill fence post holes.

Using a gasoline powered auger to drill fence post holes.

Building the Emu Pens

We bought an auger to drill holes to set the fence posts in the ground around 18 inches deep, filling the base with pebbles, then, leveling the poles and setting them in quick-set concrete. We rented a trench-digger and dug two-hundred feet of water lines from the main line to the new pens to get water to the drinking troughs. Then, we started building the feed shelters. We soon discovered what farmers have known for years; farming is hard work.

Shelters provide shade and a safe place for the birds to eat their feed.

Shelters provide shade and a safe place for the birds to eat their feed.

Farm Work Is 24/7

Thankfully we were used to hard work. After working our day jobs, we'd come home and drill holes in the clay-based soil to set fence poles and build the sheds. After that, we brought in truckloads of sandy loam and shoveled the dirt around the pens. Our office-worker muscles grew strong with the effort.

We named one pair of birds Hicks and Ripley after the movie "Aliens." The others were Scarlet and Rhett and Popeye and Olive Oyl.

We named one pair of birds Hicks and Ripley after the movie "Aliens." The others were Scarlet and Rhett and Popeye and Olive Oyl.

Emu End Products

Little is wasted of the harvested bird with 95% of the end product being put to use.

  • Emu skin is used in making leather products like boots, belts, wallets and handbags.
  • Feathers are used in the automotive paint process for dusting.
  • The meat is lean and a healthy replacement for red meat, high in iron and protein and low in cholesterol.
  • Medical uses include parts of the bird like veins for arterial replacement and corneas for surgical replacement.
  • Emu oil is used to treat arthritis, burns and stretch marks, eczema and leg cramps.

The Birds Have Landed

Finally, the day arrived when we brought the birds to their new home. One thing became clear almost immediately. They need to eat every day whether it's Christmas or the fourth of July, if there's a winter blizzard howling and a layer of ice covers their water troughs or it's blistering hot.

Every day, without fail they need food in their feed pens, clean water in their troughs, and a watchful eye to make sure they're healthy and safe.

Raising big birds in our back yard

Raising big birds in our back yard

Disaster in the Pens

One work day after arriving at my office, my neighbor called.

"The birds are fighting," he told me. Emus become aggressive during mating season as they compete for a partner. Hicks and Popeye were fighting over Olive Oyl. Once a bird is down, the rest of the birds jump in, kicking and plucking the injured bird. Hicks was badly injured and the neighbor was trying to keep the other birds off him. Without intervention, the birds would continue to attack a downed bird.

I had an hour's drive home over my boss's objections. When I arrived, Hicks was on the ground bleeding with the feathers plucked completely bare on one side of his torso. For the first time, Hicks let me guide him as he slowly made his way the isolation pen. The vet gave me instructions on how to treat the wound.

That day changed my thoughts on staying in the emu business.

This is Hicks. Big birds are curious. They'll take pens and sunglasses out of your pocket and peck at anything shiny.

This is Hicks. Big birds are curious. They'll take pens and sunglasses out of your pocket and peck at anything shiny.

The Disadvantages of Raising Emu

This taxing and continuous job began to affect my animal sensibilities as the thought of harvesting the birds became a reality. I had become attached to the birds with their individual personalities and quirks. They had become pets.

The cost of veterinary bills, the rising cost of their food, and the energy we were expending was nothing compared to the ominous idea of the harvesting. Getting fond of the birds and giving them names is not a good thing when they're destined to become food. Raised in the city with supermarkets, we had no true concept of where animal products came from and how they ended up on the grocer's shelf. Dealing with this was just not for us.

Are the Benefits of Raising Emu Worth the Costs?

The market for breeder pairs was beginning to decline. There were more breeders and a surplus of birds which lowered the price. Potential sales of the red meat faltered without a viable marketplace. The price of breeder pairs plummeted to an all-time low.

When we'd finally had enough of the losses, we sold our birds at a fraction of what we originally paid and wrote off our expenses as a lesson in what not to do.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Peg Cole

Comments

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 25, 2020:

Sorry Laila. We do not have any more birds or baby emu. Best of luck in your quest to raise them.

Laila on July 24, 2020:

Hi I'm looking to buy some baby emu do you have some available

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 26, 2020:

Best of luck, Sofia. We sold all our birds.

Sofia on February 26, 2020:

I have about 9 emus but I need new emu's because we're getting a little close breeding's

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on December 12, 2019:

Hello Sufferingnomad, We sold the birds before harvest time. Best of luck with your emu adventure.

Sufferingnomad on December 12, 2019:

How did you cull for harvest? Did you see it through or hire another to rid yourself of adult birds? I have 3 males from eggs

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 18, 2019:

Thanks, Nick. Maybe Samantha can ask her about emu sales.

Nick on April 17, 2019:

I know a lady out of Conroe Texas she sells emus

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 16, 2019:

Hello Samantha, As I mentioned in the article, we are out of this business now. I no longer have any contacts with emu owners. I wish you luck in finding a friend for your bird.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 18, 2019:

Hello Dean, I'm sure you know that emu grow up to 6.5 feet tall and can weigh as much as 99 pounds. They are sometimes aggressive, pinching with their beaks and poking with their hard, sharp toenails if they're cornered. They also need companionship of their own kind to be most at ease along with a large pen, shade and room to run. Thanks for stopping by.

Dean Harvison on February 17, 2019:

I would like to buy a emu for my granddaughter

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 19, 2018:

Hello Maria, These birds do have distinct personalities. Some are gentle; others, not so much. There was a really bad fight between the birds when one male tried to approach one of the other male's chosen mate. The entire flock joined in to tromp the interloper and nearly killed him. It was awful. I'm sure you've seen this in the smaller birds.They were hard to catch when it came to inoculations and regular maintenance like toenail trimming, etc..

Thanks so much for dropping in to check out my experience with emu farming.

Maria B on November 19, 2018:

I've considered adding Emu to my flock, but am concerned they would have attitudes like ostrich do. They sound more trouble than they're worth! Thank you for sharing your experience with these interesting birds.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 05, 2018:

Hello Nithya, Yes, the birds are huge and they can do damage to you if you try to catch them. We had some rather funny experiences with trying to give them inoculations. We ended up hiring a couple of lady emu wranglers. Wish I had a video of that day's events.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 05, 2018:

Hi Pamela, We certainly learned a lot about the rigors of raising farm animals, mostly that they do not take a vacation from eating whether it's Christmas day or there's a blizzard outside. Thanks for coming by and for the comment.

tony okrongly on November 04, 2018:

This is an interesting article. Thanks for sharing your story. I live in East Texas. It sounds like you live closer to central Texas - hard ground. What part of the state are you in? It sounds like you never got to the point of incubating and hatching, is that true? I can certainly understand the process of getting involved based on an idea but less experience and then learning lessons the hard way.

I have actually raised meat animals for sale in a small scale production environment with meat rabbits. And I have quite a bit of experience incubating and raising chickens, ducks and such.

How long did you actually have the birds? Other than the fight what types of health issues did you experience? What were you feeding them? Your answers will help me as I move perhaps down the emu path.

Thanks.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 24, 2018:

Hi Pamela, Thanks for reading about the emu we tried to raise. We didn't mind the work as much as the market dropping out from under us. Plus, we fell in love with our birds and that wasn't a good thing.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 23, 2018:

Learned about Emus reading your article. It is tough to take care of them and they are so huge. But it is way too expensive keeping them. Wish things had worked out fine, take care.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2018:

This is an interesting article, and the amount of work involved in your emu adventure does sound like too much. I think this has been one of those lessons in life that we all get of mistakes we don't want to make twice. Emus are interesting birds however.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 23, 2018:

Hi Shyron, It seems that I overlooked your cute comment about Green Eggs and Ham. Sorry about that. Yes, livestock is a 24/7 commitment and not for those that like to sleep in, even on a holiday. Thanks so much for coming by.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 13, 2017:

Peg, I thought I read this, but I guess not. I have visited an emu ranch "What are Green Eggs and Ham?" I love the thought of raising these beautiful birds, but would hate to commit to taking care of them 24/7. You have to be a strong person to do this.

Blessings my friend. I thought I missed this until I read my comment from three years ago.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on October 16, 2017:

Hello Kari, We have a large fenced yard within our property boundaries for the multiple dogs we've adopted over the years. Other than that we do not own livestock or other animals. As you might guess, it's a year around business to feed and take care of animals of any kind. Thanks for stopping in and for the great question.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on October 16, 2017:

Wow, how disappointing that must have been. Especially with all the work you put in. Do you use the area for other animals now?

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 02, 2017:

Hello Chitrangada, Nice of you to stop by and read this article about emu and our experiences with raising them. Glad you found it interesting. It's still difficult for me to believe we tried this out.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 02, 2017:

Interesting and informative hub about Emus! Had no knowledge about them until I read this well written article of yours. It needs lot of space and expertise to raise them. And I can't even think of doing so since I don't have that much space. But it was quite an interesting read and educational too. It's always good to learn something new.

Thanks for sharing!

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 30, 2017:

Hi Maria, Thanks for taking a look at our adventures with emu raising. I found out early on that it wasn't something I wanted to continue. The work didn't bother me. In fact, I enjoyed the outdoors and getting to know the birds. They each had different personalities.

Glad you came by. Hugs.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 30, 2017:

I'm glad you shared this, dear Peg as it looks like I missed it the first time around.

I know this would not be for me... I fell in love with these emus just reading this and watching your video.

Love you and have a peaceful day, Maria

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on May 24, 2015:

Yes, Sheila. It was a shame that the market wasn't better prepared for distribution and promotion of the product. At the point where we bailed out, our birds went for practically nothing. The food was costing more than they were worth. I never asked the buyers what happened to the birds.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on May 24, 2015:

I think it is a shame that the emu market didn't do better than it did. It really sounds like a very healthy meat source. There were a lot of people around here that got into raising then too. Many of then just turned their lose because they couldn't even sell them. I shudder to think what happened to them!

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on January 15, 2015:

Hello Shades-of-truth, Thanks for the insight into a new use for the Emu oil. I had no idea that it was so effective on chapped lips. Sorry for the delay in responding to your nice comment. I just found it today. It had been sent to the Spam folder for whatever reason. (?) Not sure why that happened.

Emily Tack from USA on January 09, 2015:

I do love emu oil. I use it in lots of different ways. The most memorable experience I have had with it, was when I had a rough case of pneumonia a few winters ago. The sustained, high fever I had, made my lips so dry that they cracked and bled. The ONLY thing that healed them, in a few days, was Emu oil! I had tried just about every other remedy that is to be found, for dry, cracked lips - to no avail. From the first application, I had some relief from the pain, and just a couple of days later, they were completely healed.

Needless to say, I keep some Emu oil around, now.

Debra Allen from West By God on November 21, 2014:

No problem! Got a conversation going on your hub anyway. LOL

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 21, 2014:

Thanks for the input, Lady G. I'm just not into raising livestock anymore. Yes, of course, living beings eat seven days a week. I was attempting to be funny and missed the mark.

Debra Allen from West By God on November 21, 2014:

Well don't you need to eat seven days a week too and so do dogs and cats and just about everything on this planet? The Llamas they have on our local farm are not in any house and are out in the cold, but they have a small structure they can go into. I never seen them in that though. It went down to 12 degrees the night before last. We do get to -6 degrees too.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 21, 2014:

Hello again Lady, Um, nope. We learned that these guys need to eat seven days a week which limits any potential for travel and takes us out into the cold (this week it was 24 degrees) every day, even Christmas. Besides, I would end up bringing them into the house with the dogs. :(

Debra Allen from West By God on November 21, 2014:

I am back to tell you that I am seeing many Llamas being raised for their wool here. Not sure in your area, but would you give that a go?

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 21, 2014:

Hello Wilderness, Most of the emu farms around here have gone away. I used to see one lone bird on my way home about a mile from here, but he has disappeared. I understand what you mean about a herd, although, I have what I call a herd of dogs and they each have a different personality. I visited a cow ranch long ago and could not eat hamburger for a long time afterward. Thank you for dropping in today.

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on November 20, 2014:

Most interesting - thanks! I don't think I could ranch, either, and for the same reason you got out. A whole herd of cattle something, maybe, but not a handful I could come to know individually.

But there are several emu farms in my area - I'll have to some checking for the meat and see if I can find some.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on October 06, 2014:

Thanks so much for dropping in, Richard1988. I love your avatar. Is that a llama?

Richard from Hampshire - England on October 05, 2014:

I've always been curious about emu farming - great hub! This was a really interesting read :)

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on September 27, 2014:

Hi WriterJanis, They really do have individual personalities. It's hard to imagine the food aspect of it after getting to know them. Thanks for the visit.

Janis from California on September 27, 2014:

I had no idea that they were raised for food. Some people have them where I live and they're kept as pets. They certainly seem like characters. I couldn't sell them for food. I understand where you're coming from.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on September 21, 2014:

Hi Phyllis, Oh my, Chug Chug, how unfortunate for him and for you. My Dad had a pet hog that he named Herman. It was also a sad outcome. Many years ago we knew a little piglet our neighbors named Bacon. He grew into about a three hundred pound hog.

Thank you so much for your kind comment and for the visit.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on September 21, 2014:

Hi JayeWisdom, Yes, it was definitely a risk that turned out to be quite a learning experience. We weren't opposed to the work, but we found that we aren't cut out to raise livestock, that's for sure. I'm really glad that we didn't buy the expensive egg incubator equipment that was being promoted at the time. Our friends were really deeply invested, building a huge barn for the chicks and multiple pens for their breeder stock.

We considered Llamas for a brief while after we sold the birds, but opted not to go there. Thank you for dropping in and for sharing the experiences of your friends in this business and this hub. Cheers.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on September 20, 2014:

Hello SheGetsCreative, Thanks for the honest comment. I knew someone who had raised a prized steer for 4H and still talked about him years afterward in terms of sadness for poor Maynard. I believe the new generation has a heightened sensitivity to the source of meat. So many of my nieces and nephews are vegans and raising their children the same way. Thank you so much for the visit.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on September 20, 2014:

Hello Tillsontitan Mary, So good of you to drop by to read this farm story. Ol' MacDonald had a farm, eieiyo. Yep, we were much younger and had the energy for all these physical labor projects. I sure wish I had the energy now to do those things. It was my form of exercise.

Oh, poor Topsy and Mopsy...I don't believe I would be able to do it either, although, our dogs have no conscience when it comes to bunny tartare and mouse a la yard. That was another thing. The feed drew in all sorts of varmits who infested the sheds and our garage as well. It got really creepy.

Thank you so much for the votes and for reading and sharing.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on September 20, 2014:

Very interesting venture you set out on, Peg. I admire the determination you and your husband have to plow right into projects and learn. I enjoyed reading this hub.

PS: when my six siblings and I were kids, we fell in love with Dad's big hog and named it "Chug Chug" -- the day came when we realized it is not a good idea to name livestock.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on September 20, 2014:

You and your spouse are definitely not averse to hard work and taking risks, Peg! Sorry your emu venture turned out badly, but you certainly gave it a good try. I think you were immensely brave to undertake and stick with it as long as you did.

I recall the 'emu farming craze' and all the accompanying hype in my state during the late '90s, mainly because I visited a friend's in-laws who were also farming the big birds. We got the grand tour, seeing the emus in their enclosures and being amazed at some large blue-green eggs. If I remember accurately, those folks gave up their emu experiment after a couple of years for essentially the same reasons you did.

I also recall a small cafe in a nearby town that had emu on their menu for a while with a sign in the lobby enumerating its healthy qualities and bottles of emu oil for sale at the cash register.

Another exotic 'farm animal' of the 1990s in this area for a while was the 'guard llama.' Llamas are fiercely protective of livestock and chase away predators, so some farmers had one or two llamas standing guard duty over other more vulnerable animals and fowl.

Voted Up+++ and shared

Jaye

Angela F from Seattle, WA on September 20, 2014:

Very interesting and honest! More people that are contemplating raising animals as a business should read this! I don't think I could kill anything I had raised, played with and named either...which is why I didn't join 4-H or FFA when I was a kid.

Mary Craig from New York on September 20, 2014:

What an amazing and talented lady you are dear Peg! On top of everything else, trying to raise livestock. The only thing that surpasses your courage is your talent. This was a great read though sad for you.

When I lived in the city as a little girl my Dad decided to raise chickens for the eggs and later dinner. Topsy and Mopsy finally made it to the table but the only one who ate was the dog!

Voted up, useful, funny, interesting and shared.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 25, 2014:

Hello Grand Old Lady, Thank you. We also had Rhett and Scarlett as well as Hicks and Ripley from the movie Aliens. Once you've named them it's difficult to think of them as food. I'm wondering if I should try raising chickens. I do love eggs.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on August 24, 2014:

What a very interesting article. There was a time they were also trying to sell ostriches in the Philippines. I can understand your coming to see them as pets rather than income. Loved the names of two of them, Popeye and Olive Oil. Lol!

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 07, 2014:

Hi Peggy. Thanks for the "funny" vote. It is funny now, not so much back then. It's interesting what we will try in order to get out of the corporate culture. I chalk it up as lessons learned, too. Vineyards? I would love to read about it.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2014:

Hi Peg,

Gave you all kinds of up votes on this including funny although it was undoubtedly not funny to you at the time. We had a similar venture only with owning part of a vineyard in California. We did not lose much money but we certainly did not make any and had our money stayed put in the stock market, we would have been further ahead. Oh well...lessons learned! :)

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 06, 2014:

Lady of the Lake - That was the trouble, Deb. When the reality set in it was just not doable, at least, not for me. They had already become my pets.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 05, 2014:

That's the thing with the latest fad--we rely on people to give us the dirt, but we get it slanted from one angle. If I had emus, they'd be my pets. I could never raise them for anything else, but that's me. I have been called The Lady of the Lake, which I'm sure you heard the original legend.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 05, 2014:

Hello Rapid, Our jobs soon changed to require us to travel about 70 percent of the time. I was a project manager for a telecom company with projects across the US. We were not in a position to hire people to feed the birds in our absence. At the time, the food cost far exceeded the value of the birds. It was a matter of cost effectiveness. No it is not illegal to raise emu, just time intensive and costly.

Mohinder Paul Verma from India on August 05, 2014:

But I did not understand reason behind the close of this wonderful and interesting business you were doing. Is this an illegal. I want to know something about this if you have some spare time dear.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 05, 2014:

Hi Teaches12345, The lady at the breeder ranch was a well-loved substitute teacher in her younger days. I think it would be an interesting field trip for kids to learn about where food comes from.

Dianna Mendez on August 04, 2014:

This is a totally new concept for me. I am not one to take up farming but it would interesting to visit one of these farms.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 03, 2014:

Hello Martie, Reading over your stories I see that we've both tried a number of different avenues trying to get out of the corporate pressure cooker. I feel like I've given it a go on so many different fronts. This was truly an unusual experience. Ostriches are difficult to manage and way taller than me. I can see where they would make good watchdogs.

Yes, I'm also an omnivore, too, with tendencies toward being a pescetarian. Most of my nephews and nieces are vegans. It seems to be a growing trend.

Thank you for the votes, the visit and the great comment.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on August 03, 2014:

Oh, Peg, what a life we all have - trying all kinds of ways to make a living. I hate myself for being an omnivore, eating almost anything, including animals and birds, in order to stay alive. Though I have never tasted emu. I have seen some emu's down here in South Africa, but ostriches are the most common, and they are truly quite aggressive and even kept as 'watchdogs' on farms.

Voted up, informative and interesting :)

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 03, 2014:

Hi Rapidforceads. We sold all our birds some time ago. It was a lot of work and we were too tenderhearted to see them end up as food. I've heard there is a good business in the eggs, though.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 03, 2014:

Hi Nell, It's wonderful to see you today. Yes, the emu cream really works to relieve my leg cramps time and time again when they wake me out of a sound sleep. I've been wanting to try it in a moisturizer as well. Glad you liked the photos!

Mohinder Paul Verma from India on August 02, 2014:

This is good to know that you are preserving these big birds along with your business and this is an inspirational task for other to do something for other creatures too. Though we would be earning but on the other hand these creature would have shelter for living. All the best dear.

Nell Rose from England on August 02, 2014:

Wow Peg, it was an amazing thing taking them on, and sorry to learn you had to get rid of them because it was too much. I never realised that they could be used for medical things, especially as it helped you so quickly, I knew about eating them, and yes it is strange that its not taken off as we all thought it would even over here, fascinating read, and the photos were wonderful!

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 02, 2014:

Hi Moonlake. There was one emu in a fenced area on our road until recently, too. I never asked the people who bought our birds what happened to them although I talk to them frequently. I just didn't want to know. Moon, just the thought of it makes me want to be a vegetarian.

moonlake from America on August 02, 2014:

I noticed some emus on our way to our daughter's house. I see now they're gone the family must have stopped farming them. I would have trouble killing them. We once had chickens for meat and that was even hard. Thanks for sharing your emu story. Voted up

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 02, 2014:

Hello Shyron, What a great experience to take the kids to an emu ranch. I would imagine it was quite educational for them to see those huge birds and experience the ranch life. I'll get over to read your Green Eggs and Ham hub to learn more.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 02, 2014:

Peg, I have a friend who owned an Emu Ranch as I wrote in "What are Green Eggs and Ham" It was quite an experience when we took the kids to visit a working emu ranch.

Maureen sold the ranch when it got to be to much for her to handle alone. It place was called the Pierson Ranch, her father raised Arabian Horses.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 01, 2014:

Hi Jackie, Raising chickens is as much work only the birds are smaller. Jumping into the middle of a chicken fight is brave. I've considered raising them, but for the same worries that they would suffer in the cold weather. Ah yes, retirement...

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 31, 2014:

This reminds me of the last year I have spent raising chickens! When I see one getting pecked and feathers flying I want to jump right in the middle and send them all flying. (and sometimes I do!)

It may have been better if you weren't working too, I mean like wait for retirement; if there is such a thing, lol. Animals are hard work and like you I worry they are not always comfortable. I plan to believe everyone this winter and forget about heaters and the such!

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 31, 2014:

Hi PapaJohn2U, We learned quite a bit, although it was an expensive lesson, for sure. It takes a lot of endurance to be a farmer and I gained a lot of respect for those who toil the long hours to raise stock or grow crops.

Nice of you to drop in on this special day for you. (Smiles)

John from New Jersey on July 31, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your lesson learned with us. Sorry your experience didn't turn out the way you expected.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 31, 2014:

Hello Au fait, I'd like to read more about your life on the farm. My Dad told us stories about his childhood on their small farm in Georgia. They had milk cows, chickens and hogs, too. They also grew vegetables and had pecan trees. I enjoy looking at the photos and wish I'd learned more about their place.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you'll write a hub about your experiences.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 31, 2014:

Ann1Az2, That's funny that you used to play head games with your buck. They sound quite entertaining and gentle. So sorry about his early demise. That must have been really difficult for you.

C E Clark from North Texas on July 31, 2014:

Farm life can definitely be tough and grueling. Animals depend on us and we can't let them down. It is us, after all, who made them dependent.

All of our cows had names too, because it was a small farm. Some of the chickens had names, but I don't remember naming any of the hogs. Just the same, they thought they were pets too.

Sounds like you had quite an adventure. Interesting to read your report.

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on July 30, 2014:

Goats definitely do better when there are at least two of them. But I remember, my goats always "talked" to me in the mornings and evenings at milking time. If you're around them a lot, they become fond of human interaction. I used to get out and butt heads with my buck, just playing and he never hurt me, although he weighed when he was in good health around 250 lbs. That's one of the reasons it broke my heart to have to put him down.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 30, 2014:

Hi Jodah, Wow, 40 acres is a lot of land. How interesting that you get to see these birds on their own wanderings. Yes, it was a craze here in the mid 90s and even still some farms exist. I had always wondered about the Australian perspective on farming these native creatures. I'm with you on not being able to harvest them. It didn't take long to realize that was just not going to happen for me.

Thanks for the great comment, the visit and the votes.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 30, 2014:

Hi AliciaC, I know what you mean. After getting to know the birds, it was clear that they each have a distinct personality, like dogs. They begin to follow you around and peck at you to show interest. I just could not even think of, well, you know. It's an important consideration.

Thank you for your visit and engaging comment.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 30, 2014:

Hi Genna, The birds are truly funny as chicks. They're fun to watch, playful and entertaining, to say the least. I'm trying to convert some of our old video to a format so that I can post it here. It is comical.

This was truly an interesting experience raising them and only sad that it didn't work out. Thank you for dropping by and for the amazing comment.

ologsinquito from USA on July 29, 2014:

This is such an interesting article, which kept me riveted right to the end. Thanks for the tip on emu oil. It's something I need to try and it's priced very reasonably.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 29, 2014:

Hi Bravewarrior, Emu farms have diminished around here in Texas. There were three right here on our county road before the bubble burst. I attended a couple of seminars in Orlando back in the 90s when things were going strong.

The birds really do look quite comical but they can be, um, tweaky. Their movements are sporadic and if you try to catch them, for any reason, they use their strong legs and clawed feet to protect themselves.

We've tried a number of things since this (mis)adventure. Nice to see you and thanks for the comment.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 29, 2014:

Good hub Peg. We have 40 acres and a family of emus wanders through from time to time. I haven't considered farming them, though I did hear that it was becoming a craze for awhile. I still haven't come across a restaurant or supermarket that sells emu meat so I don't think it really took off. You can get kangaroo meat in most supermarkets here. We have chickens for eggs but can't even bring ourselves to kill them for meat, so emus would be even more difficult. Voted up.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 28, 2014:

This is a very interesting hub, Peg. Like you, I couldn't butcher an animal or even ask someone else to do it once I'd met the animal and got to know them. Your hub will be very useful for other people who are considering raising animals for food.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Oh, Ann, how terrible for you about your goat herd. That sounds like such a disappointment for everyone and for the females in the group for sure. The folks who just built on the acreage next to us have brought in goats and I can hear them all the way over here. Since the people don't live there, I guess they get lonely. (the goats)

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Hello SubRon7, oh James, that was so long ago that the sheds are long gone and so is the fencing. Straight line winds took them out and what was left of the sheds after a tornado, I had someone haul away.

Our emu ranch was built in 1994 and by 1997 we'd sold all the birds. With the high price of nutritional pellets, the food was costing more than the birds were worth.

Since that time, I opened a Collectibles store in a small building I purchased in a little town nearby. While still working full-time, I ran the store, went to antique auctions and opened for business on the weekends. After that, I tried my hand at flipping houses just as the real estate market plummeted. You can't say I haven't tried a few things. lol

James, raising mink in today's world of fur aversion is maybe not such a good idea. I imagine that was sometime back when people could still wear fur coats without fear of scorn. About the bunnies, awww.

Still, we do what we can to try and become independent. It's the American Dream, after all... I hope things are going well for you. It's good to see you out here and on fB. All the best to you and yours.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 28, 2014:

When I first saw Olive Oil’s lively expression and the shape of her head, I was immediately reminded of “ostrich”…but she’s an Emu. I’ve never seen one – up close and personal. She looks as though she is quite the character, Peg. :-) This endeavor required an enormous amount of work and commitment; but I can empathize with not wanting to harvest them. (And in distancing yourself from the corporate world.) It’s too easy to become attached to these energy-draining but comical and endearing critters. I’m only sorry that you took a financial loss in parting with them. Still, it was an amazing experience. I enjoyed this engaging and heart-warming hub.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 28, 2014:

This is interesting, Peg. There are a few emu farms here in Central Florida. I've never been to one, but I've driven by and got a good look at the birds. I had no idea they're aggressive; they're so comical looking!

Have you come up with another plan?

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Goodness, that was quite an experience. It's similar to the one I had with my goat herd. There is a tremendous market for the milk, but after I lost my sire to a terrible skin disease which even taking him to A&M didn't cure, I gave up my herd and sold them. He was my favorite.

I've always though it would be cool to have an Alpaca farm, but after reading this, maybe not!

James W. Nelson from eastern North Dakota on July 28, 2014:

Wow, Peg, what a story! You do now have a pen(s) and a shelter though, in case you think of a different livestock. I agree with Will Starr about naming livestock, though I too named just about everything on our farm.

Once, while trying to think of another way too make money, I got the idea of raising rabbits, or maybe mink, so my dad and I visited a mink ranch. I fell in love with those feisty little critters immediately. Eventually the owner made it plain, then my question: "You mean we have to "kill" them?"

That ended my aspirations of rabbit meat or mink fur. It was bad enough seeing calves butchered and old milk cows leaving for the slaughterhouse. Had your idea been successful, Peg, I would have worded this comment differently.

Good luck on finding something else, and try to keep believing there actually is....

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Hi Frank, They seem to be making a comeback. Thanks for the educational hub comment. ;)

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Yikes, LadyG. Killer bunny moms - the new TV series.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on July 28, 2014:

I never heard of an emu had to google it LOL but a very educational hub though..

Debra Allen from West By God on July 28, 2014:

Watch out for bunnies though. If you disturb their nest box before the mom wants you to they will eat their babies.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Hi Ms. Dora. It really brings some reality to the story about "Green eggs and ham, oh, Sam I am". We have some great memories of our time working together on the pens and the sheds. Video, too. There were a lot of things which went wrong, like getting punctured by an emu toenail or the time we chased an escaped bird across the field before finally catching it. Ah, good times...

Thank you for telling me you learned something. We sure did.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Hello Lady G. From what we learned, three pair would be about the minimum grouping since these birds prefer to move about in flocks. They get anxious when they are alone. Mated pairs don't always lay fertile eggs so it's a good idea to have a backup pair of breeders and a choice of mates for the females.

Yes, not naming them is a key factor. Bunnies are soft and cuddly. These guys can pinch a purple blister on you in seconds.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with your farmette.

Peg Cole (author) from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 28, 2014:

Hi Always. Ruby, it was worth the effort to try and realize it wasn't for us. Otherwise, we would always have wondered. I think that Outback used to have Ostrich and Emu on the menu - not sure if they still do. Hey, that rhymes! I've been thinking about raising chickens and that's probably why I dug up these old pictures - to remind me of the work involved. It limits any ability to travel or vacation unless you have someone you really trust to manage things in your absence.

Thanks so much for coming by and for the sweet comment.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 28, 2014:

Interesting story and well told about your experience with the emus. You learned some valuable lessons and then taught us some. Green eggs? And I've seen the Blue Emu product, but never associated it with the bird. I learned a lot I did not know before. Thank you.

Debra Allen from West By God on July 27, 2014:

Nice story and I have also learned NOT TO NAME things that you may eat later. I had a semi farm, that I called a farmette and we raised the animals for our own use. Goats for milk, chickens for eggs and well we tried to raise rabbits, named them all and could not eat them at all. They got some congenital brain disease or sinus things and all but 2 died. If you do it for yourself you have better luck...or so I learned...then if you have extras you can sell that. Next time start small. Animals do take a lot of attention and care. Loved your emu's though. I love animals.