An Update On Proper Ostrich Chick Rearing 2023


Ostrich Production

Target Audience

Ostrich Farmers


Ostrich identification is important for record-keeping, traceability, and protection against theft. Ostriches are very fragile creatures. Don’t handle unless absolutely necessary for example regular weighing, drug admin. Catch with the left hand at the base of the neck and the right hand being slipped between the legs.

Don’t grasp by the neck or legs. Handling is stressful for ostrich chicks and lowers their immunity. Their height can be used as a guide to their growth instead of weight. Wooden rulers on the walls will allow monitoring of the birds without having to handle them.

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Two methods

  1. Microchips
  2. Leg bands

Microchipping makes use of microchip implants (inside the body) to identify the birds by a unique number code. Inserted at hatch in the pipping muscle or tail with an implant gun and needle. Permanent and is not subject to being lost, altered, or torn. Read using a microchip code reader and uses common low power radio signal to read the code.

Leg bands

–they are Numbered

–Easy long-distance identification

–placed above the hock or around the ankle

–Available in a variety of colours



Chicks are unable to thermo-regulate at hatch and must have an external source of heat. During the first two days, should be as close to 35°C as possible. Start at 34-35°C and reduce gradually to 21-23°C at about four weeks of age.

Stocking rates

First few weeks, ostrich chicks should be housed indoors. Unless outside air temperature is too high and it is difficult to maintain a constant temperature inside the brooding quarters.

Floor space requirements

Varies by housing type. Overcrowding during the brooding and rearing stages can lead to slow growth rates, disease build-up, feather pecking and cannibalism. From about 5 weeks of age (depending on weather conditions), the chicks should be allowed out for about one hour daily.

General recommendations

–0-3 weeks   0.5m2

–4-5 weeks   0.7m2

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Drinking water

Fresh clean water at least twice daily. All water containers routinely cleaned and disinfected weekly. Ostrich chicks are initially unable to recognize water, but they like to peck at flat shiny surfaces. To stimulate drinking, it is beneficial to put large shiny objects inside the water containers. As soon as the chicks’ beaks are immersed in the water, they learn how to drink.

Water temperature


Stress pack

–First week

–Brown sugar (250g/4.5litres water)

–vitamin/mineral (e.g., vitamin B @ 2g/day per bird)



–Dehydration results in concentrated urine

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Chick can live a few days on the yolk sac drawn into the navel @ internal pip. Adlib – high quality starter mash mixed with finely chopped lucerne leaf or similar fine nutritional fodder (not fibrous). Given as wet feed.

Access to grit – limestone or oyster shell grit, start with grit 1-2 mm in diameter, increased in size as birds get older.

Chick rearing facilities

Brooder house and pens they are nervous animals and require site so as to minimise disturbances. Less dust and dampness to reduce incidences of lung disease. Ventilation and humidity control. Avoid use of any form of bedding/straw – chicks may eat these resulting in gut impaction. To be original (not disused tobacco barns). Proximity to the incubator, and therefore near the producer or manager’s house as possible. Cleaning should remove waste regularly and disinfection spray every few days.

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God bless and All the best !!

Chivalrous Curie

Dr Jacinth Anesu Kuri is a certified Animal Production Scientist from Harare Zimbabwe. He is the CEO of a prominent NGO in Zimbabwe called Agric Tech Opportunities. He is the founder of AgricTech Charities Foundation. Trained by Campuslifestyle to be an IT expect and Web developer And Chief Blogger.

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