An often overlooked by-product of ostrich farming is the ostrich fat. This is a little-known resource that can easily add value to the slaughtered bird.
Ostrich fat is white in color, and found along the spine of the ostrich, and on the undercarriage of the bird. The deposit on the undercarriage is stored as a thick pad of fat between two layers of gray skin. As with all other animals, the fat layer is a storage place for energy that can be used in times of stress and inclement weather, or when food becomes scarce. It’s a reserve.
The amount of fat found on an ostrich is highly variable. Age, seasons, nutrition, stress levels, genetics and more are determining factors in the amount available. However, a significant amount of fat will be found on most slaughtered ostriches. If an ostrich is found with no fat pad at slaughter, the matter needs to be investigated further. Was the bird ill, or stressed? Were there other determining factors, such as was be bullied away from the feeding area? Having no fat pad points at either bad management of problem areas that need to be resolved. Remember that an ostrich that has no fat reserves has no energy reserves for an emergency.
Ostrich fat is useful in both edible and non-edible applications. Some manufacturers use the fat in processed meats like sausages. Some ostrich farming ventures add the rendered ostrich fat to their ostrich feed as an additional source of fats for energy. The ostrich fat has also been used experimentally in pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications.
All testing and experimental use of ostrich oil has been found to date to be variable. The rendered oil has been found to vary too greatly to be of use in these pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries on a commercial-scale. Further development and research will have to be undertaken to provide a stable and consistent quality, to be of any use to these industries. It might require some time to reach these necessary standards in the production of ostrich oil, but it will be well worth the trouble.
Note the emu industry has developed an emu oil industry because emu oil was the primary source of income. For ostriches however, ostrich meat is the primary source of income, followed by ostrich skins and ostrich feathers. Few ostrich farming enterprises have really investigated ostrich fat, except for a few small-sized farms looking at the tourist market.
By keeping up with testing and experimenting with ostrich oil in small-scale, and developing products such as soaps, creams and lotions, we are developing yet new opportunities for our ostrich farming venture to grow.