Standing over 1.8m tall and weighing approximately 50kg, the Emu is Australia's
largest bird. A nomadic flightless creature, the Emu can be found roaming wild, from the
lush high rainfall areas of southern coastal Australia to the arid expanse of the inland
region. Feeding mainly on grains, insects, nuts and new seedlings, these attractive birds
are sometimes found in large flocks, but more often in paired or family groups.
With the approaching rains, and
cool weather in April, the female will lay one egg every 2-3 days, with the total egg
clutch about twelve.The male takes responsibility for the nest, incubating the eggs over a
56 day period (during which he does not eat or drink), and rearing the striped coloured
chicks until they are able to fend for themselves.
The emu is principally farmed for low-fat meat, high quality leather and oil. Emu oil
has a reputation largely derived from its traditional use over hundreds of years by the
Australian Aboriginals. Western Australia was the first State in Australia to allow
commercial emu farming in 1970, with approval being given in Queensland in 1987 to the
Cherbourg Aboriginal Community to capture 300 wild emus for a primary breeding stock.
Now each State allows for emu farming in one form or another, with State and National
Associations formed to look after member needs. Emu farming is a growth industry, with
massive potential to earn domestic and export dollars, and at the same time contribute to
the ecological regrowth of the Country. An emu farm is a very environment-friendly
operation, with virtually no ground clearance necessary, and often a tree planting program
required. Emus are soft-footed birds, ensuring no damage to the land on which they are
farmed, and being native animals, are less prone to disease.
Birds are generally processed at around 12-18 months old, with the average return
being 10-15 kg meat, 5 ltrs oil, 0.7 m2 skin for leather, 2 leg skins and 0.75 kg
is extremely lean, low in fat and cholesterol, with the meat from farmed birds (the
only sort I have eaten) having a taste similar to a fine cut of beef, but opinions vary.
Surprisingly, the meat is red rather than white, and can be cooked in as many ways as more
traditional meats, from stir-frys and kebabs to thick BBQs and roasts.
has become increasingly popular at various levels of refinement, from a specialist
lubricant to being hailed by some as a cure for arthritis. While the jury may still be out
on some claims, what is fact is the penetrative properties of the oil, lending itself to
body care and liniment rub products.
from the body of the bird is a fine,soft leather with a distinctive patterned surface.
It is used successfully in clothing and accessories such as wallets, bags and boots.
Leather from the legs of the bird is thicker with a raised pattern similar to crocodile
leather. It is also prized for accessories such as belts or watch bands, and is used to
highlight other leather products.
How We Lost The Emu War