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Ostrich, animal protagonist of stories and idioms, nice for some, for others even irritating. And for others still, who have tasted the meat, tasty and digestible. Let's get to know it better, starting with placing it in the class of Birds, in the order of Struthioniformes, obviously in the family of the Struthionidae, genus Struthio.
Today, we can find the ostrich in the wild only within the parks of East Africa, in the steppe or scrub areas. It runs in small groups, free, and very fast because it is able to reach up to 70 km per hour.
Ostrich: general characteristics
In addition to being endowed with particularly acute eyesight, and also suitable for living in habitats with a strong temperature range, such as in the places where it originates, the Ostrich turns out to be the largest living bird. It is not a random label attached to it: it weighs up to 150 kg and can even reach a height of over 2.5 meters.
It is enough to look at it to notice how it is a miracle of nature to stand, so massive and robust in body, on two long and rather thin, muscular and naked legs. Or better, the legs of the Ostrich they are covered with large scales and end with a foot that has two toes and a large plantar pad.
Supported by a long thin neck, slightly hairy, almost imperceptibly, the head is very small compared to the body and has a flat beak, covered with a strong foil and with a sort of final "nail" able to open wide in a surprising way.
The ostrich eyes, in addition to being large, they are also "hyperthyroid" and have long eyelashes adorning large eyelids, the wings are wings so to speak because they do not allow this huge bird to take off: they are large and strong but very small, covered with soft feathers .
Said in English "ostrich", by scientists Struthio Camelus, the Ostrich officially exists in 4 subspecies: the Struthio camelus australis and the Struthio camelus molybdophanes called Blue Necks with a blue neck color; the Struthio camelus camelus and the Struthio camelus masaicus called instead Rand Necks, for the red color of the neck. In more commercial jargon they are called African Black or Black Neck, the most common subspecies, Blue Neck Namibian, second most common, Blue Neck Zimbabwe, the largest, and Red Neck.
The one understood by many as Australian ostrich, because of very similar appearance, it is actually the emu, called Dromaius novaehollandiae. Or we can also find cassowaries in the same area. The emu is a bird of considerable size, weighs 60 kg and can reach 2 meters, it has gods not very bright colors with which it anonymously wanders in the dry vegetation of the Australian savannas.
The style of cassowaries is quite different, more towards the northern part of Australia and New Guinea: these cousins of the Ostrich are blue and red on the head and stand out. Adult specimens also sport one bony crest on the head that on the one hand, the practical one, serves to make its way into the vegetation. On the social side, it is also a symbol of supremacy.
Another “fake” Ostrich is the American one, officially it's called rhea or Rhea americana. This bird of the Reidae family, native to South America, is no larger than the S. but can boast of being the largest American bird.
It reaches one and a half meters and weighs about 25 kg, cannot fly but can run fast, just like his friend ostrich, but on the other side of the ocean. Its back is covered with gray-brown feathers, on the whitish belly, it lives in groups of 20-30 specimens, near rivers, lakes or swamps and eats everything and continuously: it is omnivorous and greedy.
What many believe to be the ancestor of the Ostrich is theElaphrosaurus, literally "Light weight lizard". It is extinct now, its era was the upper Jurassic. To see it, its appearance is very reminiscent of the dinosaur-ostriches characteristic of the Cretaceous period even if the more experienced have noticed some details that do not match, such as the slightly shorter legs or the different skull.
The interpretations to date are still conflicting but our animal it does not melt particularly in not knowing his ancestors, he lives for the day and quickly escapes the problem, leaving it to human scholars.
Ostrich farming today is not as exotic a reality as it might have once seemed. In Italy there are excellent examples, including the Tosti farm, located on the Abruzzo hills, in the territory of the Municipality of Bellante (Teramo). This reality has been dealing with Ostrich since 1996, started with two breeding pairs and, in a year, he was immediately able to admire their eggs and, in due course, the first chicks.
Now that time has passed, the ostrich is at home, the company has various breeding pairs and many heads of various ages, experience and fame, not only for meat but also for skins, eggs, feathers obtained from ostrich breeding.
Before talking about eggs let's see how and when they are produced. This animal reaches sexual maturity at 3 years if female, at 4 if male, also depending on the breed. Two weeks after the start of the mating season the females lay their eggs in a previously dug depression in the ground. The pace is one every 2 days, each weighing approximately 1.5 kg.
Who raises the ostrich he knows that the eggs must be collected daily in order not to risk finding them damaged or so that they must be kept until incubation, paying attention to the position, temperature and surrounding conditions. After 5 weeks in the incubator, the eggs pass into the hatching machine, in large baskets where the ostrich chick it can begin its existence serenely.
Today it Ostrich is a simple animal to raise and not difficult to find, it is difficult to uniquely estimate the price that can vary significantly depending on the type of business.
Starting from two reproductive couples, we can think of an expense of about 4,500 euros, providing them with a 500sqm of land, for those who want to do things bigger, they reach 130,000 euros and at this point they own about twenty breeding females who can take advantage of three hectares of land.
If we think instead in terms of ostrich chicks, the prices change but also the effort and the structures. A chickless than a week can cost from 50 to 80 euros, a bigger one from one hundred to two hundred, a "single" but fine female, about 500 euros.
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