Feeding

Emus require simple food. You should plan feed as per the age of the bird. Emu require plenty of water to drink. Always keep fresh water in the pans.

In India there are no specific feed prepared for Emus. However one can start with regular poultry feeds with addition of greens. Alfalfa leaves, Lucerne, stylo, Desmanthus. Chopped green vegetables, cauliflower leaves, fruits like grapes, watermelon. Chicks and adult birds can be given crumble feed. You can also add Soya crumbles for additional protein.

Sprouted green gram can be given to Breeder birds at the time at breeding season to increase the overall reproductive performance.

Courtship & Breeding behaviour of Emu

Emus usually mature sexually between 18 months to 28 months of age. Since Emu is a wild bird, allow the birds to move freely and select their own pair in the colony pen. Their courtship is a ritual, which is must watch for any Emu breeder. Both male and female, strut and display the neck feathers. The male walks around the female and both come opposite to one another. The male takes a lead in necking and the pair starts circling. The male rubs his neck on the mane of the hen. The female makes a deep drumming sound (booming) and male makes a grunting sound. The female then sits with upraised plum. The male then mounts. The activity continues for nearly a minute. The male then leaves and the female the slowly walks away. Allow Emu to pair naturally from a communal pen. Non-compatible birds will fight. Many Emu begin producing in their second year. Emu lay eggs in the winter months usually between November to March. Initially during the first laying, the second egg would be laid after 8 – 10 days, But later on, eggs are laid every 3 – 4 days, with an average of 30 – 40 eggs / season. Some may even produce up to 50 eggs per season.

Incubation & Hatching of Emu Hatching

The three most important factors in the incubation and hatching of healthy, viable chicken are temperature, humidity and plenty of fresh air flow. Depending on the climatic conditions where you live the range of most commonly used indicator is room temperature (65 – 80oF), Incubator temperature (96 – 98oF), Hatcher temperature (97 – 98oF), relative humidity (25 – 60%), wet bulb temperature (72 – 85oF) and incubation period (47 – 53 days).

Successful incubation of eggs is vertical and air cell up. Turn eggs four to six times / day. Egg weight loss is important and 15% in the ideal. A weekly system of egg weighing and good record keeping are essential. Eggs should be transferred to a hatchery when internal piping starts. After hatching, the chicks should be allowed to remain in the Hatcher only for the time sufficient to provide for drying without dehyotration. A chick that is up and moving about in ready to be moved from the machine. On the average, the holding time after hatch should be about 12 hours. For the next 24 hours, the chick should be kept in warm brooder box without food or water while it metabolizes the yolk – sac. Before shitting the chicks to shed, make sure that they have started eating and drinking.

Egg tapping is a common practice during the incubation period. The purpose is to determine when the chick has broken into the air sac so that assistance can be rendered if required. By tapping on the large end of the egg with a small blunt instrument the sound you get before the chicks breaks into the air sac will be of a higher frequency then the rather hollow sound after the breakthrough.

Incubation

Two basic types of incubation can be used – natural and artificial to date most Emu farmers use artificial incubation

Natural incubation

In natural incubation the male Emus go broody and are allowed to sit on the eggs.

When young females begin to lay, eggs are commonly laid at random throughout the pen After a time or the onset of maturity a nest site will be chosen and eggs are then laid at this site Dispersed eggs are rolled together and often camouflaged with dry grass, sticks and leaves etc by the male Emu

The rate of lay is slow initially with several days between the early eggs. The rate increases to one egg every three days or so towards the end of the clutch

After some 6-10 eggs have been laid the mature male will go broody and begin sitting on the eggs Further eggs laid near him are rolled under to join the others over a few days the male will slow his metabolic rate to a point where he sites on the eggs full time, will not eat or drink and only stands several times a day to roll the eggs It is advisable to remove other birds from the pen when a male begins to sit because group penning may result in fighting and egg damage and not allow the male to settle properly.

Once a male is fully broody by can be approached quietly and gently lifted to check the condition of the eggs

The incubation period for Emus is 56 days but it is good policy to check daily from day 50 to see if any chicks have hatched

If chicks are to be reared in a brooder house they should be removed at this daily cheek and taken to the brooder house.
If you are leaving the chicks for the male to rear you should remove all unheated eggs
After the male moves off the nest At an early age the chicks are prone to wander and care is needed to prevent predators such as crows, hawks and foxes killing them

Natural incubation requires more space and pens to move birds into and especially so if the male is left to rear the chicks if you plan to do this you should get further information on this subject before starting because it will require different procedures

There are problems associated with natural including the potential for bacterial contamination of eggs especially in wet conditions some eggs will be in the pen two to four weeks before the male sites During this time daily temperature fluctuations may trigger the embryo to begin developing and the low night temperatures may then kill the embryo this is known as pre-incubation

Despite these problems reasonable hatching rates are possible using natural incubation

Artificial incubation

For artificial incubation, eggs are collected once or twice daily and placed and placed in an incubator.

Prevention

At this stage prevention is the only effective method of controlling aspergillosis in Emus

Prevention should be aimed at three broad areas

1) Removal or control of favorable areas for fungal growth

This would include such things as removing wet litter not using damp or mouldy straw/ hay as litter or food, not using or removing spoiled grain and regular provision of fresh non- dusty litter

2) Dust control in brooder sheds

This is an important area as dust in the air of brooder sheds appears closely associated with infection with infection of young chicks.

Dust is most likely to be raised when litter is being removed or raked over. In these cases it would be worth lightly damping down the litter so dust is not raised when it is moved

Good quality litter will also help. A coarse litter of wood chips or pine wood shavings appeasers to work well litter that is already dusty may only contribute to the problem

3) Hygiene

Attention to hygiene can prevent aspergilla numbers building up to point where problems occur this needs to be done in all stages to the end brooder stage

Eggs should be fumigated and / or washed in a recognized egg sanitizer used according to directions

The cold storage room the incubator and the hasher should be fumigated or cleaned regularly with a recognized disinfectant active against fungi

The brooder house should be cleaned and disinfected before the hatching season begins. If individual pens are cleaned out during the breeding season they should be disinfected.