Raising American Ostrich for the Market and the Velocity Solar Electric Bicycle

This short series of reports includes news on raising American ostrich for the market and Swiss inventor Michael Kutter's Velocity solar electric bicycle.

| December 1996/January 1997

News briefs on raising American ostrich for the market (the only barnyard animal that will outlive its owner), and the Swiss created Velocity solar electric bicycle. 

In 1986, Herb and Carolyn Fisher bought seven pairs of yearling ostriches. The seven-foot, 250-pound birds tower over their owners and may outlive them—their life span is more than 70 years. Two of the seven hens laid eggs in their second year. (Each lays 30 to 50 eggs per year, weighing about four pounds apiece.) Today, about 100 giant birds wander 12 acres at the Fisher ranch in Stanfield, North Carolina.

The Fishers got into the ostrich business "on the ground floor," as Mrs. Fisher says—in 1986, a highly profitable time to get into it. They bought breeders and sold chicks. "It was just really new and people just kept saying `this is a great investment.'"

In 1993—94 three-month-old chicks sold for $8,000 a pair. Birds had been scarce due to the U.S. anti-apartheid embargo on goods from South Africa, where they have been raised commercially for over 100 years. Once the embargo was lifted, eggs were allowed in and hatched under quarantine. Now there are more and more birds and the price has gone down. Breeders that were going for $50,000 a pair now go for $8,000—$10,000 a pair.

Despite the drop in prices, the American ostrich market is at a significant turning point. Just in the last year, it has finally become big enough in the U.S. to transform from a breeder market to a slaughter market. As ostrich becomes a viable commercial market, the demand for the product is likely to increase.

Carolyn Fisher believes "you can still make a lot more money raising ostriches than horses or cattle when raising American ostrich for the market. You get $600—$750 per bird, and you get more offspring per year. The price of beef has really been down and ostriches have really taken off in the cattle states like Oklahoma and Texas because these guys weren't making any money."

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