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Mission Statement
"To Represent The International Ostrich Industry Through Communication, Dissemination of Information and Provision of Industry Standards"

Contact Details :

Craig Culley, Secretary
World Ostrich Association
33 Eden Grange
Little Corby
Carlisle, UK CA4 8QW
Tel +44 1228 562 923
Fax +44 1228 562 187


Newsletter No 17 - August, 2004

1. The Role of the WOA to Increase Bird Revenue
2. Poor Hatchability in South Africa
3. Increasing Power of the Super Markets
4. Ostrich Products Namibia Diversification
5. Director Elections
6. CL Reports

1. The Role of the WOA to Increase Bird Revenue
A question we are asked repeatedly is "how can we increase the revenue of our birds"?

The answer to this question is discussed in detail in the paper I presented at ICDOE2004 in Xi'an, China - "Cutting the Costs of Production". Slide 29 summarises the areas that impact on REVENUE.

- Improved Meat Yield
- Meat Grade
- Skin Grade
- Skin Follicle Class
- Feather Quality
- Feather Density (weight of feathers per bird)
- Fat Yield
- Fat Grade

The WOA has an extremely important role in setting the infrastructure required to increase revenue.

Grading standards are the foundation. The higher the grade the greater the price one can ask the market to pay. Today the meat from a 12 year old breeder bird is sold alongside the meat of a prime 9 month slaughter bird - the meat is perceived the same in our market place.

Depending on the market Prime Grade Beef traditionally achieves as much as 25% greater revenue. With Ostrich we currently have tremendous variations in meat quality and we ask all members to understand all the factors that influence meat quality - your incomes depend on it. As an industry it is important to educate our customers on the difference between grades.

Definitions of The WOA Ostrich Meat Grades are available at http://www.world-ostrich.org/grading.htm

Producer Yield Payment systems are designed to help encourage the producers presenting higher yielding birds, as these birds are cheaper to process - see Slide 27 in "Cutting the Costs of Production" referenced above. The narrative of this paper can be downloaded here.

Details of the Yield Payment System can be found at: http://www.world-ostrich.org/yield.htm. The principle of the system for producers selling to processors is that a higher price per kilo of meat is paid to high yielding birds and a lower price per kilo is paid to the producer as the processing costs of those birds are so much higher.

We need more volunteers to help with the development of grading systems for the other products. Grading systems are an evolving process as our standards of production improve as experience is gained. Understanding and supporting grading systems are an important component of any ostrich business's marketing campaign.

2. Poor Hatchability in South Africa
When we were in China, I was asked by a member why South Africa were having difficulty hatching eggs. A press release issued by the Klein Karoo Group discusses the problem. It reports a decrease of 50% in hatchability in some cases, an extremely serious situation for producers.

The report quotes Dr. Willum Burger, the group's head of Research and Development, as stating:

quote: Various possible causes, such as feed, breeder bird management, breeding room management and infectious diseases have been researched. end quote

The report discusses the areas of investigation that could have contributed to these very poor production figures. Drs. Boto Ganzevoort and Adriaan Olivier are reported as being actively involved in the investigation to find the cause and provide solutions.

quote: Adriaan has, through the group’s lab and by other means, done various experiments on eggs and embryos. No infectious cause was evident. Above all, the focus has been on the analysis of egg composition and the likely influence of feed thereupon. Deficiencies are noted in the case of producers with hatching problems................ Recommendations such as multivitamin supplements, cuts in green feed or ration changes showed better results. end quote

Notable in this statement is the elimination of any infectious cause and confirmation that nutrition is the route cause.

Many of you will know that the high level of chick mortality has been well reported as an on going problem in South Africa.

When we first identified that chicks were hatching with immature internal organ development in South Africa, including the Yellow Liver Chick Syndrome, I reported our findings to the South African support specialists. They told me that this condition was normal. That led Daryl Holle and myself in 1999 to carry out a study on this condition and published a report of that study that many of you will have read. Immature internal organ development of the type being witnessed, is a clear symptom of breeder bird nutritional deficiencies as the above quote is finally acknowledging is prevalent in South African production. The study can be viewed here.

When breeder bird nutritional deficiencies are so severe that chicks are hatched with these visible symptoms, it is only a matter of time that hatchability deteriorates and eventually egg laying will stop unless corrective measures are taken immediately. Positive responses when supplementing anything is a clear clue that the original rations are falling short.

This press release is written in Afrikaans and can be viewed at http://www.saobc.co.za/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=27.

3. Increasing Power of the Supermarkets
Developing strong and sustainable markets for our meat is essential to the success of our industry. Revenue for oil, skins and feathers are all important to the overall profitability of the birds, but a stable growth market for the meat is essential. Understanding meat markets is an important part of any marketing campaign.

Some major changes have been taking place over the past few decades in how our food is produced, sourced and distributed. The power of the supermarkets has grown in the UK from 20% of all grocery shopping in the 1950's to over 80% today. Their advancement has virtually destroyed city centres as a place to shop and resulted in a massive reduction in independent grocery shops and butchers. The latest move is for them to be buying up the corner shop or mini-markets that we all run to for those few items we forgot to buy. If they are successful in this in England they will control 100% of the grocery market.

Take a look in your own country and observe how trends are changing.

During my time living in Spain, I was surprised at how many small independent shops there were. However a large Carrefour arrived last Christmas, so it will be interesting to observe how long it takes before the smaller shops and the market is forced to close in the small town we were living.

What does this mean?

a. Consumer knowledge
Meat is being purchased pre-packed and ready to cook and increasingly as prepared meals. The result is that we have an increasing number of consumers who do not understand common meat cuts. Some statistics:

Only 17% of consumers 21 - 35 years old have any idea of common meat cuts.

68% of consumers between the ages of 35 and 50 know the common meat cuts.

Only the 51 to 70 year olds knew not only the common meat cuts, but also how to cook them.

[source: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets - Joanna Blythman]

b. Effect on Producers
Competition between the supermarkets is intense. They put tremendous pressure on farmers and expect uniformity in product. Whether we agree with this or not is not important to this discussion, it is necessary to understand that this is the environment in which we are introducing a new meat product.

quote: Supermarkets rarely have written contracts with farmers or packhouses although farmers are obliged to commit to supplying certain amounts to them. The farmers are both required to take the loss of any surplus and to meet any shortfall at their own expense by importing if their own harvest does not meet demand. unquote [source: Not on the Label: What really goes into the food on your plate - Felicity Lawrence].

c. New type of consumer
From all of this is becoming greater consumer awareness and concerns over all we are eating (we are all consumers also). However, they are also used to seeing food that looks a good colour, is uniform in size and nicely presented.

This is the Niche Market that our industry can aim for very successfully with PRIME grade Ostrich Meat supported by a sound marketing plan.

4. Ostrich Products Namibia (OPN) Diversification
It has been reported that due to the lack of production from the commercial producers and the community farmers that make up OPN, OPN has had to diversify. The slaughter plant is being adapted to slaughter sheep, goats and game such as Springbok. The first sheep skins were tanned at the plant in May.

The full report can be read at http://www.namibian.com.na/2004/may/marketplace/044322FCB7.htm.

5. Director Elections
We are now reaching the end of our 2nd year. The directors retiring this year are our Chairman - Stan Stewart and our Vice Chairman - Prof. Hesham Khalifa.

Both are prepared to stand again for re-election.

Are there any nominations for other directors. A reminder of the election procedures can be viewed at
http://www.world-ostrich.org/member/resolve1.htm (members only).

6. CL Reports
There have been no reports from our CL's during this month


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