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

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Craig Culley, Secretary
World Ostrich Association
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World Ostrich Association Newsletter No. 71

February 2009

Included in this Edition
1. Domestication of Livestock
2. Middle East Tops List for Brazilian Exports in ‘08
3. Global Feed Manufacture
4. Production Report from Saudi Arabia
5. Currency updates

1. Domestication of Livestock

Wildlife resources: a global account of economic use [1] is a book published in 1996.  The aim of the book is to discuss the use of wildlife resources, both from a domestication view point and from a conservation viewpoint.

They discuss the development of domestication of certain species, setting out 4 stages.

  • Stage I – kept captive without or with occasional breeding
  • Stage II – kept captive with breeding, beginning genetic isolation
  • Stage III – kept captive or herded, selective breeding, full genetic isolation, semi-domestication
  • Stage IV – fully domesticated, docile, genetical changes, breeds

When viewing the table one can see that Ostrich is classed as Stage II put at 1860 and the longest Stage IV species starting the process of domestication as long ago as before 7,000BC.

Table 1 - Wild animal species commercially utilised by captive keeping, taming controlled breeding or domestication [1]

[Click on the table to view larger version]

animal domestication



These are the full text descriptions of the different stages:

Stage I:  The particular species is kept captive in small numbers with or without breeding.  This may occur by herding small groups close to man, leaving them to roam freely during the day-time but restricting them by night to simple protective enclosures.  Although some breeding may occur during this state, the captive stock requires regular replenishment from the wild and genetic material is still introduced regularly from the reproductive pool of the wild species.  

Stage II: The next step in the process of domestication is that the physically contained animals start breeding regularly under the care and supervision of man.  As numbers of captive bred or herded individuals increase, interchange of genetic material with animals of the wild population diminishes.  Such breeding might go on for many generations without any intentional selection by man. 

Stage III:  By this stage the captive animal stock has become genetically isolated from the wild population.  Selective breeding at this stage may either be deemed unnecessary or is very limited, for example to produce certain colorphases in furbearing animals.  Even without selective breeding, such animal stock will gradually undergo morphological, physiological and behavioural changes merely due to the different environmental circumstances.

Stage IV:  Full domestication is achieved only by long-term controlled breeding with total isolation from the wild species and the application of varying degrees of husbandry.  This results in a close relationship, even interdependency, between the particular animal species and its master.  Selective breeding and husbandry aim at the promotion of distinct anatomical physiological characteristics culminating in the formation of different breeds.

Depending on the duration and severity of the selection process, one may distinguish between “domesticated” and “domestic” animals.  The former are referred to as “primitive” domestic animals, externally still resembling the progenitor species and behaving like them.  Only the latter are truly “man-made” animals which associate freely with man and might bear little resemblance the progenitor species.


Page 13 discusses how domestication has continued developing.  As illustrations the authors cited crocodile having moved from Stage I to Stage II, moving from collecting eggs from the wild to an increasing number of farms in recent years and Ostrich farming reaching Stage III in South Africa about 50 years ago.  The interesting aspect here is subsequently when farming opened up to the rest of the world, because export of genetic material was illegal in South Africa, the early stock was collected from the wild.  This happened in a controlled manner from Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya with some early shipments illegally captured from wild South African stock.  Since there has been no meaningful genetic development as yet, with limited domesticated breeding stock left, it could be argued that the Ostrich Industry outside South Africa remains at Stage II.

It is possible to move to Stage IV over a few generations once commercial production commences on an industrial scale. 

2. Middle East Tops List for Brazilian Exports in ‘08

This is the subject title of an article on The Poultry Site this month.  As the subject title suggests, the discussion relates to the fact that the Middle East is the largest market for Brazilian poultry.  Total tonnage was in excess of 1.1 million tonnes, representing growth of 13% over 2007 exports. 

Table 2 - Brazilian Poultry Meat Exports

Brazilian Poultry exports


Figure 1 - Brazilian Poultry Meat Exports (tonnage)

meat tonnage

Figure 2 - Brazilian Poultry Meat Exports (Value)

value of exports

The value was US$1.9 billion a growth of 46%.  When looking at the values, worthy of note is that without exception in all regions the value of exports have increased, despite the reduction in tonnage to some regions.  This is probably a combination of the increased feed costs supported by increased prices received for the meat, plus the variations in the value of the US$ over the period.  It does not reflect profitability. 

Notable is the fact that exports to the Middle East and Asia make up around 50% of total Brazilian exports, regions with a high proportion of members of the Islamic faith, who are unable to eat pigmeat.   

An article on The Pig Site illustrated the increased exports of pig meat from the United States.  Figure 3 provides comparative sales for 2006, 2007 and 2008.  Note the downturn in sales started a month earlier than 2006 and 2007. This coincides with the firming of the US Dollar against other currencies, combined with the collapse of the financial markets.  The article mentions similar trends with beef. 

Figure 3 - US Pork and Pork Variety Meat Exports

us port exports



Table 3 illustrates the breakdown by country/region to the end of November, 2008.    

Table 3 - US Pig Meat Exports by Country/Region – Jan to Nov 2008


Metric Tonnes





China/Hong Kong






South Korea








Central and South America




Dominican Republic




New Zealand





The opening discussions confirm that global protein supplies remain tight and people still have to eat, regardless of the global economic situation.  As we have mentioned before, pig and poultry meat are excellent sources of low cost meat protein.  This is the market that Ostrich can supply; with a population group unable to eat pig meat.  Ostrich will only be able to compete in those markets through introducing the efficiencies of production that Pig and Poultry have achieved.

3. Global Feed Manufacture

The January/February edition of Feed Management discusses the continued increase in manufactured feed tonnages during 2008 despite the challenging trading conditions throughout 2008. 

Figure 4 - World Feed Volumes [source: FAO]


Figure 5 – World Meat Consumption



As one would expect, feed production is shown as increase follows a similar climb.  Note that the feed will record only feed manufactured through commercial feed mills; it will not include feed manufactured in on farm feed mills or feeder wagons. 

Figure 6 illustrates the regional variations.  The low level of feed production in the Middle East supports the fact that the figures from Brazil showing the Middle East as the leading poultry export market.

Figure 6 - Feed by Region



Table 4- Top 10 Countries for Industrial Feed Production

top 10

Figure 7 illustrates the development of feed manufacturing tonnages, illustrating the rapid growth in Brazilian, Chinese and Mexican production over the past 10 years.  This figure is published in the January/February edition of both Feed Management and Feed International.  Both magazines and other feed industry news can be accessed from the Feed Industry Network.com web site.

Figure 8 is only available in Feed International.  This graphic does not cover the Americas, but does show some interesting statistics.  One highlights the higher cattle production in Turkey and nil pig production.  Highlighting again, the opportunities for ostrich production particularly in countries where low cost protein from pig meat is not available to provide variety in the diet.

Figure 7 - Evolution of Feed Manufacturing Tonnages


Figure 8 - Feed By Species




4. Production Report from Saudi Arabia
This report has been submitted by Rayan Hayder of the Arabian Ostrich Company in Saudi Arabia. The report again indicates how small ostrich production is when compared to mainstream livestock production.

Poultry production in Saudi Arabia:
The production of broiler meat in Saudi Arabia reached by end of 2006 547,000 tons. The production recorded an increase of around 2% in 2007 mainly due to newly licensed farms.

In 2005 the country had 410 production units totalling 537,000 tons of poultry meat mostly raised under controlled environment. Saudi Arabia poultry production consists mainly of 97% broiler meat with only 3% layer farms for egg production.

Saudi Arabia egg production recorded major improvements in the early 1980’s and within a period of 10 years mainly with the modernization of the country’s production units and the introduction of better breeds of layers, egg production reached 2,059 million eggs in 1990. This number has further increased by more than 50%; as a result Saudi Arabia became a net exporter of eggs to neighbouring countries.

The Saudi government continues to encourage the establishment of new poultry farms and the expansion of existing ones in order to attain the maximum possible self-sufficiency level in broiler meat production.

To help meet this goal, the government grants interest free loans to new viable poultry farms. It also maintains a subsidy program, started in the late 1970s, which pays 25 percent of the cost of selected poultry equipment. In September 2004, the government introduced a new subsidy scheme for local poultry meat producers to help them construct cold stores, buy refrigerated trucks, screeners, grading and farm packaging equipment. Poultry farms, particularly larger units, benefit from various government subsidy schemes to spur investment in the latest broiler production and technologies

Local poultry equipment manufacturers also are entitled to receive various government subsidies. The Saudi government provides a considerable subsidy for feed importers used in poultry feed production mainly for corn & Soya meal.

Poultry diseases in Saudi Arabia:
The most common poultry diseases found in the Kingdom include: Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV), Gamboro, Infectious Bronchitis (IB), Avian Influenza (H9N2 subtype), Salmonellosis and Coccidiosis. There were no major outbreaks of AI (H5N1) in the kingdom until November 2007 when a mass culling of 4 million birds was conducted in the Riyadh and Kharj areas to curb an infection in one poultry farm for egg production. The impact on the market was significant with shift in the consumption from local poultry production to imported meat but for a short period of time.

Poultry meat consumption in Saudi Arabia:
Poultry meat consumption in is considered one of the highest in the Middle East reaching in 2000 a per capita consumption of 37.4 Kg (USDA sources). This is attributed to a booming economy and a rise of the per capita growth domestic product (GDP). As a result Saudi Arabia imports large quantities of poultry meat mainly from Brazil and France to meet the demand in the country and its growing population of 27 Million (including 7 million expatriate workers from Asia, Middle East, Europe and America).

Ostrich Production in Saudi Arabia:
Ostrich Production has recorded major setbacks in the past few years and currently there is only four major production units with no more than 15,000 Breeders. Many small producers have left the industry and very few are still struggling to maintain their production. Although the Saudi consumer is starting to buy Ostrich meat, with more stores and Restaurants offering this product, nevertheless, the total local consumption of chilled meat did not exceed 150 tons in 2008. Although there is room for growth, the projected consumption is less than marginal when compared to poultry and red meat consumption.

5. Currency updates
November’s newsletter, No. 68 showed the comparative value of US$1 against the Euro, Sterling and South African rand and illustrated clearly how the US$ has recovered its value against these currencies. With financial markets still highly volatile, figure 9 illustrates the South African Rand is currently at the same value as October 2002 and sterling continues to lose valu

Figure 9 - Comparative value of US$ against Euro, British Pound and South African Rand
(Note: US$1 = 100%. Source: http://www.oanda.com/convert/fxhistory)

currency comparisons


[1] Roth, Harald H., and Günter Merz. 1996. Wildlife resources: a global account of economic use. Berlin: Springer Verlag.



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