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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
33 Eden Grange
Little Corby
Carlisle, UK CA4 8QW
Tel +44 1228 562 923
Fax +44 1228 562 187
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World Ostrich Association Newsletter No. 93
December, 2010

Included in this edition:
Steve Warrington
Incubation and Chick Quality
What Age Black Feathers?


Steve Warrington
It is with sadness that we have to report the death of Steve Warrington, creator of Ostriches on Line, at the end of October.  Steve had a vision to put “ostrich meat on the plate of every person in the world”.   Personally I have always shared that vision – finding the right path to achieve that vision continues to challenge us all.

Figure 1 - Steve examining my young birds in South Africa


 

Over the years Steve and I communicated and met up on several occasions. Figure 1 is a photo of Steve taking photos of a group of a batch of my birds around 300 day old (10month) birds.  It shows Steve in his signature dress of white with trainers and ostrich feathers in matching colours.

At this time the International Ostrich Association was the industry association to cover the interests of the developing global industry.  That association was operated by a single person in an undemocratic manner.  Steve encouraged the inauguration of a new Association to represent the world industry founded on a strong constitution and openness and so we had the birth of The World Ostrich Association.  He was our founding chairman.

Steve started Ostriches on Line when his parents purchased ostriches in the early 1990s in the England. He went online to find out about the markets and discovered there was nothing. That gave him the idea of starting Ostriches on Line to specialise in market development of ostrich products. Steve found that all ostrich products were in demand across the world. To market products requires sustainable supplies at the right price. As a result of the unreliable production his vision to bring ostrich meat to every table turned to bringing the finest ostrich products to every hand in the world, from boas on Bette Midler to fans for Christina Aguilera but meat remained unavailable in commercial volume. Steve’s nephew, Sean, has started his own feather company in England and the team hope to have ostrich.com up operational once more in the new year.

Incubation and Chick Quality
Pars Reform, the incubator company, has an interesting document entitled “Genetic Progress Inspires Changes in Incubation Technology”.    Reading it, it is important to remember that the progress in poultry production is a direct result of the very large volumes of sales that supported and financed the technical developments.  With all we have learnt of ostrich working on a very low scale, they are capable of achieving similar levels of production when farmed using economies of scale adopting management systems appropriate for Ostrich.

Figure 2 - The developing embryo illustrating variation in Broiler and Layer Embryo
developing embryos comparisons

Quote: The developing embryo: variation between the heart structures of a layer embryo (A) and a broiler embryo (B) at 40 hours of incubation.  In studies conducted by Pas Reform, genetic selection for growth was shown not only to influence growth after hatching, but also to influence the growth patterns of embryonic heart structures. Here we see that in the broiler embryo (B) the ventricle (marked*) is dilated, compared to the ventricle in the layer embryo (A).End Quote

 

Figure 2 clearly indicate variations that would be most interesting to study in greater detail.  The illustrations, combined with the supporting narrative indicate the importance of all elements of the production chain and the variables they place on production.   

Assuming that these two photos are taken at exactly the same stage of embryonic development and the same magnification then the overall growth of embryo B is far greater than embryo A.   This emphasises again the importance of genetics and egg quality.  

It will take several decades, once commercial levels of ostrich production are achieved, to reach the same level of sophistication that commercial poultry production enjoy.

What age Black Feathers?
One reason Steve was taking the photos in Figure 1 is that these chicks were showing black feathers.  As can be seen from their neck feathering, they were young birds, yet well grown with good muscle.   Of particular interest at the time was the fact that his raw feather dealer was stating that he had never seen black feathers starting to develop in birds under 365 days old. 

Back then the industry talked only in months, rarely weeks and never days of age.  It is normal to measure age of slaughter livestock in days as every additional day an animal is held from slaughter the greater the costs of rearing...not only on feed but also infrastructure requirements, labour and other incidental costs.

Figure 3 - Young Slaughter Bird showing first Black Feathers
240 day old birds showing black feathers

Figure 3 is a photo of two test birds taken at random from their relative groups.  Both birds are African Black.  The bird in the foreground was 240 days old at time of slaughter.  The black feathering is clearly visible.

 

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