Agweek did an article on my farm in Jul 08 - video of my birds
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
About American Emus
Q: What is an emu?
A: An emu is a "ratite" - a flightless bird. The ratite group also includes ostrich and kiwi. The mature emu is five to six feet tall, weighing between 90 and 120 pounds. The curious birds are born with black and white stripped feathers but are tan, brown, and black as adults.
Q: When do emus begin reproduction?
A: Emus begin laying eggs as early as 13-18 months of age, but laying normally begins at two to three years. Emus lay large green eggs between November and March. Emus can be productive for more than 20 years and can lay 20-50 eggs in a season.
Q: Why is the emu called the "most usable bird"?
A: Emus are most widely known for their unique oil and low-fat, iron-packed red meat, but their fine leather, hide, unusual feathers, toenails and exquisite large green eggs are also marketable.
Q: Where does emu oil come from?
A: The pale yellow emu oil comes from a thick pad of fat on the back of the bird that was initially provided by nature to protect the animal from the extreme temperatures of its Australian homeland.
Q: What are some uses for the oil?
A: Emu oil has diverse applications ranging from cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos to analgesics. Emu oil has anti-inflammatory properties and helps combat the effects of the aging process. Emu oil has also been proven to thicken the skin of the elderly by as much as 14 percent and is used widely to treat pressure sores. Medical specialists are discovering the benefits of emu oil and are adapting it into their treatment techniques for relieving the symptoms of arthritis, preventing scars, and treating eczema. In addition to reducing swelling and stiffness in joints, it reduces bruising and muscle pain.
Q: What does emu meat taste like?
A: With more protein and less calories and sodium than most other red meat, emu meat is similar in taste and texture to lean beef.
Q: What is the best way to cook emu meat?
A: Since emu meat is low fat and loses moisture quickly, it is best when cooked to rare or medium rare doneness (145º to 160º F internal temperature as measured by a meat thermometer). For those who prefer meat that is well done, a moist heat cooking method is recommended.
Q: What cuts of emu meat are the tenderest?
A: The tenderest cuts are the select cuts that include the fan, top loin, inside strip, and oyster. Select cuts of emu meat adapt well to nearly any recipe. Because of its mild flavor, emu meat accepts most seasonings. It responds especially well to sweet marinades made with honey, soy sauce, ginger, lemon juice and garlic. Grilling on a barbecue after marinating is the best way to bring out the succulent taste of emu meat.
By-Product or Co-Product?
Emu Industry Touts Totally Usable Bird April 2006
San Angelo, TX -- Food by-products often end up in land fills, but not those from the totally usable bird - the emu. "I wouldn't say that emu has meat by-products," remarked Cyril Klein. "It has co-products. Every part of the bird is usable." Klein should know. He not only raises the 5 1/2 foot tall birds; he serves on the American Emu Association Board of Directors and chairs the Emu Oil Research Committee.
In addition to a lean, Heart Healthy™ red meat, the big bird produces a variety of other products, including two types of leather. The durable body hide provides thin, supple leather used in clothing as well as fashion accessories. The thicker leg skins, or “leggings,” produce almost reptilian leather that is sturdy enough for hard-wearing items such as boots and belts, but also creates an interesting accent on clothing and accessories.
Another food co-product, the fat, produces omega rich oil that is receiving rave reviews in the health and beauty industry for its transdermal, cholesterol lowering and anti-inflammatory properties. “Initial studies at the University of Massachusetts have verified folklore about emu oil,” said Klein. “Now we are seeking universities to partner with in human trial studies.” Klein went on to say that AEA is working with one university, but that the studies had not yet begun. Numerous companies use the oil in a variety of health and beauty products as an inactive ingredient.
The flexible, double-plumed feathers have found niches in fashion, fishing, automotive and craft industries. Not only is the versatile emu body feather showing up as a trim for hats, but also as an accent for clothing, in hair ornaments, jewelry, and even fishing lures. They are used by the automotive to dust cars prior to painting. The straw-like tail feathers are popular in applications ranging from cat toys to floral arrangements.
Emu eggs have found a niche market in the egg art industry and are especially popular with egg carvers. The outer layer of the shell is a dark green, but beneath lurk layers of teal and white. Egg artists utilize these layers as they sculpt to give detail and depth to their work.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, emu are being raised on over 5,000 farms across the country. Many of these farms sell their finished, consumer-ready products from the totally usable bird online or at local farmers markets. On July 14-16, 2006 emu farmers from across the United States will be attending the annual AEA National Convention, held this year at the Madison West - Marriott Hotel in Middleton, Wisconsin.
The American Emu Association is a non-profit trade association representing the emu industry. The emu industry is an alternative agricultural industry, dominated by the small farmer, who is devoted to humane and environmentally positive practices that will produce beneficial products for society.
Dinosaurs trotted like emus
Larry O'Hanlon October 2006
Scientists studying how emus walk have brought to life the mysterious moves of two-footed Jurassic dinosaurs travelling along a long-lost beach.
Computer models have been developed to simulate the gait, and therefore the possible tracks, of specific dinosaurs.
But live emus allow scientists to directly compare complex tracks to specific behaviours, say researchers looking at the thousands of tracks left behind 165 million years ago by dinosaurs at Red Gulch in northern Wyoming.
Among the surprises they've found is that tracks once interpreted as steady walking may actually be created by the animals stopping at mid-stride.
Another enigmatic type of track that now makes sense is where the dinosaurs appear to have crossed one leg over the other.
The motion is a seemingly weird thing to do, until you watch an emu making the same sort of track, says Brent Breithaupt, director and curator of the University of Wyoming's Geological Museum.
Emus, it turns out, have legs that are close together, like many dinosaurs, and tend to look around a lot as they walk, Breithaupt says.
This scanning behaviour causes emus to often cross the left foot over the right leg and the right foot over the left, making the same confusing pattern seen in the dinosaur tracks.
"Sure enough there are wonderful comparisons," says Breithaupt. "Emus are our biological Rosetta Stone."
He presented the latest on emus as proxies for dinosaurs at the recent Geological Society of America in Philadelphia.
The search for a modern animal to act as a proxy for dinosaur tracks started, says Breithaupt, because he was getting a little impatient with all the speculation about the tracks.
There was too much of what he calls "prehistoric hyperbole".
So after passing on ostriches, which have only two toes, and rheas, which have three-toes but overly rambunctious personalities, emus were the best alternative. Plus there was an emu ranch just across the state line in Colorado.
Breithaupt and his team now think that the Red Gulch dinosaurs were probably human-sized meat eaters, or theropods, travelling along in groups.
The groups may have included families, since there are juvenile and adults tracks together, implying some sort of parental care.
Exactly what the dinosaurs looked like, however, is a mystery because the mid-Jurassic Period is particularly poor in dinosaur fossils in North America.
"There is virtually nothing known about dinosaurs in North America from that time," says geologist Dr Erik Kvale, who discovered the tracks and did a great deal of the first geological work there.
"Chances are there were some very gregarious behaviours of dinosaurs [at Red Gulch], but it's only a snapshot."
What can be said with more certainty is that the dinosaurs were walking in a very different landscape than today, says Kvale.
The sands beneath their feet were carbonate sands like those found in the Bahamas or the Florida Keys, but the climate of the ancient shoreline was probably a lot drier.
"The Persian Gulf is a better analogue," says Kvale.
Ancient birds waded here, News in Science 22 May 2006
Earliest human footprints in Australia, News in Science 21 Dec 2005
Aboriginal astronomers see emu in sky, News in Science 16 Aug 2005