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Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand and ostrich farmers not burying their plans

ostrichContrary to popular belief ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand! When an ostrich senses danger and cannot run away, it flops to the ground and remains still, with its head and neck flat on the ground in front of it. Because the head and neck are lightly coloured, they blend in with the colour of the soil. From a distance, it just looks like the ostrich has buried its head in the sand, because only the body is visible.

Gregg Anderson, a Canadian ostrich farmer and his partner Raldeen Petrie of Satara Farms has been trying to obtain permission to operate an ostrich Farm here in Grand Cayman

Originally they had sought planning permission to operate the farm in West Bay but there was many objections to it from residents there and permission was not granted.

Anderson said he was hoping to import ostrich eggs and raise the hatchlings for the production of meat and leather products.

Satara Farms were going to incubate the eggs in West Bay, hatch them, rear them to a certain age, and then move them out to East End.

Now West Bay is out of the equation Anderson is not burying his plans in the sand. He is now looking at East End from the start.

Several sites have been looked at including one near the Health City Cayman Islands development.

The importation procedures for ostriches require rigorous quarantine and medical testing to ensure the health of the birds.

“Once you get the eggs, it takes six weeks for them to hatch and then, after the last chick has hatched, there’s a quarantine period of 30 days in which testing will be done to make sure that there’s no diseases or anything like that,” Anderson told a Caymanian Compass reporter when the application first went in to Cayman’s authorities.

According to Anderson ostrich meat is a delicious, healthy red meat alternative that is high in calcium, protein and iron which can be barbequed, roasted, grilled, dried or cooked in anyway similar to beef.

Hmm. I’ll stick to beef, even if it means I will be burying my head in the sand.

Related story

Basic facts about ostriches

From Live Science

Ostriches are flightless birds that are built for running. They’re the fastest bird species, with a maximum running speed of more than 40 mph (64 kph), and they can cover 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) in a single stride.

Ostriches can maintain a speed of 30 mph (48 kph) for long periods of time, helping them escape nearly any predator.

Ostriches are also the heaviest and largest bird species, weighing as much as 400 pounds (181 kilograms) and growing up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall.

Female ostriches are brownish gray, while males are black with white wing and tail feathers.

They have specialized feet with two toes on each foot (all other bird species have three or four toes). They also have a 4-inch (10-centimeter) claw on each foot, which they use to defend themselves.

Ostriches are omnivores, chowing down on whatever is available. Their diet is mostly plants — especially leaves, seeds and roots — but they’ll also eat insects and small animals like lizards.

Ostriches can eat things other animals can’t digest because their intestines are especially long and tough and help them absorb nutrients. They also have a gizzard, which, along with the stones and sand they swallow, helps grind up the food they eat.

Ostriches are social birds, sometimes gathering in flocks of 100 or more (but usually just 10 or so). The groups have a pecking order, with a dominant male that defends the flock’s territory and a dominant female called the “main hen.”

During courtship, the black-and-white male uses his striking coloring to attract a hen. He slowly sinks to the ground, almost like he’s bowing, then begins to wave and shake his wing feathers while moving his tail up and down. Then he approaches the female, holding his wings out and stomping to impress her. If she enjoys the show, she’ll mate with him.

Male and female ostriches share the job of incubating eggs and caring for their chicks. Each female lays two to five eggs in a communal nest. The main hen puts her eggs in the center of the nest so they have the best chance of hatching.

The eggs hatch after about 40 days. A few days later the chicks leave the nest, which is really just a big scratch in the dirt, and travel with their parents. An adult ostrich will then take a chick under its wing — literally — to shelter it from sun, rain and predators.

Ostriches usually live for 30 to 40 years, and some live for more than 50 years.

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