The 4 D Acres emu operation started with eight chicks in 1996, and shortly thereafter 2 breeder pair for egg laying. The bird business was off to a start, however rough, the breeder pair was not productive, so… as in any sustainable operation, they were utilized for food. Again in 1999 Mike bought a breeding trio of birds from Dallas, TX, a male (Texas State Champion) and two female birds. Mike and Dee would also obtain birds when other emu farmers due to health reasons and age began to go out of business and offer equipment for sale. They would buy the equipment and the birds as a package deal.
Realizing that the Exotic bird market was collapsing, for the farming operation to be most successful Mike and Dee began to focus on developing a market for the emu products and their benefits.
Emu meat, while considered poultry, is a red meat and is high in protein, lower in fat than chicken or turkey. Interestingly, people who are allergic to beef and other red meats can eat emu meat used in the place. Ground emu meat can be used in any recipe that calls for meat, such as meatloaf, chili, burritos, etc. The steaks can be grilled, smoked, pan fried, baked and more. Emu is excellent made into jerky and summer sausage as well.
Emu eggs also provide a healthy and substantial substitution for chicken eggs. One emu egg is equivalent to 10-12 chicken eggs. Or by measurement, 1/4 cup of beaten emu egg can replace one chicken egg in cooking and baking. The emu egg makes cakes and cookies lighter and fluffier. It should be noted that because the volume of the yolk is so great, it does have more cholesterol than a chicken egg, but scientists are now confirming that it is not cholesterol alone that causes heart disease. The relation between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids determines more how good and bad cholesterol affect your body.
The toenails, feathers and egg shells are also utilized in creative ways in crafts. From necklaces and other jewelry, to dream catchers and carved egg shells, the products are popular at art shows. Many crafters order the empty egg shells, feathers, etc. directly from 4 D Acres to utilize in their own craft items. Dee has also done quite a few engravings on emu eggs.
A note on the feathers: Each quill on the emu has 2 feathers. Unlike with chickens and turkeys, the emu feathers release very easily, because the quill which is fed by a fatty deposit is less in the emu. This seems to be a defense mechanism, in that if something were to attack the emu, and only got a mouthful of feathers, the emu would be able to break away from the predator and escape across the tundra.
Of course the primary product from the emu is the oil that is refined from the fat of the bird. We will explore emu oil in depth in the following post.
To be continued…