Emus with plenty of rom to run - Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Emu Farming – a brief outline of farming emus, and the health-enriching oil they’re farmed for. IMPORTANT: This is the website of a Writer. We do not sell emus, emu eggs, or know where to get them from. 

Emus are farmed for the fat laden saddle across their backs which is rendered for omega rich oil.

Emu Oil Uses

Emu oil is gaining popularity, with research confirming that it provides odourless relief for inflamed joints, arthritis, radiation burns, and a variety of other topical uses. It is also processed into capsules and taken internally though research into the efficacy of this treatment is sketchy. The fat is rendered and filtered, and in some cases, sterilised, and sold through health outlets.

Each bird produces about 15 kgs of meat and in New Zealand, the feathers are also used for the making of korowai, Maori cloaks.

Emu, Pennell farm, New Zealand - Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Emu, Pennell farm, New Zealand – Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Male and Female Emus

The males, virtually indistinguishable from females to look at, except that they are slightly smaller, produce a raucous grunt, while female emus boom. Booming is a round sound, reminiscent of a tightly strung drum with a deep tone.The average life span in the wild for an emu is approximately 20 years.

Native to Australia, the flightless emu is not an aggressive bird, but when pushed too far, can deliver a savage three-toed kick. Unlike ostriches which can only kick forwards, emus can kick through 360 degrees.

Females can become quite jealous and will literally henpeck the males. By comparison with females which have rich bustles, males can be skinny.


Emu - Pennell farm, Far North, New Zealand - Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Emu – Pennell farm, Far North, New Zealand – Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Emu Breeding

The emu breeding season is from late March to early September. The hen lays up to 20 rich, dark green, 550gm eggs. One of these beauties is the equivalent of approximately eight average chicken eggs. Emu eggs have a pale yolk and make delicious omelets.

Emu egg - Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Emu egg – Photo Theresa Sjoquist


The male sits on the nest, which can be over a metre wide, incubating the eggs for eight weeks. He doesn’t leave the nest and and can lose up to a third of his body weight through lack of nourishment. He looks after the chicks too until the next breeding season when the current hatchlings are about nine months old. Chicks weigh about a kilo when they hatch but by the time they’re a month old, they are already 10kgs.

Emu Environmental and Nutrition Needs

Emus are capable of running at up to 50kms per hour. They are not a flocking bird and need to run so are best kept in long narrow paddocks at an approximate maximum of 20 per acre. They are grass eaters, but because they can get their sharp beaks into the ground, they are also able to catch and eat a variety of insects and caterpillars. They will consume small stones and grit to aid their digestion. In their natural sparse habitats, food is often hard won so emus convert food to body weight very efficiently. Approximately one kilo of every two eaten becomes body weight.

Emus on the Pennell farm - Northland, New Zealand - Photo Theresa Sjoquist

Emus on the Pennell farm – Northland, New Zealand – Photo Theresa Sjoquist

The growing popularity of emu oil makes farming these large birds more and more viable.


©Theresa Sjoquist

Please Note: I am a writer. I have no feathers, eggs, oil, or bones and I apologise, but I do not know where to get such items from. This article was published in 2011.

16 replies
  1. Lyn topp
    Lyn topp says:

    We would like to set up an emu farm on our property and are unsure how to begin . Any tips would be appreciated.

    • Theresa Sjoquist
      Theresa Sjoquist says:

      Hi Lyn, I think the best you could do would be to find an emu farmer and talk to them. Experience makes a wonderful mentor.

  2. Paul Smith
    Paul Smith says:

    Hi Theresa do you know if Lyn managed to contact any Emu farmers ?

    I looked into Emu farming at the time when it was new and recall that feed was the most expensive cost of this farming enterprise. As I recall Massey University produced a specific pelletted feed for Emu farming.

    I too would like to see if Emu farming was a viable smallfarming option these days.

    I believe many people got burnt (also in the Ostrich farming enteprise ) due to speculators and profiteers (not farmers) spoiling these business ventures. Same thing as happened years ago in the mohair industry.

    If you can help in any way that would be great.

    Kind regards


    • Theresa Sjoquist
      Theresa Sjoquist says:

      Hi Paul, I don’t know if Lyn found anyone. I realised in retrospect the link I supplied was an old one. The emu farm I wrote about was in the Far North and I don’t know if it still runs. You might try checking into the agricultural or farm governing bodies and track any emu farms down that way. If Massey was producing emu feed, perhaps they’re worth a call. Problems occurred in the industry when new rules were applied, I believe to packaging and/or selling meat from home – a licence was required at quite a price, although it wasn’t clear as to why the rules had been introduced. This may be part of any decline that may have occurred in the industry.

  3. Paul Smith
    Paul Smith says:

    Thanks Theresa, I know that commercial killing and processing plants for Ostrich and Emu were being set up back in the day. Those probably declined at the same time as the licencing issue.
    Will see what more I can find out.

    Kind regards

    AMINU DABU says:

    Looking for any Emu farm where I could get a training on how to rear these wonderful birds.Any help would be most welcomed.

    • Theresa Sjoquist
      Theresa Sjoquist says:

      Thanks for your query, but I can’t help you with this. Perhaps inquire through Trade & Industry?

  5. Mary Te Anau-Lawrence
    Mary Te Anau-Lawrence says:

    Im just wondering where is the closet emu farm where i could buy few feathers from. I live in Pukekohe,Auckland

    • Theresa Sjoquist
      Theresa Sjoquist says:

      Thanks, but this is a very old article now and I wouldn’t have any idea. Kind regards, Theresa

  6. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Just wondering if anyone knows where I can buy any fertile Emu/Ostrich eggs from, really wanting to hatch and raise my own if possible, having no luck looking on Google.

    • Theresa Sjoquist
      Theresa Sjoquist says:

      Thanks Wendy, Unfortunately, I am only a writer, and that article is a few years old.

      Kind regards


    • Theresa Sjoquist
      Theresa Sjoquist says:

      I’m sorry, Ruth. I’m just a writer, not an emu farmer. Thanks for your enquiry, and good luck finding featers.

  7. Don
    Don says:

    If you are looking for an emu or emu eggs register EMU in a stored search on Trademe. Something comes up 3-4 times a year.

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