Emu popularity took flight, then waned; breeder thinks heyday is ahead
By ERIN MADISON • Ag Outlook Staff Writer • August 11, 2009
In the mid-1980s, emus, a large bird with long legs and a feathered neck already domesticated in Australia, saw a surge of popularity in the United States.
The odd-looking animals became a commodity of sorts.
By 1993, a good breeding pair of birds cost about $45,000, said Clover Quinn, emu rancher in Hamilton and president of the Montana Emu Association. However, the birds reproduce quickly. People would buy a pair of birds and a year later have 30, Quinn said. At the time, there was little market for meat or any other emu products. By 1995, the price of a pair of emus was down to about $10,000. The following year, it dropped to $1,000. By 1997, people were giving them away, Quinn said. It was during that crash in the emu market that Missouri River Care and Rehab in Great Falls ended up with a pair, which they have had since 1998.
"They are breeders," said Janet DeLisle, business development Manager at Missouri River. "We didn't know that when we first got them." The nursing home got the birds with the goal of giving the residents something unique to watch, which is exactly what the birds have accomplished.
The female typically lays eggs between October and March, which don't always make it through the winter. Missouri River Care and Rehab used to be able to give away the chicks that did make it. Now they take the eggs away from the birds before they get a chance to hatch.
Quinn got her first emus in 1996. Even though the bird saw a surge of popularity in the '90s, she thinks their heyday is yet to come. Since that time, a market has developed for emu meat, which is extremely lean. There's also a market for emu oil, which can be used as a skin moisturizer.
Quinn sells her emu meat at stores in the Bitterroot Valley as well as at the Good Food Store in Missoula.
"It's becoming very popular as people turn away from processed meats," she said.
Emu meat is a red meat, but is very low in fat. People can use emu ground meat as they would hamburger. Fillets can be marinated, grilled or pan fried.
Quinn expects that this will be the first year she'll sell out of meat before harvest, which is typically in September.
The meat has a sweet flavor and is not at all gamey, Quinn said.
When Quinn harvests the emu's meat, she also harvests a 25-pound pack of fat that the birds carry on their backs. She drives the fat to a refinery in Tennessee. "The oil has just gotten better and better throughout the last 13 years," Quinn said.
She sells the oil at the Hamilton farmers' market, as well as on her Web site, www.wild roseemu.com.
The oil runs about $11 an ounce and can be used anywhere that skin isn't as healthy as it should be — meaning on rashes, burns, shingles and dermatitis.
"We're finally getting more research done and more acceptance in the medical community and the cosmetic community," Quinn said.
In addition to the meat and oil, there's also a market for emu eggs, feathers and leather. The eggs can be eaten and taste about like chicken eggs. "The egg is just delicious to eat," Quinn said. However, it's a little hard to crack. Cracking it on bowl would probably result in breaking the bowl. Quinn drills into both ends of the egg to empty in contents. More popular than eating the eggs is decorating them. The eggs are forest green on the outside, with a layer of teal and white underneath. People often carve them so the layers show through. They also can be painted or hinged to create a door.
The automotive industry uses the feathers as feather dusters to clean vehicles before they're painted, Quinn said. The feathers also can be used for decoration. Quinn recently had a request for 200 feathers for floral arrangements for a wedding.
The bird's leather is thin, but extremely durable and is often used in vests or patchwork items. The birds' leggings make beautiful boots, she said.
Despite a growing market for the birds' products, emu ranchers in Montana still are few and far between.
The Montana Emu Association currently has four members, Quinn said. Of those only two are commercial emu ranches.
Aside from Quinn's the other commercial ranch is located in Kalispell. The Montana Emu Ranch sells value-added products made from emu oil such as soap, moisturizer and lip balm.
07/28/2008 12:00 AM N.D., Minnesota breeders find growing demand for emu oil-based products -- Oil from the fat of an emu -- a flightless three-toed bird, native to Australia -- may be the answer to dry and irritated skin, bug bites, sunburn, inflammation and numerous other skin ailments, according to JoAnna Starkweather, emu breeder since 1995.
(more of this article later)
Families spend Mother’s Day down on the farm
Louisburg farms pull in large crowds during county’s annual farm tour
By Doug Carder
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 4:22 AM CDTThis little lady’s big doe eyes turned the heads of more than one infatuated boy this weekend. She wasn’t all curls and frills, but the pet Hereford, of sorts, on the Silver Lining Hereford ranch southwest of Louisburg stopped youngsters in their tracks every time.
“She’s very gentle. I knew she would be a big hit. Kids love to pet her,” said owner Gerald Silvers. He and his wife, Marlyn, entertained dozens of guests this weekend as one of the eight stops on the annual Miami County Farm Tour.
“Her name is Little Lady. She was born last Feb. 23 during an ice storm,” Silvers said. “She about froze to death, so we brought her inside the house and kept her warm, and we put her out with her mom the next day. The tips of her ears froze, but that was it ... she’s kind of like the family pet.”
The young Bond brothers, Spencer, Carter and Colin, laughed as they fed handfuls of hay to the contented Hereford, who would swirl her long tongue around the hay like an anteater.
“The boys are having a blast,” said their dad, Michael Bond of Spring Hill. “It’s nice to come out here. We hope to move to the country someday.”
The Bonds were treating mom, Lynda, to a Mother’s Day on the farm on this blustery Sunday afternoon.
The family leaned against a cattle pen as they watched several pairs of cows and calves at feeding time.
“When do they take a bath?” Carter asked of the young calves.
Lynda laughed and affectionately put her hand on Carter’s head. “You can’t tell we live in town.”
Over on Rockville Road on the eastern edge of Louisburg, Cy and Dee Aiken were serving blackberry cobbler and homemade ice cream to visitors at their U-Pick farm, Cy and Dee’s Blackberries.
Clad in denim overalls, the retired Cy Aiken explained how the drip irrigation system feeds a half-gallon of water per hour to his 800 blackberry plants.
Each plant produces four or five quarts of blackberries during picking season from mid-July through August, Aiken explained as he dipped up a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream from the churn and plopped it onto a generous piece of cobbler.
South of Somerset, visitors were enjoying a different kind of fruity concoction at the award-winning Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery. Tour-goers stood five and six deep as they milled about the retail space — selecting bottles from the luxurious wooden shelves or stepping up to the polished bar to sample a variety of red and white wines.
John Wuelzer of rural Paola hefted a case of wine while his wife, Kris, looked over the cheeses on display.
“My favorite is the Oktoberfest wine,” Wuelzer said.
Bill Jonte, a first-time visitor from Kansas City, Mo., also bought a bottle of Oktoberfest along with three other wines. The winery was one of several stops his family had already made on the farm tour.
“We’re having a great time,” said Jonte, who found out about the farm tour from a friend who works in Miami County. “We’d do this again.”
As the Jonte entourage headed down the landscaped pathway outside the winery, they were greeted by another carload of visitors.
“The tour is great for us,” winery co-owner Dennis Reynolds said. “It really is the first event to kick off the new season.”
Dee Martin said the tour has been wonderful for the Martin’s 4 D Acres emu farm, perched on a hillside overlooking grassy pastures southwest of Louisburg.
“We had 140 visitors on Saturday; that was the best single day we’ve ever had on the farm tour,” she said Sunday afternoon. “And we were in a tornado watch most of the day. We even had one family out here in the rain yesterday. They said, ‘The brochure said rain or shine, so here we are.’ The little girls walked around with their umbrellas.
“People were worried about having the tour on Mother’s Day, but I wasn’t,” Martin mused. “It gets the kids out of the house to have some fun. And if the kids are happy, Mom is happy.”
The Incredible, Edible Green Egg
"Emu eggs are a seasonal item, available from October through April, at select groceries and through your local emu farmer"
(EMAILWIRE.COM, February 29, 2008 ) San Angelo, TX - No, we are not talking about one of the make believe foods in the famous Dr. Seuss breakfast of Green Eggs and Ham. These green eggs are real, they are quite large and they are laid by the emu. Standing nearly 6 feet tall and weighing over 110 pounds, the emu lays a dark green egg that has an average weight of one and a half pounds.
These nutritious eggs contain 68% unsaturated fat and 8 of the 10 essential amino acids we require, including Lysine. Lysine plays a major role in building muscles, calcium absorption, and the production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. With a volume equal to 10 chicken eggs, a single emu egg can make breakfast for a crowd. They are also great for baking, producing moist, fluffy cakes and delectable cookies.
Emu eggs are a seasonal item, available from October through April, at select groceries and through your local emu farmer. For more information about emu or emu eggs, contact the American Emu Association (AEA) at http://www.aea-emu.org or call 541-332-0675.
Editor: Recipe to follow.
One (Emu) Egg Cake
1 emu egg (roughly 600 grams) separated 1 ½ cup confectioners’ sugar 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 teaspoon almond extract 1 cup cake flour ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Set out large tube pan. Do NOT butter it.
Beat emu egg white until soft peaks are formed.
Beat in ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the cream of tartar.
In another pan, beat the yolk until thick. Add the remaining confectioner’s sugar and almond extract, beating well. Pour over the egg white, folding together gently until well blended.
Mix the cake flour and salt together; then sift over the egg mixture. Cut and fold together. Pour into the pan. Bake 50 minutes. Invert on a wire cooler and let stand until cold. Serve with strawberries.
Dry Skin Care for the Stars
January 14th, 2007 While actors and models may have exciting and rewarding jobs, they are really challenged when it comes to skin care. Constantly under pressure to look good for the camera, they spend their working hours exposed to more harsh, drying chemicals than just about any other profession. To top it all off, being under bright lights further dries the skin while magnifying every flaw. It's the perfect recipe for premature aging, in a profession that favors youth. What is the remedy? While using a good dry skin care treatment such as a shielding lotion is an absolute must, here are some additional suggestions that will also help.
Some of the most damaging products actors and models have to use are makeup removers. Often applied several times a day, these products are full of toxic chemicals that cause dry skin and rashes, and remove the skin's natural protective oils. A good substitute for makeup removers is emu oil. It removes the makeup as well as or better than any of the chemical products and is an excellent source of Vitamin E and other nutrients. Its high concentration of oleic acid also enables the nutrients to penetrate the skin's surface layer. Emu oil is an excellent product for removing makeup and a good overall dry skin care treatment.
Once makeup is removed, the next hurdle is finding a gentle cleanser. Unfortunately, even those cleansing products labeled as suitable for dry skin care contain harsh chemicals. The solution? Your best bet is a honey masque. Natural, raw honey deep cleans without causing dry skin. Rub it on your face and leave on for about 15 to 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly with warm water, then splash the face with cold water to close the pores.
The last step is the shielding lotion. Thousands of doctors now recommend shielding lotion for dry skin care. A good shielding lotion bonds with the outer layer of the skin to lock in moisture and form a protective barrier than helps keep out the chemicals used in makeup.
Although the above simple, natural dry skin care remedies will help actors and models, you don't have to be a movie star to use them – you'll just look like one.