Emu Chicks have black and cream stripes. They become almost solid black in color by three months. As they age, their color fades into the browns of an adult. Mature emus are a speckled light brown in color with a darker brown/black head with a bluish tint. They have a mop-like tail, long legs and neck, and short, stubby wings which are about 10 inches long.
Emu eggs/chicks are about 1 - 1 1/2 pounds each and 7 inches tall at birth. The average size of an adult emu is 110 - 130 pounds and 5 - 6 feet tall. The mature female is often larger than the male in both height and weight.
Emu chick's feathers are downy, while an adult's feather has two feather shafts providing the bird with a hair-like appearance. An adult emu has light brown feathers over the majority of its body. The adult grows black feathers on its head and neck and has bare patches of blue coloured skin. The adult's feathers grow back dark brown after molting and fade with time.
Emus have three toes, flattened with a broad pad. Each toe ends in a sharp claw, which is used in confrontation and for defence.
The usual breeding period is November - April. In the wild the female may have several mates, while in captivity the pairs are chosen. In the wild the male begins to incubate when there are about five or more eggs. Incubation takes 50 - 56 days and during this time he barely eats or drinks and loses considerable weight. In captivity, each female will lay a 20 - 40 eggs on average. The eggs are dark green in color. Once hatched in the wild, the male will tend to the young chicks for up to 18 months. In captivity, the eggs are removed from the emu pair and are incubated and hatched by their human owners.
Emus exist on a simple diet of insects, seeds, fruits, green vegetation, grains, and such. They eat stones to aid in digestion like any other bird. They also require 1/2 - 1 gallon of water daily (unlike the average bird).
The mature emu has two main calls: a drumming sound and a low grunt. Both calls are throaty and guttural in sound. The female may grunt but a male cannot drum. The emu chick simply peeps.
The emu can reach a top speed of 60 km/hr in short bursts with a stride of 9 feet in length. They are also excellent swimmers. Because of their ability to store fat emus can go without food for long periods of time. They have an average body temperature of 38 oC (102 o F) and can tolerate temperatures at an excess of 100 o F and below 0 o F. This gives Canadian emu farmers the opportunity to breed and raise emus in the cold Canadian winters.
"Ratite Evolution: An Overview" can be found at this sight.
|Emu Farming||Emu Products||Emu Sites||NB Ratite Association|