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Record Keeping and Terminology Used in Ostrich Farming
IN ostrich farming, as with any other livestock enterprise, the cornerstone of a sound business is record keeping. Efficient record keeping allows problem areas to be identified and corrected immediately. As every process in the production stage is recorded and monitored daily, sound management will allow the performance and efficiency of each stage of the production line to operate at maximum efficiency.
In ostrich farming, records must be kept in various key areas. The first area we can look at is food conversion. Although each livestock species has an optimal feed conversion rate that differs from other species, it is possible to maintain this optimum by good management practices. By keeping records of the live weight of each ostrich, or an average sample of a percentage of the birds, and weighing at regular intervals, this conversion rate will be noted. Recording the food consumed by each bird will then tell us if the ostriches are performing optimally or if there are any problems.
Other areas to note are: ostrich eggs laid and the number of fertile eggs in each batch. How many of the fertile eggs hatch? By noting that fertile eggs aren’t hatching, keeping records can illuminate potential areas that need to be corrected. A common factor can be found in the data showing the problem. For example, if all the eggs from one area of the farm hatch, and another area has a large number of unhatched fertile eggs, there may be an underlying genetic problem in either the male or the female. Or the problem may be touching the ostrich eggs after spawning. A fungus may be getting in to lay eggs in that area through the muddy soil. By noting the environment and conditions, a common denominator can be found which will help eliminate the problem.
To maintain records efficiently, the terminology in these records must be understood. Let’s look at the definitions of some of these key areas that should be monitored regularly.
• Fertility: This rate describes the number of eggs that are fertile, compared to all eggs laid. A separate rate can be recorded to show the percentage rate of all fertile eggs that were laid.
• Catchability: This is the percentage, expressed as a percentage, of ostrich eggs that hatch successfully. There are two ways to express this figure: a) as a percentage of all eggs laid; b) as a percentage of all fertile eggs.
• Mortality: This is the percentage of birds that survive hatching but fail to survive to slaughter and/or adulthood.
• Survival: This rate indicates how many of the hatchlings make it to slaughter age or adulthood.
• Live weight: The total weight of each live ostrich at each stage of development.
• Growth rate: This is the rate at which an ostrich reaches certain weights by specified dates.
• Genetic potential: Each animal has a certain inherited ability to produce eggs, grow optimally and convert food efficiently.
• Days to slaughter: This is the number of days needed to reach slaughter weight. This record shows the efficiency of the production phase.
• Feed Conversion Ratio: (FCR) – Amount of food intake to make 1 kilogram or pound of weight gain. This is usually called Live Weight, but can also be used to refer to meat weight.
• Carcass weight (Rail weight): The weight of a bird at slaughter after skinning and evisceration.
• Kill percentage: This is the percentage of ostrich meat produced in relation to the live weight of the bird.
• Boneless meat: How ostrich meat usually sold boneless, this weight should also be recorded.
• Leg weight: The weight of the leg muscle groups, including the bone.
• Selling meat weight: Ostrich meat is generally sold “off the bone”. A useful record measurement is the total meat sold for each bird/or for each slaughter group per product and the price achieved by the various cuts.
It is suggested that you familiarize yourself with these terms and view the various forms of registration available to ensure that the management of ostrich farming the enterprise remains current and efficient in all areas of productivity.
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