Ostrich farm tours are famous for this region. The tours which run at AfriCamps are headed up by Laura and her team, on one of the largest Ostrich farms in South Africa.
We chatted to Laura to get the behind the scenes look at how it all got started and to find out a bit more about these birds.
When did you first start the Ostrich farm tours?
- About 15 years ago, just after I met my husband. My mom in law asked me to show her guests at the B & B she was running at the time, the farm, as I speak German and Dutch.
How many Ostriches did you start with?
- About 1000, and we now farm with over 25 000 birds, ages ranging from one day to about 15 years’ old.
Did you name them all?
- No, we do not have so many names, to start with……
Do you or Piet have a favourite Ostrich?
- We had a little dwarf female that grew to about half a metre, and then stopped… But unfortunately we had to kill her when bird flu was diagnosed on our farm about 6 years ago. All the birds had to be killed then, it was a very sad day. We had to start all over again.
Can you see different personalities in these birds?
- Ostriches are very stupid animals. Their brains weigh about 40g, compared to the eye that weighs 60g! So you can just imagine. They stress very easily and they are frightened by the slightest noise or light. When thunder strikes, the just keep running around in circles like a chicken without a head. The breeding males are very aggressive; they do not allow anyone near them.
How old is the oldest Ostrich that you have?
- Our breeding males are about 15 years old. We have one breeding pair on the farm, Jannie and Rosie, named after my mom and father in law. They are about 25 years old.
It basically says on Wikipedia that male ostriches’ have one true love. Is this true?
“Territorial males typically boom in defence of their territory and harem of two to seven hens; the successful male may then mate with several females in the area, but will only form a pair bond with a ‘major’ female.”
- Yes, they say that ostriches mate for life. We have at least 2 females to each male, and they have to stay together on the farm. After the breeding season – Aug – April – they separate the males and females. They get a 4-month holiday, during which we harvest the feathers to export to Rio for the Carnival. Then we must make sure that the same males and females are put together again. They have tags on their necks to identify and help with this process.
Who takes care of the ostriches?
- Japie Potgieter has worked on the farm with us for over 13 years. He knows everything there is to know about ostriches. When to pluck, vaccinate, feed, weigh etc. How many birds at any certain time on the farm – and he is responsible for about 10 000 of these birds! He has a team of dedicated workers (not everyone on the farm knows how to work with ostriches).
Ostrich Farm Tour Information
Witness first-hand how these large birds are plucked, fed, weighed, and how we raise these peculiar birds from day old to 12 months. On this 2-hour tour, you might have the opportunity to see them hatch and take their first breaths.
R250 per adult
R125 per child (6-12)
We have family packages available – please enquire.
Daily scheduled tours @ 9h00. Private tours (outside of the scheduled times) for smaller groups available on request.