Ostrich farming | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Ostrich farming

Ostriches are the oldest living birds on Earth. They are nomads, designed to roam over vast tracts of grassland and deserts. With their long powerful legs they run up to 40 mph, covering 25 feet in a single stride. They live into their 70's in close-knit families. In Britain and the USA where ostriches are farmed, they do none of these things. They are penned up, their eggs taken away and their chicks killed at one year old. Unable to shed rain from their feathers, here they are at risk from exposure and pneumonia.

Ostriches are not native to Britain and are uniquely unsuited to our climate

Slaughter bound birds are often starved for hours or days before they are killed. Moved in all kinds of weather, they endure cold, damp, thirst, heat stress, panic and terror. In cattle transporters, they jump into one another and run into walls screaming.​

After the stress of transport, the ostrich may be penned up in darkness with a hood over her head. The next day, still hooded, she is taken to the slaughter pen. Her legs are hobbled and the hood is soaked in water. An electric sheep stunner is clamped across her head, it she hoisted up and her throat cut.

Here ostriches on a British farm suffer feather loss. Note the bald patches on their backs

Another method of stunning is the captive bolt pistol. However, the UK government states that this is unsuitable for ostriches and should not be used. The bird's delicate skull can stop the stunner from working or it may be shot in the wrong part of its head - meaning agony to a conscious bird aware of her life blood draining away.

Healthy Option?

Contrary to claims, ostrich is not low in cholesterol. It has 57mg per 100g - almost the same as beef. Ostrich meat can transmit many diseases to humans including salmonella, E coli and campylobacteriosis, and it decays much more rapidly than other meats, allowing bacteria to flourish.

Viva! victory! - Waitrose dumps ostrich meat

The late (and much missed) Ursula Bates (left), with fellow activists, helped Viva! stop Waitrose selling ostrich meat back in 1999

Juliet Gellatley, Viva!'s Founder and Director, said at the time: "This is the final victory for wildlife against the big supermarkets. Tesco, Somerfield, Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury, Booker Cash & Carry and now Waitrose - one by one they have all dropped 'exotic' meats as Viva! has focused public attention on their cruel trade in wild animals. We have no hesitation in claiming Waitrose's decision as our final victory in this campaign, which has been fought at a local level all over Britain. The vast majority of the general public has been behind us - disgusted by the sale of kangaroo, alligator, crocodile and ostrich meat."  Read the full press release here.

The list of animals we are slaughtering for supper is getting longer and longer. What next? Tiger chops, dolphin steaks and koala burgers? Please remember, wildlife belongs in the wild, not on a dinner plate.

Of course, eating any animal causes suffering – the best way of stopping cruelty is to go vegan (or at least take steps in that direction).