I know just about everything there is to know about the world's largest birds and what makes them worth ranching.

Proof! Further Proof!

Here is the ranch's website and Here is the ranch's Facebook page, for the curious.

Edit: Honest and for truly did not expect to make the front page! Thank you so much for the enthusiastic responses.

Comments: 1573 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

Myteddyis241142 karma

Being the most successful do you ever feel ostricized by other ranches?

ralphostrich581 karma


Should_Not_Comment698 karma

Are they raised for meat, eggs or feathers?

ralphostrich1254 karma


(Edit) Facetiousness aside, the meat is the biggest reason for raising them. The orders we get for ostrich meat are so large that if every ostrich rancher in the US focused just on the orders that WE get, the orders would still not be filled on time. The demand is enormous.

Ostrich eggs are also highly-desired. Ostriches only lay eggs between April and September. One ostrich egg is the equivalent of between 18 and 24 chicken eggs. I have shared one ostrich egg with 21 other people.

Feathers are more of a byproduct that we don't let go to waste. They are sold for costuming and to make dusters.

tubehand163 karma

what about the hide? expensive eh?

ralphostrich342 karma

An untanned ostrich hide can sell for between $500 and $800.

NabiscoLobstrosity75 karma

So the meat tastes good? What's it like? Other than the obvious comparison to chicken.

Edit: thanks everyone, it seems that they taste very good, both as steaks and burgers.

Also, raise meat prices to limit demand.

ralphostrich157 karma

It tastes almost exactly like beef.

MrRoflecopter477 karma

What is the top speed of an ostrich? Side note, have you seen my car?

But seriously: What challenges do you face dealing with walking flock animals?

Is veterinary care hard to find?

What do you do with the eggs?

Who is the meanest ostrich?

ralphostrich903 karma

Top speed is 40mph

The biggest challenge we face as far as handling goes is their exceptional lack of intelligence. An ostrich's brain is just a LITTLE bit smaller than the average adult human's thumbnail. Their short-term memory runs no longer than 10 seconds, making them impossible to train. We have to pull their heads down (so they don't kick us) and then put a tube of cloth over their heads. With their eyes covered they become very submissive and easy to move.

A hen will lay between 50 and 52 eggs on an average year and about 30 of those are hatchable. The rest are food or decoration. The meanest ostrich is the biggest ostrich. Typically the bigger they are, the meaner they are. Our largest breeder is 11ft tall and weighs over 530lbs. I don't bother him.

Gaufridus_David103 karma

Their short-term memory runs no longer than 10 seconds, making them impossible to train.

You might be pleasantly surprised!

Here are ostrich training videos from the Cincinnati Zoo and the North Carolina Zoo.

This article describes ostrich training at the Denver Zoo:

An ostrich has 4-inch claws on each foot, so its feet are very dangerous. To prevent injury to keepers at the zoo, the birds are taught to sit, which immobilizes their claws. The most effective way to teach them to sit on cue is through operant conditioning. “Using a whistle as an event marker, the ostrich’s movements are shaped” until it is in a sitting position – in other words, each time the bird approaches or approximates sitting, the behavior is marked with the whistle and the ostrich is rewarded, until eventually, the bird sits.

And this page by the late Sophia Yin mentions training ostriches:

Sacramento Zoo Ostrich and Giraffe Training: Trained the ostriches and giraffes to target using positive reinforcement (2000)

(Targeting: definition, how-to)

ralphostrich238 karma

Those must be some truly exceptional ostriches. It takes us 2 months to teach them how to eat out of a bowl.

ralphostrich483 karma

That dance is called "cantilling" and it is a mating display. I try not to encourage it as much as I can.

Swibblestein89 karma

Has an ostrich ever tried to bang you? Or, alternatively, did an Ostrich ever try to get you to bang her?

If yes, were you flattered?

ralphostrich284 karma

Our oldest ostrich, Ralph, is famously amorous. He will perform his mating display to just about anything that moves, and even that is negotiable. That said, I'm not particularly flattered by this since I know he'll dance just as enthusiastically for the next person or car or squirrel.

SaladThunder366 karma

Are Ostriches horny as shit, or what?

ralphostrich516 karma

In the summertime, yes. They start breeding in mid-April and continue until September. Their congresses are mercifully brief, but they often feel the need to "perform" in front of my tour groups.

Malcolm_Y179 karma

This is a stupid question, but do they have visible genitalia when they are not breeding?

ralphostrich377 karma

The males have what's known as a pseudo-phallus which retracts when not in use. It appears when the rooster urinates and also for the "birds" part of "the birds and the bees". It's large, reddish, and unpleasant to behold.

EverySingleRedditor282 karma

Have you ever ridden an ostrich? Have you eaten one of the eggs?

ralphostrich881 karma

Ostriches are, at best, unreliable as a form of transportation. They run 40mph and cannot do so in a straight line. They weigh 300lbs and only have two toes on each foot, so when they run they do so in a zig-zag pattern. An ostrich's first instinct when something heavy drops onto its back is to stand in one spot and spin in circles until the thing falls off. They then kick that thing with 300 psi.

TL;DR: Haven't ridden. 2 scared

GoogleMeDoodle250 karma

Put a sock on its head, then ride it.

ralphostrich992 karma

Once their eyes are covered, they believe that it's nighttime and so will attempt to go to sleep.

speak2easy226 karma

Interesting topic. Okay, you said the ranch was successful. Define what this success is, and why it's success.

Separately, what's so special about ostriches?

ralphostrich331 karma

The ranch as a tourist destination and working facility has been open for 25 years now. The owner announced his retirement this past December and has been steadily downsizing the business since then, but we hope that whomever purchases the business will keep it open to the public, as many local schools have been bring field trips to us for decades.

As for what makes ostriches themselves "special", I'll start with some of their physical features. The average ostrich stands between 7.5ft and 8ft tall and weighs just over 300lbs. They have only two toes on each foot and are capable of running 40mph for more than 20 minutes straight. Their larger toe has a 4-inch nail which is used for defense. Their first instinct is to run or to hide from danger but, if cornered, they can deliver a kick with more than 300 psi.

wakimaniac218 karma

What's the weirdest thing one of the ostriches has done?

ralphostrich506 karma

One of the teenagers swallowed a cell phone once.

tubehand188 karma

so if i have 40 Acres of land. And cattle is no longer profitable due to droughts/ grazing/ epa/ BLM/ DOA/ restrictions. I should go into ostrich ranching? I am out west. So 40 acres is not enough to make any money with cattle unless you have "proper" BLM access. Which is dwindling if anyone has been pay attention in the news with ranchers fighting the BLM.

I did buffalo and yak for a long time. Tho is was not my own venture. Any books on this? I am a skilled rancher. But idk if i could use my skills as a buffalo,yak, cattle rancher to big birds.

ralphostrich204 karma

Honestly, ostriches are very easy to maintain. All we have to do is keep them fed and watered. It costs less than a dollar a day to feed an ostrich. We feed them pelleted alfalfa fortified with soy and corn which costs 24 cents a pound, and they eat 4 pounds a day. We also don't have to clean up after them. Ostrich droppings will dissolve into dust in just under 72 hours. So any poop seen in our pens will be gone 3 days later. It just crumbles up and blows away in the wind.

risunokairu15 karma


For less than $1 a day, you could help support these starving ostriches by buying them a meal...

Clean water...

And a glimmer of hope for tomorrow.

Please, donate today and save an ostrich in need.

ralphostrich12 karma

Leik if u cri evry tiem

Quantum-Magenta154 karma

Would you rather fight 1 Ostrich sized spider or 100 spider sized ostriches?

ralphostrich260 karma


ernsand147 karma

What do you think of emus?

ralphostrich242 karma

I think they're alright, as giant birds go. We keep a few of them around since they lay eggs during the winter and spring. That way we have SOME sort of large, edible eggs to sell all year round.

SPF50sunbok139 karma

Why are there ostrich farms? I've never heard of this!

ralphostrich378 karma

Ostriches are raised primarily for their meat which tastes and cooks just like beef but has less than 2% fat and less cholesterol than other red meats. Approximately 75 to 85lbs of an ostrich's 300lbs is edible. There's also the leather. Ostrich hide can be used to make anything that could be made of cowhide, but ostrich leather is lighter, more durable, and breathable as it retains the quill-pattern from where the feathers once were. The feathers themselves are used in high-end fashion and costuming (Vegas showgirl headdresses and what-have-you) and also contain a naturally-occurring magnetic charge which is used by the ostrich for dust baths. The plucked feathers can be used to make highly-efficient feather dusters. Ostriches also store their fat in pockets on their backs and on their chest. These pockets can be rendered into an oil which is VERY good for your skin. Ostrich oil can be used to treat eczema, acne, sunburns, chronically dry skin, and pretty much anything else on the outside of your body that you don't want to be there.

Notyoubutyou123 karma

Have you ever had sexual thoughts about the ostriches?

ralphostrich249 karma

Something about those long, scaly legs makes me feel some kind of way...

thedirtysouth1101 karma

Do ostrich eggs taste better or worse than chicken eggs?

ralphostrich157 karma

I found that they taste similar to farm-grown chicken eggs. They're just a little bit richer than a store-bought carton.

Bashi_Hart83 karma

How does ostrich breeding work? I would assume a ranch would do it artificially, but if done naturally, I can't grasp the mechanics of how two ostriches would even fit together in any way or form to allow their dirty birdie bits to get together.

ralphostrich336 karma

All-natural. Rooster sits astride his blushing bride and gives her the best 5-10 seconds of her life before forgetting what he was doing and running away.

pridkett82 karma

Almost four years ago I asked a question on StackExchange English "What's the plural of ostrich?". Finally this is my chance to ask an expert.

Is the plural of "ostrich" most properly "ostrich" or "ostriches"?

ralphostrich115 karma


Twinkie4sho80 karma

Do you sell or donate any of the Ostriches to Zoos?

ralphostrich133 karma

We do. We sent a couple of hens to the Fresno Zoo last year for their recently-added Africa exhibit.

fordanguyen51 karma

What was your worst ostrich-related incident?

ralphostrich197 karma

I was once giving a tour to a group of 2nd graders in mid-May (which just so happens to be the start of the ostrich mating season). I was showing the kiddos a hen laying on her nest when her rooster sauntered over and plopped himself on top of her. The kids looked to me with curiosity written on their small, innocent faces whilst the parents showed understandable alarm as the rooster began a motion I would later describe as "gyrating". Before I could offer sufficient response, the rooster stood abruptly having finished his husbandly duties. Before his pseudo-phallus retracted, however, it swung my way and released several drops of something I prefer not to think too hard about onto my shoulder and neck.

TL;DR: I was embarrassed in company and had to take a shower after.

WurdSmyth50 karma

Where are you located?

ralphostrich103 karma

The ranch is located in Tehachapi CA. We've got a great view of an agricultural valley from near the top of a mountain.

sanfranidiot22 karma

Holy shit, I live near you.

Birthplace of utility scale wind farms.

ralphostrich35 karma

The wind farms are really very cool, if crazy expensive to maintain. The coolest part is the prototypes they put up from time-to-time. My favorite was a self-powered wind-turbine/cell-tower.

Kaneshadow46 karma

Have you ever jousted on ostrich-back?

ralphostrich86 karma

Joust was one of my favorite arcade games as a kid. I won't pretend not to daydream about it a little.

dandjcro45 karma

Do you have anything to do with this?

ralphostrich98 karma

Lol. I saw that this morning. No, nothing to do with me. I also highly doubt that it was a recent photo. No chick small enough to fit in the trunk of an SUV would exist at this time of year. Chicks are hatched NO later than October in the warmest environments and grow a half-inch daily. If that chick really was brought home yesterday, it would be close to 4ft tall.

I_pleadthefif27 karma

Would ostrich farming still be viable in 10 years time?

ralphostrich78 karma

I believe it will be MORE viable in 10 years' time. Ostriches do not produce methane.

Brailledit26 karma

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

ralphostrich54 karma

No, but yes.

Beerquarium26 karma

How long does it take you to raise an ostrich before it is ready for market?

How old was the oldest ostrich who lived on your ranch?

What do you feed them?

ralphostrich52 karma

An ostrich will reach its full size at just 14 months old.

Our oldest ostrich's name is Ralph. He's 22. Ostriches have been known to live to be 75.

We feed them pelleted alfalfa with soy for protein.

QuidditchSnitchBitch24 karma

... can I pet one?

ralphostrich44 karma

You can, but don't touch their necks. They see as aggressive and it gives them cause to kick.

IrishEv23 karma

How big is the farm?

Can ostriches live in close proximity in large groups?

Can an ostrich carry an adult on its back?

ralphostrich43 karma

The property is 80 acres in total. Ostriches are VERY social creatures, to the point that they will starve themselves out of loneliness. A fully-grown ostrich can carry up to 140lbs.

SPacific19 karma

Is your ranch in southern Arizona?

ralphostrich39 karma

Nope. I believe you're thinking of the Rooster Cogburn ranch. They have an ENORMOUS colony of ostriches sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands. We're more selective with our breeding process.


The subject of ostriches is a point of contention in my friend group and I hope you can help give some perspective here as an expert on the animal.

If there was a fully grown ostrich that for whatever reason was HELL BENT on killing you, what is the smallest weapon you would require to defend yourself against an ostrich assailant?

ralphostrich65 karma

If you know what you're doing, you don't need anything. Ostriches are extremely unintelligent and have a memory span no longer than 10 seconds. If you can get them to look away from you, it will forget why it was angry in the first place and wander away.

johnnyrottenjr10 karma

How much volatility is there in the ostrich meat market? Seems like early 2000s there was huge availability of ostrich meat. I used to see it everywhere and eat it all the time. But now, except for the internet, I have no idea where I would get some. Did the market crash?

ralphostrich11 karma

The market crash was actually much earlier than the 2000's. There was a lot of shady dealings including mistreated birds and even a substantial ostrich smuggling ring. All the mistrust in the industry has been something to overcome for the last couple of decades.

Ammar__10 karma

Can you please tell me the best way to identify genuine Ostrich oil?

ralphostrich16 karma

Firstly, the scent. There should be a very, very faint scent of starch if anything at all. Pure ostrich oil never carries a smell. Secondly, texture. Ostrich oil is EXTREMELY thin because the molecules are so small. Pure ostrich oil will absorb into the skin on the back of your hand in 30 seconds.

Guitar464 karma

How good does it feel when they kick you in your ass hole?

ralphostrich7 karma

No good

i_be_bored4 karma

The communal nest may have as many as 60 eggs in regards to breeding programs?

ralphostrich6 karma

It would be closer to 40, but we only colony breed birds that are being raised for meat. Breeding stock ostriches are far more selective, since we have to know which egg came from whom.

Sylvester_Scott4 karma

Why can't I find ostrich meat at my local Publix in Florida?

ralphostrich10 karma

Ostriches don't care much for humidity.