Original Research

Feather and skin development of ostriches Struthio camelus

Tertius S. Brand, Werné J. Kritzinger, Daniel A. van der Merwe, Anieka Muller, Louw C. Hoffman, Gert J. Niemann
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 89 | a1556 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v89i0.1556 | © 2018 Tertius Brand, Werné Kritzinger, Daniel A. van der Merwe, Anieka Muller, Louw Hoffman, Gert J. Niemann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 July 2017 | Published: 05 December 2018

About the author(s)

Tertius S. Brand, Directorate for Animal Sciences, Western Cape Department of Agriculture, South Africa
Werné J. Kritzinger, Department of Animal Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Daniel A. van der Merwe, Department of Animal Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Anieka Muller, Department of Animal Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Louw C. Hoffman, Department of Animal Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Gert J. Niemann, Department of Animal Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract

Information on feather and skin growth is important for the development of mathematical optimisation nutritional models for ostriches. Ostriches (n = 65) were subjected to a four-stage formulated growth diet programme (pre-starter, starter, grower and finisher), with declining protein and energy content. Nine birds were weighed, stunned, exsanguinated, defeathered, skinned and eviscerated at 1, 54, 84, 104, 115, 132 and 287 days of age. Feathers from four pre-selected locations on the body were harvested and weighed. The wet skin weight, wet unstretched skin size and wet unstretched crown size were measured at each slaughter stage. The live weight, feather and skin yields of the birds increased with age at slaughter, as did feather shaft diameter. Prediction models were developed to estimate the yield of the skin in terms of live weight and of empty body protein weight to aid in diet formulation. The allometry of feather growth was determined from total feather weight, as the maturation rates of the feathers differ from that of the ostrich body. Results from this study will aid in setting up a mathematical optimisation nutritional model for ostriches.

Keywords

monogastric; ostriches; ostrich product yields; prediction models; ratite

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