Emu chicks emerging

Across inland also Australia, thousands of striped emu chicks are start to show up. While most birds wait for much longer days in spring before reproduction, for Emus it"s reversed. It"s shortening days that switch on their remanufacturing instincts. And that"s not the just reversal. It"s broody males that spend uncomfortable winter weeks on the nest, without food or drink, before doing single parent duty for the next year and a half.

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By Jarebab.net Parker


Emu chicks with their distinctive striped feathers (Source: Graeme Martin/)

Emus belengthy to an ancient group of flightmuch less birds well-known as ratites, which consists of the cassowary, the kiwi, the ostaffluent and also rhea. Ratites are one of the earliest offshoots in bird development so have actually a special location in evolutionary research studies.

The emu is widespread throughout a lot of inland also Australia other than for dense rainforest and areas that are waterless or extremely metropolitan.

The most likely location to check out them, though, is open up pastdental country. They"re extremely inquisitive birds and are the resource of many kind of tourist stories around the swpermitting of tricks and also bits of camperiods.

In Queensland also, about the Warrego and also Bogan rivers, Aboriginal hunters would certainly tempt emus by climbing a tree, lowering a bevery one of emu feathers and also rags and also twirling it rapidly. The fascinated emus would gather close to the tree and be speared from over. They need to be lured because there"s no method to catch up through an emu. At speeds of approximately 70 km/hour, emus really deserve to "run the pants off a kangaroo".

Emus are additionally excellent swimmers. They love water and on a warm day choose nopoint better than a cool dip in the creek, the dam, the steed tstormy or even under the sprinkler.

Fact file:When: Male and also female emus start pairing up approximately December or January - anytime after the summer solstice on December 21-22.

Where: East coastline of Australia

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Pairing up


Emus in wandoo woodlands, Western Australia(Source: Kip Venn /)

Male and also female emus start pairing up around December or January - anytime after the summer solstice on December 21-22. Emu courting is a lively affair. The sound alone is sassist to be unforgettable. The birds, especially females, fill their throat pouches via air to make a drumming sound, which can be heard numerous metres ameans.

Feathers are fluffed and there"s many dipping and also ducking, grunting and bobbing approximately. The males might likewise fight, chasing each other amethod from females by effective frontal kicks.

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Broody blokes

Around April, as the days obtain noticeably shorter, mating begins. In some components of the country, mating is also timed to begin simply prior to the rainy seakid. If the rains are late then the emus will certainly delay breeding. The factor for this connect is yet unrecognized.

Emus are extremely seasonal. College of Western Australia researchers have actually uncovered that brief days (photoperiod) depush the birds appetites, especially the males, and trigger hormones that stimulate their reproduction.

The pair mate eincredibly day or so, with the female laying an egg eincredibly two or 3 days, until a clutch is created. Many clutches have actually around 8 to10 eggs however deserve to go as high as 20.

After around seven eggs the male gets "broody" and also sits on them for the whole incubation period. It takes eight weeks (56 days) to hatch an emu chick! Throughout this time he doesn"t eat or drink, simply living off his fat and any type of nearby dew on the grass. The only time he stands up is to turn the eggs, which he does 10-12 times a day. The father likewise stays and also looks after the chicks for as much as 18 months, leading them to feeding areas and also mirroring them what to eat.

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Shabby female behaviour: the girls take off

As soon as the male goes broody the female stops mating with him, although she frequently continues to lay eggs in the nest. These eggs, but, can be fertilised by various other male emus. One survey of 106 chicks proved 51 per cent were not fathered by the nesting male! Ultimately the female leaves the initially male altogether. She might mate through one or 2 various other males after the initially one and deserve to have approximately 3 swarms per seakid, especially if the rains have been great.


Male emus seem to be able to count to around seven(Source: Graeme Martin/)

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Masculine sacrifice

The broody male loses as much as a third of his body weight and also becomes progressively dazed and also forlorn. It"s thought he might be in a state of ketosis - once the body"s metabolism burns just fat it produces ketones which are toxic.Incubating males likewise suffer a quick autumn in testosterone. By midsummer, though, males are able to aggressively safeguard their young.

As to the advantages of breeding in autumn-winter, this indicates that the chicks will hatch 2 months later on in spring, when the weather is warmer and tbelow is the ideal opportunity of food being roughly.

The chicks start to hatch as early as June and also as late as the start of September. July and August are primarily the height times. In the wild tright here is a really high predation price on the eggs but scientist Stephen Davies states if the chicks regulate to hatch out they then have around a 70-80% opportunity of getting to adulthood.

Chicks thrive exceptionally conveniently placing on 1 kg/week at initially. They reach their complete height as soon as they"re around a year old, however do not breed till their second year, at about 20 months.


Emus are well adjusted to Australian conditions(Source: Kip Venn/)

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Survival in a warm dry land

Emus are well adjusted for living in a hot dry land. Unprefer various other pets such as kangaroos, emus reprimary active also in the hottest components of the day, foraging and also walking. Scientists Shane Maloney and also Terry Dawchild have actually uncovered that the emus two-tone plumage offers them exceptionally clever defense from the sunlight. The trick is in the colour.

The black tips of emu feathers absorb large quantities of warmth from the sun, however the remainder of their plumage then keeps that warmth ameans from the bird"s skin. Only around two per cent of the solar radiation that hits an emu gets through to the skin. Any wind then convects the warm in the feather tips away from the bird.

The emus walking rate, about one to 2 metres per second, gives simply the right amount of breeze to remove this absorbed warm. Without their feathers the warm pack on an emu on a hot day would be more than they can dissipate and also they would certainly quickly succumb to warmth stroke.

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Why you can"t watch emus breathing on a cold morning

Emus noses are well-adapted for saving water. They have actually big highly folded passeras dubbed nasal turbinates. Cool air breathed in, passes with these passeras and is wequipped on its way to the emus lungs. But warming up the air causes the emus nose to gain cooler. So, once the emu breathes out warm air, it travels earlier through the emus cold nose, gets cooled and water condenses. The water is then retook in right into the body.

In the hot times of the year emus regularly usage a different strategy ñ panting ñto store cool. They increase the rate of their breathing which in turn increases the amount of water evaporated from the emu into the air. This cools them, however does expect the emu need to drink consistently.

Emus can pant for hours without getting light-headed from low levels of carbon dioxide (alkalosis). Humans trying the same thing would conveniently be out for the count.

Their diet in the wild varies rather widely. They prefer green autumn shoots, winter herbs, seeds, and also some fruits and flowers. They"ll eat insects as soon as they"re available, such as grasshopper plagues. Green shoots of wwarmth and also in the future ripe wwarmth are additionally regarded favorably. They have to drink eexceptionally day.

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Emu Farming

Emu farming took off in Australia in 1988 once the West Australian federal government permitted the Aboriginal owners of Willuna Station to sell emu chicks to the public. (Emus are protected and no one is enabled to take birds from the wild.)

With a legal supply of chicks, both Aboriginal and also non-Aboriginal people started to develop emu farms and also discover markets for emu assets. In the beforehand 1990s the market boomed but high set up prices and restricted market outallows have considering that cut the market ago to a much smaller sized dimension. There are approximately 160 emu farms in Australia, through a full of about 32,000 emus.

Emu farmer, Kip Venn, claims 5000–7000 emus makes a reasonable sized farm. Also, Kip states that via a stocking price around 5 emus/acre, they"re so easy on the land also you can"t watch wright here they"ve been.

Some farms favor Kip"s are complimentary range– the emus are allowed room to roam. He has actually 20 emus per one four-acre pen, and lets them select their own mate. At first some farms fequipped even more intensively and also "force paired birds" yet high food and work expenses have actually lead to a more open variety strategy.

On the Venn"s farm about 80&38211;90 per cent of eggs successfully hatch. Rather than the male sitting on the eggs, many ranches incubate the eggs and also rear the chicks separately. Foxes and other pests can be a problem if eggs are left in open.

Emu products encompass meat, oil, leather and also feathers. Many Australian claims have at leastern one specialist emu abattoir.

White settlers in Australia supplied to hunt emus for their meat and their oil, which they offered in lamps. Outback housewives made omelettes from their eggs, which they first damaged into a basin and let stand also overnight so they can skim off the oil which increased to the optimal. The eggs weigh about 650 grams. If you"re food preparation via them the rule of thumb is one emu egg amounts to about 10–12 normal chicken eggs.

Emus were made extinct in Tasmania in 1865 by settlers and also sealers that eliminated huge numbers for food. They"re additionally extinct on Kangaroo Island also and King Island.

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How many emus?

There"s an average of about 500,000 emus in the wild in Australia, however this varies very relying on the seachild. Numbers can increase towards a million, and also loss to about 200,000. Even then the populace seems to have the ability to bounce back quickly, more than likely because the females deserve to produce 3 clurches of eggs in good years. Emu numbers never before reach the 6 million like kangaroos. Kangaroos deserve to time their remanufacturing a lot more specifically to fit in through the rains.


With large soft feet, emus can be incredibly gentle on the land(Source: Kip Venn/)

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Emus on the move

Emus relocate to store call through food provides. Some civilization speak to them migratory but "roaming" or "nomadic" is even more proper.

In Western Australia there"s a definite activity of emus southward in winter and also northward in summer. Right now emus will certainly travel 900-1000 kilometres This is the majority of most likely tied to rainfall– they follow the green grass. West Australian scientist Stephen Davies, thinks they may usage cloudfinancial institutions to navigate.

All birds move other than incubating males. Barriers favor rablittle bit and emu proof fences have actually made these migrations much more challenging. However before by including extra watering sites for residential animals in more arid areas, pastoralists have actually probably helped emus to stay longer in some locations before going south. When they"re on the move emus do not choose to take a trip in big flocks. It"s inexplicable for them to be in groups of more than 20, except as soon as they hit fabricated barriers.

Migrations in Eastern Australian do not seem to be as easily characterized, although eastern emus absolutely do take a trip in response to seasons. In the drought of 1992 tright here were many type of reports of emus swimming across the Murray River!


Emus love the water(Source: Graeme Martin/)

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Wheat farmers v emus

Wwarm trampling by emus is a problem. When wheat is ripe it"s much less flexible. Western Australia has actually a 1100 km emu proof fence extending from roughly Esperance in the south to north of Geraldton which keeps them out of the wwarm belt. It was developed in 1901 and also occasionally when emus move out of the pastoral areas southern westward in winter they mass alengthy the fence. As many as 70,000 emus have been known to die at the fence.

Once in 1932 the army was also sent out with machine firearms to decimate the numbers. In the previous, Queensland emus were thneed to aid the spread of prickly pear and also many kind of were swarm tright here too.

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The Ratite Encyclopaedia, edited by Claire Denowatz, Ratite Records Inc, San Antonio, Texas, USA, ISBN 0-9642940-2-8Blache, D., Barrett, C.D. & Martin, G.B. (2000). Social mating device and sexual behaviour in captive Emus, Dromaius novaehollandiae. Emu 100 (in press).Blache, D., Malecki, I.A., Williams, K.M., Sharp, P.J. & Martin, G.B. (1997). Refertile responses of juvenile and also adult emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) to artificial photoperiods. In: Advances in Comparative Endocrinology ó Proceedings of the 13th Internationwide Congress of Comparative Endocrinology, Yokohama, Japan (Eds.: S. Kawashima and S. Kikuyama) pp. 445-450 .Blache, D. & Martin, G.B. (1999). Day length affects feeding behaviour and also food intake in adult male emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae). British Poultry Science 40, 573-578.Maloney SK and also Dawkid TJ (1995). The warm fill from solar radiation on a big, diurnally active bird, the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). Journal of Thermal Biology 20: 381-387.Maloney SK and Dawkid TJ (1998). Changes in fads of warm loss at high ambient temperature resulted in by water deprivation in a large bird, the emu. Physiological Zoology. 71: 712-719.Malecki, I.A., Martin, G.B., O"Malley, P.J, Meyer, G.T., Talbot, R.T. & Sharp, P.J. (1998). Endocrine and also testicular changes in a short-day seasonally breeding bird, the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), in southwestern Australia. Animal Remanufacturing Science 53, 143-155.Malecki, I.A., Williams, K.M., Martin, G.B. & Sharp, P.J. (1997). Effects of seakid and incubation on remanufacturing in the male emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). In: Advances in Comparative Endocrinology ó Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Comparative Endocrinology, Yokohama, Japan (Eds.: S. Kawashima and also S. Kikuyama) pp. 431-437 .Sharp, P.J., Malecki, I.A., Williams, K.M. & Martin, G.B. (1997). Neuroendocrine regulate of broodiness and incubation behaviour in ratites. In: Advances in Comparative Endocrinology ó Proceedings of the 13th Internationwide Congress of Comparative Endocrinology, Yokohama, Japan (Eds.: S. Kawashima and S. Kikuyama) pp. 417-422 .Skadhauge E, Dawson TJ, Prys-Jones R and Warui CN (1996). Role of kidney and also gut in ratite osmoregulation. pp116-122 in Improving Our Understanding of Ratites in a Farming Environment. Ed. Deeming DC, University of Manchester.Sharp, P.J., Talbot, R.T., O"Malley, P., Tan, N.S., Williams, K.M., Blackberry, M.A. & Martin, G.B. (1996). Neuroendocrine control of incubation behaviour in the emu. In: Improving our expertise of ratites in a farming environment (Ed.: D.C. Deeming) pp. 162-164 .Taylor, E.L., Vercoe, P.E., Cockrem, J., Groth, D., Wetherall J.D. & Martin G.B. (1999). Isolation and characterisation of microsatellite loci in the emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, and cross-species amplification within the Parvcourse Ratitae. Molecular Ecology 8, 1963-1964.Taylor, E.L., Blache, D., Groth, D., Wetherall, J.D. & Martin, G.B. (2000). Gerebab.netic evidence for combined parentage in swarms of the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). Behavidental Ecology and Sociobiology (6 pp. in press)Williams, K.M., Blache, D., Malecki, I.A., Sharp, P.J., Trigg, T.E., Rigby, R.D.G. & Martin, G.B. (1998). Growth, sex-related advance and also carcass composition in intact and also surgically or hormonally gonadectomised male and female emus.

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In: "Ratites in a Competitive World" ó Proceedings of the 2nd International Ratite Congress, Oudtshoorn, South Africa (Eds.: F.W. Huchzermeyer, H. Lambrechts, D. Swart, S.W.P. Cloete, T.S. Brand also and also D.J. Verwoerd) pp. 75-80 .