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Mate choice, maternal investment and implications for ostrich welfare in a farming environment

By M. Bonato, M. I. Cherry, S. W. P. Cloete

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At present, the ostrich industry is inefficient, on account of being characterised by inadequate egg production, high embryo mortality, poor chick survival and suboptimal growth rates. However, as ostrich farming commenced only in the mid 19th century in South Africa, farmed ostriches have had a short period to adapt to the commercial production environment. Hence the poor production results observed could either reflect their failure to adapt to the farming environment, or alternatively, a failure of the ostrich industry to implement proper practices to meet the needs of this species. Limited research has been undertaken to identify and integrate behavioural requirements of ostriches in such environments, in order to reduce potential stress through improving both reproductive performance of the birds and their general welfare. In this paper, we review recent progress in our understanding of ostrich reproductive behaviour both in the wild and in farming environments, with a specific emphasis on female strategies to improve offspring fitness within the context of the ostrich polygynous mating system. In addition, we discuss production and welfare implications of the unusual ostrich communal nesting system, in a farming environment.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 171
Pages 1-7
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.08.010
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag XI, Matieland 7600, South
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Africa
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal production
  4. Animals
  5. Birds
  6. Commonwealth of Nations
  7. Countries
  8. Developing countries
  9. Egg production
  10. Eggs
  11. Embryos
  12. Farms
  13. Fitness
  14. Growth rates
  15. mortality
  16. nesting
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. performance traits
  19. Poultry
  20. poultry farming
  21. progeny
  22. Reproduction
  23. South Africa
  24. survival
  25. Threshold
  26. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed