gmhTODAY 22 gmhToday Oct Nov 2018 - Page 37

Above : Foot of an Ostrich

Photo Far Left : Dan Nelson with Sid Birch , South African Consultant with one of the largest farms in Africa around nine feet tall and weigh in at 300 pounds ! In captivity they often live for 30-40 years . Chicks , in their first year of life , grow about nine inches a month until they are around 100 pounds at one year of age !
At the Gilroy Ostrich Farm the birds are separated by age and size . Younger birds are curious and somewhat friendly . Younger chicks can be held and petted . The incubation period for an ostrich is 42 days . A healthy female ( hen ) will lay between 40 and 60 eggs a year . Eggs weigh between 3.5 and 5 pounds . Ostriches are mature at around 14 months . When mature , ostriches are put in pens with one male ( rooster ) to two females ( hens .)
Older full grown , especially male , ostriches can be aggressive and dangerous . They have a powerful kick and a wicked nail that can seriously injure a man . In the wild they will usually hide from predators by lowering themselves to the ground , which is why there is a myth that they bury their head in the sand . This is not true . When confronted , their first course of action is to hide , then to flee . An ostrich can run up to 43 miles per hour and can sustain a pace of 31 miles per hour over long distances . If cornered , they will fight back with their powerful kicks .
At an ostrich farm in Watsonville , only once in twenty years has something ( a preditor or wild animal ) gotten into one of the pens with full grown birds and killed one of the large males . The biggest danger is that the birds will attempt to flee and injure themselves running into the fences .
In matting season , the beak , neck
and shins of the males may turn red . The logo of the Gilroy Ostrich Farm shows a red , blue and black ostrich . These are the types of the three most common varies found locally . The blacks are usually the largest . Most female ostriches are brown . The ostrich ' s two-toed foot is an adaptation that allows them to run fast . When running they use their short wings as stabilizers thus giving them a somewhat awkward running style .
Dan Nelson hopes to complete the purchase of another 200 birds soon , add more pens , clean up the property and have the facility open to the public in October of 2018 . The Gilroy Ostrich Farm will have a welcome and education center , several other farm animals , ostrich pens and a vegetable and fruit stand .
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2018 gmhtoday . com
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