There’s so much to think about if you’re considering adding an ostrich to your farm. They are the world’s largest birds—they can get as tall as 9.2 feet!
Beyond their powerful legs and immense size, ostriches require a certain level of care and just like any other animal, a certain level of expense.
We break down not only how much an ostrich might cost you outright but the costs of taking care of one. These will also include the average monthly expenses that you might expect with ostrich care. We hope this will help if you’re considering the idea of ostrich farming or even if you’re just curious about it.
Bringing Home a New Ostrich: One-Time Costs
The one-time costs of an ostrich are purchasing the ostrich and the things that you need to have in place before you bring it home.
Here, we look at whether it’s possible to find an ostrich for free and what the possibilities are for adoption. We also look at buying an ostrich or an egg through a breeder.
Finally, we discuss what kinds of supplies you need when you bring an ostrich home and what the average costs might entail.
The chances of you finding an ostrich or an egg for hatching for free are quite unlikely. The ostrich is essentially an exotic animal because its natural habitat is in Africa, so unless you live in Africa, you’ll need to pay for it.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family member that raises ostriches, you might be able to find yourself a free bird this way.
Like finding an ostrich for free, adopting an ostrich isn’t likely. There are a few ostrich rescues out there that you can check with. But unless you already have experience with ostriches, adopting a bird that has been mistreated or neglected is really only best for someone with plenty of experience.
You can check places like Dirty Bird Ostrich Ranch and Rescue, but you’re still not likely to adopt an ostrich from there.
How much an ostrich will cost completely depends on its age. The younger it is, the less you end up paying, and this includes eggs.
A fertilized egg ready for hatching might cost about $100 to $150, and an ostrich chick under 3 months of age might go for about $500 or under.
The price will go up the older the chick is; an adult ostrich at around 1 year of age could go for $2,500. You will be looking at spending much more for a breeding pair, which could run you about $14,000. You usually need to pay a deposit to reserve your ostrich.
It’s generally recommended that as a beginner, you should aim for a bird that is about 1½ to 2 years old.
Initial Setup and Supplies
If you’ve never owned an ostrich before, you’ll need to ensure that you have everything in place before bringing it home. It can take a great deal of money to start up any new business, and when you’re taking care of an animal, these costs can be even more.
Some states require a permit to own an ostrich, so there might be a fee there. You’ll need to check with your state’s regulations.
To start, a pair of ostriches need a minimum of an acre of land. How much you spend also depends on if you’re breeding them because you’ll need to invest in an incubator. You’ll also need pens and sheds for shelter, along with fencing and feed.
List of Ostrich Care Supplies and Costs
How Much Does an Ostrich Cost Per Month?
$60–$150 per month
This estimate entirely depends on the age of the ostrich. You can expect to pay approximately $75 a month for a chick and up to $150 for an adult ostrich (2 or more years).
The expenses will also depend on what your intentions are with your bird and how much setup you need for their habitat.
$0–$250+ per month
Health care for the ostrich will start with finding a vet who specializes in ratite birds (ostriches, emus, and cassowaries). Most ostriches are microchipped (possible escape in addition to their speed makes this essential).
Part of the care of an ostrich includes lab testing and a health certificate before you bring your bird home. It doesn’t usually need to be vaccinated.
$20–$75 per month
An ostrich can be fed pelleted food in addition to chopped beets, oranges, cabbages, and grain. It can also eat roots, leaves, and seeds. A full-grown ostrich requires about 2 pounds of food every day and about 4 gallons of water.
$0 per month
Ostriches don’t require any grooming from you. They need rocks and dirt that they swallow, which assists them with digesting their food. They also take sand baths. They don’t need their toenails filed or trimmed because these are necessary for scratching for rocks.
Medications and Vet Visits
$0–$200 per month
An annual visit by the ratite veterinarian in June, which is just before the breeding season begins, will help ensure that your pair of birds is in good health. There’s the potential for worming and vaccinations if any bird diseases are going around.
$150–$250 per month
Pet insurance isn’t completely necessary for an ostrich, but it does help if it suddenly becomes sick or injured. How much you pay does depend on the age and health of your pet and where you live.
$20–$150 per month
This, like everything else, depends on the age of the ostrich. You need to ensure that you have the right acreage for it, and the fences should be a minimum of 6 to 8 feet high. There also needs to be a shed for shelter and storage. Maintenance will depend on what shape everything is in.
$20–$50 per month
Long grasses and pebbles to the enclosure can add a certain amount of enrichment for the ostrich. Scattering its food can also encourage foraging and pecking behavior. You could investigate appropriate puzzle feeders, but using the scattering technique is a natural way of encouraging enrichment.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning an Ostrich
$60–$250+ per month
The age of your ostrich will be the biggest factor in the monthly expenses. The numbers provided here are just estimates, and it’s always a good idea to be prepared within your budget for any unexpected expenses that might arise.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Additional expenses can definitely occur if you’re hatching an egg or raising chicks; then you’ll need to invest in an incubator and brooding facility. This can also include increased costs in your energy bills for the heat lamps.
You should be aware that ostriches become stressed and are more likely to die from various health issues under the age of 6 months. Keep in mind that if you’re planning on turning a profit, it can take 4 or 5 years before you might see success.
Owning an Ostrich on a Budget
It’s actually challenging to own ostriches on a budget. There isn’t any way to cut back on taking care of the physical health of your birds, and you shouldn’t skimp on food or veterinary care, particularly when it’s needed.
The maintenance of the environment is essential too. Cutting back on their shelter or fencing could prove to be far more costly than providing the basic maintenance that’s required in the first place.
Saving Money on Ostrich Care
There really is no way to save on ostrich care. The only way to save money is when purchasing the ostrich in the first place. You can save quite a bit of money by buying an ostrich egg for hatching, but you’re also running the risk of losing it because young ostriches have higher mortality rates.
If you’re inexperienced with ostriches, you’re better off with one that is 1 to 2 years old.
It isn’t always about the cost of raising pets and livestock; it’s also about the time and care that you can spend on them. Ostriches can live for as long as 50 years, which is a long time to be taking care of one of these birds, so you can expect to be paying a fair bit of money over the course of its lifetime.
The biggest expense is typically the initial purchase of the ostrich. But maintaining its habitat, ensuring that there’s enough food and water, and providing veterinary care will keep them around and healthy for a long time, which is the most important thing.
Next on your reading list:
- How High Can Ostriches Jump? Can They Jump Over Fences?
- Can an Ostrich Fly? How Do Ostriches Use Their Wings?
Featured Image Credit: polyfish, Pixabay