It is not uncommon to travel through Georgia and spot large birds such as ostriches, emus, or rheas in the fields. What is going on? A visit to Fowler Farms in Albany offers an explanation. Fowler Farms, a supplier of exotic animals to zoos and parks, is now supplying ostrich, emu, and rhea meat to restaurants and grocery stores. Fowler notes that 98 percent of the bird is useable including its meat, feathers, and hide. Another plus is that a large number of them can be raised per acre whereas it takes one acre to raise one cow. Suzanne Shingler, Fowler’s partner, is in charge of incubating and hatching eggs. This is a new industry in Georgia, but Shingler thinks it will grow especially since the meat is low in fat and cholesterol and people are more concerned with their diets these days. Because the birds produce red meat, they are classified as livestock rather than poultry. A visit to Carr’s Steakhouse elicits positive comments from customers eating meat from Fowler Farms. They all agree the birds taste like beef. Big bird ranching is a growing industry in the United States, and Georgians are joining in the business.
Teacher tip: Discuss with students and ask them to speculate why raising large birds would suddenly become popular in Georgia. List the advantages and disadvantages of such a venture. Can students recall any other farm animals that were introduced recently in Georgia?