History of Ostriches and The Australian Industry
Ostriches have been valued for their feather production for several thousands of years. The Natural home of the ostrich is the dry, arid plains of Africa. But these birds can now also be found throughout the Middle East and Australia.
Over hunting lead to ostriches becoming an endangered and in 1870 people began to turn to a new way of saving them, domestication. The first ostrich farms had been established in South Africa in 1863 and a few decades later the ostriches were imported to Australia.
In 1881 the first Australian ostrich farm was established near Gawler in South Australia and in 1882 the South Australian Government began to encourage the industry by offering leasehold on the condition that increasing numbers of ostriches were kept on the land, at least 50 birds for every 1000 acres.
In 1905, ostrich farming began in NSW with six pairs of bird purchased from the South Australian Ostrich Company and by 1913 the ostriches in NSW numbered 550.
However, the international feather trade collapsed in the depression and the Australian industry died out. Most of the birds were slaughtered or released into the wild.
During the drought in 1982-83 the numbers of birds remaining in South Australia declined. But by this time some of these birds had been taken back onto farms and wildlife and the number of domesticated ostriches began increasing.
The Ostrich industry has spread throughout Australia but its largest concentration is in central Victoria and southern NSW.
The Current Production areas of ostriches in the black parts of this map
Unlike South Africa, Australian ostrich farms are scattered all over the country. Although this demonstrates the ability of the ostrich to adapt to diverse climatic conditions, it raises difficulty processing in the...