Here are a few letters from visitors to my site. The names have been changed to protect the, ah, innocent "Joes".
We recently bought a lot that is located just north of town. There are several emu running loose in the immediate vicinity and one that is more than just a little friendly. The problem is we're not sure if he's being friendly or just sizing us up. He will walk right up to us and does not seem aggressive. He does "puff out" his neck feathers which looks rather disconcerting. He will also approach a person, squat down with his feet in front of him and more or less crawl up to you. He will then slowly stand up. Lastly, he makes a very loud grunting noise like a pig.
Should any of these be interpreted as signs of aggression or is this just typical emu behavior? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
You are right about the bird being a "he". He might be sizing you up a bit, but in a very friendly way. See, emu lay during the winter.... uh, he wants you to umm, be his girlfriend. It's all hormones. He'll stop if he decides to sit on a nest as the breeding season ends. I have a couple of roosters that stalk me like this when it is the "season". One is ok because he just follows me around. The other is an annoyance. It gets pretty crowded when I'm pouring a bag of feed into the feeder and I trip over that stupid bird when I'm done. Pest! He can't help it but I sure hate it when he grabs my ear and it's 30 degrees outside. :)
The grunting like a pig is a good description. I suppose you have heard hens drumming by now.... no, that wasn't a lowrider driving by.
Have fun watching the birds.
I'm thinking about raising just a few emus for fun. What size fence height and how much space do they need?
Glad you liked my site.
Fence height? I have 6 ft chainlink fence. It has a bounce to it. I have some "portable" fencing also. It's in 10 ft long panels that hook together. I used it to cross fence the pen to separate the breeder pairs. I also have some in another pen to use as a corral when we are loading birds. They can go over a 6 ft fence if they want. Interesting to see the bottoms of an emu's feet when you are looking up. Other people use 5 ft high fence. My neighbors have a couple of emu in the pasture with their horses and that fence is maybe 4 1/2 feet high, just a regular barb wire fence, and the birds stay in. A friend is building a few pens at his place and he used 5 ft high field fencing with the bottom about a foot above the ground. The theory is that the birds won't crawl out but he has the height of 6 ft fencing. I think it will work but I also think he is going to be feeding a lot of raccoons and other animals emu feed.
I had my breeders in sections about 25 x 100 feet. It varied a bit, some were 20 x 120 and others were 30 x 85. My outer fence for the bird pens tends to follow the land and changed directions to avoid having a tree right against the fence. About 25 x 100 seems to be a good size pen for a pair of birds. It has plenty of length so the birds can run and it is wide enough so that there will be some grass in the center.
They need shade too. You don't want anything poisonous like the tree my mom called a chinaberry. Some folks say that oaks are not good because the birds might eat the acorns and could get impacted. They do eat the acorns and I've never had a problem. My pens are shaded with Live Oaks, Post Oaks, Blackjack Oaks, Elm trees, and a few Cedar trees.
Hope this helps. Enjoy your birds. They are a lot of fun to watch.
Thanks for all of the information. Sounds like some cool birds to raise. I looked at all of your pictures and enjoyed the connect 4 game. Thanks,
At what age do they start laying and will they try to get you when you try to collect the eggs?
Most hens start laying when they are about two years old although a few wait until they are three. Will they try to get you when you go to collect eggs? No. Not at all. I have walked up to roosters setting on eggs and they let me reach under and take the eggs away. No problem. The rooster goes into a trance of sorts when setting.