Some facts about ostrich meat

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Ostrich meat is recognized as a valuable product of high nutritive and dietetic value making these birds important for many livestock industries.

– Dr.Kedar Karki

Demand for such products in Europe has recently increased especially also among consumers who pay a greater attention to the quality of consumed products. Nowadays, the modern consumer wants to be sure of the nutrient composition of food that is bought for consumption. Consumer of ostrich meat is a medium-to-high cultural and professional status person, defined as a modern attentive consumer aged 41-50, principally women, with a purchasing behavior essentially related to nutritive value, safety of the product, intrinsic characteristics and taste.

It should be emphasized that nowadays consumers also appreciate naturalness and safety of ostrich meat produced from birds with almost natural methods, excluding the use of technologies such as intensive fattening or antibiotics administration. It is important also for them that ostriches are usually kept in sustainable production systems with consideration of high animal welfare standards. However, ostrich meat in Europe is still a niche product unknown by many people, but it is appreciated by most of consumers who tasted it. Unfortunately, until now the current knowledge of the nutritive value of this meat is still limited to consumers.

Meat from ostriches fed a standard diet contains21.65, 1.95 and 1.2% protein, fat and ash, respectively. The fat content of ostrich meat was lower and varied from 0.2 to 0.71g/100g of edible meat. Meat from older ostriches (10-12 months at slaughter) contains more fat and dry matter than from respective younger ones (8 months). As regard either essential or non-essential amino acids content in ostrich meat is generally similar to other meat types except for histidine and serine. The intramuscular fat content is one of the most important factors influencing consumers’ choice with regards to meat type. Ostrich meat is naturally improved meat because of its low content of intramuscular fat. This type of meat is recommended for overweight people and for those who suffer from coronary heart disease. On the other hand, low fat content is related to lowered juiciness of meat.

The most important factor affecting fat content of meat is feeding. From studies on other species it is known that not only composition of a diet and addition of fat to the diet influences fat content of meat. Also the level of energy and protein (amino acids, especially lysine) can change its content. Meat in human diet is considered an important source of protein and minerals, especially iron and zinc. Raw ostrich meat is rich in total iron (2.32- 4.02 mg/100 g). In general, ostrich meat has the highest content of iron from all meat sources available for humans, e.g. buff or chicken (1.93, 0.4-0.7 mg/100g, respectively). Thus, it can be an important source of iron for anaemic patients as well as for pregnant women and complements metabolic and cellular processes including activities in leukocytes. Iron is essential for haematopoiesis. Zinc levels of raw ostrich meat varied between different carcass cuts: 3.1 mg/100 g of leg and significantly less in sirloin and fillet (2.5 and 1.96 mg/100 g respectively).

These levels were still higher than in other poultry meats: 1.71, 0.65, 2.47, and 1.08 mg/100 g of chicken thigh, chicken breast, turkey thigh and turkey breast, respectively. However, zinc concentrations in buff sirloin and buff fillet were higher: 4.09 and 4.01 mg/100 g, respectively. Levels of zinc in ostrich meat varied between 2.02 and 4.30 mg/100 g in different muscles. Copper levels determined in raw ostrich meat ranged from 0.103 to 0.187 mg/100 g. In other species levels of copper were lower: 0.07- 0.09, 0.05 and 0.06 mg/100 g of buff, chicken and turkey, respectively. In turn, calcium reached a maximum value of 5.62 mg/100 g of meat comparable to 6 mg/100 g recorded for buff, but considerably lower than chicken meat (12 mg/100 g of edible meat). Very low sodium content of ostrich meat (32-36 mg/100 g) compared to beef . Thiamine (vit. B1) levels were found higher in ostrich than in buff or chicken meat.

Riboflavin (vit. B2) and pantothenic acid (vit. B5) levels occurred similar in ostrich meat and in buff, while chicken meat is lower in vitamins B2 and B5. Also niacin (vit. B3) content of ostrich meat was found similar to that of buff,while chicken meat contained more of this vitamin. Level of pyridoxine (vit. B6) in ostrich meat is found twice as high as in buff or in chicken. The is marked difference in the case of cobalamine (vit. B12), the content of which was over 10 times higher than in buff, and even more when compared to chicken. Ostrich meat is being considered  as a source of B group vitamins is generally comparable to buff, with a much higher level of vitamins B6 and B12. Another important factor found in meat is vitamin E, considered one of the most effective natural antioxidants mg/100 g) or chicken (77 mg/100 g) would be advantageous for people who have to consume a low sodium diet, for example those suffering from hypertension. Compared to other species ostrich meat is more similar to buff than to chicken meat. Vitamin E is highest in ostrich meat (9.1 mg/100 g), followed by chicken meat (7.5 mg/100 g) and buff (6.2 mg/100 g).


Ostrich meat is a niche product characterized by a low intramuscular fat content, favorable fatty acids profile ratios and high content of iron and vitamin E. The lack of a culinary tradition and relatively high price are reasons for which ostrich meat will not replace buff, pork or chicken as a staple meat in many countries. It may however as a high quality product, be a valuable supplement of human diet.

Vet. Consultant Health Management, Ostrich Nepal

Gangylia 1, Rupandehi

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