What Do Ostriches Eat?

what do ostriches eat

Ostriches are known to be the fastest animals on two legs, they are also the largest birds on Earth. A male ostrich can weigh up to 300 pounds and still beat a 45-minute marathon record. Since these birds run at high speeds regardless of their weight, they must have a nutritious diet, so what do ostriches eat? Let’s find out.

What Do Wild Ostriches Eat?

Wild ostriches are normally found in the African savanna, but some of them live in dry, warm areas such as Asia and the Arab peninsula. These birds are normally hunted and have drastically reduced numbers, so if you want to find them, you must come to sub-Saharan Africa. Their location greatly impacts the diet they adapt.

Wild ostriches eating in the savannah
Wild ostriches eating in the savannah

Wild ostriches are omnivores, but they eat mostly plant matter. While in the wild, an ostrich consumes 60% plants, 15% fruits or legumes, 5% insects, and 20% grains and stones. The plant material includes roots, flowers, grasses, grains, fruits, nuts, berries, seeds, sprouts, succulents, and bulbs.

 If they come across animal protein, they consume insects, small rodents, snakes, frogs, small tortoises, and lizards. They are also scavengers, feeding on leftover hunted food from other wild animals.

Do Ostriches Consume Stones? And Why?

As mentioned earlier, the ostrich diet is 50% plant matter, and the remaining 20% consists of grit and stones. If you are wondering why we have mentioned stones, a fun fact is that ostriches consume stones. 

An ostrich eating pebbles
An ostrich eating pebbles

It is because ostriches, like any other birds, do not have teeth to chew the food they ingest. In this case, they swallow sand and small pebbles, which become gastroliths. These gastroliths accumulate in the muscular part of their stomach, known as the gizzard. 

They do not digest the rocks; instead, the rocks help in digestion by grinding down the ingested food to make them digestible. With time, the rocks wear down and erode. And When they do so, ostriches ingest more rocks to continue digestion.

What Do Ostriches Eat In Captivity?

Ostriches in captivity are those that are raised on the farm by farmers. You can find ostriches domesticated almost everywhere, except in cold Antarctica. These ostriches are raised commercially to produce meat, moisturizing oils, pet foods, leather, and egg shells.

Some people also consume ostrich eggs as they are highly nutritious.

Crop person feeding a farm ostrich - what do ostriches eat?
Crop person feeding a farm ostrich

Ostriches raised in captivity are fed commercial ostrich feeds rich in vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. They are also fed grit and sand to balance their digestive system and help digest their food.

In some states like Idaho, ostrich farming is on another level as they have invested in creating optimal balances in feeding these birds. They indulge in vegetarian ostrich farming by feeding their ostriches only green matter. They prefer feeding the ostriches plants only to sustain their nutrition benefits.

What Baby Ostriches Eat

Baby ostriches feeding in a farm
Baby ostriches feeding in a farm

A baby ostrich feeds differently from an adult ostrich. However, there are no scientific guidelines on feeding a baby ostrich; you can introduce tactics that work for you. For example, some ostrich farmers prefer feeding the chicks a week after they hatch, while others feed them immediately after hatching.

An ostrich’s chick feeds on a fluid yolk sac that provides enough nutrients until it is ready to feed. After a week, they are introduced to a commercial starter feed that is low in fiber and fat s but high in lysine. 

The farmer presents their meals in shallow dishes or broadcasts the food on the ground to help the chicks learn how to eat. Once they are 8 weeks, the farmer switch to the commercial growers’ feed until they are 12-16 months old; at this point, you can harvest the ostriches or hold them until maturity.

The growers’ feed is rich n protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals; it is given to the ostriches eerie morning to promote their healthy growth and development. You can also top it up with some foraging to add extra nutrients.

How Much Food Does An Ostrich Eat In A Day?

Feeding ostriches
Feeding ostriches

Ostriches on farms feed between 3 to 4lbs ( 1.3 kg to 1.8 kg) of food per day, including grit and stones that help digestion. However, ostriches in the wild eat according to their activity and what their bodies demand. Therefore, they eat any quantity of food that wil sustain them.

Since ostriches are fast runners, they can travel in areas with food abundance and get the food they want. In addition, they are strong birds with incredible stamina that can hold them down without food for 2-3 days.

What Is The Favourite Food Of An Ostrich?

Ostriches eating forage
Ostriches eating forage

Wild ostriches are not picky with their diet as they consume anything nature provides. Ostriches thrive in semi-arid areas where food and water are scarce and thus cannot be picky. Furthermore, they are omnivores allowing them to eat plants and animals. 

Ostriches in captivity feed on fruits and vegetables cut into small pieces to avoid choking. They are also fed with commercial feeds to balance their diet.

How Long Can An Ostrich Go Without Food?

what do ostriches eat - how long can it go without food?
An ostrich eating dry forage

Wild ostriches can find their daily meal easily since food is readily available in the wild. However, ostriches live in arid and semi-arid areas and can survive the climates. While in arid climates, they can survive for up to two weeks without water. They get most of their water from plants when they cannot find water sources to drink directly.

Furthermore, they can travel long distances, allowing them to hop onto fertile grounds where they can feed. Finally, ostriches are excellent survivors since they are adapted to arid climates; they can forgo food in situations where there isn’t.

How Do Ostriches Eat?

what do ostriches eat
Ostriches eating

Ostriches feed like any other birds by swallowing their foods whole. They have long, flexible necks that squeeze the food down their stomachs. They have two stomachs; the first, also known as the granular stomach, is similar to humans’. Their second stomach is the gizzard that allows food digestion to a fine paste. Their gizzards are large and hold stones that help grind food; ostriches consume hard plants such as succulents.

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