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Ostrich Farming in Victoria.
(From the Hamilton Spectator, Stay a.)
The ostriches formerly belonging to the Acclimati- sation Society, and located a tew years ago at Longerenong, ore now doing very well on the station of Messrs. Officer, near Swan-hill, to which locality they were removed four or five years ago. The birds, which numbered Ave or six only when re- moved from Longerenong, hove increased to between 50 and 60, and now that their habits are better understood, it is fouud that ostrich-rearing may be made a very profitable speculation. When at Longerenong, the birds became so shy, from running in large paddocks of 2,000 ocres or so, that they could not be approached. To run them down would be to kill them, for, when pursued, the ostrich runs straight ahead, and dashes itself recklessly against any tree or other obstacle that may be standing in the way. However by sending a man to reside amongst the ostriches for two or three weeks, and to feed them by strewing maize about the paddocks, the birds were gradually drown into a small yard or crush-pen, from whence they were transferred to drays, having 6 feet hurdles round the sides. Jn this way the ostriches were removed to their new loca- tion, but even then they were so wild that lhey en- deavoured to jump over the hurdles, and one suc- ceeded in committing suicide in this manner. At Swan-hill the birds are kept by pairs in small paddocks of an acre orso, for breeding purposes, and the paling fences require to be so high and close that the ostriches cannot see one another, as they are BO quarrelsome at breeding times that they injure themselves by rushing against the fences, in the endeavor to get at any other ostrich in sight. They ore also very curious, and one or two have been lost through getting their necks entangled in small burrows mode beneath the palings by dogs or other animals. They are fed on lucerne, maize, and other crops grown specially fpr them on the station, whiUt sand and broken quartz have to be provided to aid their digestion. The value of n full-grown ostrich is £120, and the crop of fea- thers produced from each bird every year is worth £!U. The practice of pulling the feathers has been abandoned, as being both cruel end injurious, and the phn is adopted of cutting them off close to the skin, when the old stumps gradually work out, and are replaced by a new growth. Ostriches breed twice a year ; the hen begins to lay when two years old, and will bring out clutches of ten or a dozen chicks ot every batch. The young birds are very diffi- cult to rear, nnd as the old birds take very little trouble with them, end often trample them to death, it is found that the best way to rear the chicks is to keep them in a warm room separate from the parent birds. In this way, with proper care, large broods may be reared, and the pursuit of looking after them is well adapted to women. The Messrs. Officer have been for some time experimenting with a patent in- cubator, ond it is found that this machine ensures for greater certainty in hatching, as the birds have to sit 42 days, end sometimes desert the nest.