Effect of varying levels of protein concentration on production traits of ostriches (Struthio camelus var. domesticus)
The ostrich industry is poised to recover from the recent lifting of the four-year export ban on fresh meat products to the European Union EU). However, during this period profit margins were severely affected and the need to minimize input costs was as important as it ever was, particularly nutrition. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of varying protein concentrations in the diets of slaughter ostriches on the production traits. Five treatment diets were formulated for each feeding phase (pre-starter, starter, grower and finisher), with a control diet, two diets that decreased in protein content and two diets that increased in protein concentration. There were three replications per treatment, resulting in 15 camps, which contained 20 chicks each. Differences were found in live weight of the birds at the end of each feeding phase, except for the finisher phase. Differences were found among the diets for dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), and feed conversion ratio (FCR). The control diet and the two diets that were formulated with higher protein concentrations had higher DMI values, better ADG, and more efficient FCR. Differences were found in cold carcass weights and thigh weights for the birds that were exposed to the treatment diets. The results indicated that the birds on the control diet and on the diets containing higher concentrations of protein, although not differing from each other, consistently outperformed the diets with lower concentrations of protein. From a financial standpoint it can be concluded that it does not make sense to increase the protein concentration in the diets beyond that currently used in the ostrich industry, while a decrease in protein concentration resulted in decreased production performance.
Keywords: amino acids, financial, growth, nutrition, slaughter