March 11, 2021
In the 1990's many people began to learn the benefits of ostrich meat or using ostrich oil to heal wounds. Perhaps you’ve even tried one or the other yourself. But many people are unfamiliar with what to do with ostrich eggs. They’re so big! And, expensive!
Keep reading to learn more about what you can do with and where to buy ostrich eggs.
Ostriches are the largest bird in the world. It’s no surprise then that they have the largest eggs. Native to Africa, ostriches are now found on every continent in the world. They belong to a group called birds called ratites — birds that don’t fly. Besides the ostrich, this group includes birds such as the rhea, emu, and kiwi to name just a few.
An ostrich egg ranges in color from tan to bone-white and is very shiny. An ostrich hen can lay 1 or 2 eggs a week during their breeding season (between April and September) and might produce eggs for up to 30 years.
Just how big are ostrich eggs? They are approximately 6 inches long and 5 inches wide. They weigh on average 3 pounds and contains almost 2 pounds of egg protein. The eggs are the equivalent of 2 dozen chicken eggs.
Ostrich eggs are expensive, relative to chicken eggs. The average ostrich egg price is around $30.
Many places do not sell edible ostrich eggs. Mostly because it’s impractical and not economical. An ostrich egg makes the equivalent of a 24-chicken egg omelet and most people don’t need a breakfast that large on a regular basis. An edible ostrich egg would cost approximately the same as a live chick, and most consumers would not be willing to pay that for their breakfast.
It is possible to buy empty ostrich eggshells, however. You can find them online and at reputable ostrich farms. The shells can be used for arts and crafts decorations.
Most ostrich farms will sell the shells from eggs that are infertile — that is no embryo developed. Using a diamond drill bit to create a small hole, they can remove the egg yolk and white. Then they will sterilize the shell in a bleach bath before shipping it out.
Yes, an ostrich egg is edible and you can eat them. One egg contains around 2,000 calories. Compared to a chicken egg, it has more magnesium and iron, but fewer vitamins E and A.
But in reality, cooking or eating an ostrich egg is not very practical. According to the American Ostrich Association, it would take almost 90 minutes to hard boil an ostrich egg.
Frying the egg is also not recommended. It’s unlikely most people would have a large enough skillet or utensil to manage the size of the egg. Also, the shell is so incredibly hard, it takes a hand saw or a hammer to crack it!
Given all that about the eggs, it’s a fair question to ask “can you eat ostrich?” The answer to that is yes and in fact, many people encourage it.
Ostrich meat is one of the healthiest red meats around. It is easily digestible making it a good choice for people with sensitive stomachs. It's very lean and full of flavor. It tastes like a premium cut of beef and can replace beef in recipes at a one-to-one ratio.
Ostrich is also humane and sustainable. Most ostriches live on farms with open fields. They are not given steroids, hormones, or antibiotics. In addition, raising ostriches actually reduces the impact on the environment as compared to raising beef. They require less water and land than beef cattle do. They produce less greenhouse gas and give off almost no methane.
For over 100,000 years, ostrich shells had both practical and artistic uses in many different cultures. Archaeologists working around the Mediterranean have found evidence of ostrich eggshells as far back as the 7th century B.C. Many African archaeological sites offer proof of shells being used to store and transport water or paints.
Various ancient cultures used them as tools. They shaped the shells into arrowheads and into potter combs.
There are Babylonian and Assyrian texts that allude to ostrich eggshells being used for medicinal reasons. Some believed it could protect against blindness.
Ancient Greek sanctuaries used them as symbols of fertility and prosperity. There are still some churches that display ornamental ostrich eggs.
One of the most popular practices is using ostrich eggshells in graves. The intricately decorated eggshells symbolized resurrection and eternal life. The practice is well documented for cultures between the 4th and 2nd centuries BC. Today many Muslims continue to use ostrich eggs to honor their dead, hanging them above burial places.
Ornamental ostrich eggshells are still used today in North African homes. They may adorn the roofs of straw huts, or be gilded and placed in a chandelier.
The shells are also used in jewelry and small ornaments. Small discs and shapes are cut from the shell to use in necklaces, pendants, belts, and anklets.
Ostrich eggs are also being studied by scientists trying to develop new treatments for viruses and bacteria.
Yasuhiro Tsukamoto is the Dean of Veterinary Science at Kyoto Prefecture University in Japan. He has studied ostrich eggs for a number of years. He is trying to discern if there is a way to customize the antibodies from an unfertilized egg to make medicines for humans. His research is still in the pre-clinical phase and hasn’t been published or peer-reviewed. But some of his work shows promise in being able to neutralize the dengue virus.
Although it’s a little impractical to eat them, there are a variety of reasons someone may want to know where to buy ostrich eggs. They’re especially perfect for decorating and painting projects.
It’s important to find a reputable farm source, such as American Ostrich Farms, for your eggshells. And while you’re here, be sure to check out other products we have available like ostrich meat and our ostrich soaps and oils!
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