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The Last Page




Grab your hat and coat, lets go ratite ranch hopping!

by Helen Hart


Well, I hope you have not missed our ranch tours, too much?  Been having a few bad leg days, since falling through a porch in June. But I am ready to go now. So lets go!

I raise American saddle bred horses, and my specialty is breeding for the beautiful golden palomino color.  I have always liked to ranch hop. Regardless of breed of horse or animal, I have always interesting to evaluate layouts, buildings, fences and the plus and minus of their business.  How they achieve success, how setbacks are overcome and the process of hard knocks one goes through in the process of learning to be a new entrepreneur. SO, this tour is a bit different, but interesting.

We are off to southern California and the beautiful foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains east of Temecula.

After traveling up a dirt road to a higher elevation, I finally arrived at the WHITE EAGLE RATITE RANCH. 

I was meet by a nice looking gentleman with long hair and carrying a bucket of feed. He is Dennis White Eagle. a three-eighths Ogallala Indian. We went straight to the birds. He has both Emu and Rheas. As he began to throw feed I was immediately surrounded by at least 50 birds. I was thinking it’s a good thing I still am using my cane. HMMM, but they were friendly no bites or kicks.

Dennis has been in the bird business for fourteen years. He started out by buying forty eggs at a high price, because despite an extensive search for adult breeding birds, none were to be found. The eggs were sent off to a person with incubation equipment and knowledge on hatching, resulting in another high price. However, it soon became apparent that the hatching was not turning out successfully. But he got lucky, he meet a woman who was extremely knowledgeable in the ratite business. She rescued some of the eggs in time. Some were hatched and he was on his way.

Dennis then went to work building and getting ready for the babies. They must be protected from disease and predators. The temperature must be kept fairly warm, and it is important to protect them from the wind.  The structure was built facing the East. Surrounding their yard, two foot high boards were put up all around.  Inside the building was a warming light. That way they can go by it to keep as warm as they feel comfortable. Bird netting was put over the top and to the ground with excess on the ground. The reason for that is so snakes will get tangled in the net at the bottom.  (RATTLESNAKES our only bad snake in these parts).

He then took about two acres, and fenced it with six-foot chain link.  He left an aisle way of twelve feet, separating the Emus and the Rheas. The emu and the rheas created their own territory by crushing down sage, buckwheat and weeds. The Rhea area, where I entered, was cleared very nicely by the birds. The sage is trimmed from the ground up to about eye level of the birds. The ground is soft from their footsteps. The center of the enclosure is still heavy with brush so they can hide and nest. The birds are working on the lower section, clearing brush so they can sit and view their surroundings.

The entire area is on a downhill grade. The ground is D G (decomposed granite) therefore drainage is good with no pooling or flooding from rain.

Dennis and I discussed all the parts of the birds that are used for what and how.  The meat hide, oil, talons, feet and feathers from both species have uses.  Rhea feathers are hollow and are used in making Indian regalia.  The hide of the Rheas have more texture than the Emu, but both are used in the making of vests, belts, wallets and boots.  Vests that were sewn and hand painted have brought nice prices.  The meat has not caught on in the United States well as it has in other countries, but sales continue to show promise as more restaurants are adding it to their menus.  Even the feet and talons have end use in art and regalia.
The White Eagle Ranch has about two hundred and twenty birds presently with more being raised in Arizona.  Both states are ideal for raising the birds because of the similarity to their original habitats in South America and Australia. In South America the name for rhea is nandu.  The emu is called Kayala by some Australian tribes.

For Dennis, the best side of the business is financial independence and to pursue your life dreams instead of career burnout, which many of us have faced at one time or another. Dennis had a high-powered executive sales job prior to ranching. Having monies coming in on a regular basis and being able to pursue life and our dreams is great.

Dennis has established distributorships and when the meat and by products are sold; the individuals involved get a percentage of the profits on a quarterly basis. He is also working on selling breeding pairs to other parts of the world.

Of course, I had to ask, “What’s the bad side?”   He quickly answered the FEED BILL. Otherwise daily maintenance and care make it a pretty easy operation.

The most important part of the job is sales of birds and by-products.  Also selling birds to those who will be good for the business.

His company has pursued the rhea oil for uses in healing and cosmetics. Seven years have been put into research, marketing permits and packaging.  There are presently twenty-one items in the cosmetics and soap line.

You may contact Mr. White Eagle at amdm@koan.com  to inquire about birds or by-products.

Well, that’s our tour for today. If you would like an online tour of your place contact me at 
hartless@emuszine.zzn.com. Look forward to hearing from you soon!


        Emu's Zine does not diagnose, prescribe or dispense medical advice.  We report and attempt to educate the public about the possible health benefits derived through the use of emu oil based products and consumption of low cholesterol, low fat emu meat.   This site contains personal testimonies and professional observations.   We encourage people to contact their family physicians regarding any health problems they may have for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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