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Ratite Ranch Hopping with Helen Hart

Breeding for Blondes

We’re off to visit Gayle Gardner and Marsha King just outside of New London, Texas.  Marsha and her husband have been in the emu Blond8.jpg (23919 bytes)business since 1992.  Carl and Gayle purchased their first chicks in 1993.  There are currently 90 emus on the ranch and both ranches will be hatching eggs this year.  The majority of the hatch will be blondes, but a few will be replacement breeders.  Yes, the gal to the above left is a blonde emu.  (editor's note, the gal in the upper right is a blonde also, but she only wears feathers when she is in a partying mood....)

The following is my online interview with Gayle

HELEN:  How did you get your first blonde?

GAYLE:  The blonde birds were given to us when a friendBlond7.jpg (47310 bytes) went out of the business. We have three.  We obtained from them 2 at our farm and one at my partners.

HELEN:  Did you do much planning and breeding?

GAYLE:  We did not have much to do with the Blond2.jpg (53933 bytes)pairing of the birds. My partner’s hen bonded readily with a normal male. The chicks turned out fifty percent blonde with the rest taking on normal emu coloration's. The blonde emu male took to the other blonde female and became a pair as soon as they arrived at the farm.

HELEN:  Can you breed two blondes or would you get an albino?

GAYLE:  The white chicks have resulted from the breeding of two blonde birds.  There apparently is no tendency to produce albinos. It appears that it is strictly a case of either of the birds obtaining the same recessive gene from both parents, or a rare white coloration geneBlond1.jpg (29217 bytes) competing with a normal dark coloration gene for a phenotypical expression (this is my amateur genetic analysis) We have been told there is a rare blonde bloodline that these birds may be descended from.

HELEN:  When the male is blonde, what percentages of the offspring are blonde?

GAYLE:  Since the only blonde male is paired Blond4.jpg (21527 bytes)with a blonde hen, it would be difficult to say.  However, when a blonde hen is crossed with a normal colored male the percentages seem to be fifty percent.  The first season my partner had incubator problems and the resulting hatch was very poor.  We ended up with one blonde and one white and two normal colored chicks.  Last year we hatched out about 15 chicks which one half were mostly white with blue eyes and the others were the normal blondes with gray to slightly orange eyes.  My partner had one half of her come out blonde and the rest regular.  These white chicks are white and not albino.   There is a slight ivory colorization across their body and they do have an occasional spot of color or dark feather.  Their beaks are generally whiter with dark colored spots and white claws.  The eye color ranges from light blue to dark blue.  Gray eyes and also the normal color. 

HELEN:  Being in a partnership, what are your future plans for the birds? 

GAYLE:  We will be crossing her chicks and Blond3.jpg (28870 bytes) mine to get more diversity in the gene pool while the coloration of blonde and white does not seem to be directly sex linked, we tend to get more white/blonde emu females than male.  We do not want to create any inferior birds.  We want good quality emus that will be able to meet the requirements we have set on our farms for breeding, hatching, fat ratio, temperament and size.  While the white coloration is a unique novelty, our primary objective is to grow large birds producing 20 –30 pounds of fat and 25-35 pounds of meat at 14-18 months, while maintaining a gentle, easy to handle temperament and egg production of 30 to 50 eggs per year.  So far this year the blondes obtained have stayed in this range.   Especially the temperament category.  They can be downright pests when you are in the pen.

HELEN: Are the eggs the same color and size as the normal emus?

GAYLE:  Yes, the eggs are the same color andBlond5.jpg (35204 bytes) size as the regular emu eggs.  Of our three coming twos from last year, two hens laid over 40 eggs each and the third had eggs with a weight over 620 grams.

Thank you Gayle and Marsha for the interesting tour and all the information!

Marsha and Gayle are distributors of Purple Emu and PEL Blond6.jpg (38253 bytes) Natural emu products, which use their own refined emu oil.   Their company, Divine Dromaius, LLC has an online shop at http://www.ddemuoil.com/ showcasing these products as well as the Marsha’s carved eggs and Gayle’s painted eggs.  And if you have ever wondered where baby giraffes came from, you should check out Gayle’s painted eggs.
Eggs Divine is an online shop showcasing Marsha King’s carved emu eggs at:


        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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