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 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
GAYLE: The blonde birds were
given to us when a friend went out of the business. We have three. We obtained from them 2 at our farm and one at my partners.
GAYLE: Since the only blonde
male is paired 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 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.
Thank you Gayle and Marsha for the interesting tour and all the
Marsha and Gayle are distributors of Purple Emu and PEL 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