Research Report 2016/2017

New Research Projects

The evaluation of locally produced full-fat canola and canola oilcake meal as protein sources in diets for slaughter ostriches

Prof TS Brand
Western Cape Department of Agricultural

The project is composed of two trials that investigate different traits to optimize the commercial benefits of the results obtained from the research.

TRIAL 1 – Growth trial

In this investigation 150-180 day old chicks were randomly divided into 15 groups of 10 to 12 chicks per group and will remain in their respective group for each production stage. The growth trial only started at onset of the starter phase (± 84 days old on the 3rd of February 2016) and was concluded after the finisher phases (± 300 days old on the 15th of September 2016).

During the lifetime of slaughter ostriches they are fed four different diets, namely:

  • Pre-starter (0-83 days of age)
  • Starter (84-147 days of age)
  • Grower (148-231 days of age)
  • Finisher (232-294 days of age)
  • Quarantine (245-308 days of age) still receiving finisher diet.

During the pre-starter phase the chicks receive a standard diet. From the starter phase, two Iso-nutrient diets are formulated respectively for the three remaining production phases (starter grower and finisher) to contain soybean oilcake meal (control diet) or full-fat canola treatment / alternative protein source). The full-fat canola will incrementally replace (0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of main protein source) the soybean oilcake meal. Five experimental diets with three groups of birds per diet are being used in the study. Diet formulation will be based on nutrient values presented in the Elsenburg Ostrich Feed Database. The water and feed supply will be available ad libitum for each treatment.

The production trial started off with 160 birds for the starter phase on 3 February 2016. At the end of this phase there were 158 birds due to the fact that birds with leg abnormalities had to be culled. When the grower phase started on 6 April 2016 some birds were taken out of the trial that were to light. The grower phase started with 153 birds. The trial ran as expected. The birds were in a healthy condition with good growth and feed intake. The slaughter date was on the 15th of September 2016 where 146 birds were slaughtered. Samples of the meat, organs, skin and feathers were collected and most of the laboratory analysis have been completed.

Data for trial 1 have not been statistically analysed; we are still waiting on certain results from laboratories. As soon as al the results are received the analysis will be conducted. Currently raw data is being processed into the correct format and some of the last laboratory analysis are done. All analyses, laboratory and statistical, should be completed by the end of January 2017.

TRIAL 2 – Feed preference trial

The preference of ostriches to the diets from a palatability point of view was investigated in a free-choice system to determine the effect of different inclusion levels of full-fat canola on feed preference of grower ostriches. Ten groups of six birds per group were used. After the data is analysed the investigation will give an indication as to the preferred inclusion level of the full-fat canola as protein source (0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) of the same iso-nutrient diets. Each group received the five experimental diets ad libitum in five different feed troughs for five consecutive days. The trial was replicated for another five days with a brief period in between. The water supply was also available ad libitum for each treatment.

The data collected for trial 2 were statistically analysed, but the results are preliminary and more analyses need to be performed.

After preliminary analyses we concluded that there was in fact a difference in feed intake between diets. The birds had a statistically significant preference towards the 25% canola inclusion level in the feed.

At this stage we can come to the conclusion that birds favour the 25% inclusion level and will have a higher voluntary feed intake when receiving this diet compared to the other four diets, thus resulting in better growth.

Time Frame

The trials are being conducted at the Oudtshoorn Research Farm.

Uncontrollable factors associated with ostrich farming such as high mortalities, disease outbreaks and hatching problems result in time frames acting as a guide and not definite certainties. Time frames will also depend on the availability of infrastructure as well as birds.


  • The growth trial on five different canola inclusion levels in the diet was carried out from November 2015 (Chicks hatching in November 2015 and Growth trial starting in February 2016) and will ran until September 2016 when the animals were slaughtered at a registered abattoir and post slaughter data collected.
  • The preference trials with five canola inclusion levels in the diet, was conducted in May 2016 and June 2016.
  • From September 2016, data analyses and lab work started on the collected samples and will be completed by January 2017.
  • Statistical analyses on data will take place during January and February 2017.
  • Thesis writing will start from February 2017 until September 2017.
  • The canola oilcake trial ostriches (395 chicks) were received in November 2016. The time schedule in 2017 will follow that of the full-fat canola trial during 2016 ending in September 2017.
  • Thesis writing for the canola oilcake trial will start in February 2018 and will be concluded in September 2018.

Biological control of sclerotinia of sunflower

Prof M Laing
University of KwaZulu-Natal

The research project was approved during the course of the 2016/2017 financial year and sufficient progress was not made to report in respect of the 2016/2017 financial year.