Feather and skin development of ostriches Struthio camelus
CITATION: Brand, T. S., et al. 2018. Feather and skin development of ostriches Struthio camelus. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, 89:a1556, doi:10.4102/jsava.v89i0.1556.
The original publication is available at https://jsava.co.za
Information on feather and skin growth is important for the development of mathematical optimisation nutritional models for ostriches. Ostriches (n = 65) were subjected to a four-stage formulated growth diet programme (pre-starter, starter, grower and finisher), with declining protein and energy content. Nine birds were weighed, stunned, exsanguinated, defeathered, skinned and eviscerated at 1, 54, 84, 104, 115, 132 and 287 days of age. Feathers from four pre-selected locations on the body were harvested and weighed. The wet skin weight, wet unstretched skin size and wet unstretched crown size were measured at each slaughter stage. The live weight, feather and skin yields of the birds increased with age at slaughter, as did feather shaft diameter. Prediction models were developed to estimate the yield of the skin in terms of live weight and of empty body protein weight to aid in diet formulation. The allometry of feather growth was determined from total feather weight, as the maturation rates of the feathers differ from that of the ostrich body. Results from this study will aid in setting up a mathematical optimisation nutritional model for ostriches.