the time of processing the bird has a layer of fat that can be 4-5 inches thick and weigh 25 pounds or more across it's back. This separate layer, along with any other body fat, is vacuum sealed and immediately frozen. The fat is then shipped to a specialty oil lab for rendering and refining. The basic steps to processing emu oil are to melt it, filter it and deodorize it. Oil rendering facilities strive to conduct these steps in a way that does not compromise the unusual properties of the oil.
While the meat is red and tastes similar to beef it is 97% fat free. What fat it has contains lots of Omega 3 (like deep water fish) making it heart-healthy. This means people with heart problems who have been instructed not to eat beef are still able to have a burger on the grill. Additionally the protein is not a mammal protein which means that people with Alpha-Gal Allergy are able to eat it.
Many people find it disturbing that the birds have to be killed to extract the oil, we can only assure you that birds on our farm and the other small farms we use are all treated with respect and affection. We all ensure that the birds have plenty of sun, room to run, healthy food, fresh water and plenty of interaction with people, which they seem to love.
When they are processed we do our best to make the entire process of loading, transportation and slaughter as humane as possible and then use as much of the bird as possible. Feathers go to crafters and fly-tie fisherman; hides, bones, organs and trim bits go to raw dog food makers; the meat is helping many people eat healthy and the oil is helping thousands of people with muscle and joint pain and skin problems from soothing radiation treatment burns to lupus rashes. In the spirit of many aboriginal peoples we honor the birds and are grateful for their gifts.
The truth is that these birds are a gift to mankind. Between the special properties of the meat and oil they offer us many miraculous products. When asked why we ever became emu farmers we tell people that originally it was because we fell for the birds, they are quirky and fun to be around. But we stayed with this when we saw how much the products were able to help so many people.
Over the 20 plus years we have been farming we have found our birds have become more and more easy to work with and looking for more affection at younger ages. I mentioned this once to a friend and she responded that it made perfect sense because she was certain that our birds spirits choose to reincarnate on our farm over and over again and that was why they seemed to recognize us so quickly. Have to say it made me feel better. It's not easy being a farmer but I'm glad I am.
If you would like to purchase emu meat I recommend my good friends in Connecticut - Penfield Farms; in Maine - Birds of a Feather; Vermont - Adams Family Farm; and in Tennessee at Amaroo Hills.
By the way the picture is of me (Dee Dee Mares) and Gomer - he wears antlers every Christmas because his big ambition is to lead Santa's sleigh. Maybe this year Gomer.