THE WILD EMU: THE FARM: THE OIL
Emus are wild creatures and although they have become semi-domesticated and being “farmed”, they must always be considered untamed and treated with respect and some caution. Normally it is not considered dangerous but each emu is very protective of its personal space and they can show some aggression if they feel threatened. They have a formidable weapon in the shape of a sharp claw on the middle toe of their three-toed foot, and they can move very fast. The emu was around when the Dinosaurs roamed and they are tough survivors. They are extremely healthy flightless birds and rarely suffer from any diseases and when fully grown in Australia have no known natural predators.
Emu farming is not difficult once the farm has been properly set up. Fencing for containment is important, as a mob of emus will wander if given the opportunity. They are efficient foragers and they produce much better quality biologically active oil if their diet or a large part of their food source is available from the natural bush-land growing on the farm. Good clean water is important and in the wild they have been observed swimming. Any supplementary food must be of the highest quality. They are not chooks or poultry and if their diet is just chook-food they will simply produce chook-fat which will not be very biologically active. There are several dietary formulas for the various stages of the farmed emu’s annual life cycle, which smart farmers follow. It is pointless to feed emus expensive diets designed to pack on fat during the winter months, when food in the wild is scarce. Emus have learned to forage less in winter and rely on the fat they have stored within their body to survive. The female can produces up to 20-30 large eggs and the male rolls the eggs into a nest and will sit and protect the eggs from predators during the winter months. The male emu will raise the chicks.
WILD BLACK EMU NEST
FARMED WHITE EMU NEST
SMALL BLACK STRIPIES WITH TWO GOLDEN CHICKS
The emu industry leaders have identified up to five different sub-species of emus and the most successful specie identified for producing active oil is known as “The Small Black” emu. Other species, “The White Emus” produce more meat because they are bigger, and the gentler and less aggressive species, “The Golden Emus” are more suitable for zoo stock. The “Goldies” are quite easily tamed and have been known to react to simple commands.
SMALL BLACK WHITE
EMU GOLDEN EMUS
The Small Black Emus grow to 40kg and will produce about 25% of their body weight of fat, which will render down to 7 or 8 liters of pure emu oil per emu. They will produce about 12kg of red meat, which is very high in iron and low in saturated fat. The meat tastes and looks similar to beef, but is recognized as a “Gourmet Meat” by the Chiefs, because they say it retains its own flavor and enhances the taste of any adatives. The red meat of the emu and has very little fat content, so it will cook very quickly when subjected to direct heat. The chiefs usually use the bulk of the meat as wet dishes, which are slowly cooked to insure tenderness as the muscles of the leg can become tough if over cooked. The skin if not damaged it can be tanned into very strong but soft leather, which are usually made into fashion items such as handbags, wallets and expensive clothing. The unusual feathers have two plumes coming from each quill and are ideal for insulation for stuffing cold weather garments such as hunting jackets. Chiefs often use the eggs, which weigh up to 600g to replace chook eggs. Emu eggs found in the bush can be eaten and will remain eatable for up to 12 month, unless they smell because the shell is damaged and allowed microbes to enter. The eggs have some internal protective element that keeps them from rotting for a long time. The unusual dark green eggshells are often beautifully carved or painted and are an ideal Australian souvenir for our international visitors.
The fat of the emu is mainly stored in the rump of hindquarters of the bird, which is known as body-fat or around the internal organs, which is known as internalfat. During processing at the abattoirs great care must be taken not to allow any blood to contaminate the fat, as this will cause putrefaction. Once removed the fat is packed into 20kg boxes and frozen. The frozen fat can be stored for any length of time awaiting rendering. At the Rendering process the frozen blocks of fat are sliced or guillotined into smaller chunks so that they can be minced just prior to being fed into the steam heated rendering retort. In the hot retort the minced up fat is agitated as the oil is separated from the tissue and this mixture is pumped from the bottom of the retort straight to the series of strainers to remove the adipose tissue from the oil and a series of fine filters will eventually remove the impurities. The filters go down to 2 microns, which will remove almost everything except some small microbes like some viruses. The oil is still hot and is pumped into clean stainless tanks to cool down sufficiently to decant into smaller steel drums or food grade plastic containers. Just prior to sealing the smaller containers the air at the top of the containers is replaced by the inert gas Argon, which is heavier than air, to prevent any possibility of oxidation of the oil during storage.
INSIDE THE EMU OIL RENDERING PLANT
It is important to understand that there is a big difference between “Rendered Emu Oil” and “Refined Emu Oil. The refining process virtually destroys the potency and biological activity of the medicinal properties of the oil; Rendering is a complex and totally unnecessary process, which is not advised. Refining uses many unnatural chemicals such as benzene and filtering clays plus excessive heating to stabilize and deodorize the oil with the aim of making its appearance look good. On the other hand rendering is simply heating the minced fat of the emu until the oil can be separated from the adipose tissue and carefully filtering out the impurities. Rendering is natural process that causes no damage and retains all the magic of the oil. Gerald Hancock 10 April 2014 (The Wild Emu: The Farm: The Oil)