We have kept and bred Rheas for several years – they are very entertaining and relatively easy to care for. We have a flock of grey and white rheas that run together.
Rheas For Sale
The birds usually come into lay around April and the eggs are collected and artificially incubated. At least 6 weeks continuous dry weather is required for natural incubation by the male – highly unlikely in our climate! Chicks are usually available from July/August.
Youngsters are sold ‘off heat’ , and must be collected. A deposit will be required to hold your bird/s until old enough to leave the farm. Please contact us for futher information.
NB: We DO NOT sell hatching eggs, and we DO NOT export birds and/or eggs.
The Rhea is an inquisitive, friendly, graceful and rather endearing creature which originates from South America, where it is often referred to as the Pampas Ostrich. The Rhea grows to a height of about 4-6 feet, weighing around 47-70lbs. Originating from temperate zones Rheas have no difficulty in adapting to the climate in the UK.
They belong to the Ratite family which includes Ostrich, Rhea, Cassowary, and Kiwi. The name Ratite means ‘keel less” which comes from the fact that this family of birds does not have the strip of cartilage that normally resides on top of the breast bone of most birds. This cartilage is where the breast muscle attaches to. Therefore Ratites have no ‘breast meat’.
Rheas are extremely hardy and disease resistant preferring to run free in colonies. Although some shelter should be available, there is no need for very expensive buildings. Rheas are generally easy to manage and even in the breeding season the occasional challenging male can readily be controlled. Rheas are summer breeders and egg laying is triggered by the length of daylight hours. The hen bird usually starts laying in her second summer. The male scrapes a depression in the soil for a nest and it is he who incubates the eggs and takes responsibility for the chicks. He will sit for 35-40 days. Some make very protective fathers but others show no interest in their chicks.
Male aggression is most common during the breeding season when he will huff, hiss, puff out his feathers and bite. The females are usually docile. They can be kept as pairs, trios or groups and are polygamous, so the male will mate with and incubate the eggs of many females. Groups often produce more fertile eggs as when the dominant male decides to sit, another male will move up the pecking order and mate with the females.
Rheas are omnivores and their diet is similar to that of chickens, although they will pretty well eat anything that takes their fancy! Their hearing and eyesight is excellent but they aren’t particularly intelligent. Moving them from one paddock to another requires a lot of planning, patience and manpower!
Rheas will live quite happily alongside any other bird or animal. They require fine mesh fencing, approx 6ft high, although it can be lower provided the field is not near a road or built up area, just in case of an escapee! Electric fencing is totally unsuitable and should not be used under any circumstances, as they will become entangled and die. Half an acre is ample for a trio, and they will vastly improve pasture by clearing all the weeds, although they do fence walk so a layer of hardcore along fence lines is a good idea, if possible. Purpose built shelters are unnecessary – they tend to prefer it outside in all weathers and do not seem perturbed by heavy rain or snow. We always advise that rhea chicks (artificially incubated) are kept housed until 5 – 6 months old. The reasons are two-fold – at this age they are too big for the most common predators i.e. foxes, and our experiences have shown that young chicks have suicidal tendencies and inevitably get themselves into trouble in the most unlikely places. Housing must be robust with no gaps for heads to go through, and with suitable bedding – straw, paper or old carpet. Wood shavings are a huge no no as they will eat them and die from impaction. They are dirty and wasteful creatures so will need frequent attention.
Rhea meat is very tender with a texture similar to beef. It is incredibly low in fat and cholesterol and has a distinctive, gamey taste.
For more information or advice please contact Senara on:
Tel: 07506 604445