The farm, which has nearly 100 birds, is run by Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University

What was once considered a failed venture has now turned into a golden-egg laying enterprise: the ostrich farm at Kattupakkam has become the major supplier of the world’s tallest and heaviest flightless birds to various zoos across the country.

Located near Kattangulathur on Grand Southern Trunk Road, the farm is run by Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS).

Way back in April 2000, when the farm was started, the university imported 100 ostrich chicks from Malaysia. With little experience in raising the exotic birds, the farm struggled and lost 68 chicks within a few months.

A senior officer from the university said the first four years were a learning period. “Introduction of better nutrition, a new breeder and hatchery management techniques helped the farm raise the chicks successfully. Since then, there has been no turning back for us,” he said.

Veterinarians at the farm said compatibility between male and female birds was established and less-compatible pairs were changed. The varsity also made a crucial effort at maintaining thetemperature and humidity at the farm at specific levels.

In order to maintain lower humidity, the authorities grew bushes to simulate the natural environment of the birds. They also imported an incubator for hatching the eggs.

At present, the farm has nearly 100 birds, including half a dozen chicks. In the last five years, a total of 130 chicks hatched of the 800 eggs laid by the birds. At a time, a female bird lays nearly a dozen eggs, after which it would take a break for a fortnight, and then go on to lay a total of nearly 50 eggs in a year, the veterinarians added.

The farm, so far, has sold 20 pairs of ostriches to various zoos across the country, and has turned out to be self-sufficient even without a government grant, authorities said.

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