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How Much Does an Emu Bird Cost?

Last Updated on March 4, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Emus are large, flightless birds that have become increasingly popular as exotic livestock and pets. But before jumping into emu ownership, it’s important to understand the costs involved.

This article will provide an overview of emu birds and a breakdown of the initial investment, ongoing expenses, breeding costs, and legal requirements to give you a realistic picture of what it takes to raise these unique creatures.


While emu can make interesting pets or livestock, they require significant investment and responsibility. Key costs to keep in mind:

  • Purchase price – $800+ for adult breeder birds. $50+ for chicks.
  • Housing – $5,000+ for fencing, shelter, and supplies. $500+ monthly for maintenance.
  • Care & feeding – $1,000+ yearly per bird.
  • Breeding investment – $10,000+ for equipment, facilities, staff.
  • Regulations – Permitting and licensing costs vary. Research thoroughly.

How Much Does an Emu Bird Cost?

The upfront costs of acquiring emus and preparing suitable housing for them represents a significant initial investment. The initial cost of purchasing an Emu is anywhere between $50 and $1,500 depending on whether you’re getting an emu chick or an adult breeder bird. Here are some of the main costs to budget for when first starting out:

Purchase Price of Emu Chicks or Adult Birds

  • Emu chicks – $50 to $300 each depending on age, breeder reputation, and location. Chicks under 1 year of age are most commonly purchased.
  • Adult breeder emus$800 to $1,500 per breeding pair. Older proven pairs ready for breeding typically demand a higher price, in some rare instances even reaching $50,000 per pair.

According to Fauna Advice, Emus can cost anywhere between $800 for a chick to over $50,000 for proven breeding pairs.

The Hip Chick writes that Emus can cost between $1,000 and $40,000 depending on their age and breeding status. Younger emus are generally cheaper, with prices ranging from $1,000 for chicks to up to $19,000 for sexed yearlings. Adult emu pairs with proven breeding records typically cost the most.

The Guardian has an article saying that Emus can be purchased for about $200 for standard black and brown colors, while the rarer white variety can cost up to $850. The cost of emus varies based on factors like age and color variation.

Setup Costs for Housing and Enclosure

  • Shelter for chicks – Minimum 10′ x 10′ enclosed space with heat lamps. $500 to $1,000 depending on materials and size.
  • Adult emu housing – Large open pasture or paddock area. Minimum 500 square feet per bird. $10/square foot for fencing and shelter construction.
  • Feeders, waterers, and accessories – $300 to $500 per bird for setup. Ongoing feed costs detailed later.

So for a modest start of 2 adult emus, expect an initial investment of $5,000 to $10,000 for the birds, housing, and essential supplies.

Emu Birds Overview

Emus are the second largest living birds in the world behind ostriches. Native to Australia, emus can grow up to 6 feet tall and weigh over 100 pounds. Despite their large size, emus are docile, quiet birds that can thrive in captivity when properly cared for.

Emus are raised for several purposes:

  • Farming for meat and oil – Emu meat is low in fat and cholesterol while the oil contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Both are growing in popularity.
  • Breeding stock – Emu breeding can provide a supplemental income from the sale of chicks, eggs, meat, and oil.
  • Pets and exhibition birds – Some keep emus as unique pets and show birds. Their exotic nature and quiet temperament appeal to certain owners.

So what exactly does it cost to raise one of these unusual birds? Let’s break it down.

Ongoing Emu Care and Maintenance

Caring for emus requires daily attention and labor along with additional costs for supplies:

Feed and Nutrition

  • Adult emus eat 2-4 lbs of feed daily costing $0.25 to $0.60/lb – $200 to $700 annually per bird for food.

Housing, Fencing, and Facilities

  • Bedding – Straw or wood shavings. $50/month per bird.
  • Electric fencing – For pastures. $300 initial, $100/year maintenance.
  • Repairs and maintenance – Ongoing costs for shelters. $500+ annually.

Health Care and Veterinary

  • Annual exams and vaccines – $100 per bird/year.
  • Unexpected injuries or illness – $200 to $2,000+ depending on severity.

Total yearly maintenance costs often exceed $1,000 per bird not including labor. Proper care and housing for emus represent a significant, long-term investment.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a toucan, an owl, or a penguin.

Costs of Breeding and Raising Emu Chicks

For emu owners looking to breed and sell birds or produce oil and meat, there are additional costs to factor in:

Breeding Setup

  • Mating pair – Minimum 1 male and 2 females $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Breeding pens – $1,000 per pen for housing pairs during the breeding season.

Egg Incubation

  • Incubators – $300 and up.
  • Egg candling lights – $100.
  • Incubation supplies – $200+ for trays, dividers, etc.

Brooder Setup

  • Brooder heat lamps – $150 each
  • Brooder enclosure – Minimum $500 to safely house chicks.

With special equipment, facilities, and multiple adult birds, breeding costs can exceed $10,000.

Laws and Regulations for Emu Ownership

Emu Bird CloseupRaising emus and producing emu products for sale requires following applicable laws:

  • Permits – Check county/municipal codes for exotic animal permits. $50 to $500 annually.
  • USDA licensing – Required for commercial emu breeding and oil/meat processing. $500+ application fees.
  • State veterinary regulations – For health certificates, testing requirements. $100+ per bird.
  • Zoning laws – Approval for agricultural use and exotic animals.
  • Import/export regulations – For acquiring or selling birds across state lines.

Always research relevant laws before acquiring emus to ensure compliance. Failing to adhere to regulations can lead to penalties and confiscation of birds.

Final Words

Emus are a long-term commitment requiring ample research and planning. But for the right owner, raising these fascinating giant birds can be a rewarding endeavor. Reach out to local emu owners and agriculture agencies to learn more!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do emu live?

Emus can live 10 to 20 years or longer with proper care and nutrition. The average lifespan is between 12 and 15 years. Emus are relatively long-lived birds compared to other ratites like ostriches.

With good preventative health care, emus may remain active and healthy into their teens and early 20s.

How profitable are emus?

Emu ranching can be profitable but challenging. Income can come from breeding stock sales, emu oil, and meat processing. However, profits often rely on keeping input costs like feed low and maximizing production.

Many newer emu ranchers underestimate expenses. Proper facilities, breeding programs, processing, and marketing are needed to be successful long-term.

How many emu are left?

While emus are not endangered, their wild populations have declined. As of 2020, there were an estimated 690,000 to 740,000 emus remaining in the wild across Australia according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Habitat loss is the biggest threat. Emu ranching helps provide an alternative meat source reducing hunting pressures. Maintaining diverse captive breeding populations also supports wild emu conservation.

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