Trip to Ostrich Farm Part of Week in Sanpete – Press Release – 10/01/2002

DATE 10/01/2002

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Heritage Council on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Trip to ostrich farm part of ‘Week in Sanpete’

 It isn’t too hard to guess what Karma and Jack Riddle will be “displaying” during A Week in Sanpete, a new special event designed to showcase the best and brightest attractions in the county. It is sponsored in part by the Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council.Here are a couple of hints: the Riddle’s star attractions can grow to be eight or nine feet tall in height and weigh between 200 and 300 pounds. They can run up to 40 miles and hour and clear six-foot-high fences in a single bound. Is it a bird? A plane? It’s….well, ostriches.The Riddle’s have more than 20 ostriches — the world’s largest living birds — on their farm located between Manti and Stirling. “They are almost like pets, very friendly and curious,” Karma Riddle says of the birds that she and husband Jack have been keeping for about three years. Their farm is also home to about 100 sheep and 2 to 50 feeder calves, but it is the ostriches that usually capture the most attention. Native to Africa, the animals are fairly easy to maintain, requiring minimal amounts of food and shelter. But they are quirky farm occupants. For one, there is the need for an eight-foot fence. “They can clear a six-foot fence easy,” Karma Riddle says.

The birds can live in captivity for up to 70 to 80 years, with females growing about five to six feet in height and the males seven to nine feet. “Baby ostriches look just like little chickens,” Karma Riddle says. “They grow really quickly and are very cute.” The Riddle farm typically has baby ostriches around from May to October, and while the young ones are undoubtedly the biggest hits on the farm, they are also the most difficult aspect of ostrich farming. “The infant mortality rate is very high,” Karma Riddle says. “Up to 50 percent of the babies die from one thing or another. Enough isn’t known about their infant diseases to know what to give them…but if I can get them past two weeks, I usually can keep them alive.”

And while farming ostriches is becoming more common in Utah, most of the demand for ostrich meat comes from outside the state, especially in the Eastern United States. “It is very healthy meat,” Karma Riddle says, adding it is cholesterol-free and up to 98 percent fat-free. “It looks and taste a lot like beef,” she says.

Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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