Did You Know: Arizona Is Home To Ostriches

July 12, 2013

It’s a bird, no, it’s a dinosaur. Well actually, it’s an ostrich, that is believed to be both.

ostrich farm The Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch at Picacho Peak. (Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)

Really, an ostrich?

North Carolina paleontologists found that the soft tissue inside the thigh bone of a 65 million year-old unearthed T-Rex skeleton looked identical to that of an ostrich.

There is an abundance of ostrich species in the world. The highest quality is the African Black ostrich. Did you know that one of the largest African Black Ostrich ranch in the U.S. is found right here in Arizona?

"My father and my mother spend about two years in South Africa studying the ostrich industry and realized that there was a totally different kind of bird they were farming," Danna Cogburn Barrett said.

Cogburn Barrett and her parents own the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch near Picacho Peak. There are 600 African Black Ostriches on the ranch which sits along Interstate 10, between Phoenix and Tucson.
They’re a desert animal, and this is the perfect climate for them. Arizona should’ve been the ostrich capital of the United States," Cogburn Barrett said.

That is because Arizona’s climate is similar to the black ostrich’s original environment in South Africa. Cogburn Barrett said the desert landscape and the abundance of alfalfa for feeding makes the location ideal for raising the largest living bird in the world.

ostrich farm Danna Cogburn Barrett feeds the family's Black African ostriches at the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. (Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)

Years ago, the family raised black ostriches for their meat. A 250 pound ostrich yields more than 100 pounds of red meat, leaner and healthier than chicken and turkey.

This unique bird has the highest quality hide for leather and oils. One black hide produces three pairs of boots at $800 each. Its lard is rich in omega fatty acids, and its extracted oil is used as a moisturizer and to treat skin ailments like eczema and burns.

A female ostrich produces 70 to 80 eggs a season, each weighing about four pounds, equivalent to two dozen chicken eggs.

Today, the Cogburn family is out of the meat producing business. Now their African Black ostrich ranch is an entertainment venue. Visitors can walk up to the ostriches and feed them. Don’t worry, there are feeding slots to pour the food in to, and besides they do not have teeth.

"You can feel them, touch them and smell them. That’s what it’s all about," Cogburn Barrett said.

Oh and one more thing, ostriches don not bury their heads in the ground. Cogburn Barrett and experts say that is a myth. They say the male ostrich is making a hole for the female to lay her four pound eggs.