How an Ipswich businessman built an empire on emu oil

SNOWY is among thousands of birds on the Marburg and Colleyville farms which play an integral role in the growing emu oil industry.

Try It Emu Farm owner Stephen Schmidt said Snowy would have a different job to the other birds and not be killed for his bi-products, the production is feeding the demand for a more natural health care alternative.

Try It Emu Farm expanded with an abattoir at the Colleyville site in March when 670 birds were killed. This week the bottles of emu oil casuals will roll off the localised production line.

"Emus themselves we'll use mainly for oil but there is also the demand for meat. It was the huge demand for oil that meant we had to get a second farm," Mr Schmidt said.

"I became an emu farmer because 22 years ago I had a really bad shoulder and knee and I was given some emu oil and I rubbed it on for five days. I was so impressed and I don't have any problems any more. I looked at the (Inuits) who had raw fish and whale fat."

Try It Emu Farm owner Stephen Schmidt with Snowy.
Try It Emu Farm owner Stephen Schmidt with Snowy. Rob Williams

More than 650 birds were killed at the abattoir in March and each bird made 16kg of fat. It equates to 12,500 emu oil capsules for every emu killed and processed. The birds are also used for meat, feathers and eggs.

Mr Schmidt said an emu's unique and resilient breeding pattern meant their products were particularly powerful.

"They build up massive reserves of fat but it's not in the meat, it's a big blanket and it just peels off.

"A female emu lays eight to ten eggs a month in the winter time, on average one every three days. The male sits on the eggs for 56 days without food or water.

"If she's in good condition, she'll go and find another partner and get him to sit on eggs as well so they can do that several times if they're fat enough. A female will only lay their eggs when they're fat.

"An adult bird can go about four months while hardly eating and they use their fat up in the winter months. He'll get up every few hours and rotate the eggs and fight off predators so even though they're not eating or drinking, they're not in hibernation like a bear.

"That's the power of an emu and emu oil is so much more powerful than anything else we know of when it comes to omega fatty acids."