Even before the days of social distancing, Loudoun County, Virginia, ostrich farmers Eddie Beuerlein and Jill Bowyer never got too close to their birds.
“Ours typically stand 8 feet tall and weigh 250 to 300 pounds,” Beurelein said. “And the males can be quite aggressive during breeding season.”
After opening Blue Mojo Farm in Aldie in 2014, growing heritage ducks and turkeys, and selling duck eggs to local business, Beurelein and Bowyer “realized in order to make any significant amount of profit, we would have to scale up tremendously.”
So, why not grow and sell ostrich meat.
“Ostrich meat is extremely lean — it’s 98% fat free,” said Beurelein. “And most people are surprised to learn it looks and tastes like beef — it’s a red meat, not the typical white of poultry.”
“A lot of folks ask if we provide ostrich eggs, but we typically don’t,” he said of the eggs, which can weigh 4 pounds each, and are equivalent to approximately two dozen chicken eggs. “Most of the eggs we get, go into the incubators to grow meat birds.”
Asked if he gets emotionally close to the ostriches he grows, Beurelein said, “That’s not typically an issue, but we do often get pretty attached to our turkeys and ducks, so processing those is a little bit tougher on the heartstrings.”
Ostriches aren’t very cuddly.
“They’re very large, so they have large beaks and they can grab onto you pretty good,” Beuerlein said. “They’re very attached to shiny objects, like sunglasses, hats and jewelry.”
Beurelein said the meat is delicious: “We typically introduce most folks through the hamburger route. You treat it like beef, so however you’re going to cook your beef, remember it’s very lean, so it cooks fast.”
Blue Mojo Farm isn’t a petting farm.
“We don’t have open hours at the farm, that’s basically for biosecurity reasons,” Beurelein said.
Meat is shipped or delivered to customers. Beurelein said business will continue to grow.
“We’ve got 15 or 20 ostriches on any given day, and we’ve got quite a few eggs in the incubators right now,” he said. “So, hopefully we’ll have a bunch more babies running around here shortly.”