“ Ostrich farm in Oudsthoom, South Africa. „
On my trip around South Africa's Western Cape we stopped at the Cango Ostrich Farm near Oudtshoorn. They do 45min tours at a cost of R65 (£5.65/US$8.65) for adults (reduced prices for children and groups). Whilst this farm doesn't actually farm ostriches for meat or other by-products, it does incubate eggs which are then taken to other farms where they may be farmed conventionally (i.e. for the meat and skin). In the introduction of our tour we were shown examples of ostrich skin products before being taken around the farm. We saw the incubation room where the eggs are kept, but it was empty as it was out of laying season. Outside we got to visit with a dwarf ostrich and another ostrich called Betsy. Most ostriches can be aggressive, but Betsey is friendly and can be hand-fed. However on the day we visited she seemed to have a bit of a grump on, and the guide thought it best we left her alone.
We saw a few other ostriches and we could have a 'neck massage' from them. I stood with my back to them with a bucket of feed and they lent over me and fed from the bucket, with their necks either side of mine. It was an odd sensation but the guide only lets us stay for a few seconds.
If you are so inclined then you may ride an ostrich. There is a weight limit of 75kg on this, and whilst the guide was at pains to assure us the ostriches were not hurt by it, they plainly do not enjoy it so I passed on this activity. Two 'handlers' rounded up an ostrich by working as a team to put a bag over the ostrich's head (with his beak sticking out). Once the bag was on the ostrich was immediately calm and could be led to the area where the willing tourist could mount the ostrich. If you didn't want to ride the ostrich you could just sit on it. For those that rode the ostrich, the bag was removed and the ostrich ran off with the person on its back, who soon fell off. The handlers stay close, especially if there is a child having a ride - they held onto her arms so that they more or less lifted her off rather than she fell off. One of the handlers gave a brief demo of how it can be done, using the ostrich's neck as a kind of joystick.
There are some ostrich eggs that you can stand on if you wish for a photo opportunity. There is also a gift shop here selling a variety of South African and ostrich themed gifts. The ostrich leather bags and purses are extremely expensive (although I think that is the case generally) for those so inclined but you can get ostrich feather dusters quite reasonably. I understand that there are refreshments available here, but I wasn't really looking as we had plans to go elsewhere. I didn't use the lavatories here, but generally the farm is disabled friendly.
In all honesty I found the experience quite gimmicky, especially the riding part. I did learn a little bit about them from the tour, and it was nice to know that all the ostriches were cared for and some were rescue creatures, so they were not in danger of being killed any time soon. I don't think it would have made any difference to my holiday if I hadn't have come here however.