The young chicks cannot produce their own body heat until they are 6-8 weeks old so it is important not to let them get wet, we keep them on heat until they are 6-7 weeks old, after this age they are quite hardy. It is also important that they have plenty of room to exercise to strengthen their legs. It is important that they should have the proprietary ostrich food.
We feed the chicks on ostrich grower pellets which we buy direct from Dodson and Horrell, prior to that our local petfood shop ordered them from D&H.
They drink a lot of water which we leave in a bucket or other large container, because they scoop up water unlike chickens who lap it up.
This past two years we have had numerous calls from people who have had a problem with grass impaction.
It is important that young chicks do not eat too much grass.
For this reason it is important that chicks are not allowed on grass until 5-6 weeks old. Also, that their food and water containers are placed in a number of spots convenient to them, if they do not find their food they will gorge themselves with grass. This can cause impaction, and there is no remedy for this problem, when chicks reach the age of 3 months they are unlikely to have this problem.
They love green vegetables, like lettuce and cabbage, we start giving it to them at an early age so they are eating out of our hands and tame. Being inquisitive by nature they run as soon as they see us coming over to see what we have for them.
We believe that young chicks thrive on hard boiled eggs and they love it, so we chop them up and leave it on top of their food.
They will eat almost anything which can be disastrous for chicks so they should not be allowed access to flowerpots, and tubs, as they will eat the compost.
Rhe chicks must not be mixed with poultry or allowed onto the ground that has been used for poultry. Chicken dropping contain coccydiosis, although it may not manifest itself in the poultry, they carry this disease, which is lethal to rhea chicks.
When they are young they require fencing 3 ft. high, but for mature birds it should be 5ft, but never use barbed wire, an early fatality taught us a hard lesson on that. We feed the mature rhea on ostrich breeder,which we get from Dodson and Horrell,
which we leave in a box in their house, the house/shed must have a window/glass door so that they can see the food, or they will go out hungry and eat rubbish or too much grass, (and you will have aproblem) so they have constant access to food from 9 months old
If you have to pick up a rhea, do not hold it by its wings as they are very easily dislocated.
Some people believe that keeping rheas is a deterrant to foxes, well that is an old wive's tail, we have seen foxes running among our adult rheas, The fox will take chicks. 3 of our neighbours who back onto our paddock keep dogs, and barking dogs are a deterrant to foxes, but we have a 5ft high stockproof fence