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what do emus eat

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An Emu looks a lot like a smaller version of an ostrich.  In height, they are the second-largest living bird and they are a member of the genus Dromaius family. 

Emus are flightless and they are mostly kept for their meat, leather, feathers, and oil.  95% of an emu’s carcass is used and their meats are considered lean and healthy meat because it has less than 1.5% ft.

 These tall birds with their soft brown feathers, long legs and necks can grow up to 1.9 meters tall and they can run up to 50km/h. 

With such a fast running speed and such a huge body, they require quite a lot of food to keep their energy levels up and their bodies healthy. 

What Do Emus Eat?

Emus love to eat a variety of plants and insects which makes them omnivorous animals.  Their versatile diet makes them fairly easy to keep on farms and as pets. 

They are also eager to consume foods because quite a lot of nourishment is required to keep their large bodies healthy. 

Here is a quick look at the foods required for keeping an emu healthy and happy;


Emus require lots of water to help them stay hydrated and to help them process foods.  An adult emu can easily drink 9 – 18 liters of water every day.  They will drink infrequently but will consume large quantities at a time.  It is important to offer your emu lots of fresh and clean water every day.


Emus will eat all sorts of plant type foods. They love to eat fresh herbs and they also consume many fruit and vegetable foods.  They are not shy at all to munch on green grass, grains, crops, hay and they will munch on leafy greens if they find something that seems tasty.

Fruits and veggies

These plant-eaters enjoy eating a huge variety of healthy fruits and veggies.  They enjoy carrots, cake, cabbage, beets, onions, potatoes, apples and practically any other type of fruits and veggies that humans love to eat.

Grains and seeds

These birds enjoy eating grains.  They love oats, yeast, hay, bran, ray bread, barley and other types of grains and they are quite fond of large seed varieties like corn, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and many others.


Emus require lots of protein to help their bodies stay healthy and strong.  Emus will catch and eat just about any type of non-poisonous insect.  They enjoy eating arthropods like grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, cockroaches, ladybirds, Bogong, cotton boll moths, ants, spiders, millipedes and much more. 

In captivity, emus do not have access to quite as many insects.  Farmers or breeders will supplement these emus with foods like bone meal, chicken eggs, small animals, meat and other animal products. 

Emus can also catch and devour small animals like mice and lizards if they are hungry enough or lack required nutrition.

Small stones

Emus will swallow small stones to help grind up their foods and assist in digestion.  These stones usually weigh around 45grams but the emu can have a total of 740grams of rock spooling around in their gizzards at any given time. 


Domesticated or farmed emus are mostly kept on pellets.  These feeds can vary in nutritional quantities and many farmers do choose to offer feeds indicated for chickens or even other animals to emus. 

Diet variations

Being omnivorous and notorious peckers, emus will munch a lot of strange foods and odd objects.

They are known to eat charcoal, shards of glass, marbles, car keys, jewelry, nuts and bolts, and many other loose or random objects. 

These huge birds can also be very fond of human foods.  Tame emus may even attack humans or grab foods like fruits and veggies, bread, sandwiches or even burgers from humans to eat.

Because they are such curious creatures and love to consume such a variety of odd objects, it is important to keep their enclosures litter-free.  Emus can and will swallow odd pollutants like plastics which can have a very bad effect on their digestive system. 

How Much Do Emus Eat?

These huge birds do have quite a healthy appetite but the good thing is that they will consume just about any type of food which makes them fairly easy and often affordable to keep. 

Emu chicks aged 0 – 8 weeks should be offered as much feed as they want to consume. They should also be allowed to feed several times a day. If you offer a nutritionally balanced feed, your chicks won’t need more than 2 pounds of feed per day per chick.

At 2 – 14 months, most farmers choose to offer a different type of feed.  On this type of feed, chicks consume less food.  Their nutritional needs are met quicker with a higher protein feed and their consumption reduces to under 2 pounds per day.

From 12 – 24 months, most farmers choose to move emus out into free feed areas.  They are also switched to a different maintenance feed.

Adult emus consume about 1 ½ pound of ground or pelleted feed per day.  If they are allowed to graze natural fields all they, they will consume much less of these foods because they will source many foods from pastures and insects.

During the breeding season, adult emus will consume significantly less food.  Their daily food intake can decline to 1 pound of feed per day. 

If male emus are brooding their eggs, they won’t consume any food or water for the entire incubation period.

What Do Baby Emus Eat?

Farmers raise baby emus or emu chicks on specialty emu feeds because they have very specific nutritional requirements.  If emu feed is not available, these birds can be raised on chicken feed although farmers will offer additional supplements like cracked corn.

From 0 – 8 weeks, emu chicks are fed on a 20% protein emu chick starter feed. From 2 – 14 months, these chicks will be switched over to a 20% emu grower feed.  At 12 – 24 months, the emus can be moved over to a 16% maintenance feed to keep them nourished as adults.

What Do Wild Emus Eat?

Emus that live in the wild will consume as much food as they can find daily or they will consume food until they feel too full to eat anymore. 

Emu chicks born in the wild are incubated and cared for by their father.  These animals are quite heat tolerant and will scout for food even on the hottest of days.  Young emus will consume any edible foods that they can fit into their beaks.  This includes insects, seeds and all plant foods. 

Adult emus in the wild, also get all their nutritional needs by feeding off pasture grass, seeds, natural fruits, greens, insects and even small animals they happen to find in their natural habitat.  They will also swallow small stones to help digest many of these tougher or harder food types.

Are Emus Aggressive?

Emus can be quite dangerous. They can run up to 50km per hour and will kick and use their toe-claws to defend themselves from predators.  In breeding or mating seasons, emu mails can be quite aggressive. Wild emus can also show signs of aggression if they feel threatened.

Emus that are kept as pets or livestock are however quite tame.  They grow accustomed to humans and are not too likely to show aggression towards any farm animals unless these animals pose a threat to them.  

On many occasions, emus become so tame, they hardly ever need to be encaged and they are left to roam about properties freely without harming any humans. 

Do Emus Attack Humans?

Emus can attack humans. They are quite dangerous and those sharp toe-claws can cause a lot of damage.  These animals are also much faster than humans which diminish your chances of outrunning an emu. 

While human fatalities by emus are quite rare, they are not impossible and it is best to keep your distance if you see signs of aggression and especially if you encounter an emu in the wild.

What Kind of Seeds Do Emus Eat?

Pet and livestock emus are fed on the feed that composes of many ingredients including wheat and seeds.

They are also quite fond of pecking at all types of seeds.  They love larger seeds that are easy to peck up with their huge beaks.  Emus enjoy eating corn, sunflower seeds, grass seeds, a variety of tree seeds, and much more.  The pebbles and rocks they swallow help crush the hard shells of these seeds to accelerate digestion.

Emus are fascinating creatures and they do make terrific pets.  These animals are extremely useful and their meat is considered health meat since it consists of so little fat.  Emus can be dangerous but if you understand them well and offer them the right feed then you should have no problem with raising healthy and strong emus. 

They are relatively easy to care for as long as you understand their complex nutritional requirements.  They are eager eaters and happy to consume most food types you offer them. 

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