A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures is interested in getting to know where her food comes from. So, we jumped at the chance to meet and learn about ostrich farming and visited Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch in North Carolina. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you visit Ryan and Gaby and their cool ranch!
I gotta tell y’all, in my head I published this post about Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch already. Then I went to find it and couldn’t. Then I tried to find the email I sent them and could. I suck. So, here’s my post about Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch in Robbins, North Carolina.
During one Sunday Supper Twitter chat, I interacted with Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch. That’s about the time I really wanted to get involved in locally sourced and sustainable products in my area. I still am and would love to tour some local farms. That’s a whole other story that I won’t get into here. I asked them to reach out to me and about possibly visiting and trying out their ostrich meat. When they did I was tickled! Especially since I am such a picky eater. But, since I had some great success with duck meat recently, I was thrilled to branch out.
I know the hubs thought I was off my rocker. But, I didn’t give him an option. I told him we were going to the ostrich ranch. We were brining the digs and driving to North Carolina to visit the ranch. He was like, “Okay. Whatever you say!” So, I had to find a dog friendly hotel for us to stay at. Which wasn’t that easy. There’s really not a ton of hotels in that area. But, we did find one. And I was SO excited to visit and ostrich ranch.
How many of you can say you visited an ostrich ranch? What, like 2 of you? If you have the opportunity, please visit an ostrich ranch. It was super fun and amazing to find out about ostrich farming in the United States.
Ryan and Gaby moved to North Carolina from California. They knew they wanted to raise some kind of livestock, but they weren’t sure what. Then they met a relatively local ostrich farmer who took them under their wing and taught them all they knew about raising and harvesting ostrich. Since ostrich farming doesn’t have a lot of document methods and techniques, Ryan and Gaby were like sponges. They soaked up so much information that they decided ostrich was the animal they wanted to raise.
The average age of a farmer is 57. That means almost all the ostrich farmers are first generation since it’s relatively new to the United States. Ostrich can bring in not just meat and organs for resale, but the hide can be tanned, the oils can be harvested for essential oils, the breast bone can be used for crafting knives and for dog treats, and the claws can be harvest for exotic sales. This makes the ostrich a low waste livestock.
That’s Ed. He does this hypnotic like dance every time he sees Ryan, Gaby, or the other people on the ranch. He started doing that when we went into their pen to retrieve one of their eggs. Did you know the average ostrich egg weighs about 3 pounds and equals about 24 chicken eggs? They can also stand up to about 275 pounds of pressure because, well, and ostrich sits on it.
Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch sells their free range, non-GMO, antibiotic free, organic ostrich meat to local restaurants and at farmers markets in North Carolina. Most restaurants typically order about 10 pounds of meat. It’s convenient that each restaurant wants a different cut of their ostrich meat. Since Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch plans to process meat from 11 months to at least 16 months and maybe as old as 2 years, they can easily have a consistent supply of meat longer than most ostrich ranches.
This is how Ryan busted into an egg while we were there. Now, if you were using that egg for human consumption you want to make sure that drill bit was very clean! Or, you can use a hammer to crack it open. You can see that there’s a LOT of egg in that shell. They save the shells and decorate them for sale. They’re quite pretty! They hosted a fun Easter egg hunt at the ranch this year. You can see some of their decorated eggs here.
I have some foodies on my commute to work and asked them what they would ask if they were to go to an ostrich ranch. I also asked my co-workers thought about what I wanted to know about ostriches. Then I asked a few more people what questions they would ask if they were in my position.
Things I learned at the Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch:
- Ostrich egg incubation is about 45 days and a female ostrich can lay eggs every 2 to 3 days during their fertile season.
- Their lifespan can be upwards of 70 years! That’s a TON of ostrich eggs.
- A 300-pound ostrich can yield up to 80 pounds of meat. Most is ground, but what is kept as steaks is tender and delicious. Yes, I speak from experience.
- This bird has no breast meat! It’s in the ratite group which consists of emus, kiwis, and other flightless birds. The reason there is no breast meat is a defense mechanism. They will charge a predator. This makes their breast bone super strong but leaves no breast meat.
- Ostrich are fowl, but since they’re red meat they are processed like beef. Which makes processing an ostrich difficult as the processing plant will have to sanitize everything, process the ostrich, then sanitize everything again.
I know it’s a lot of information about ostrich farming. But I learned so much in the time we were with Ryan and Gaby Olufs. They were very welcoming and had so much to teach us about ostrich farming and their little ostrich ranch. It was very eye-opening.
Restaurants are easier to sell to as consumers are unsure how to cook ostrich and what it tastes like. Not only that, but it’s a learning curve in processing and bird and what cuts of meat they can obtain from each ostrich. Very few of the oyster cuts even sound remotely close to beef cuts. The Pearl, the fan, the moon? What in the world is that! Due to the naivete of consumers about ostrich meat, Misty Morning Ranch donates their meat to the Sandhills Community College culinary program in hopes to educate future chefs about the cuts and how to cook them.
Ryan and Gaby gave us the fan and the tenderloin to cook. The fan is more like a filet mignon in texture and the tenderloin is more like a strip or ribeye steak. We also have a pound of ground beef that I hope to turn into a delicious burger for Burger Month. Stay tuned!
But while we were there, we cooked up some ground ostrich for lunch. In their kitchen! Did I mention how welcoming they were? If not, then this is the time to tell you how super nice they all were in allowing us to spend half the day with them and learn all about their ranch.
You can easily see how red the meat is. And it’s super lean with very little fat. And at this point, I’m hoping against all hope that I do not have it. Because I can be a picky eater. I do not like venison and duck and I have had a sorted past. And lamb? It’s hit or miss with me. But, just look at that burger!!
And no, I didn’t gag. I ate that burger and loved every bite of it! The meat was juicy and delicious. It didn’t have any game-y flavor I expected. And, in fact, it didn’t have a strange flavor at all. The ostrich meat was simply a juicy and delicious burger that was similar to a beef burger but was healthier.
I follow them on Instagram. I love seeing all the new products they’re making with their birds. They have essential oils and leather products. Not to mention the meat for sale on their site. So, if you’re in North Carolina or just passing through, I hope you stop and visit my friends Ryan and Gaby and their lovely ostrich ranch. If at the very least, follow them on Instagram and Facebook to see what they’re up to.
Of course, you have to stay tuned and see what we did with the two cuts we cooked up after we got home. Have you had ostrich before? Ever been to a ranch? Next time we’re down that way, I’ll be stopping by and seeing them again.
Looking for some ostrich recipes to try? Try about some of these!
Ostrich and Feta Burgers
Ostrich Steaks with Calvados Sauce
Marinated Grilled Ostrich Steaks
Mustard-Glazed Ostrich Fillet with Berry Marmalade Sauce
Bacon, Cheese & Potato Ostrich Egg Frittata