What is Olive Branch Farm? Sometimes our farm content can be a little confusing when you visit and see loads of flowers when you’re looking for emus! I am a seasonal flower farmer-florist as my full time job. I sustainably grow all my own materials and sell flowers and design services for weddings in Clark County, WA and the Portland, OR area. I also sell flowers wholesale to Clark County florists. Because my growing season is April to October, I hatch emu chicks during my “off” season from plant growing! Emus are a bit hidden when it comes to content on my website since most of my clients are marrying couples who just don’t get a romantic wedding vibe from emu images (shocking!) so you will have to dig around a little into our emu tab for content. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.
How long have you had emus at OBF? I’ve been raising mixed poultry for about ten years. My husband, who is not as enthusiastic about chickens, ducks and geese as I am, asked if I would hatch him an emu egg in 2018. I got an egg from a local emu owner here in Vancouver who has had emus as pets for over twenty years. Our new chick hatched around March and when she came out she had these enormous, craggy alien looking feet so we named her Marvin after the Looney Toons Marvin the Martian character. My husband fell in love with the species and we knew we would get a second the following season. The next season we had Marvin sexed, you’ll even find a gender reveal somewhere in our FB archives, and I ordered her a boyfriend from Catherine Poeschl in Texas in 2019. Her now mate is a white male who we had shipped in by Haulin Paws ground transport who we named Forrest. Maybe I watch too much TV because he was named after Forrest Gump. Everywhere he was going, he was running as a chick! They have been a pleasure to have here on the farm and they live amicably in our pasture with our four fallow deer and ourchicken flock. These two had their first breeding season 2020-21. I had roughly 80% hatch rate and all chicks were blonde and healthy. Our flock’ lineage is something you as the buyer should have on hand in case you choose to breed your birds in the future to avoid inbreeding with related lines.
Do you hatch all chicks or are they hatched by your emus? If there was such a thing as a master hatcher I would be one by now! I’ve been hatching all manner of poultry for a good ten years and have brooded all kinds of birds. I incubate all my emu eggs in one of my four GQF sportsman cabinet incubators. I have a separate GQF cabinet hatcher full of separated hardware cloth baskets for each hatching egg. Forrest gets very upset that I steal his eggs but to date he has not gotten to hatch any.
Where can I find farm information, pictures and videos? I have a new to me website with a “flock” tab where all my poultry species are listed. Please continue to check back as we develop the page and add additional content, pictures, reviews and testimonials. We have a Facebook page, Olive Branch Farm, and an Instagram page, Olivebranchfarmwa, where we share the breeding, incubation, hatching and brooding process through pictures and videos so be sure to follow us there throughout the season. Check out our previous seasons content as well! Last year we were able to capture a video of Marvin laying an egg but since she lays either at dusk or in the dark we sometimes have content we just can’t replicate from year to year. You will also find reviews on FB, Google and on our website from past customers.
Do you sell and ship eggs and/or chicks? Blonde chicks are a real rarity in the PNW region and there are very few breeders in my area so I choose to hatch all of my own eggs and do not sell or ship eggs at this time. This insures I’m getting the highest quantity of chicks out of my pair because eggs are not going through the stress of shipping travel and potential risks that decrease hatching viability. There is far too much demand currently to warrant decreased viability and shipping. I would also caution new buyers that if they do come across a breeder willing to ship an emu chick through any postal service to consider that an uneducated, or unethical breeder. Emu are not chickens. They have unsturdy legs for rough travel and to do so would put them at risk of splayed leg which is extremely difficult to recover. Any breeder who would be willing to do such a thing is one I would avoid. Other safer options exist to move chicks across long distances.
When do you start your waitlist? As northern hemisphere breeders our season begins a little later than our counterparts in the south. We start our client waitlist online on December first because we don’t start our laying season until around that time. If you are interested in being added to our waitlist please go to our emu tab, fill out our vetting form and pay the $50 non refundable retainer to reserve your chick. The retainer goes toward your purchase price at time of pickup.
I’m confused by the waitlist/vetting form and I’m fearful of being scammed. How do I know if you’re a legitimate business? Scepticism is a necessary thing in todays’ digital world where scammers are everywhere stealing money, identities and the joy out of getting an emu chick and buyers should be leery of all potential breeders. I vet potential buyers to ensure my chicks are going to a prepared home that understands their needs and requirements so that they can live their best life. I fully expect that buyers are also doing their due diligence to make sure I am an ethical and legitimate breeder providing the best feed, space, health and care to both parent stock and chicks as well as being an honorable and trustworthy business. As such, my longest standing business page is on Facebook where you can see years of farm content and reviews. Our website which has been in place for years, has been recently rebuilt and updated. On the main page if you scroll to the bottom you will see testimonials from past wedding floral and emu clients alike documenting their experience with our farm. We have a Google page with reviews and although we do have an Instagram and Yelp page, they are our newest outlets and will offer our most limited content. You are also welcome to look for us in The Emu Owners Club Group on Facebook, where administrator Joanne Bartell has compiled a list of verified breeders by state, where you can find us listed. We are also active within that group where you can find years of content on our involvement under owner Natalie ampton Tegarden’s personal name. Hopefully that quantity of content and reviews will assure you of our legitimacy. Our online vetting form is new to us for the 2022 season. It was created after the struggle of customer management after our first hatching season in 2021. Emu chicks are a long game, taking approximately 56 or more days to hatch and adding another three weeks to be sexed and for our young chicks to be sturdy enough to travel. That is a considerably long time to wait and we found without a true commitment from buyers, we were answering questions on an individual basis, sift through prepared and unprepared buyers, and investing a lot of time and energy on casually interested clients who ultimately backed out. It increased our time on administrative duties but also made timing, scheduling and pickup more challenging for our buyers waiting on a chick, particularly if they were coming from long distances. This season we added a few steps to pre-qualify our customers. We now ask for a $50 non-refundable retainer to reserve your spot on our waitlist and validate your commitment to a chick this season. This retainer holds your spot and goes toward your final purchase price when you pick up your chick. If you, as the buyer back out of the sale, this retainer helps me to cover the costs of time, correspondence, and website management to make this process informative, efficient and trustworthy. While this process will obviously save me a lot of the time and effort that goes into customer contact it also benefits you the buyer as well. Instead of having a slew of casual people on the waitlist before you, which may drastically effect the timeline when you will receive your chick, you will now be able to see a more concrete list that will give you a more reliable timeframe to schedule your plans around. Fingers crossed it will be a better solution for all.
How often do you get eggs and what is the timeline for me to get my chick? Our first egg usually arrives sometime in November. Marvin lays, like clockwork, every three days so we try to time things in four clutches of chicks.
Clutch 1; Goes into the incubator the third week of December, hatch is second week of February with chick pickup first week of March.
Clutch 2; Goes into the incubator the third week of January, hatch is second week of March with chick pickup first week of April.
Clutch 3; Goes into the incubator the third week of February, hatch is second week of April with chick pickup first week of May.
Clutch 4; This clutch is the most flexible as it is the end of the season. It goes in when our female stops laying. Chicks are usually available for pickup sometime in the month of June.
are starting our first clutch around the third week of December with hatching expected mid February. Ordinarily we do ten eggs at a time, expecting 8 chicks per clutch to hatch which gives the buyer a timeline of new clutches hatching once per month. If you miss out on the previous months’ hatch the next hatch will be 30 days later and so on. Waitlisted buyers will receive group emails on quantity, then sexing results as well as placement of buyers as chicks get picked up. Protocols for buyers is first come first served and it can be a little fluid based upon sexes of chicks and buyer requests so some buyers may move ahead in order if I have a streak of several boys in a row or something else extreme. It does happen so please be flexible and patient.
How do you ensure chick ID and sexing results? Eggs are monitored closely and separated into individual baskets and at time of hatch egg shell lining is pulled and chicks are leg banded with colored zip ties. Date hatched, and zip tie color is sent to IQBirdtesting for sexing results the day of hatch. You will be provided with your individual certificate at pickup which you can match by both date of hatch and the color of ziptie on your chicks’ leg. As a buyer you are responsible to remove the ziptie as soon as possible after pickup to prevent circulation damage as your chick grows but buyers often ask that the band remains until they get home especially if they are buying more than one chick and need to tag them as different sexes using their own means. Zipties can really cause damage, so this is extremely important to remove, while at the same time it verifies my responsibility to you as the breeder that I am providing you with accurate data and ID to the best of my ability. If you choose to leg band your chicks as they grow you can find great info on different bands that will grow with your chick in The Emu Owners Club on Facebook. I find this group to be particularly helpful with trustworthy information. My mentor, Joanne Bartell, uses bandettes from Stromberg Chickens online. One of my clients, Christy Gibbs, uses colored leg bands from Valley Vet for her adults, set just above the hock for quick identification from a distance. Because I have only two birds of very different colors I do not have my two adults banded.
When, where and how do I pick up chicks? What should I bring? Buyers will receive updated group emails showing their placement on the waitlist then will be contacted individually when the correct sex of chick is available and ready for pickup. My aims are to receive dna sexing results at two weeks of age with pickup made in week three. I will accommodate third party transports like Haulin Paws or any other professional animal ground transport company. I’ve also had family and friends pick up on a buyers behalf which is also acceptable. I have a tentative buyer coming in via airplane this season who will transport their chick through the airport. All of these are doable options. What I will not do is ship a chick through any form of USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc and I won’t deliver an animal to the airport for a plane ride without a responsible human escort. When Forrest arrived from Texas, using Hualin Paws ground transport, he was very ill with two respiratory illnesses, one being pneumonia the other we couldn’t identify but his health was touch and go for awhile. Eventually we found two antibiotics that worked and cured his illness but we did have to do two courses to eliminate it completely so he spent nearly two months in our spare bedroom. I give this caution to all new buyers because between breeder, myself, vet we do believe he aspirated dirty drinking water during his travels so I recommend to buyers traveling any distance to not give their chicks free access to water as you drive. Instead, make stops, provide water at that time so you don’t risk your chick or deal with the thousands of dollars in vet bills that I got to pay. On that subject, please bring a standard cat/dog kennel for transporting. The best option in my opinion is the plastic style with slots in the side and back that has the metal gate door. Your chicks will be upset leaving their clutch and being put in your vehicle. Having a space that is not visually open to the world will make them feel safer. A towel draped over to minimize visibility will also help. Secure non slip surface for good footing is also essential. I highly recommend getting some turf or fake grass and sticking a non slip mat underneath that inside your kennel. Towels, carpet will also work but adding the non slip mat underneath will help hold it in place. They absolutely will be kicking and flailing and solid footing is essential. Turf is inexpensive and you can get it cut by the foot at Home Depot or Lowes. Do not bring a soft bottomed cage made of fabric or a cardboard box. Pine shavings over the slick bottomed floor are not adequate as flooring. I really want to see you successful and your chick arrive at their new home safe and healthy!
How do I learn about emu ownership, fencing, feed, care? The best source of good information where you can ask questions is in The Emu Owners Club on Facebook. They also offer an “experts only” option unique to their group, if you experience a health crisis and need immediate feedback from the handful of veterinarians within the group. You can also ask questions about fencing, feed and other information there. The best emu book available is The Emu Farmers Handbook but it can be tricky to find depending on availability. Lastly, if you’re in my region I really like my avian veterinarian, Dr. Marli Lintner, at The Avian Medical Center in Lake Oswego, OR. She has been fantastic to work with and spent over ten years (when the big emu livestock boom occurred) with most of her practice at that time being care for emu and ostrich. She’s extremely knowledgeable.
How do I pay the balance for my chicks? I prefer cash or checks for the balance due on your chicks but we do also accept credit cards through square on our website. Unfortunately, we have to add a processing fee charge of 5% when using credit which is why we prefer cash or checks. We also ask that you fully inspect the health of your chick before accepting and paying for them. We require that you sign a contract verifying you receiving your chick in good health and releasing us of liability for their care and health then becomes your responsibility as their new owner.