Новини    06 грудня 2015 22:10

From Beak to Tail: Ostrich farming can be a goldmine


Ostrich farming can be a goldmine. The trick is to figure out what brings profit beside eggs and meat. The participants of our photo project have mastered several important rules of running this business and gladly shared them with us.

Is it possible to feed a dozen people with one egg? Of course, if it is an African ostrich’s egg. Anyone who visits The Ostrich Valley farm located in the village of Yasnogorodka near Kyiv can see it for oneself. However, huge eggs are only part of the ostrich farm’s exotic. In addition to it, you will be served an ostrich steak and a glass of vodka purified with ostrich egg white. After a meal you will be offered to ride an ostrich. Besides, there you can buy an ostrich leather bag and put souvenirs made of exotic bird feathers inside.

The largest private ostrich farm in the country was built by three friends — Sergey Radchenko, Andrey Akimenko and Dmitri Yatsenko. Now about 120 ostriches live in the territory of the 20-hectare farm. There is also a zoo, an amusement park and a restaurant. It all took 9 years and $1 million.

DJI_0006Radchenko joined the ostrich business as an experienced entrepreneur. In the late 1990s, he and his college fellow Andrey Akimenko were involved in festival and concert management. The partners can boast the successful organization of KVN Major League performances in Kyiv and concerts of several pop stars. The friends invested the money earned in their own restaurant, but continued looking for more profitable businesses. In 2006, the business partners found it. Radchenko and Akimenko met a businessman from Kyiv Dimitri Yatsenko, who was one of the first ostrich breeders in Ukraine. The partners decided to invest all the money earned in a new deal. That same year they clubbed together to buy an ostrich farm in the village of Yasnogorodka, Kyiv Region, where Yatsenko used to buy ostriches for his farm before. That deal cost the partners about $1 million, but the purchase was more than reasonable. At that time it was the largest ostrich farm in Ukraine with the status of a first-class breeding farm, which guaranteed state reimbursement of feeding every newborn ostrich. Payments were up to UAH 160,000, which was a good help for business. The new company was named The Ostrich Valley. «Yatsenko convinced us that an ostrich farm is a waste-free production,” remembers Radchenko.

The new partner did not disappoint the businessmen. Almost everything that an ostrich could give went on sale. The most popular products were the eggs of the two-meter-high birds. The price of a two-kilogram egg reached UAH 300, and customers paid about UAH 200 for eggshells. Eggs were used for cooking an omelet for gourmets at a local restaurant; eggshells were used for making souvenirs. During half a year, one ostrich could lay 50 eggs.

_Y6A5466The African birds’ meat was a separate trading item. Being a dietary one with a unique chemical composition, it was the most expensive bird meat in the market — UAH 100 per kilogram. Even more expensive — about UAH 150 — was one kilogram of ostrich fat (often used in the manufacturing of luxury cosmetics). However, the most profitable product became the ostrich offspring: ostriches cost about UAH 2,500, and the price of adult breeding stock was UAH 16,000. An ostrich gains its trade weight in 14 months. One bird can produce about 50 kg of meat, 10 kg of fat, 2 kg of liver and about 1.5 m2 of leather. In two years, the farm’s livestock amounted to 100 ostriches.

_Y6A3344_Y6A5498Volumes and exclusiveness helped The Ostrich Valley products to make it through to the shelves of Auchan and Le Silpo supermarkets, as well as the GoodWine natural food stores. «Now our meat sells like hotcakes. We are not able even to fulfill orders in time for the retail chains,” says Radchenko. «Ostrich meat and breeding stock will always be in demand. These products are the most valuable thing in this business», says Sergey Cherkez, the owner of Safari Ostrich Park agro-industrial firm farming ostriches in Berdiansk.

_Y6A5521However, with the onset of the crisis in 2009, the state stopped subsidizing the breeding farm, and feeding ostrich chicks came upon the businessmen. Furthermore, strong competitors of the Yasnogorodka farm emerged in Ukraine, which led to a decrease in the already low prices of the farm’s basic products. To compensate for the lack of funding, the company decided to focus on its non-core services. First, a small zoo appeared in the territory of the farm. Later on, the partners remembered what they had dealt with before and opened a restaurant at the farm. The highlights of the restaurant menu became ostrich steaks and sausage. Then a new dish for the farm visitors was introduced — milk and cheese from a dairy farm, which was opened by Yasnogorodka businessmen in 2012. Now the non-core businesses generate about 80% of revenue, and the farm itself — only 20%. «We knew that our experience in the entertainment and restaurant business should not be forgotten», points out Radchenko.

In the future, the partners plan to return their ostrich farm to the profitability of its old times. To succeed, they are looking for partners abroad. The counterparts of the Ukrainian businessmen from Kazakhstan are ready to buy 10 ostrich families of breeding stocks. Romanian and Italian customers are actively interested in ostrich meat. The entrepreneurs themselves want to start exporting their birds’ meat to Russia.

Moreover, Radchenko and his partners plan to launch another non-core business at the farm — their own winery. To do this, they laid a hectare of vineyard four years ago. «We are preparing a farmer’s basket for our guests. There should be everything from ostrich eggs and meat to cheese and wine», says Radchenko.

Written by: Maksim Birovash

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