A what? Where? Are you kidding?
No, I don’t. And it’s actually not as unusual as you might think. There are several ostrich farms spread across Germany. Indeed, it seems this is a trend that is catching on. As much so that Germany has become the country with the largest number of ostrich farms outside of Africa.
Most are small, however, with less than hundred animals. Those that are larger are still rarely exceeding 200 ostrich on their premises. So no real comparison to the huge African ostrich farms of hundreds and hundreds of these huge birds living on vast areas.
It’s absolutely stunning to see large herds of ostrich in their typical African surroundings; and even more so stumbling occasionally upon wild ones while road tripping through the bushlands and semi-deserts in particular in South Africa.
But if you can’t make a trip there right now, visiting an ostrich farm in Germany will give you a great opportunity to see and learn more about these fairly unusual animals – and taste the very delicious ostrich meat. In fact, ostrich meat is not only very tasty, it is also a very healthy choice being low in cholesterol, fat and kilojoules and rich in protein and iron.
The oldest German ostrich farm is located in the little town of Rülzheim, just a few kilometres southwest of Germersheim in the beautiful Rhineland Palatine region. If this still not tells you much, it is about an hour and a half from Frankfurt, and close to Germany’s second largest wine growing region, the Pfalz. So visiting the ostrich farm also makes for a good excuse to continue on with some wine tasting in the southern Pfalz.
The farm is called Mhou and is a breading farm only. None of the ostrich on the farm are butchered, at least not on-site. This was not the initial idea behind the farm, as the owners originally wanted to sell their own meat. But due to difficulties to obtain a timely permission to butcher – even though the owners managed to resolve the issue and eventually obtained a licence – they had to rethink on how to run the farm. Instead, today Mhou Farm has become one of the leading and most renowned breeders of ostrich in Europe.
A short round-track will lead you through a beautiful little park with several old trees and lots of flowers.
The park is surrounded by several enclosures each hosting ostrich of different ages. Though usually only few of them are around the farm compound, they are really amazing to watch.
Visiting from April to October, you will have the opportunity to see a lot of baby ostrich on the farm too. The little chap above is – according to the sign – just one or two days old.
The ‘baby station’ is divided into various areas hosting baby ostrich of different age. Those just a few days old are still hold inside under warming lamps. Once they are a bit older, they will be allowed outside where they enjoy running around together.
If you want to combine your visit with a hike across the area, there are many more ostrich on the hills around the main farm site.
On weekends and bank holidays, the farm runs dedicated 90-minutes tours that offer a lot of insight into ostrich in general and on farming them. The tour has an additional fee of € 3.50 per person (on top of a € 2.50 entrance fee per person).
Though there is no meat produced directly on the farm, this does not mean you won’t get to taste ostrich on-site. Mhou runs a specialty restaurant on its premises that serves food combining local Palatinate style with African cuisine. On the menu are dishes like ostrich sausage with homemade potato salad. The meat comes from other ostrich farms though.
There is also a beautiful little farm shop, where you will find lots of ostrich products, including artfully painted ostrich eggs, ostrich feathers, leather and lots of different ostrich meat, salami and ham.
Some notes on preparing ostrich meat
Ostrich meat should be cooked at the highest possible temperature for the shortest possible time. The usual cooking time, depending on the thickness of the cut is two minutes per side for rare, three minutes for medium rare and four minutes for medium. Also, do not overcook ostrich as the meat will become quickly dry and tough.
Am See – 76761 Rülzheim
T: +49 (0)7272 9297670
Open daily 10 am to 6 pm
Entry fee: € 2.50 per person