New technique developed to ‘milk’ ostrich semen

May 15th, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 15 (IANS) Australian researchers have developed what is being touted as the first “animal- and human-friendly” technique of masturbating an ostrich. The new technique being used by researchers tasked with collecting semen and artificially inseminating the large and rather fearsome birds - as well as their cousins, the emus - relies on the use of a dummy female.

The new technique is easier and safer, according to Irek Malecki of the University of Western Australia, who described masturbating a two-metre tall, 120 kg male ostrich with powerful legs as a “challenge on your hands”.

Malecki said the technique evolved out of animal behaviour observations, where captive birds begin to perceive humans as “sexy” and worthy of their affections.

Male ostriches while mating rest a leg on their partner, which led to the development of a dummy female with an artificial cloaca, or reproductive orifice, as a sperm receptacle.

Emus, however, require no such balancing act and can ejaculate into an artificial cloaca held by a person while crouching on the ground.

Emus and ostriches are members of the ratite family - a group of large, flightless birds - and are bred in Australia for their skin and meat.

Emus also yield oil that is said to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anaesthetic qualities.

“Emu and ostrich fertility is now better understood and we can objectively assess fertility and diagnose fertility problems for individuals or flocks,” said Malecki, who has been researching various aspects of breeding these birds.

“Emus have dark meat, which tastes similar to beef and is high in iron and low in fat. There are many positive aspects to emu products and when we have a better consumer base, Dr. Malecki’s work will be invaluable in specifically breeding for quality oil and meat producing birds,” said Arthur Pederick, president of the Emu Farmers Association.

Commending Malecki’s work, Pederick added: “The technologies he has developed will save the industry around 10 years of work.”

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