A love dance of ostriches is attracting tourists to the village of Koprivlen

  • 26 май 2017, 11:35
  • Default profile Автор Kmeta.bg
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Romeo of the village of Koprivlen has nothing to do with the character of Shakespeare. Besides, his name of course. In fact, there is another similarity – he also has two legs. But we are talking actually about the biggest bird - the ostrich. The gorgeous creature is already feeling the beginning of the period of intercourse and he is practicing his dance of love - stepping lightly on his fingers, dissolving the wings, this is his ritual of courting the two females nearby. Our presence frightens him in no way. He does not even think about being afraid and burying his head in the sand. His long neck tells about his great curiosity. That curiosity turns out to be way stronger than his fear.

"Ostriches are indeed very curious birds. Look, they are all here now, because they do not want to miss anything. Their attention is attracted by animals as well – dogs and cats, mostly provoke their curiosity. Those birds have an excellent vision and very good hearing. They are not aggressive, except for the males during the summer period. Then we have to be careful with their behavior", said the owner of the ostrich farm - Stoina Maneva. It is clear that we need to treat animals in a humane way and to take care of them.

The males are very fussy, they walk on the top of their fingers, they fight, you have to stay away from them, the thrill passes within 15-20 minutes. At such moments they treat even Maneva as a stranger. However, females are mild during the whole year; they allow you to pet them and to go near them.

Maneva specifies that a male can have two females or just one. It is important the females to be fertilized. There are enough females in the farm. The best dancer of the males is called Romeo. He is the most handsome and the most popular one, because he is quite fuzzy, very cool. He has two females as a proper playboy and his ladies are both named Juliet. We usually don’t give names to all males, Maneva added.

At the very beginning, her husband and she started this business due to an interest in the ostrich herds. They are beautiful, exotic birds, the first two couples were purchased because of their beauty in 2011, in 2012 we have taken another 14 couples. The market is tough, this animal is not known in Bulgaria and many people even ask if their meat is eatable, or whether their eggs are eatable, says the female farmer. Her husband works in Greece in order to be able to help her with the bills, because it is quite expensive to take care of these birds. She takes care of the animals all by herself. An exception is made only for the hard work for it her husband deals with his friends, he comes back for a few days and goes back to our southern neighbor.

Ostrich eggs are dietary, high-protein and cholesterol-free. The farm was created with the support of the "Young Farmer" program. Because of that, animals should not be less than 47. The owners are required to maintain this number. This year is the fifth and final year of the program. The family has received two financial tranches under this program - € 12,500 during the first year and the same amount during third year, but after a numerous inspections, counting the birds, reviewing the documentation and etc. "It's too much paperwork, we've filled two boxes of papers, there are all kind of papers inside. But for ostriches there is no subsidy for food per year or per piece, nothing is given, no other support is obtained. There is help just for spouses under the "Young Farmer" program. Every month the owners contribute 120 leva and for 5 years for 12 months each year the amount spent is 7200 leva. Apart from those expenses the farm wants constant maintenance, daily care and the total cost is enormous.

"If my husband was not working in Greece, we could have not deal financially - electricity, food, and healing. I contribute only 500-600 leva per month, "said the farmer. The business with eggs and small ostrich birds is not easy at all. There are hoteliers who are interested in buying eggs and there are some tourists as well.

"Ostrich eggs are dietary with high-protein and cholesterol-free. But because of the "Young Farmer" program we need to keep the number of birds, so we put a lot of eggs in the incubator. Not all females are old enough to lay eggs. This animal needs at least 4-5 years to do that and the birds live around 65-70 years. But they begin to lay eggs regularly at the age of 7-8 years - until then only money are spent with no benefit, lots of expenses, care, headaches.

"We do not raise them for meat. Small chickens are usually taken for small farm or private zoo. The eggs are delicious; the omelet made by them is fluffier. One egg is enough for 8 huge omelets.

Maneva is like the movie hero Dr. Quinn the Healer. "The vets are not familiar with these animals and we treat them, the vets cannot help them, they try to compare them to hens or ducks. This is a bird, but it is an ostrich, turkeys are closest to it, but they should not be raised like them. We are contacting colleagues for advice, we train ourselves. Ostriches do not take vaccines, nor antibiotics it is bad for them.

She cures the birds, no need for doctors. Maneva does not do that to save money. “For a little ostrich, a year ago I have given 70 leva for gypsum on its foot, but then the little bird died of stress. The good thing is that these birds are resistant to the climate in our country. They are more capricious until the sixth month, after that they build immunity. Stronger food is given to the animals in winter, and in summer they take vitamin D”. Maneva at least does not have to be a security guard for the farm. She does not worry that someone can steal an ostrich. There is no way, because the bird is a wild and sometimes aggressive animal. "Once in a while I even open the fence, and they do not step outside, though there is an open green space in front of them. They do not move", says the owner of the ostriches.

Ostrich eggs are around 40 leva in Bulgaria and sometimes they reach up to 50 leva. A bird costs up to 200-250 leva per month. This is the only farm for ostriches in Southwestern Bulgaria. "There may be bird-lovers who have 2-3 ostriches, but there is no other farm as big as ours. The meat of these birds is also delicious. We have tried it after one of the animals broke its leg, and there was nothing to be done. Their meat is dietary, high in protein, red is but fat-free", says Maneva.

Tourists often stop by the farm, rarely they are Greeks, although the border is very close. Bulgarians are much more interested in the animals themselves - how they live, what kind of birds they are. Guests enjoy mostly the love dance of the males. Once the program is over, the farm will be managed by will of the owners and it will become one of the most elite. "20-30 females will be raised for eggs only, some little birds, will be for sale on the market. But this could not happen before the seventh year. We have been doing this for six years now. And we will continue because I cannot imagine my life without these beautiful birds", said the farm owner at Koprivlen.