If you want to experience something completely out of the box you should visit the ostrich farm Artestruz in Mallorca. The farm can be found close to Campos, a small city in the South of the island. Driving along the road, you will almost miss it since the big yard, where the animals are grazing, is covered so that the ostriches don’t have to see the cars that drive by.
The owner is Uri Loeffler. Together with his wife Josephine and his two adult sons Ohad and Johny they manage Artestruz. Uri tells us he spent about 16 years in Africa together with his wife, where both of them fell in love with the birds. During their African adventure, they constantly improved their work with ostriches. They learned and gained more knowledge about how those animals live, their characteristics, their peculiarities.
When the two sons were old enough to go to school, the dream of creating an own ostrich farm was more and more manifested. In 1997, Artestruz was finally opened. Uri tells us that this was connected with a lot of bureaucratic stress. There are certainly easier things on this Earth than opening an ostrich farm on a Spanish island. The family started with 12 ostriches from Africa. Some of them are still alive and prance around the farm, like Cleopatra or Nelson Mandela. These ones are more than 20 years old. Other ones are cute, little babies. The young ones are still a little clumsy. All together there are about 60 ostriches. The best months to see new-born birds are May and June. In general, ostriches can reach an age of about 70 years!
During our time on the farm we learn a lot about the birds from both Uri and Josephine. They tell us that the diet of ostriches is mainly based on cereals, e.g. barley, corn, carob, but also fresh fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, melon and watermelon. Since ostriches do not possess any teeth, they eat pebbles to help their stomach with digestion. Instead of teeth, it is the pebbles which grind their food. Furthermore, we are told ostriches look cute but can be very dangerous as well. When feeling threatened, the female bird can use the legs as a perfect weapon against any other animal. With a well - targeted forward kick, they can easily kill humans or predators. Wow! Can this really be possible, I ask myself while petting Claudia Schiffer. She is an ostrich with extra bright plumage. Uri gives us more information and I start asking myself why these animals are not better known or more talked about. Ostriches are the world’s largest birds with three stomachs and can survive several days without water.
Josephine asks us what we knew about the birds before coming to the farm. I must admit it is almost nothing, though I heard many times that they stick their head into the sand. I guess I had seen this already in comics, too. Josephine shocks me with the most surprising answer. She will give me everything I find in the Artestruz souvenir shop for free, if I bring her only one photo showing an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Contrary to common belief, it is a myth and ostriches do not have this behaviour at all. The belief originates most probably from a defensive behavior which includes the bird lying low at the approach of threat, pressing their long necks to the ground, trying to be less invisible. Since their plumage and sandy soil have the same color, from a distance it could indeed look like ostriches bury their head in the sand.
Mallorca has a decent climate for maintaining an ostrich farm but still it is very costly. That is why the entrance fee is probably not the lowest of all activities on the island. Thinking of the extraordinary experience that you can have, it is absolutely worth every cent. Even buying a pack of food for the cute birds is worthwhile. The farms owners will help you to get the funniest picture of you holding a bowl full of cereals, whilst the ostriches are behind you and, bending their long necks past your face, eat out of the bowl. You can also feed them right from your hands. Be careful though, some of them appear angrier than others and can bite you a little.
After having taken the picture, Uri advises me to put it online onto Tripadvisor. Maybe I will win their annual photo contest.
Strolling into the souvenir shop, we come across many original products derived from the ostrich: Meat, fresh eggs, exclusive leatherwork and crafts made from the eggshell and feathers. Apparently, ostrich meat is very healthy. Ostrich eggs contain much less cholesterol than e.g. chickens’ eggs. They are also twelve times bigger.
When leaving the farm, we promise Uri and Josephine to come back in May and visit the new-born ostrich babies. Also, next time we want to have a ride on Jumbo, a 16-year-old bird. A funny t-shirt is part of the riding-an-ostrich-package as well. The experience lasts about 15 minutes. Hell yeah, this absolutely needs to be done!
Did we arouse your interest and now you want to visit Artestruz as well? Then head there and take part of the annual photo contest as well, maybe you will win!
November - March: 11am- 5pm
April - October 10am – 2pm, 4pm – 8pm
entrance fee (2017):
adults: 12 €
children, 3 - 12 years: 7 €
children under 3: free
PMV-6014 km 40
07630 Campos, Mallorca. Spain
Telephone: 00 34 971 650 562
Mobile: 00 34 639 721 735