An emu is a ratite-a flightless bird. The ratite family also contains ostrich, kiwi and cassowary. Emus stand 5-6 feet tall, weighing in at 100-150 pounds.
Emus can begin laying eggs as early as two years, but typically three years of age. They can lay for as many as twenty years, and live to 20-25 years of age.
The oil comes from a thick layer of fat mostly on the back of the bird. The fat is there to protect the bird from extreme heat.
Nearly every part of the emu is used beneficially. The exceptional properties of the oil at the most prevalent, but the low-fat, high-protein red meat is also a great alternative source of protein. The unique bifurcated feathers are highly prized for art projects, and the deep green eggs are both nutritious and great for carving.
With more protein and fewer calories than other red meat, emu meat is similar in taste and texture to lean beef, bison or moose.
The Australian emu was so numerous in the 1930's that they were causing massive crop and property destruction. The Australian military attempted to reduce the numbers of birds, and were unsuccessful. The effort was called "The Great Emu War."