The Sunflower State has been home to the American buffalo, cattle, pheasant and turkey. But emu?
A Louisburg family asks: Why not?
Several emu farmers in Kansas and Missouri produce several products from this bird, including 4 D Acres in Louisburg, Kan.. Dee Martin owns 4 D Acres and operates it with her husband, Mike, with the help of their two sons, David and Daniel.
“That’s how we got our name — Dee, David, Daniel and Dad – that’s me,” said Mike Martin with a chuckle.
Emus are members of the ratite family, originally from Australia. Ratites are large flightless birds, of which the ostrich is the most well-known, but the emu is gaining in popularity for both its meat and by-products used for medicinal purposes. Emus grow to about 6 feet and weigh about 120 pounds at maturity.
Q. What is 4 D Acres?
The Martins have 25 acres of land.
“We sell emu oil from emus that we raise,” Mike Martin said. “Emu oil is good for burns, skin conditions, insect bites, sore muscles and joints, bruises, abrasions.”
The Martins had a full flock of emus up until a year ago but have since sold them off. Now 4 D Acres’ focus is on selling products it has produced from oil harvested from the flock.
“We have our own oil banked…and it should last at least five years,” he said.
Q: What is your product mix?
4 D Acres carries such products as emu oil, skin care, muscle and joint pain ointments as well as hair care products. A one-ounce bottle retails for about $12.
Until the flock was sold off, the Martins also sold emu meat products.
Q: How do you sell and distribute your products?
“We have distributors, some of which are local,” Mike Martin said, including Terra Health in Independence.
Martin said 70 percent of the orders come through the business website and telephone orders as well as local gift shows.
The actual products are produced by an outside processor— a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected plant in McPherson, Kan.
Q: How did you get into the business?
Both Dee and Mike Martin grew up around farms.
“I worked on a farm during high school for my uncle and grandfather,” said Mike Martin. After a four-year stint in the Air Force, Martin married Dee and settled in this area.
“We had itchings to get back to the county,” he said, and eventually they relocated to their current home in Louisburg.
They started raising cattle and sheep and added emus in 1996. “We have a small acreage and we decided we wouldn’t make a living selling cattle and sheep,” he said.
The Martins got the idea for raising emu while attending a four-state farm show in Pittsburg, Kan.
“I talked to people there and did some research….I looked up Kansas Emu Association and started looking into it seriously,” he said.
They started by purchasing two adult emus and eight chicks from another farmer in Topeka.
“That is where we started and then we added to the flock from other places to get diversity,” Martin said. “It was a perfect niche for small acreage. We had four acres for the emus and rented out the rest for pasture and hay.
“At its peak, 4 D had 140 emu including 12 breeding pairs and yearlings,” Martin said.
However, as the Martins aged, the work got harder. And as they contemplated retirement, the family decided to sell off the flock.
Currently one emu remains — Barney the family pet who will be eventually sent to Oklahoma for research purposes.
Q: Where are products produced and how do you handle inventory?
The oil extracted from the Martins’ flock is frozen and banked with a refiner in Nashville, Tenn.
“As we need more we call them and have them send it to our product producers,” Martin said. “We don’t make our own soap but a lady produces it and I provide the oil.”
The Martins provide oil for other manufacturers and sell some of their products on their website.
In a nutshell
COMPANY: 4 D Acres Inc.
913 271-1832 local
877 837-4119 toll-free