Rendering oil from an emu also offers a more efficient yield. One 14- to 16-month-old emu carries about 24 pounds of fat, which can be processed into 2 gallons of oil. Emu oil can sell for about $7 to $8 per ounce, according to Pounder. In the right product and packaging, it sells for as much as $20 per ounce.
Eggs ’n’ Emu for Breakfast
Of course, the more emu oil farmers produce, the more emu meat they'll have to sell. So Pounder and others are exploring new ways to market the lean meat. Emu sausages and jerky, she says, could be the answer.
"Emu sausages have all the taste, but are low-fat and low-calorie," she said. "We think there's a strong market for it."
Pounder says at least one hospital in Nashville, Tenn., has already begun serving the sausages to their patients as a healthier alternative to pork.
Johnson, meanwhile, says she's finding emu converts one at a time. Her doctor started buying emu steaks from her farm after he noticed how the meat helped lower Johnson's and her husband's cholesterol levels.
"We're going to stick with it — even if it's to keep supplying our family and friends," said Johnson. "It's just a business that's going to take more time and patience than we all thought."