Animal Welfare Act-Bird Rules for EMUS

Animal Welfare Act-Bird Rules for EMUS

Dr. Elizabeth Pannill DVM, a veterinary medical officer with the USDA-APHIS Animal Care program and speaker at the September 2023 American Emu Association (AEA) Convention explained that “The Animal Welfare Act considers ratites to be livestock (farm animals) when raised and used solely for purposes of harvesting meat, fat, feathers, eggs or skin.  If emus are used solely as livestock, no license is required.

But… APHIS considers emus as an exotic animal, if they are used in any other way than for the agricultural purposes that are listed above.

As exotics they do NOT qualify as “pet birds” like parrots and canaries, even though some people may keep emus as pets.  APHIS lists them as “exotics” when not used for agricultural purposes as listed above.  Exotic owners are required to get a license.

The second video on this link explains, “Do I Need A License or Registration?”.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Animal Welfare Act-Bird Rules

If you currently maintain a USDA Animal Welfare license or registration, you should have become compliant with the new avian welfare regulations on August 21, 2023.

If you are NOT currently USDA licensed or registered, you have until February 21, 2024, to become compliant with the new avian welfare regulations.

Apply for a license at, .

A more in-depth “USDA Animal Welfare Act: New Bird Rules and Licenses” article can be found in the current Winter 2024 issue of “Emu Today & Tomorrow (ET&T)” magazine.

To subscribe to ET&T magazine go to,,  or call (580) 628-2933.

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