Guidelines for Handling and Storage of Emu Fat

See the full fact sheet on The Guidelines for Handling and Storage of Emu Fat

Quality Emu Oil Begins With Quality Fat

Fat exists in two places on the emu, internally and externally.  Very often there will be as much internal fat as external, sometimes more.  It varies from bird to bird.

External Fat

A well-fed emu will have a layer of fat over nearly the entire bird, lying like a second skin between the hide and the meat.  It is just thinner in some areas than in others.  The area along the leg from the drumstick down has probably the least amount of fat.  The thickest amount will exist as a pad of fat on the rump.  Neck fat will vary between 2 to 4 pounds depending on the bird.

Internal Fat

There is a pad of fat below the vent and another one behind the breastbone.  Fat can be pulled off the major organs but not the intestines, which will tear.  The intestines surround a jellyfish shaped pad of fat.  The fat is attached to the intestines between two layers of membrane, above and below the fat.  Use kitchen shears to separate the fat from the intestines, taking care to avoid fecal contamination.

Fat placement on Emu

A, B, C and D indicate areas with the most external fat on the bird. E and F indicate locations of internal fat. (see image at left)


  1. Remove fat and hide from carcass, separately if possible.  If not, remove fat from the hide as quickly as possible to retard bacteria growth.  Do not leave the hide attached to the fat.  There should be a minimum of blood, meat or feathers in the fat.  It is not necessary to remove the quills (feather shaft).
  2. Wash the fat only if necessary to remove blood.  Drain any excess water from the fat.  You may use clean paper towels to absorb any water remaining on the surface of the fat.  Water and blood promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the fat.
  3. Do not grind the fat.  Grinding destroys tissue structures and results in the release of natural enzymes causing cellular material to breakdown.  Grinding also homogenizes the fat with any remaining contaminants, such as blood, making it much more difficult to remove these contaminants from the resulting oil.  Adverse chemical reactions within ground fat will make it difficult, or impossible, to produce an oil meeting the current AEA “Fully Refined” standards.
  4. Fat should be refrigerated immediately after removal from the carcass and frozen as quickly as possible.
  5. Fat that is to be stored longer than ten days should be stored at -20 degrees.
  6. Packages of fat should not be thicker than three inches.  Fat that is packaged thicker than three inches does not chill as quickly in the center to properly freeze in time to retard growth of bacteria.
  7. Weight of the package should not exceed twenty pounds.  When shipping fat to the processor, ship via refrigerated truck or place dry ice in the containers to keep the fat frozen.
Fat Thickness 3 inches 4 inches 5 inches
2 Hours 32°F 49°F 52°F
3 Hours 19°F 41°F 44°F
4 Hours 13°F 39°F 41°F
5 Hours 10°F 37°F 40°F
6 Hours 4°F 36°F 39°F
7 Hours 0°F 32°F 33°F
8 Hours 28°F 31°F
9 Hours 24°F 27°F

Time factors in freezing various thicknesses of emu fat at 0ºF *

NOTE:  In reference to items 4 & 6:  If the birds are “home processed”, be sure to consider the following — The “thermal mass” (the volume by weight and the temperature of the material) of both the fresh, warm fat being placed in the freezer and the amount of already frozen materials in the freezer will affect the rate at which the fresh fat will freeze.  Be sure the amount of warm, fresh fat you put in the freezer is much less than the amount of already frozen material already in the freezer.  It is suggested that when putting warm fat into the freezer, you also place some ice (in bags, etc) in the freezer to speed the chilling process.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

AEA American Emu Association Logo PNG Image

Founded in 1989, The American Emu Association is a non-profit trade association representing breeders, producers and marketers of emu meat, oil and other emu co-products. The emu industry is an alternative agricultural industry, dominated by the small farmer, who is devoted to humane and environmentally positive practices that will produce beneficial products for society. For more information about the American Emu Association (AEA) or the emu industry visit