Saturday, 3 October 2015

The George White - The Best Ostrich Feathers in the World

The ostriches you may see along the road in Oudtshoorn have an interesting story to tell.
The ostriches used in large scale farming stem from the cross breeding of the indigenous South African ostrich and the blue necked Barbary ostrich from North African.  141 Barbary Ostriches were smuggled out of North Africa and brought to Oudtshoorn by RW Thornton on 20 September 1911. By doing this Oudtshoorn eventually controlled the world market for ostrich feathers in this period.  Farmers became know as Feather Barons due to the wealth that was created.
The most famous of all Ostrich Feathers are known as the George White ostrich feather. In 1913 a farmer by the name of George White spotted some beautiful looking ostriches in the East London zoo. Regard by many as one of the best ostrich breeders of all time George White negotiated with the zoo to buy one.  He transported it back to his farm in Grahamstown and began to cross breed with his own bloodlines.  This produced the best and most famous of all feathers. The George White. A very dense feather with magnificent curls that will fetch around R10 000 per kilogram today. 

There are very few ostriches from the George White bloodline left today.  One such farmer who still farms with them is Ockie Olivier from the Welgeluk Ostrich Farm outside Oudtshoorn.  His uncle was a friend of George White and in 1942 George White gave his uncle some of these special birds as a gift.
The George White feather is also known as the miracle feather as it is almost flawless. So the next time you see ostriches along the road just think of the 141 ostriches from 1911 and the famous George White.
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