Land degradation in the Little Karoo is extensive. Overstocking of breeding ostriches on natural veld has been among the main causes of this. The National Department of Agriculture has set a general stocking rate of 60 ha LSU−1 as a guideline for livestock on natural veld in the Little Karoo, which equates to 22.8 ha ostrich−1. The aim of this review is to examine the scientific principles, data and assumptions the current recommended stocking rate for breeding ostriches on natural veld in the Little Karoo is based on and to investigate if there is a stocking rate (or range of stocking rates) that has been demonstrated to be ecologically and/or economically sustainable. We found no evidence that the recommended stocking rate of 22.8 ha ostrich−1 is economically or ecologically sustainable in the Little Karoo. Most studies only addressed a single dimension of sustainability, and stocking rates deemed to be economically sustainable were several times higher than ecologically based recommendations. Given that economic and ecological objectives appear irreconcilable on open veld, an industry switch from extensive to intensive breeding practices may be a solution. Further research is required that integrates the socio-economic and ecological aspects of ostrich farming in the Little Karoo.