Rearing Pheasants From Day Old
Start with either eggs or healthy day-old chicks from reputable dealers. Before obtaining eggs or stock, make sure that the breeders are free of diseases such as Salmonella pullorum, Salmonella typhoid, and Mycoplasma.
If you purchase eggs, they must be kept in a clean environment at an ambient temperature of 55° to 65°F prior to setting. You can hold eggs for a week to 10 days before hatchability is decreased, but setting the eggs within three to five days after they are laid is best. If you purchase or build an incubator, it should be well ventilated, able to turn the eggs easily, made of good insulated material, and easily cleaned and disinfected. It should also maintain a temperature within 0.25°F and supply 60 percent relative humidity.
Set only clean eggs at a temperature of 99.5° to 100°F for 23 to 25 days. Turn the eggs at least two times each day. Many producers mark small groups of eggs on one side to note when they have turned the eggs. For a larger number of eggs, you will need an automatic or manual egg turner. After the hatch is completed, remove the chicks and hatch residue, then thoroughly clean and disinfect the incubator.
The first two weeks are critical in assuring chicks get a good start, so advance planning is very important. Make sure all water troughs, feeders, and heat sources are working before the chicks hatch. Place the young chicks in a warm environment that has feed and water readily available.
Since chicks are unable to regulate their temperature for the first 10 days, a properly managed heat source, such as electrical lights, heat lamps, propane heaters, or kerosene heaters, is necessary. Select the most efficient heat source to obtain the best results for your housing situation.
Set the room temperature at approximately 88°F with a temperature of about 95°F right under the heat source. Make careful observations about the birds’ behavior. Increase the temperature if you observe huddling or decrease the temperature if the birds seem to be driven away from the heat source. Gradually decrease the room temperature each day (5°F per week) until reaching approximately 70°F at four weeks of age.
You can effectively brood pheasants in colony cages, but be careful not to leave them in the cages too long or the quality of their feathering might be affected. Maintain the density of the cages at about 2 square feet per bird for the first 6 weeks, and then expand it to 10 to 15 square feet per bird for 6- to 12-week-old birds. Round all corners of the initial brooding area with cardboard or wire to prevent loss of birds from smothering. Chicks are very active and tend to crowd when a loud noise or other disturbance scares them.
This can be fatal in commercial confinement situations, and rounding corners eliminates a place for the chicks to crowd. The way you rear the birds will depend on which of the three marketing options you choose: hunting preserves, meat markets, or shooting preserves that sell excess birds to restaurants, processors, or others.
For hunting preserves, which want smaller, faster-flying pheasants, move young chicks to flight pens that provide 10 to 15 square feet per bird. To shelter the birds from humans and protect them from predators, plant vegetation inside the pens, cover the tops with mesh, and bury chicken wire along the base of the sides. Most hunting preserves prefer to purchase the birds at 12 to 13 weeks of age.
If the birds are used for meat, move them to a confined facility with less light and controlled temperature. This will reduce bird activity and cannibalistic tendencies as well as improve feed conversion. Manage the controlled environment to ensure adequate ventilation and feed and water availability. Because these birds will be used for meat, anything that will damage the carcass quality will lower meat yield and the price received.
Selected strains that have been developed strictly for meat production include the jumbo ringneck and buff ringneck pheasants. These birds should have their beaks trimmed or have specks/bits applied to their beaks. Meattype birds do not need flight pens for exercise. Until you sell them, keep the birds in a space with a wire floor, allowing 5 square feet per bird.
Article Related Questions:
- How long does it take for pheasants to hatch?
- How do you raise and release pheasants?
- How do you take care of baby pheasants?
- How are pheasants reared?
- Can you shoot a female pheasant?
- What is a group of pheasants called?