Breeding & Marketing
From The Magazine For Pheasant
And Game Bird Producers!
with Robert Ferguson
There are many ways to successfully produce the ringneck pheasant. In starting your pheasant breeding operation, one has the choice of purchasing breeding stock, eggs, or day-old pheasant chicks, all of which can be obtained from reputable and reliable producers in the classified section of the Game Bird Gazette magazine. The Gazette also has great pictures and information on producing ringnecks and other pheasants. It it is easy to keep and breed pheasant as long as their management and care requirements are met.
Smaller pheasant breeders gearing their production to the hunting market will find that by purchasing pheasant eggs or day-old chicks, you can eliminate the necessity of caring for adult birds up to and during the laying season; thus you will be able to obtain complete settings or groups of pheasants at one time and can reduce the amount of equipment needed.
Let's discuss some of what is necessary to produce ringneck pheasants on the game farm. In mating ringnecks, we use a ratio of one male for each seven or eight females, although you can easily go up to 10 or so males per hen with good fertility. Ringneck pheasants should be kept in secure pens covered with netting or other protective cover (there are several manufacturers of game bird pen netting in the Gazette) and the pheasant should be on well-drained soil. If held in a separate pen during the winter, they should be taken from the winter holding pens and put in laying pens about four weeks before the mating season, which is often about the first of March. Pheasants should be culled at this time and only select pheasants in best condition as breeding stock. Cornstalks or brush are placed in the center of the pen as a hiding place should animals such as cats and dogs come too close.
Proper nutrition is essential for good pheasant egg production, hatchability in the eggs, and for normal growth and development in the pheasant chicks. Excellent feed for pheasant and other game birds is available from Purina Mills. Their customer service number is 1-800-227-8941. Purina Mills has a full line of game bird chow that includes a starter ration, game bird flight conditioner, a ration for laying birds (should be provided beginning one month before egg prodution starts) a game bird maintenance ration that should be fed during the non-breeding season and to mature game birds used for breeding, and other outstanding feed products. In addition to providing nutritious feed to your birds, such as Purina, fresh drinking water should be supplied daily and available to the birds at all times.
Some pheasant hens will lay 50 or more eggs in a season and the average at our pheasant farm has been about 60 eggs. The eggs should be gathered each day; however, after the weather gets warmer it is best to gather pheasant eggs more often to prevent their being exposed for too long to direct sun. Pheasant eggs are stored in a cool place (a temperature of 50 to 60° F. is good). Incubation should follow soon after the eggs are laid and in no case should the eggs be held over 7-10 days. The eggs should be placed in a position of small end down at an angle of about 30 degrees. In our pheasant breeding operation, we turn stored eggs at least once daily.
There are many fine incubators available that will do an excellent job of hatching ringneck pheasant eggs. You should follow the directions from the manufacturer as to temperature and humidity settings and then experiment to see what works best for you. In our area a humidity setting of about 84ºF wet bulb and 99.75ºF temperature produces good hatching results. Incubator trays are constructed so that pheasant eggs can be positioned with small end down. In some incubators, pheasant eggs can be placed in a normal horizontal position (on their sides) and some breeders have found that this has increased hatching success for them, although I believe this has mostly been the case in rarer pheasant species.
Ringneck pheasant eggs should be turned at least three times and preferably five times daily. Our incubators have automatic turners that turn the eggs every two hours. Temperature readings vary slightly with different types of incubators. Ringneck eggs require from 23 to 24 days to hatch and for the chicks to dry off. What type of brooder facilities are used will depend on how large your operation is. Some large operators find it most satisfactory to brood pheasants in colony brooder houses. Where only a few pheasants are grown, brooding cages are very desirable. Outdoor brooders canbe used where as many as 25 pheasants are grown.
Lack of sanitation in keeping this pheasant is often the cause of failure to raise the maximum number possible. Clean feeders and waterers must be provided. If pheasants are brooded on litter, it should be replaced each week to prevent mold growth and other contamination that can affect pheasant health and growth.
Pheasant must be observed carefully for nose, toe or other picking. Any pheasant that has been picked should be removed from the pen and kept isolated until the wounds are healed. When producing ringneck pheasants and other gamebirds, feather picking and cannabalism must be prevented. Proper game bird farm management and nutrition is essential in preventing this problem. There are a variety of anti-pick devices available from National Band and Tag Co. that are very popular among game bird breeders. Particularly useful is their popular pinless peeper plastic "clip-on" blinders/peepers for pheasants age 4-5 weeks and older. They are convenient and easy to use as no separate pins are needed (they are built in). When using their pinless peeper, pecking doesn't occur and the birds also don't get caught in the netting which is another big advantage. Check out their website for more details.
For a lot of great information on raising the ringneck pheasant and other types of pheasants, subscribe to the Game Bird Gazette magazine. It was through this fine publication that I obtained my first ringneck pheasant eggs and learned how to successfully produce them.
More links on pheasant and quail
Pheasant Raising Magazine