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Batten Down The Hatches: Spring Rain and Juvenile Pheasants

On May 28, 2014 in General by spope

It’s true the April showers bring May flowers, but at a pheasant farm the size of MacFarlane Pheasants, we’re putting out up to 20,000 juvenile birds every week, and rain is a problem. In the wild, the settling morning dew jumpstarts young birds’ preening instincts, which spreads their natural oil for a waterproof finish. No such luck for barn-raised birds.

When the rains are coming and we have birds about to go out, there are a couple of things we’ll do to protect them, the first being NOT PUT BIRDS OUT. Seriously. If there’s rain in the forecast within three days of birds going out, we’ll delay as long as we can. We’d rather sit around and play tiddlywinks before we put out wide-eyed avian neophytes to deal with the Second Great Flood. Water on an unprepared bird cuts them down like you wouldn’t believe. Protect your birds by keeping them dry until they’re ready to withstand the wet and you’ll lose less when moving them outside.

The next thing we do is batten down the hatches of the barns. Straw is the primary bedding we use inside and outside, but when it gets wet inside, then warms up the next day, it breeds mold. When it breeds mold, the spores can get into the birds’ lungs, causing respiratory ailments. Again, that’s a higher mortality that just doesn’t make any sense when it can be just as easily solved by closing the window, so to speak. Our guys get the big doors closed in preparation for sudden showers.

And about sudden showers: Check the forecast frequently. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for being surprised. We’re checking with the weatherman every day at the least, and often several times a day. Springtime weather can go any which way in Wisconsin, and the cost of lost birds outweighs the cost of checking your iPhone a few times.

When it comes to spring rains, we keep our schedules flexible. We start the week with a tentative plan, but aren’t married to it. If the rain comes when birds are ready to go out, we delay. We’ll put blinders on birds all day as it comes day, and when the sun comes out the next day, out go the birds to greet it. Nature, just like business, is all about timing, and at MacFarlane Pheasants, we make sure our timing is perfect against wet spring weather.
Batten Down The Hatches: Spring Rain and Juvenile Pheasants

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