A pheasant farm looks before it leaps. At MacFarlane Pheasants, our season’s full-grown birds hopefully are sold before they’re even a twinkle in their mother hens’ eyes. And like Match.com, we arrange the meeting—the senior prom, if you will—for a large variety of pheasant bloodlines based on what you the customer wants for your fall hunts. But that doesn’t mean that Mother Nature doesn’t play her part in messing up all our carefully laid plans for carefully laid eggs.
It takes 22+ weeks for a pheasant to mature. That means from the day you want mature pheasants on your doorstep, we’re counting back to make sure the eggs hatch. The eggs themselves have a rigid incubation period, so we count back 24 more days to when the eggs must be laid, and make sure our hens are getting 14 hours of daylight, with our own lights, if necessary—so they start laying. But right there is where the best-laid plans are weather-dependent.
This year the extended cold, wet spring made birds lay slower than we would have liked. They started slow, but as the temperatures have warmed, the birds have laid more and more, and now they’ve caught up. The problem is, there are no shortcuts: Incubation can’t be sped up. We’ve ended up with the same amount of eggs, but the timing is different.
So where do our pheasants come from? They come from a number of different flocks of breeders on our farm. Two flocks are lit early to produce eggs that will hatch starting in early March. Other flocks are lit less aggressively, laying eggs that will hatch starting in April, and some flocks are not lit at all, giving us more eggs towards the end of our hatching season (July and early August).
The bottom line is that for a pheasant farm our size, with the volume of fully-grown birds we ship each year, there can be no delay. MacFarlane Pheasants has become resourceful to ensure than nothing comes between you and the thrill of a MacFarlane pheasant hunt.