Erik Rusch and Heidi Welch, employees at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. recently attended Layer School At Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. It was a two-day crash course geared toward everything to do with layer chickens (chickens that are in cages laying eggs for human consumption). Heidi and Erik were the only two “non-chicken” students attending this class and were happy to find that the information was applicable to our pheasant farm.
The topics covered included ventilation, water systems, bedding in the barns, disease control, identification, feed nutrition and consumption. Erik told me that in addition to good information on each topic, the information about disease control and identification provided valuable experience. He said the hands-on training, in this area, directly related to his job caring for birds on our farm.
The students were able to autopsy birds to identify the diseases that took the birds’ lives. This experience, along with the disease training, will help Erik and Heidi inform other employees about what they learned and to catch problems sooner, so that birds that can be saved through medication can be identified earlier.
Erik also told me that all of the instructors were very informed on the topics covered and that most of them had been in the business 20+ years. They shared experiences they have had in the field and were always open to questions. The instructors were excited to see two attendees from a game farm! Erik and Heidi got about 20 hours of training over 2 days and left feeling positive about the training. They recommend that others on the farm attend this type of training when they have the opportunity!
Continuing education is an important component of any business, but we feel it is especially important on a game farm. Our pheasants are raised for sportspeople all over North America and our pheasant food products are sold around the world. Our business is in a continuous growth pattern. If we can learn something new that helps us to raise our birds more effectively, we will do it. We appreciate our employees who travel to attend classes and bring home new knowledge to share with all of us!