The White Pheasant Breeding Program is headed up by Research Manager, Kate Rollette. Her job includes hatching and raising white pheasants to advance the pedigree breeding stock and meet the growing needs of our Food Products Division. She recently shared her expertise about the changing dietary needs of these birds and the factors involved in selecting the feeds needed to raise the highest quality birds.
Currently, MacFarlanes Pheasants’ birds in the Research Department are fed a progression of all-vegetarian feeds, using non-genetically modified corn. These feeds are similar to Ringneck feeds and have a variety of proteins and energy contents for different stages of the birds’ lives. The feeds start with pre-starter chick feed and progress all the way up through breeder and processor feeds.
Part of the job in the research department is to adapt to the changing dietary needs of our birds. As selections are made to improve the breeding stock, nutritional requirements may change. Birds might need different energy content, protein levels, or even different amounts of feed to consume. The goal of these changes is to help our birds reach the target weight for meat production, while they maintain a healthy reproductive cycle in the breeding program.
As we keep these factors in mind, cost is always considered. The Research Department must ask what MacFarlane Pheasants can gain from making changes in the meat bird program (feed, selection, and egg production costs). Spending a little more money on White Pheasants’ specialized diets can be justified because it translates into lower overall costs to produce the same high-quality meat birds.