MacFarlane Pheasants enjoys challenges created by the ever-increasing demand for pheasants and pheasant products. To accommodate our customers, we must grow to keep up with it. There are big things in the works, and here are just a few.
In the spring we were informed by one of our landlords that the land we had been renting had been sold. On that property was one of our nine brooding barns, which is where our pheasant chicks spend their days from day one to six or seven weeks. These facilities are crucial to our production of every bird we produce—over 1.5 million every year—and this specific facility handled 15% of our total birds. While our landlord was gracious enough to allow us to finish the year, it necessitated that we fast track a new brooder barn while expanding its size to accommodate both present and future demand.
It’s been an extremely condensed timeline to complete, but we began construction of the new barn on October 1. It’s actually two barns in one, an innovation we had the opportunity to include in the new construction, and each can hold 10,000 chicks each “turn,” or six to seven weeks, for a total of 20,000 chicks at a time. The new brooder barn already has its structure completed and will be fully operational in about three months, receiving next year’s first crop of birds in the first week of March. It’s not an exaggeration to say that in 2015 MacFarlane Pheasants will be able to safely house and raise more juvenile birds than ever before.
Another addition we’ve made this spring to boost our capability and quality is by building new pens. Located at our center farm, the new pens allow us to lower the density of birds by spreading them among a greater number of spaces. This at first seems counterintuitive: how is it more efficient to put fewer birds in a pen? Well, most pens are used for two hatches of birds, which spend around 13 to 14 weeks in them. It’s around this time of year that the first hatch of birds from March is shipped to customers and the second hatch takes its place. The problem has been for that second hatch of birds, which suffer from the run-down natural cover left by the first. By lowering the density of birds with our new pens, the natural cover isn’t taxed as severely, and therefore can still provide quality shelter to the second group of birds. After all, they’ll need it to weather the Wisconsin winter. This will lower mortality in the colder months.
Finally, we’re keeping our eyes open for a new facility to raise our White Pheasants, which go into our pheasant meat products, and we’re always considering additional pens or barns. Our farm in Janesville has become quite crowded, so these sites will be outside of city limits.
MacFarlane Pheasants is growing fast, and it takes a plan to continue that growth. We have a plan. Whether it’s our new brooder barn or new outdoor pens, in 2014 we’ve taken the necessary steps to continue to meet the worldwide demand for pheasant.