Any successful commercial pheasant raiser knows that good cover is vital to producing top quality pheasants. There are a number of factors that help to produce good cover in your pheasant pens. First of all it’s important to till your pens, to turn under the manure from the previous year’s pheasants and loosen up the soil too. Also important is to plant a type of cover that you want (corn, milo, lambs quarter) and then conservatively use weed sprays to control weeds you do not want (e.g. ragweed). It’s important to get your pens tilled and planted early (by May 1st) for early hatched pheasants. To eliminate rain as a variable, an effective irrigation system is very important to assure the cover grows.
Once a raiser knows how to produce good cover, the next step is to manage that cover. We know clearly here that too much cover can be almost as detrimental as poor cover. With early tilling and planting and the high nutrient value in the bird manure, and our sandy, well-drained soil we can produce a jungle here of absolutely dense cover. With our irrigation system our jungle becomes even denser. We have learned to judiciously mow open spaces in our pens to allow our birds to see the sky, dry out after rains and just have more room to run and fly around.
If a grower doesn’t mow a pen with dense cover, the birds tend to congregate around the feeders and around any open space they can find. Cannibalism can occur in overgrown pens even though bird density is at a correct number. We believe that 20%-25% of pens should be open space (see the sky) and our pen employees actively go into pens (with or without birds) and mow with a bush hog to create open space.