Brian Check, one of our farm managers at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. thinks about rain as a “four-letter word” for too much or not enough. Both cases change our seasonal chore routines and affect our pheasants and other wild birds. We have over 100 acres of pens and thousands of birds to worry about, whether it rains or shines! Since we have had such a rainy season this year, we’ll focus on rain for this article.
Lots of rain does have some positive aspects. The cover in our pens grows well and we don’t have to irrigate. It always feels good to conserve water! This means we can expect the cover and the birds to be in good shape throughout the winter. We can also get more chores done when time spent on irrigation is not required.
On the other hand, when the cover grows so well, we have to mow along the edges of the pens because the healthy cover growth can push against the pen sides and damage it. Heavy rains also get the feed in the troughs wet. We have to keep an eye on this and clear it out, as needed. It can get pretty messy. If the ground gets too bad, we put straw down to keep the birds out of the mixture of feces and mud.
When we transport birds in the heat, rain, and humidity we reduce the number of birds per crate. Because of the mud, when we are catching them for delivery we straw the lanes, where we push them for catching. We also put extra bedding in the crates. We are careful to move birds out of the pens in the coolest part of the day, usually very early, or very late.
Brooding chicks in August heat and wet conditions is difficult. We try to keep the brooding barn at 93-95 degrees. It is hard to maintain that temperature range when the air coming into the barn is already that warm.
Lastly, the crew has the unpleasant task of working in the rain and heat. It does create additional tasks both mentally and physically. It is rough to spend the day putting straw in all the pens, because of the mud, and having it rain overnight, so you have to start all over again the next day. Hot and wet weather create challenges, additional jobs, for the most part, and unpleasant conditions to do them in!