We are in the process of switching over to plastic crates from Ruff Tough Kennels, to ship our pheasants and partridges. Eventually, wood crates will be outlawed because they are not able to be disinfected, easily. This is why plastic crates are a big deal in the game bird industry, right now. We are pretty excited about how we got the crates we have and the progress we are making toward perfecting them with the co-owner of Ruff Tough Kennels, Doug Sangl.
Brian Davis attended Pheasant Fest in Minneapolis in 2017 and saw a crate he had never seen before, being carried around by a dog trainer at the show. After finding out where the dog trainer had gotten the crate, he was excited to know that there was a Ruff Tough Kennels booth at Pheasant Fest! Brian thought maybe the style could work for pheasants and other game bird shipping at MacFarlane Pheasants.
Brian met Doug Sangl at the booth and after some chatting, Doug was nice enough to give Brian a sample to take back to the farm for the guys to look at. This resulted in an initial order of 60 Ruff Tough Kennel crates.
After having the crates on the farm and trying different birds in them, it was decided that with the crate being only seven inches tall, it was a little small for pheasants but a nice size for partridges. This led to another contact with Doug Sangl.
Doug ended up tweaking the design for us a little more. Doug worked the mold and sent us a prototype. This led to an order of 650 crates in the summer of 2017. These crates are nine inches tall, have solid ventilation, stack nicely, and are pretty close to the size of our small wooden crates. The 650 crates came in lots, so as we began to put them in service, we found some other technicalities we need to address.
We needed a hole on the side opposite the door, the “lip” on the door area at the floor of the crate needed to be removed because it interfered with getting the pheasants out of the crate. After a load of crates went th a rainstorm, we realized we needed small holes in the bottom so the crates would drain well, but not so big that bird toes would get caught in the holes. Doug and Ruff Tough Kennels responded and as the crates came in, each lot was improved to meet our needs.
At this time, the crates are really close to what we want in a plastic crate. We are having some final details executed and The Ruff Tough team and the MacFarlane team are working on designing a large plastic crate.
We are currently selling the Ruff Tough Crates in our store, for customers that pick up pheasants. They sell for $59.99 at our store and eliminate the need to buy a $6.50 box each time customers pick up a pheasant. The only crates allowed back on the farm (for biosecurity reasons) are ones made for bird transfers and pickups. We are currently looking at having Ruff Tough crates available, for our customers, on a larger scale. Customers could use them to transport their pheasants to the field. We are still working out the details with the Ruff Tough Kennels company. Watch for more information, as we work together to bring our customers this service.
We continue to feel very positive about this partnership. This brand is tough. We had one of them get run over by a delivery truck and were able to pop it back into shape! The journey toward switching over to Ruff Tough rates for our game- birds continues to excite us. Brian is so happy he attended Pheasant Fest in 2017 and ended up at the Ruff Tough Kennels booth.