Chicks raised in the Hen Barn under the guidance of Research Manager, Kate Rollette, are raised as pedigree breeders for the white pheasants we produce for food consumption at MacFarlane Pheasants.
The Hen Barn is a little different from other barns. Chicks are raised year-round with large hatches occurring once every two weeks. In addition to these hatches, there is a semi-annual hatch of around 1200 chick for the Production Palace, our newest barn. All of the chicks grow to maturity in the barn. Birds that are not selected for pedigree breeding are moved to floor barns.
Before the chicks are born we have to set up their cages with bedding. The bedding is a complete product that is ordered from American Excelsior and it is manufactured in Rice Lake, WI. It consists of a fiber paper made up of finely shredded wood shavings. It comes to us in 9” x 12” sheets and six sheets are laid out in a grid for each cage. Believe it or not, we can set up our cages for a hatching in about an hour, if two people are working at it. Then we are ready for another 400 chicks!
There is definitely a “cuteness factor” to newborn chicks, even though Kate says that, like farmers anywhere, you have to try not to get too attached! The first day of each new hatch, chicks are chirping like crazy and trying to get acquainted with their new living space. The crew gets them on food immediately and makes sure temperature, light, and bedding are just right
After the first day or so, they settle down. White pheasant chicks stay cute and fluffy for around 10 days before their feathers start to change and they begin to look like mini versions of their parents. Care is still required for these very important birds, though. Food, water and cage care needs must still be met while other chicks are hatching.
The floor covering allows the chicks to move about the cages safely and comfortably when they are tiny. Once the chicks are big enough to be walking around safely, half the cage is uncovered. Then in a couple more days, the other side of the floor covering is removed and chicks are big enough to walk on the cage floor.
If you have questions about pedigree chicks please email firstname.lastname@example.org. She knows a lot about chicks!