I went to China in 1994, as part of a People-to-People delegation, and we went to Changchun, the province where our original set of Manchurian pheasant eggs had been collected. The trip, as well as an explanation of our research into the Manchurian Pheasants, is chronicled in a slide show on our website - http://tinyurl.com/p7xfor7 (slide 10 and on)
I met with officials and business leaders from Changchun and toured the area. They certainly have some interesting museums, and they value their history as much as we do.
One of the things I noticed, was the terrain is much like that of South Dakota, except of course for the ferry (slide 12), and the field work in 1994 was certainly less automated than in the United States.
The largest city near where the eggs were collected is Jilin, and you can see it’s very close to the North Korean border. But where it sits in terms of seasonal temperature and rainfall is very close to South Dakota. As a matter of fact, it is on the same latitude line as South Dakota.
All information played a part in the reasons we knew we could get a flock to thrive in the United States. Although the flock has thrived, we have learned there are some things about these pheasants that are different than the ringnecks.
Ringnecks can be convinced through artificial lighting and other environmental means, that they need to keep laying and producing eggs, Manchurians can’t. For each 70 eggs that a ringneck lays, we get about 22 from a Manchurian.
We sell the crosses because they carry the genetic traits of the Manchurian, a beautiful high flight after an explosive take-off, as well as a hardy disposition in general. Our pure Manchurian flock, the only one in the United States, will continue to be used to cross into the ringnecks, but we’ll always keep a flock of pure Manchurians.
The Manchurian project is a great example of how MacFarlane did the research to produce a different pheasant that is a great sport bird. We know our roots are in the ringnecks, but there is nothing wrong with diversification and that’s why we continue to grow.