Making sure pheasants and the other gamebirds have a ready supply of food unfortunately means vermin try and take advantage of that food supply. At MacFarlane Pheasant Farm we take the issue of pest control very seriously.
Rats and mice carry diseases and we make liberal use of bait boxes around the pens, as well as under the feeders inside the pens. We find it is important to rotate the types of poison we use so the vermin don’t become immune to one type.
Piles of loose dirt around freshly dug burrows near outside pens indicate rat activity and we immediately put bait boxes down the burrow.
Mice are a concern inside the barns. We use soft bait mouse poison and traps inside the barns. Feed is kept up off the floor to deter the mice, and workrooms are swept and kept clean of loose feed on the floor. When pheasants are moved outside, or from one room to another, all feed stations are immediately cleaned up. Gravel around the perimeter of the barns helps keep the mice in check, and we keep the grass trimmed to remove cover for them.
Keeping the grass mowed and trimmed around the pens also helps keep the bigger predators away. Predator protection starts with an electric fence around the outside of the farm and when pens are built the fence is buried and flared out to help prevent predators from digging their way in.
Hawks tend to pick off stray birds that get out of the pens so we are diligent on checking for any holes in the fencing that can let birds out and predators in. If we find birds with the heads off in the pens that means an owl is on the prowl – birds with gnaw marks mean we’ve got to start looking for a raccoon. We have occasional problems with foxes and coyotes. The bigger predators can be trapped and removed.
The most important thing to remember is to stay vigilant. Keeping inside areas where there is food clean, keeping traps out and bait boxes filled keeps vermin at bay in the barns. Set up a gravel perimeter around the barns.
For the outside pens, keep everything in good repair to keep the pheasants in so you aren’t attracting hawks. Keep the top nets taut so you don’t have birds getting stuck if they are flushed up which makes them easy prey for owls and watch for digging around the outside of the pens which indicates the presence of four-legged predators.