The White Pheasant Breeding Program is headed up by Research Manager, Kate Rollette. Her job includes hatching and raising white pheasants to advance the pedigree breeding stock and meet the growing needs of our Food Products Division. She recently shared her thoughts about the unique responsibilities employees have in the Research Department. Kate makes sure that each new employee has the training they need to assist in handling the 5000+ birds that must be handled each week.
Responsibilities in the Research Department are unique because employees work with birds of all ages (chicks to mature) Responsibilities for insemination and data collection mean that birds are handled more frequently than in barns or flight pens.
New employees are trained in multiple aspects of the barn so that they know all of the tasks related to the department. Kate works directly with all new employees to make them feel comfortable in the new position.
• Tour of the facility
• Overview of all jobs in the department
• Initial training in feeding and basic chores
• Work with a partner to progressively learn new skills
• Start by learning to handle smallest to largest birds
The Hen Barn houses day old chicks up to mature birds. It just makes sense for new employees to start working with the smallest birds first. It is easier to establish good bird handling skills with the chicks. In addition to the age of birds, handling skills improve with the complexity of the tasks performed. In the Hen Barn, new employees will start with moving birds from one place to another and progress to jobs like weighing the birds and artificial insemination.
Developing a solid base of skills and information is very important. Each new employee learns at a different pace and that is ok! It generally takes a month or two before new employees are comfortable handling birds of all ages. The most important attribute for new employees is recognizing the importance of quality over speed so that birds are handled properly.
We are lucky enough to have employees from other parts of the farm that help in the Research Department when their work slows down. Their help is top-notch because they have experience handling birds and working in a fast-paced environment.
New hires are not required to have previous poultry handling experience, though it can be helpful. Kate is most interested in an employee’s open-mindedness, willingness to learn new skills, and willingness to ask questions when they need help.