A select group of our customers want pheasants that have been raised without peepers. The birds are flightier, and western U.S. hunters love how wild they act. There are some difficulties in raising these pheasants, and it makes the birds more expensive, but it’s doable. Here’s how we raise 20,000 non-peepered pheasants each year.
The differences between peepered and non-peepered pheasants start when the birds are young. Where typical peepered pheasants are moved from the barns to the outdoor pens at seven weeks old or even later, non-peepered pheasants are moved out at six weeks. We do this because with the increased sight of the non-peepered birds, they can get to picking at each other. Moving them out to the pens earlier reduces pressure.
The biggest difference we make in raising adult, non-peepered pheasants is increasing their space in the pens. For adult pheasants with peepers, we allot 22 square feet per bird in the outdoor pens. Non-peepered birds demand more space because otherwise they’re more likely to pick at each other, especially in their adolescent 11-14 week period. Our trial-and-error experimenting has shown 60 square feet per bird works best. Another difference is the amount of water and feed space we give. For non-peepered birds, we provide an extra feeder and extra water station in every pen. This also helps prevent the birds from picking at each other.
One of the tried-and-true tricks we use to prevent picking is to provide bales of alfalfa hay in the pens. This way the birds have something to pick at other than each other. This trick can save a lot of pheasants’ tail feathers.
We call our non-peepered pheasants “no specs,” and they’re awesome birds. They flush easily and have that wild feeling. Without peepers, though, there’s always the chance of pecking, so watch for that.