A pheasant farm changes with the seasons. For example, after MacFarlane Pheasants hatches our final Ringneck chicks of the year in August, we then ramp up for the adult bird season. So what happens to all those hard-working brooder and hatchery managers? They move to other departments to assist in new roles. A pheasant farm is only as versatile as its employees, and how we allocate our most valuable resources has helped us continue to grow and become more efficient.
Employees switching departments is in its simplest form just makes good business sense. While we could hire multiple part-time employees to cover these seasonal roles—and we still do hire a number of seasonal employees as needed—it’s much simpler and cheaper to fully utilize the employees we already have. The paperwork is less, and it allows us to ensure quality work as the employees themselves have already been proven.
But the real benefit is enjoyed by the employees themselves. If we can solve staffing needs while also offering existing employees more hours, it’s a win-win for everyone. After all, why take on a second job when there are opportunities with the first?
Some examples of this include one employee that works in our food processing department but also moonlights on the farm catching the birds to take to the plant. He sees the birds from their most vibrant through the process of preparing them for some of the most fancy plates in the U.S. Another: one of our managers in food products and shipping also works with our pedigree program, which continues to refine the MacFarlane pheasant.
But of all the positions at MacFarlane Pheasants, no department is a better example of this exchange program than in the office, where each employee is trained in each other’s jobs. Our staff is constantly coming and going for trainings and national business travel, and because of our office staff’s versatility, the ship continues on its course without interruption. It proves that a farm can run like a machine.
Moving employees from their highly specialized jobs to new departments does require a certain break-in period. After all, learning a new job takes time. But the transition is made easier by the quality of our employees. The bird business isn’t a simple one, and our employees find their way to us through some of the best colleges in the U.S., making their acclimation to a new job much more abbreviated than you’d expect.
The reality of a pheasant farm is that there will always be busy, near-overwhelming seasons in one department followed by a hibernation of sorts. How we handle these slack times, allocating our employees to where they’re most needed, just makes good business sense for us and them.