MacFarlane Pheasants started a program many years ago as a way to give back to the community and help young people. The program’s focus was to provide work experience for middle and high school students who would benefit from learning work skills.
The cooperative program between MacFarlane pheasants and the local schools in Janesville, WI included a teacher who came out with a few students each afternoon to help on the farm. Students were trained and supervised so that they could help with tasks around the farm, including trash pick-up along the roadways and around the farm, sweeping buildings, helping farm crews drive out pheasants for the next day’s shipments and placing shipping crates out for the next day’s deliveries. We acquired some great permanent employees through that program.
There was another group of students that didn’t have the ability to work at the farm, but had the skills to work, supervised by their teachers, on a project sorting and counting peepers for MacFarlane Pheasants, at their school. The students who worked on the peepers used it as a tool for learning. Peepers would be counted in piles of 100 by color and when 10 piles were completed 1000 peepers would be bagged up, ready to be pinned.
Last season, a group of students at Franklin Middle School and one at Craig High School got paid for sorting and counting our peepers. We place peepers on almost 500,000 birds each season so it is a huge task to prep the peepers. This cooperative program with our local schools has been a huge help for us to be successful each year and a wonderful opportunity for students to have an important work experience. Students used the money they earned for a variety of things, including school field trips or other school activities. It has been a win/win experience!
What Are Peepers?
Peepers, also known as blinders, are small devices that are put on our pheasants’ beaks to block their forward vision and prevent them from having a direct line of sight to other birds. The pheasants can still see well enough to eat and drink. The peepers are very helpful in keeping our birds from pecking each other’s feathers and potentially damaging skin, which can result in infection. Peeping also allows our staff to put more birds per square foot in a pen, because when the pheasants are unable to see directly in front of themselves, they are less aggressive with other birds.