As our Wisconsin weather changes from summer to fall, we are also in a time of transition at MacFarlane Pheasants. Our last hunt bird chick hatch, consisting of Ringneck pheasants and partridges, occurred on August 18. As a result, there are some changes ahead for our birds and our employees.
Our chicks will be on the move as they grow. They start in A-rooms, and then move on to B-rooms at three weeks. At this point, the birds are not as needy, so we don’t need as much staff caring for them. Usually at seven weeks, the birds go outside. Mature birds will fill our pens, waiting to be shipped. There will also still be younger Ringnecks and partridges in the barns until pen space opens up outside.
We maintain a first shift staff of six people and a second shift staff of three people on the brooder crew during the peak brooder season, which is March through August. Once the hatches are finished for the season, our crew’s workload lessens, and we go to a first shift staff only. Some of our seasonal employees, including college students, are finished working for the season. Our crew is versatile, though, and they begin working on other areas of the farm as the needs increase on other crews. These tasks include catching birds, taking care of birds, selecting breeders, and helping in the hen barn.
Because there are no more hatches, we no longer have to do barn turns (clean-outs and set-ups) daily. While there are still younger birds in the barns, we continue our normal chore process and barn housekeeping each day. We also maintain strict management protocol to keep the older birds in the best feather and health conditions possible. The brooder crew also helps out with artificially lighting flocks to produce early eggs. They assist in raising our white meat pheasants or house contracted partridges to keep them healthier in a controlled environment.
During the off-season, we will still be very busy! We plan to produce five flocks of white pheasants, which totals around 20,000 birds - quite impressive for an “off-season!” After completing these flocks, we will be ready to start making improvements and getting our barns ready for the next chick season, which begins the first week in March. It will be here before we know it! Watch chicksquote.pheasant.com and stay up to date on when the chicks are ready.