MacFarlane Pheasants raises and sells approximately 500,000 exceptionally beautiful mature pheasants each year. Pheasants are naturally beautiful birds but can also be aggressive toward each other. Before our pheasants are placed in flight pens to grow to maturity, we spend time putting peepers on each and every one of them. The peeping process protects our pheasants from each other and their naturally cannibalistic instincts. If allowed to live in large flocks without peepers, pheasants will wound each other by picking (fighting) with other pheasants. The infections these fights could cause are detrimental to maintaining the beauty and healthy life of our pheasants.
Peeping is used to block the forward vision of pheasants. Peepers are placed when our birds are between five and five and a half weeks old. We use plastic peepers of different colors and sizes. These peepers can be washed and sanitized for reuse each year. Placing a peeper involves putting a pin through the bird's naris to hold a nylon set of opaque “glasses” on the bird's face. The birds can see out the sides but not directly in front of them. The peeper is what prevents our birds from pecking and hurting each other. Crew members peep about 220-225 birds per employee, per hour, on average. We generally do not peep more than 10,000 pheasants in a day.
Peeping is a quick and low-stress event for our birds when done correctly. Usually, after being peeped, the birds will walk off and continue being social with other birds. They often find their food or water immediately. There are times when some birds get stressed from the process. If that happens, extra feed is put out and lights are always turned on high to help the birds see well and get used to the peepers. We watch them closely to ensure they are comfortable and eating and drinking normally.
Peeper recycling is reusing peepers that came off the previous season's birds after being washed and sanitized. After peepers are cut off in the fall, they are collected and sorted by color/size. They are cleaned and sanitized using a laundry washing machine. Once washed, we buy new pins and pin the peepers. Then, we inventory them by color and type for the next season's birds. About 10-15% of previous season's peepers are lost/damaged so we do need to buy some new peepers every year. We buy our new peepers from Dorris game farms, but at least 80% of our peepers are reused season to season.
If you would like more information about peeping please feel free to contact Brian Davis. He can answer your questions related to raising healthy pheasants with the use of peepers.