Late Season Pen Management
On subject of pen management of pheasants, I am going to lay out some of the ideas and protocols we use here – both earlier season and late. We brood our early in brooder barns, middle and late season chicks the same way – same feed, bird density etc. But we use very different pen management techniques for our early, middle or late season birds.
Early birds are naturally more aggressive and when we move out early birds, our early cover usually is short and sparse – so for our very first birds into the pens – we put them at a higher amount of square feet per bird. Now that may seem excessive – but all the pens are empty anyway – so why not use them. If you put your first birds into short cover at 20 sq ft – they will destroy the cover. By putting the birds out @ 35+ sq ft – the cover grows in the pens with the birds anyway. When we eventually get all the pens filled at 35+ sq ft – we go back and double the birds up – we have ½ of the farm open and ready for birds.
Once we have filled all the pens at full density – we have it worked out that we are shipping mature birds – so now we are putting birds out of the barn into pens that have been used (what we call them is “second use pens”). When looking at cover in second use pens – don’t look at the cover like a human, get down on your knees and look at what birds see – which usually isn’t much cover down low. Sometimes we drive thru the pens with a tractor, knocking over the cover in the second use pen – making more “low” cover.
Cover varies in pens.
I know some pheasant raisers spray herbicides in their pens, killing everything and all they have is corn. Others let whatever grow. We think lambs quarter is the best cover and if we see that coming we leave it. Otherwise we plant corn. We are very stingy on spraying weed killers. We allocate .7” of feeder space per pheasant and .1” of water space per pheasant.
These are the densities that we will use on our farm in 2010:
- First use hens – start out at 35 sq. ft. per bird
- First use cox – start out at 45 sq. ft. per bird
- Once all the pens are full – we move the birds together and
- we are now at
- Hens at 18 sq. ft. per bird
- Cox at 23 sq. ft. per bird.
- Then for second use pens we go (if cover is in ‘good’ shape)
- Hens at 25 sq. ft. per bird
- Cox at 30 sq. ft. per bird.
- If pens have ‘poorer’ cover we go
- Hens at 30 sq. ft. per bird
- Cox at 35 sq. ft. per bird.
MacFarlane Pheasants Inc.