Looking Back a Half Century
Dave Lennox - firstname.lastname@example.org
As near as anyone can determine I started working for MacFarlane Pheasant Farm during the summer of 1959. Bill MacFarlane's uncle, Jim Adamson was the foreman and the crew consisted of about twenty five part time employees. As I look back, I am struck by how labor intensive it was to raise the birds. Each day we fed and watered the chicks in the brooder barn and brooder houses. This was all done by hand. It would take the whole crew over two hours to care for the young birds. We would then work with a group of older birds. A typical hatch would be caught at three weeks. The flight feathers of one wing would be clipped and the beaks trimmed. They would then be moved from the brooder barn to brooder houses where they would be let out in attached pens in the morning and driven back in the houses in the late afternoon.
At about six weeks the birds would be clipped, beak trimmed, and moved to an open range pen where they would stay for three weeks.They would then be caught and stubbed. Stubbing is removing the clipped feathers so new ones will grow back.
Three weeks later they were caught again and brailed. A brail is a Y shaped leather strap that was put on the wing that didn't get clipped. This prevented the birds from flying. The farm had one set of covered pens. As needed, the brailed birds would have their brails removed and be put in the covered for about two weeks before they were shipped.
If there were just one hatch of birds to care for, this process would be just fine. Multiply the steps by twenty to twenty five hatches and it is easy to see that there were always birds that needed attention.
In the late sixties major changes started. Covered pens replaced the open range pens and large brooder barns replaced the brooder houses. The birds were taken directly from the brooder barns to the covered pens. This eliminated clipping, stubbing, and brailing. Today the birds have little direct human contact until they are caught for delivery.
In 1959 there were less than five acres of covered pens. Today there are over 100 acres of covered pens with a new pen under construction. In 1959 the hatchery hatched around 50,000 chicks. This year we will hatch 1.5 million chicks. In 1959 we raised 25,000 mature birds. This year we will raise over 300,000 mature birds plus 100,000 more for meat.
As a result of constantly analyzing how we do things, we continue to fine tune procedures. We at MacFarlane Pheasants Inc. strive to produce the best birds as efficiently as possible.