Pheasant Brooding Questions MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc

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Brooding Support and FAQ

MacFarlane Pheasants Inc. prides itself on its impeccable customer service. Any questions that you may have are important and we will do our best to answer them. Below are a few commonly asked questions. Each area of the rearing process has its own individual page to better organize and facilitate your search and our response.

Contact information:

Troy CisewskiMadFarlane Employees
Brooder Manager
Phone: 800-345-8348 ext. 21
Fax: 608-757-7884
E-mail: [email protected]


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What age do you peep your birds?


We peep our birds at 30-35 days of age. It can be done at four weeks of age but the better results are achieved when peeping is done later. Watch our pheasant peeping video for more information.

What age do you move your birds outside?


Our birds are moved outside at about 6-8 weeks of age. When the birds are moved out, they need a window of about 2-3 days of good weather with the smallest amount of rain. These birds will need to adjust to the wind, rain, dew, and adjusting temperatures that are presented outside of a controlled environment. For more advice on transitioning pheasants click here.

What square footage can I use for my birds in the barn?


For the first three weeks we raise our birds at 4 birds per square foot. From 3 - 6 weeks we give them .7 square foot per bird. At maturity they will need 55 sq. ft. per cock and 40 sq. ft. per hen without peepers. If you would put peepers (blinders) on them, use 30 sq. ft. per cock and 20 sq. ft. per hen.

What water spacing do you use in your barns?


We use one satellite drinker for every one hundred birds placed at day old and then one “plus-one” water for every 250 birds after 3 weeks of age.

What are the keys to brooding pheasants successfully?


The three keys to successfully brooding gamebirds are heat and air flow, lighting, and food and water placement.

  1. Air movement and heat are one and the same. Too little air movement can cause damp bedding and result in chilled birds just the same as too much air flow can cause chilled birds. The proper air movement and heat will balance out and provide a room that has minimal smell and low humidity.
  2. Lighting is used at our farm in place of rings. Birds are attracted to brighter lights and hang out near them. By not using a ring, the birds can find their own comfort zone. Also, proper lighting, whether through the use of dimmers or timers, can reduce cannibalism and resource competition.
  3. Food and water placement should never be under the brooders. These items should be placed 18-24” from the edge of the brooder. This keeps the items from becoming too hot and also keeps the birds from hanging around under the brooders and getting dehydrated. During the first few days, fill the room with feed and water.

What type of brooders do you use?


We use Maywick and Sierra pancake style brooders. Our brooders have the ability to turn on and off or high and low depending on the controls we are using. We also use 4 bulb brooder lamps for our partridge.

How do you water your birds at day old to a week?


We use a variety of solutions depending on the time of year, size of the barn, and the feasibility of the solution. Gallon water jugs are used in the partridge area during the early months since we can not heat the lines leading to the houses. In the pheasant operation we use nipple lines and satellite drinkers with siphons. The nipple line allows us to have an enclosed drinking system free of dust. The satellite drinkers allow us to get the birds used to the open waters they will be using the rest of their life.

What feeder spacing do you use in your barns?


When they are young we place feed flats around until about seven days of age and then we use our automatic feeders. We try to stay at about .3-.5 linear inches per birds.

What temperature do you start your birds at?


We try to start our birds at 95 degrees. A more in depth answer would be 100 degrees directly under the stove, 95 degrees at the edge or a foot from the edge of the stove, and 88-90 degrees at the edge of the room. This allows the birds a chance to find their comfort zone. We do not use rings to keep our birds near the heat because of the chance of overheating.

How do you water your birds at day old to a week?


We use a variety of solutions depending on the time of year, size of the barn, and the feasibility of the solution. Gallon water jugs are used in the partridge area during the early months since we can not heat the lines leading to the houses. In the pheasant operation we use nipple lines and satellite drinkers with siphons. The nipple line allows us to have an enclosed drinking system free of dust. The satellite drinkers allow us to get the birds used to the open waters they will be using the rest of their life.

What type of feed do you use?


We use 30% protein, pre-starter, fine crumble from days 0-21 days of age. 26% starter crumble is used from days 22-49 days of age.

What do you use for bedding?


Soybean straw or wheat straw. If it is chopped it will give you more surface area for absorption.

More tips: During 1st week, take out the wet spots every 3 days and top dress. Completely change as needed. Straw bedding should be chopped 3 - 4 inches long. Do not use peat moss for bedding. If chicks eat it and drink water, the peat moss expands and the chicks will die.

The Best Pheasant Bedding

Why we do not recommend wire brooders or wood chips

BOTH put too much stress on the chicks. Shipped chicks are in the box on paper pads for 1 - 1 ½ days. Their natural instinct is to peck at the floor/ground when they are hatched - so they get used to the box. When put on wood chips, they just keep on pecking at the floor and ingest the wood chips. They are very hungry after being in shipment and will eat the first thing they see: wood chips!! On the other hand, if you hatch your own and put them right onto wood chips, they are not as hungry (the egg sack is still nourishing them). They are more selective and will look around for feed and not eat the wood chips. This same type of stress on shipped chicks applies to wire brooders: after being in a box on paper pads, they cannot adjust well to the wire bottomed brooders.


How much feed will it take to raise the birds?


It takes approximately 100 lbs. of feed to feed 50 chicks for 6 weeks. This is 2 lbs of feed per bird for the 1st 6 weeks. Then from 6 - 20 weeks of age each bird will eat 1 lb. per week. So, from 0 - 20 weeks each bird eats about 16 lbs. of feed. Call your feed dealer to estimate total cost.

Why do you clip the wings on your birds?


We clip wings on young birds at approximately three to four weeks of age. We do this for two reasons. One, during the day we let the birds out into small flight pens with one inch netting and if the birds were allowed to fly they would be able to fly through the netting. The second reason is for the safety of the birds. If the heat lamps and lighting system in your brooding area are suspended, the chances that they will get broken and cause a loss of heat increases as the birds get older because they are able to fly.

If you are able to limit their flying capabilities for the short and critical period before they are able to regulate their own body heat, you will not have to worry about such accidents.

We also clip our breeder’s wings to prevent them from hurting themselves. Our breeders are very valuable to us; they are hand selected. Because of this they are handled and released more often than other birds and we do not want them to fly into a post or fence and hurt themselves.

When clipping the wing it is important that you do not cut a great amount of the primary and greater coverts. We usually use this line as our cutting line. (See Diagram) Only one wing needs to be trimmed to prevent the bird from flying.


Tips to ensure good survival when you receive your chicks

In the beginning of the year, the phone rings every day with questions from two or three new customers who want information that will help them in preparing for the arrival of their day-old pheasant chicks. Their excitement and curiosity are enjoyed by those of us who return their calls. Excitement, however, can be short lived if the main needs of a hatchling are not being met in the correct manner. In the next couple of paragraphs I will touch upon the importance of temperature, food and water placement, lighting and air flow.

The first step in receiving young birds is to be prepared at least two days before arrival. When you are prepared early, you have the chance to experiment with the combination of heat and air flow (which will be talked about later), and you will also make fewer mistakes than when you rush to set up.

Upon arrival, the room where the chicks are to be placed should be approximately 100°F directly under the brooder. The temperature at the edge of the “ring” which is created by your heat source should be about 93 F. Around the edge of the room the temperature should be 88-90°F. This temperature should be held for at least the first five days. If the temperature goes much higher, the birds may tend to refrain from eating and drinking. Overheating a chick within the first week can often cause disease problems later. Chicks that do not eat properly are not as strong as they should be and this leaves the door open for sickness. It is very important that the heat is monitored closely for these first few days because they are the most critical for the birds’ survival.

Water and feed should be placed in close proximity to the heat source. (Be aware that if the water becomes too warm the birds will not drink.) If you do not receive a large number of chicks, you might want to try dipping their beaks in water. Also, you might want to lay out pieces of cardboard and place feed on them for the first few days. This will aid the birds in finding the water and feed. Once again the first few days are the most critical. If the birds are not able to find feed and water they will either starve out or their growth will be stunted from malnutrition.

Everyone knows that heat, food and water are essential for a chick’s survival; however, lighting is just as important. Proper lighting can decrease starve-out ratios by increasing the activity of the birds. It also provides the birds with the space that they need. When lighting your barns, try not to think of the spotlight method that you see at a theater, instead think of an evenly lit gymnasium where every inch can be used for its designated purpose. Your birds need to see the feed, water and heat, but they also need the ability to retreat from the heat if they become too warm. Proper lighting allows young chicks to still find food and water even if they move away from the heat. Do not forget to reduce the level of lighting after the first seven days. Pheasants then tend to become very aggressive and cannibalistic.

Air flow is the last of the major components needed in starting your birds right and maintaining their health throughout their stay in your barns. Air flow is important at any stage of a bird’s life: indoors or out. The importance increases with the number of birds and the amount of space that they have. It is important for two reasons. It brings in fresh air and takes out dusty stagnant air. It also cools the birds by allowing their bodies to breathe. Just think about a hot day without a breeze - then a hot day with a breeze. Then you will understand what proper air flow does for the well-being of the birds.

These 3 or 5 areas of concentration: heating, food and water placement, lighting and air flow, are not the only issues that might come your way. They will, however, give you a solid base to work with in raising strong healthy chicks.

Download a free copy of our Rearing Guide for more infromation on prepping for your birds.