While pheasants are a lot of fun, they require a fair bit of work. If you raise them for meat or release, there are different choices to consider. If you are raising them to eat, jumbo varieties are available for purchase. If release or dog training/contests are the end goal, using a variety bred to fly and grow quickly is a great idea. You can eat the smaller, faster ones as well; however, the jumbo birds do not fly well.
Once you select your birds, brooding them is the biggest hurdle. Pheasants are small and should be kept warm and dry. They also need to find food and water quickly. Maintaining the temperature in their environment at 90 degrees and the spot under the light at 95-100 degrees will keep them comfortable. Initially, using a cardboard box or plastic tub is the easiest brooder box with a small number of birds. As the bird start to grow, they will require a building that provides more space. The box should have a cover because pheasants will begin to fly at about 10-14 days. While they will not fly far, they can escape, and finding those little ones can be challenging. Monitor your birds for feather picking and be sure to feed them a pheasant or game bird feed labeled for their stage of growth.
At 6-8 weeks of age, pheasants can be transitioned from the building to the fly pens, and they are ready for blinders. Put the blinders on in the building and let them find the feed and water and get used to the new headgear. If you use blinders, move birds outside about a week after you put them on. When release is the goal, after the birds have been outside for a few weeks, you can open the door to the pen and let the birds find their way out. After the door has been open for a few weeks, most birds should be out, and you can stop feeding them in the pen. Keep feeding them in the pen until most of the birds are out because they will need time to learn to forage independently.
Pheasants are a joy to see – both during hunting season and the rest of the year. By following these basic instructions and timelines, you can raise a few of your own. With any luck, after release some of your birds will stick around your home. If you have any specific questions about pheasants or related topics, reach out to your Sioux Nation Ag Center representative, and they will help you get more information.