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Like other types of animals, exotic pheasants have specific needs that need to be met in order to survive and thrive.
Please remember, this guide is a general overview of exotic pheasants. Do your research for any specific breeds that you are considering. Things to consider are climate, food, nesting, and aggressiveness. Also, check with your local Fish and Game Department for any permit that could be required to own pheasants in your area.
Good beginner pheasants are the Lady Amherst, Red Golden, Yellow Golden, and other color variations of the Goldens. The other species are more challenging and considered experienced or advanced species.
- Chick: a baby pheasant
- Juvenile: 6-12 months of age
- Yearling: 1-2 years of age
- Breeder: 2+ years of age
- Rooster: a male pheasant
- Hen: a female pheasant
- Aviary: a specially designed flight pen that allows your pheasants to live as naturally as possible while still keeping them safe from predation.
Wild pheasants should always be kept in an aviary. Pheasants are very active birds and if not kept contained will walk, run or fly off. Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your flight pen or aviary:
- It is imperative to set up your pen in an area where chickens have not previously been raised. Chickens can carry diseases that lay dormant in the soil that can affect the health and well-being of your pheasants.
- Be sure to allow at least 20 square feet of space per bird. Cannibalism can be a real issue if your pen is overcrowded.
- Provide good cover for your birds. Setting up your flight pen in an area with natural grass and weedy vegetation is ideal. If your area is bare, we recommend planting oats and/or millet.
Pheasants do need a shaded area so a few natural bushes, roofing material, snow fencing, or a tarp will do the trick in a portion of your pen.
- Your pen should be covered with nylon netting and/or wire.
- We recommend covering the sides of your pen with a combination of netting with 1” galvanized wire woven through.
- Bury your fencing 10-20" into the ground to help prevent predators from digging under it and endangering your pheasants.
- Build a sand base on top of your soil in your aviary, 4” is a suggested depth. Sand is easy to clean and disinfect. Sand can also be raked to help keep the aviary clean and it drains well. Make sure to put a border in your aviary to keep the sand in place. You can use sand sterilized for a children’s sandbox, or alternatively, you can use builder’s sand mixed with a small amount of agricultural lime to prevent bacteria and absorb odors.
- Water- Fresh clean water should be provided and available at all times.
- For Juvenile Pheasants, feed a 19% protein game bird grower.
- Adult Pheasants: Breeding age pheasants require a 20% protein game bird feed, while non-breeding pheasants only require a 12% game bird maintenance feed.
- In addition to these commercial feed recommendations, pheasants can eat grains, insects, worms, and leaves as they do naturally in the wild.
- Never feed live mealworms to your pheasants. Live mealworms can kill pheasants by attacking their stomachs. You can offer pheasants dehydrated mealworms.
When pheasants are fully feathered, they can withstand quite extreme cold temps. They will still be expending plenty of energy to stay comfortable, so constant access to their feed is necessary. Their aviary should provide a good cover from extreme snowfall and wind. During the summer months, pheasants will take advantage of the shaded parts of their aviary. Don’t be alarmed if you see them panting. Birds cannot sweat, so they pant to help stay cool.
Pheasants can be affected by three types of worms. The most common is Gape Worm followed by Caecal, and Hair Worm. Each type of worm affects different sites of the bird and cause very different issues. The best way to prevent a worm infestation is to regularly worm your pheasants every few months especially if you keep other types of poultry on your property. We recommend contacting your local University Extension Office for guidance on the best protocol for your area.
The typical breeding time for pheasants is April to June. A clutch can contain 7-15 eggs. The incubation period for pheasants is 23-25 days. A rooster will typically mate with several hens during the breeding season. Pheasant cocks can become violent or aggressive toward other birds in the aviary as the days start to lengthen but will usually calm down a bit once the hens start to lay their clutch. Pheasants are a territorial species, so it would be best to keep only one male per species in the aviary. You can mix and match species of wild pheasants, but you will want to mix species that have different nesting levels. A different primary food source should also be a consideration in mixing species. If you have multiple males of the same species, they can fight, and may even kill each other.
Most pheasants will create their nests on the ground. The nest is typically surrounded by and made from vegetation found in the area as well as feathers. The nest can be found in a depression in the ground, which may be natural, or the hen may actually scoop out herself. A pheasant’s nest can be 7 inches across and 3 inches deep. There are some pheasant breeds that will create their nest in a tree.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society
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