Getting pheasants for the wild

Discussion in 'Pheasants and Partridge (Chukar)' started by OrganicFarmWife, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 21, 2015
    No where Nebraska
    I could get a bunch of young hen pheasants for free (Father knows a guy who only wants the roos). I would love to take them and try to get them back into the wild. We have very good pasture, and a few wild Pheasants. I was hoping to just revive the population that has been decimated. I fully understand my losses will be high.
    I have read I cannot keep them with chickens, does this include in a barn where the chickens were kept? How old do the hens need to be before I begin Turning them loose? What else do I need to know?
  2. Tony K T

    Tony K T Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    The states really frown on this so I would keep it on the down low.Though many think it's a good idea fish and game thinks it contaminates the wild population.Even though most of the wild population is from birds that fish and game released.
    In N.H.,Tony.
  3. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota
    I am not sure I understand why you want to do this.

    If you have a "native" population of pheasants it is most likely close to the maximum the area will support. Either the wild feed, cover or predators are limiting the number in your area.

    When I was under 10 we had lots of pheasants in our area. That was in the late 50's and early 60's. Since that time we have none. We tried several times to "establish" pheasants in the area. Many neighbors tried together each releasing hundreds each.

    Everytime it has failed. The area has changed. Windbreaks were removed, crops became less diversified. Predators adapted to the changing of farm to near suburban land.

    I have no idea where you are, however, I think you should rethink the whole plan. If you really want to try it go for it. But go for it with your eyes wides open and knowing it will most likely fail.

    Pheasants were an introduced species and are not native to the USA. They have failed to adapt to the changing landscape. Even South Dakota releases millions of pheasant each year to the wild to keep people thinking it is the pheasant capital. Without those releases they would die out there too.

    Good luck, sorry to be a pessimist on this.
  4. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 21, 2015
    No where Nebraska
    lol I did wonder about that. Well I am fairly confident that the wild ones we have now are from a farm to the north of us so I won't feel to bad for it. I figure natural selection will take care of most of the problem.
  5. Woofless

    Woofless Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 7, 2010
    Released pheasants have a very low survival rate in the wild, even when they're released onto game farms and preserves which are expressly designed to provide ideal year-round habitat for birds. In SD there are a lot of commercial pheasant hunting preserves, licensed by the state and allowed a longer hunting season & higher bag limits with the stipulation that the preserve has to release a certain number of pen-raised birds onto the property each year and also must identify whether all birds killed are pen-raised or wild, and keep a tally on how many of each are killed. (Pen-raised birds are supposed to have enlarged nostrils from wearing blinders or they'll have one of their toes clipped off when they're tiny chicks, one or the other is a required means of identification if you're releasing native gamebird species in this state.)

    And even on these preserves, where upwards of six or seven THOUSAND pen-raised birds every year are set free on huge acreages with abundant food plots of corn and milo, fruit-tree rich shelterbelts, open grasslands and thick cozy sloughs, where serious predator-control measures are in place all year round, where no crops are harvested or hayfields mowed, where nobody even lets their bird dog go for a fun run in a field during nesting season for fear of disturbing hens or hatchlings...basically a place designed to give even the dumbest, fattest, slowest pen-raised prairie parrot in the world, the absolute best chance at survival that he could possibly ask for...

    ....the overall statistics still suggest about a 3% survival rate for pen-raised birds on managed habitat, not taking into account the ones killed by the hunters.

    So, it would stand to reason that the survival rate would be dramatically lower- if not nonexistent- for birds released into areas not being managed for gamebird habitat. And it is- even wild bird numbers will suffer in areas where farm/harvest practices leave zero cover or food source for birds in winter.

    It's a nice idea- and would be great if releasing birds would help boost wild populations but unfortunately, doesn't seem to be the case. Even if you're getting the hens for free, feed costs would still be significant (phez need a 28% protein gamebird formulated feed for something like the first 8 weeks of growth? Not cheap feed and not available just anywhere). I believe 18 weeks is when pheasant producers consider them "mature" so that's 18 weeks of feed. Not to mention other assorted challenges with pheasants- they require far more space per bird than most other gamebird species or they'll beat the crap out of each other, their brooder temp and lighting has to be just right especially when young, even hens can have issues with picking/cannibalism as they mature and may need to be peepered- a huge job if you have a lot of birds- I know a guy who has to devote a whole Saturday and his whole family's help for a 2000 bird flock when "peeper day" arrives. And yes, they can pick up diseases from chickens- most concern is from direct contact or airborne but things can linger in the environment- so any housing that previously held chickens should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before bringing the phez in. I've had two or three offers to try my hand at raising a crop of pheasants (I was commercially raising quail/chukar with no problem)- the profit margin for roosters IS quite high, something like $8 per bird profit a few yrs ago when I ran the numbers, but like HECK was I going to put up with four and a half months of the hassle required to get there, lol.
  6. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 21, 2015
    No where Nebraska
    @Woofless I have, since I posted this, found out that my Quail population is very high. As Quail are the native bird anyway I am less enthusiastic about the pheasants. We own a good chunk of land and it is mostly native grass pasture, father in law has been organic since the 70s. I may still give it a go if they are given to me, but I am happy with the Quail and Prarie chickens.

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