Inbreeding and Pheasants


Jul 12, 2016
I acquired a pair of ringneck pheasants from a game bird farm about a month ago. They looked a little bedraggled when I got them but the breeder explained that they were only 5 months old so I thought that the male's tail feathers would grow out eventually because he had nothing but little stubby ones. The female was alert and active walking all over the male who would just sit with his legs folded underneath him staring with one eye (because of the blinders) down at the ground. He also leaned to the one side when on the ground. If he got excited he would jump straight up and hit his head so I tried to keep them calm and covered in the beginning. One evening I noticed the male was making a rattling sound as he was breathing so I separated the two and put him under a brooder lamp and gave him Poultry Drench mixed with water with an oral syringe, just a few drops at a time. This seemed to help him and the breathing sounds got better. He was still leaning to the side and staring at the ground. I searched everywhere for information on how to remove the blinders that were inserted through the nasal septum because I thought that this may have been the reason his breathing was still noisy. I could not find anything but how to put them on, a process which appears to be inhumane. This is banned in the United Kingdom by the way. Because I could not seem to find a way to remove the blinders without hurting him, I cut the part off that covered his eyes and left the part that had been inserted in his septum. It was hanging off kilter so I thought it may have been damaged in some way causing the noisy breathing. The female's blinders seem to be installed correctly and her breathing is fine. Eventually I moved the two of them together again but the male was still acting very docile and leaning to the side. I have never seen him eating, but apparently he was because the feed was missing each time I checked. I was feeding game bird crumbles with black sunflower seeds and millet. He was also fouling his water so that I had to change it frequently. The female doesn't do this. When they were together in a large enclosure they did not interact with each other but huddled next to each other, so it did not seem like they were fighting or one was picking on the other. One evening while trying to get them to move from the outdoor enclosure into the safe night house (raccoons are plentiful) he wallked like he always did out of the enclosure, but this time he exited through a crack and scurried into the woods and I have not seen him since. I feel bad, but he could obviously see and still seemed quite strong so that a cat would not bother him. I thought he'd eventually come back if the female was around where he could see her, but he never did and I wonder now if he wasn't the product of inbreeding. The farm where I got the pair had hundreds of birds in a large bird house but they were not able to fly, which I don't think is typical. Most farms have netted flight enclosures. I would like to try again but I wonder where I can acquire a rooster from an ethical breeder. I don't want to deal with the blinders because I would separate the birds if they fought since I only plan on having a pair. Recently, the female was sitting on some extra quail eggs that I brought into her enclosure. I thought she might eat them, but she seemed more interested in sitting on them. she has yet to lay an egg despite the breeder's claims that she was laying when I got her. Do they just stop? If so, are the eggs reabsorbed by their bodies? Is stress causing this? Her area is quite calm and safe. She stays in an outdoor enclosure which is about 4 feet off the ground. I move her to an enclosure on the the ground to forage every day and she is now fine with me handling her. She eats poultry laying pellets with regular game bird crumbles. I left out the sunflower seeds because she doesn't appear interested and I don't want to attract rodents.
You should worm them as this may be what is causing the breathing problem.They should be wormed 2 times per year.Usually when there are blinders on a bird it means there is too many birds in the pen and they are trying to prevent picking.You can't tell if they are inbred unless you can do a dna on them,but you would also need the breeder birds to do this.
Why weren't they able to fly?Was their pen too low?At 5 months old they should be flying and if he's selling them to people training their dogs he should be flushing them so they will pop when approached.
The sunflower seeds don't do much for them anyways,but if you give them the black sunflower seeds it does give them so oils that are good for them.I would switch from crumble to pellets for adult birds,but it has to be a gamebird feed still.
You may be able to cut the blinders off with wire cutters.
When you purchase new birds it is good practice to keep them separate from your other birds and worm them,and keep an eye on them for other problems.It wouldn't hurt to give them a dose of cranberry juice either,just like in humans it helps to flush them out.
In N.H.,Tony.
What type of wormer should be used on pheasants? I am only familiar with the ones given to mammals. The bird house was just a 10 x 10 foot house made of corrugated plastic roofing material and wood it was only about 6-7 feet tall. There were about 50-75 birds inside. I am feeding gamebird adult feed-it just looks like crumbles. Its called Home Grown game and poultry feed which I got at Tractor Feed, the feed for layers I feed in addition to that is pelleted.

I don't feel like I could use wirecutters to remove the blinders from the female without hurting her because she is nervous and would not allow me to mess around with her head. She may calm down in time and I will try again.

I will put cranberry juice in her waterer and see if she goes for it. They were kept far away from my other birds as I was told they tend to harass other species. I sure would like to see her start laying again. She seems healthy enough. I saw on CraigsList that the breeder is selling off the entire flock, so its good that situation won't go on much longer. Thanks for your suggestions.
I use Ivemec,but other say that safeguard is better.
That would be why they have blinders on,that size pen is good for 4 birds by my states(N.H.) requirements.Ringnecks are cannibals and I am surprised that any birds in that size pen would grow proper.Each state has requirements for ringnecks.
The cranberry juice should not be watered down.
In N.H.,Tony

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