Pheasants. Hybrids, cross breeds, sterility.


9 Years
Aug 11, 2010
I notice that there are some strong feelings on hybrids and crosses in the pheasant forum. I thought I might start a thread about it and see what you guys believe. On this site I see 100 opinions, on crosses, hybrids, etc....SOME CAN BE QUITE HEATED. Many hatcheries sell many varieties of ringnecked pheasants, buff, white, melanistic, jumbo, Alaskan, Kansas, etc.. You can buy a 30 ringneck assortment from Murray McMurray for about 90.00, put them in the flight pen and they will breed freely. You will get all kinds of colors and sizes. This angers some folks who insist there are purebred ringneck varieties. I'm not sure about that.
Ornamental pheasants, on the other hand are purebred, and many have a separate genus. I have a theory. I have a lone Silver rooster and am having trouble finding hens. Same with my Red Goldens, always seems to be a hen shortage at our local auction. Folks hatch their 10 online ornamental pheasant eggs, get 5 roosters and 5 hens, sell off 4 roosters to 4 different people and you have a bunch of lone ornamental roosters floating around. Ringnecked roosters are used for eating and land stocking, so no problem. The problem is that people generally paid a premium price for the ornamentals, don't want to eat them, and the ornamental roosters are mated to whatever is available and you get hybrids and a watered down gene pool.
Fertile offspring or not, is it so wrong to take my beautiful Silver Pheasant rooster and drop in a few ringnecked hens ? Add a ringnecked hen to my Red Golden pen? I would just like to hear some of the pros and cons from the ornamental crowd. I have a great deal of experience with ringnecks of many types, hunting, eating, breeding, buying and selling, but little knowledge of the ornamental pheasants. How do you folks feel ?



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Alicia G

9 Years
Sep 29, 2010
Nova Scotia
I see nothing wrong with hybrids, just as long if said birds are ever sold, they are sold as what they are.Mutts. But as far as ethics go, your dime, your time, your business right? Something I like about mutts in birds, they seem to be some of the best dinner birds


8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
The Windy City
I have to agree. You can do whatever you want. I've seen some beautiful hybrid results on this forum.

The crux is if you should ever sell them/give them away. Even if you say they are hybrids, the next (or next next, etc.) owners may not be knowledgeable or ethical and they could eventually create and sell something they advertise as purebred. Which will only pollute true purebred lines.


In the Brooder
9 Years
Dec 21, 2010
Deep South

"You can buy a 30 ringneck assortment from Murray McMurray for about 90.00, put them in the flight pen and they will breed freely. You will get all kinds of colors and sizes. This angers some folks who insist there are purebred ringneck varieties. I'm not sure about that."

What do you mean by purebred ringneck varieties? Who cares what you do with Mcmurray birds. If you mix'em up and get a pretty color good nothing wrong with it, but I agree they aren't "purebred". If you don't think there are pure subspecies of Phasianus, one being the chinese ringneck then you are crazy. I don't really care about ornamentals lol Just my opinion

following is taken from (link above)

"Misc. Aviculture Notes: The true pheasants, in pure form, are quite a rarity in aviculture, especially in the US. Over the years dur to hybridization, pure specimans of many of the available subspecies are difficult to locate. Most breeders are unaware of what pure birds of any of the subspecies should look like. Identification of females is very difficult due to many similarities. Many descriptions in literature are too vague to be of any value to the hobbyist.

There are a number of mutations that have been developed in captivity. I won't go into great detail as they are not of any importance to conservation aviculture. The jumbo and white are bred in large numbers for restaurants. The melanistic form is often seen among "wild" populations in the UK. The "Green Mute" is common in American collections. Other varieties include buff, red, pied and I'm sure many other combinations."


In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 23, 2009
The cross breeds are okay with me. I just think it's important to also maintain pure captive bloodlines of each species of pheasant, mainly because the wild populations of so many are threatened or endangered and pheasant aviculture may be our only hope in seeing to their survival as civilization continues to encroach upon and stamp out natural habitats

Tony K T

11 Years
Jul 28, 2008
New Hampshire
That's the problem in the newbie pheasant world.People can do what they want,they are their birds.I gaurantee the first ornamental pheasant you saw was a pure pheasant,so why would you want to breed anything other then pure birds?I have been raising pheasants for over 30 years and if people knew how hard it is to find pure birds,that by the way are disappearing in their natural habitat due to over building pushing predators into the pheasants habitat and destroying them,hopefully they will change their minds and breed pure birds.There are way to many people out there crossing everything up and destroying the gene pool.
It would be ashamed to hear that a species has been wiped out,which there are many on the endangered species list.But would be a good thing if this happened,is that they were enought birds in captivity to reintroduce to the wild and bring them back.Remember the buffalo?and bald eagles?Pheasants are heading in the same direction and you people JUST DON"T CARE!
In N.H.,Tony.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 23, 2009
Tony I think all of your points are valid. I don't cross any of my pheasants. But I wont sit in judgment of those friends here on BYC who cross their pheasants. Some who cross breed ornamental pheasants are experienced breeders and not "newbies."


13 Years
Jan 23, 2008
Holden, Missouri
Pardon me, stepping on a soap box:

Based on my experience in education, aviculture, & zoo keeping, most Americans care less about conservation and natural issues (although they think they do, "hey look at my hybrid car, I eat organic, I watch Animal Planet" blah, blah, blah). Education is the key. Teaching the importance that once the species or subspecies is extinct... it ain't coming back!!! It's why I do what I do. Too many Americans care about who is going to get voted off of American Idol next or how drunk Snooki is going to get than if an extremely rare (tiny) hummingbird in South America went extinct, it could take out a whole ecosystem. Who has heard of the Chytrid Fungus (now don't cheat and jump on Google!!) and the damage it's done.

I think the ethical opportunity we have as aviculturists is too maintain the birds in their pure forms as a way to keep the species in existence. China is history. The more they "advance", the lands of pheasants are going to be wiped out faster and faster. In 50 years, I believe the IUCN will list most as EW (extinct in the Wild). We don't care, Chinese products are the cheapest!! Americans complain about not having jobs and that we have the best environmental policies - well then, build the stuff here (don't we have tons of empty strip malls all over the country as new ones are built, wiping out more habitat, I think we could make those factories)!!! Holy crap, let's not forget what could happen when CNN or Fox brainwashes with Bird Flu hysteria!!

What I'd like to suggest, instead of doing it, pick up Johnsgard's Pheasants of the World and read the chart. In the past, nearly all species have been experimented with and evolutionary lines traced. Add in DNA, more is being learned.

Off the soap box:

I've been cursed, yelled at, called at strange hours, sent awful e-mails, etc., so with what I said above, it is America, Land of the Free. I was in the Army for 8 years to give you the right to DO WHAT YOU WANT. If you want to cross species, do it. I just hope you do the ethical thing and not put the bird back into the breeding population to ruin years of hard work.

Other items - study the natural history of the birds we keep to enhance how we keep them in our aviaries. Observe wild birds we have here. Take a wildlife class (I know of a company in KC that can help
) to learn more about what we can do to actually help the environment. Slapping a label on coffee is stupid - perhaps I need to repost this in a city forum!!!

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