Spruce Grouse Care Guide.

Discussion in 'Pheasants and Partridge (Chukar)' started by Akronic, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Akronic

    Akronic In the Brooder

    Jan 4, 2011
    Hello, I am new to the forum and i noticed there has been some interest in grouse. and not much solid info on care, raising, feedin, breeding. where i live we have lots of Spruce grouse and they even like to check out the ringnecks at my friends house. so ive decided to try to keep some, probably starting w/ farm raised and then try to breed some wilds into them to hopefully increase their immune sytem so they can handle bein on the ground more w/o worring about parasites and illness. ok so this isn't my guide but it came from a guy who has been raising grouse for almost 20yrs. k here it goes let me know if it helps any of you grouse fans. one thing to remember is when this was sent to me i couldnt get some of the pics to load. i think my version of Microsoft Word is too old. with that said ENJOY!!!


    Keeping and breeding those wonderful spruce grouse.

    We are going to discuses the way we approach keeping spruce grouse ALIVE and WELL for many years.
    We have some birds that are going on 6 years old. Some people will say that grouse are imposable to keep alive and that they will die of sickness. They would be right and wrong.
    Grouse are far from imposable but believe me they do get sick. Every bird we own has been sick a list one time in its life. No different than people, you just have to know what to look for.
    We find that preventing health problems is more effective than trying to treat them after the fact.
    Here are some of our recommendations from many years of trial and error!


    I would recommend that you keep your spruce grouse in separate pens during the non breeding times
    A good space for a single spruce 4’X6’ we have them in 4’x4’ spaces but I will not build that small
    of a pen anymore. We prefer our new pen design 5’wide’ X 8’ long X 6’ tall under a solid metal roof.
    They get plenty of sun light through the walls. Below the metal, we have 2nd layer of shade cloth. Leave about 8” of free space so they can not hit the metal roof.
    Please look on our web page under the aviary section to get some photos. These pens, which we are describing, are all Vinyl coated welded wire about 2-3 feet off of the ground.
    We breed both on wire and on the ground. A good size for a ground pen is about 10’X 20’ for 1 pair of spruce grouse. A good wire pen size is 4’x 6’ per bird
    We feel it is always a good idea to be able to separate them if one of them starts to chase the other one.
    They are very sensitive to stress caused from chasing . We keep most all of spruce in single pens
    During the winter months.


    We believe that the diet is the most important aspect of keeping spruce grouse healthy and happy!
    We feed Mazuri maintance tag #5643 which is a 12 % protein from September 1st till April 7th.
    Then we feed Mazuri breeder tag #5639 , a 20 % protein, for the rest of the summer
    We feel the higher protein helps them go through there molt much better.
    When you order your Mazuri feed you should allow 2 -6 weeks for the order to arrive. We had Mazuri
    Change from a long pellet to a round extruded form which allows for better digestion and give better

    We also feed a lot of natural feed all year long.
    We feed Jack Pine tree branches until about the end of April. Larch is a very important food to spruce grouse. We add Larch needles when they are green and big enough for them to eat
    As soon as there are fresh blue berries leaves on the plants we feed those as well.
    In some years of heavy snow pack, we go to grocery store and buy cilantro leaves out of the produce department, cut them up very small .They love them. Dandelion leaves and clover cut up very fine also will work in the summer time to supplement their diets.
    If you do not have jack pine or larch, don’t worry you can use Scotch pine, spruce needles even fir trees will work?

    We have started feeding cut up cranberries year round as it has multiple benefits! Because it is very acidic, it helps keep bacteria a bay. You will notice, if a bird does not greet you at the door for their treat, then you have plenty of time to treat them for problem. Since the cranberries are wet this is where we add Vionate, which is a multi vitamin. A very small amount goes a long way.

    Watering: Make sure to add 1 shot glass full of Apple cider Vinegar (with the MOTHER, not distilled) to 1 gallon of water to prevent Sour Crop.

    Health and Veterinarian’s care:

    If we feel that a bird is off and we know what is wrong with them say Coccidiostat, Enteritis or Sour Crop
    How do we know?
    Signs of Coccidiostat: Yellowish to white chalky liquid droppings.
    Signs of Enteritis: Clear wet liquid dropping. Also, a dead give away, is when they have their head tucked behind there shoulder.
    Signs of Sour Crop: Liquid will start to from in crop and digestion stop and they will eventually will
    Die From choking
    We will use Neo Med 325 (Neomycin sulfate). Put a very small amount on there cut up cranberries.
    Most of the time they will still eat them, if they don’t, simply catch the bird up and force feed them the
    berries one time. After that mix Neo Med 325 in water , ¼ tea spoon per gallon of water, 8 days on, 5 days off, 8 days on again. By then you should have happy healthy bird.
    If you suspect your birds has Capillary worms then we put 1 drop of Ivermectin 1% Sterile Solution
    per pound of body weight. Put this on their tongue. Care should be taken not to give to much, as it can shut down their breathing.
    For mites, we put 4-5 drops on the back of there neck.
    I would recommend that you work with a local vet the first few times. You will want to do
    Fecal floatation, then you will know EXACTLY what your bird has and then it is easy to treat.
    The fecal floatation runs about $10.00 per floating.
    I would recommend using a vet with discretion. If you loose a bird and your gut feeling tells you that
    you could have saved that bird, then have them look at it. They should be able to tell you what caused the death then you will know for the future.
    If your bird is perfect one day and dead the next, trust me you will spend a bunch of money $150-$250.00 and they won’t find out why the bird died. Just mark heart failure in your records and move on, it is a lot cheaper.
    We would also recommend that you contact you state vet and become NPIP approved. You will then be able to do your own blood testing. It is much more affordable!

    Construction of Ground Pens for Breeding:

    A good size pen would be 10’X 20’. We take 4’tall black Anti Site Barrier and install it all the way around the aviary so that nothing can disrupt them from the ground.
    The first step is to clean the ground. We always mow the grass as short as possible. Put a heavy coat of lime down on the ground. Then we install heavy construction grade road paper or weed barrier and duct tape the seams, and then staple it to the edges of the side walls. You are trying to make a envelope for your sand. If you have trees or bushes, make sure you tape around them good.
    Now the fun begins!! Start adding your sand to about 6’ deep, it will settle to a bout 4’, more or less.
    Put some fresh cut logs in the pen.
    We put fresh cut logs in the pen every spring. We do not use logs for more than a year unless they are cedar because of bacteria. You will then install the perch and feed and water bowls.
    Spruce grouse love to nest under a log, so take two logs about 16” long and put a longer one over the top. Put some brush such as pine boughs to conceal the nest.
    Now you can add your birds and enjoy best displaying of all the grouse. The same information would apply to breeding on the wire.


    Both the Franklin Spruce and Canada Spruce grouse will breed on the wire and the ground. They are more enjoyable on the ground. I will discuses how to breed them both ways. We typically allow the male to be in the breeding pen first for maybe a week to 10 days first, it is very important that your male Gains his confidence and starts to strut before you introduce the hen. We feel this is the most important step in breeding your spruce grouse. In the wild the male always set up a territory and the hens are attracted to the males.

    Both the Canada and Franklin spruce grouse will not tolerate you messing with their nest.
    If they see you messing with their nest, they will most likely stop their laying for the season.
    I would recommend having some dummy eggs to replace them. Just let them lay their eggs in a nest!
    Some times you must intervene before she is done lying. A good reason to intervene is the temperature. Say it is very hot out as it can be in mid May, then I would go out right at dark MAKE SURE she does not see you And make the switch.
    I have been blowing out infertile spruce eggs now a while have a pretty
    Good collecting of infertile blown eggs which I then filled with 2 part epoxy they have a similarly
    Weight and perfect color match. It works the best I have found.
    We use setting hens to incubate our eggs until about 4-5 days from hatch then finish them off in the incubator.
    As with any bird 1 pair is not very effective I would recommend 2 or more pairs just because you get a male and a female that does not mean they are a bonded pair. We currently keep 10 pairs each of Franklin spruce and Canada spruce.

    Daily care and feeding:

    A single spruce is given about 1/3 cup feed every morning. We do not top off feeders ever!!!!
    There is no up side the longer the food sits out in the damp air.
    Every day any food left in feeder is thrown away which are usually only a few pellets
    We custom make food catchers that are 11”x11” 1 ½ “tall ½”, plywood bottom with a thick coat
    of exterior grade oil based white primer. A moveable lid made of 1”x1” vinyl coated welded wire, is attached. We empty the waste feed into a 5 gallon bucket marked waste feed.
    Normally late in the afternoon, we give a small amount cut up cranberries as a treat. They have come to love and enjoy this food. This is a great way tame down your grouse. Once they are in the routine they will eat out of your hands. Cleaning your feed bowls is also very important! We clean once a week we pull them and scrub them in water. Not as bad as sounds. As for water bowls during the winter months we use heated pet bowls we scrub them in place with bleach water. Keeping in mind that they are zip tied in place not easy to remove. Every 3 days or as necessary, some birds are cleaner than others.
    During the non freezing months, we use small black ½ pint plastic containers that are made for welded wire pens. We put them on the outside of the pens so they can not walk in there water supply .When tempters start to climb in to the mid 70* we add apple cider Vinegar to the water 1 shot glass full per gallon of water. Works very well to stop
    The bacteria called Sour crop which is deadly to grouse.

    Out side water bowl works well
    We go along and change the summer water bowls twice a day and replace them with clean ones we have hundreds of them. We are going to install a dish washer in our new shop building this coming summer.
    Cleaning the wire bottom pens with a wire brush is important to remove dropping build up and spray with text roll very simple.
    If your birds are on the ground we rake up every few days and put the waist into a bucket. Then we take the dropping to the garden pile.
    We use step pans with text roll or bleach water example we have 4 step pans
    On our farm we have boots just for the grouse pens we wash our tools when we are done cleaning

    Bio Security is very important.

    Hopefully this information will help all you Bird lovers.
  2. Tony K T

    Tony K T Crowing

    Jul 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Check out www.gbwf.org.Lots of info there.These are the most difficult birds to raise.Good luck and please keep us posted on your venture.
    In N.H.,Tony.
  3. BobwhiteQuailLover

    BobwhiteQuailLover Country Girl[IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.

    Sep 25, 2010
    I LOVE this post!! [​IMG]
    I want some spruce grouse some year! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  4. CDT

    CDT In the Brooder

    Jan 5, 2011
    you just are not going to learn are you you seem to wantto go backwards of what you are supose to and from what we say those are not goodfor begginers did you not see tony say that.. you want to tackle the hard ones first or atleast the ones we tell you not to i see regardless of what we advise your not going to listen so dont come cryying when you loose a few hundred dollars of a bird that u are so happy to have because of ingnorience andlack of knowledge
  5. JJMR794

    JJMR794 Crowing

    Mar 2, 2009
  6. CDT

    CDT In the Brooder

    Jan 5, 2011
    yep i was starting to figure that out i just feel so bad for these birds but i see their is nothing to do....o well some breeder will make alot i guess
  7. Robo

    Robo Songster

    Jul 15, 2010
    Sometimes she can really test your patience. I explained to her a week or two ago why spruce grouse weren't good for her. You are right we just can't win. Might as well talk to a brick. One time will explain it, but she has to ask over and over again until she finds an answer she likes. BQL has your mom taught you about researching information yet? You can't wait for an answer you like you just have to realize you are too inexpeirienced to raise anything very difficult. You have asked this question 3 times and every time I said no. I know you want to learn, but you have to take advice from expeirienced people who have dealt with them before. When we give you an answer you re-word your question and ask it again and again. You have double posted more times than I can remember. Please quit playing exotic bird breeder in your backyard. When mad scientist didn't work you moved on to rare species expert. God help all of those pheasants that will drop dead in the next few years. Once again ask questions, but only ONCE. If you want to call me a liar well I know enough to support my information so here READ this for yourself your question has already been answered by me and many others. Don't you have like 4 posts total asking the same question? I told you that they are not a beginner bird in one thread, and here is one where JJ told you. Some breeder will make a killing off of you spending your daddy's money on something that will drop dead the next day. You can't keep them in an 8x8 dirt pen with a christmas tree in the middle like you wanted to do. PLEASE ask questions ONCE and quit testing our patience.
  8. SamG347

    SamG347 Songster

    Mar 4, 2007
    I was about to post something about it as well...but opted against....no sense fighting what you can't win. The lesson for her will be an expensive one and a tortuous one for the birds.
  9. Akronic

    Akronic In the Brooder

    Jan 4, 2011
    WOW!!! hey guys im not trying to open a can of worms here.....i just wanna learn and share info........what was that all about? im guessing this is a sore subject.....these are native birds that i have been around for a most of my life observing them in the wild and temp housing them in an empty pheasant coop.
  10. SamG347

    SamG347 Songster

    Mar 4, 2007
    Akronic it had nothing to do with you. Sorry your post is great and well informative [​IMG] ...The replys were directed toward someone else who keeps jumping the gun on gamebirds and wanting them because of the looks and doesn't care about the true well being or the skill needed to keep these harder to raise species.
    1 person likes this.

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