Our breeder flock was laying well up until about 10 days ago. We were getting over 10,000 eggs a day when the heat wave hit. During hot periods (especially when it does not cool off in the evenings) our pheasant hens eat less, and subsequently lay less. Our production dropped from the 10,000 eggs/day to 2,000 eggs/day within a week.
Our birds in the pens can handle the heat quite well, primarily because there is adequate vegetative cover in the pens for the birds to get out of the direct sunlight. But our cover in our pens really suffers with the combination of high heat and no rain. Thank goodness we can irrigate – but we are only set up to irrigate about 1/2 of our pens.
Shipping day old chicks in oppressive heat is difficult. We put less chicks in each box and put Styrofoam under the chick pads and but a Gatorade type jell in the boxes for the chicks to eat, but the high temperatures are still a stressor. For the chicks we ship via the USPS, we arrive at the Minneapolis Air Mail Facility a few hours before dawn with the hope that the chicks depart on the first flights of the day (when the temperatures on the tarmac are still reasonable). The flights take the chicks to the airport nearest to their destination and the chicks are then transported by truck to the local post office. We had surprising good luck shipping chicks even in the heat, but 90′s are more doable than temperatures in the 100′s. With the extra steps we took to help the chicks on the journey we did O.K. with our shipments last week.
Mainly because of the drought, but compounded by the record heat, commodity prices are spiking. We booked 85% of our seasons feed needs, and thank goodness as feed prices have increased $40/ton in the past month. The effect here is that eventually these increased costs have to be passed on to our customers. We’ve got this year covered, by contracting the feed at lower prices.