MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Features Intern Madison Demel

Madison Demel is a senior in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University. She is an ambitious student with a double minor in the Animal Science Industry and Business. Her major field of study is Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management.

 MacFarlane Pheasants has worked with Kansas State University for many years. While attending the Pheasant Fest in Kansas City, Madison stopped at the MacFarlane Pheasants’ booth. She swapped contact information during that first meeting and, later that week, emailed MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. to request a summer internship. Madison was invited to do her internship during the summer of 2016 and moved from Clearwater, Kansas to Janesville, WI in May of this year.

Madison expressed her enjoyment of the adventure and overall experience at the farm. “It has been a pleasure to meet such wonderful people who share the same passion and interest in game birds as I do,” she told us. She has already formed lasting friendships and the new friends have already made plans to visit, after Madison returns to Kansas.

Madison also told us that she has learned to appreciate the impact of each and every job on the farm and how crucial every job is to MacFarlane’s success. She has enjoyed learning what it is like to be part of a large scale production business and the importance of being knowledgeable about the entire life cycle of game birds.

Lastly, Madison told us that she is impressed with the positive impression MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. has made in the game bird and wildlife industries. She would like to give a shout out to everyone on the farm. She ended by saying, “I’m thankful for everyone having such welcoming arms and making my internship a memorable learning experience.”

We are so appreciative to have the opportunity to work with interns from Kansas State University. Thank you, Madison, for your positive attitude and hard work. We will miss you and expect to hear great things about your future impact on the game bird industry!

Madison Demel

MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Features Intern Madison Demel

Successful Introduction of Pheasants to a New Property

There are two different strategies for introducing pheasants to a new property. Regardless of the strategy used, it is important that you prepare your property in advance as a good habitat for pheasants. Grasslands with low to medium grasses, wetlands, croplands, brush, shrubs and idle fields would be a good start. The goal is to establish a self-sustaining population on a new property.

 Fall Release of Pheasants

  • Many hunt clubs and individuals introduce pheasants to their property in late summer or early fall.
  • They release a mix of half hens and half roosters.
  • This strategy gives birds the fall to get acclimated to the land and establish their territory.
  • Problems faced by the birds during the release to a new property include hunting pressures, predators, and surviving winter weather on their own.

Spring Release of Pheasants

  • When choosing a spring release strategy, pheasants are released in late February to early March.
  • Mostly hens are released with a few roosters.
  • This option avoids the worst of winter conditions.
  • The plan is to have pheasants breed in 30-40 days and bring off a first generation wild population the following fall.

While it is true that most folks choose the fall release option, it is a personal decision. It is a challenge to raise pheasants in the wild, but one that is satisfying and often accomplished successfully when the habitat is available.

To learn more about our chick sales or mature pheasant sales visit our website and feel free to contact us with your questions. We take pride in your success.

Successful Introduction of Pheasants to a New Property











Successful Introduction of Pheasants to a New Property

MacFarlane Refrigerated Truck

We finally got a new refrigerated truck for all of our food deliveries!!! This is very exciting and it’s also larger than our last truck.

Refer Truck














New Refrigerated Truck

Why Are Workrooms a Safety Precaution?

Workrooms are the rooms we enter before the bird rooms. Each crew member has dedicated coveralls and dedicated footwear for each bird room they enter. A water bath outside the room is used to clean mud from shoes and there is a soap mat inside to disinfect footwear before you enter the workroom. A bench is located outside the bird room to separate it from incoming traffic.

Rooms must be swept and organized daily. Right after we finish chores in a bird room we start the process of tidying up. This includes changing the footpath and mat. Once a week, we scrub, clean up any cobwebs, and clean off the control panels. When switching flocks, the rooms are completely cleaned and disinfected.

The workroom procedures are one of the many ways we prevent the possibility of disease. We have talked about biosecurity in many different situations on the farm. The use of the workroom before entering the barns is the safety precaution we take so that our employees don’t bring a virus in on their clothes or shoes.

Kristin Merriman, at would be glad to talk with you about our workrooms. If you have questions about how to keep your birds free from disease by providing a workroom for caretakers, please email her.

Why Are Workrooms a Safety Precaution















Why Are Workrooms a Safety Precaution?


All About Barn Housekeeping at MacFarlane’s

It is extremely important to maintain a clean, dry environment for our birds to live in while they are in our barns. Usually the housekeeping is done during our regular barn chores. However, sometimes the cleaning takes a little longer, so we add an extra crew member to speed up the process. That might mean adding a time in our schedule for barn housekeeping after lunch and before afternoon barn checks. Once a barn is flagged for housekeeping, we make it a priority to get it done right away.

Housekeeping is done whenever it is needed. Sometimes it is needed daily, especially in A rooms where the chicks are younger. Usually once a week is enough to keep our barns clean. Air movement and the humidity level in the outside air has a huge effect on air quality in the barns. Hot, humid weather for an extended period of time requires more time on barn housekeeping to ensure a comfortable living quarters for the birds.

Housekeeping Chores

  • We top dress with Drygiene and Mistral in any damp areas. Drygiene and Mistral are powder products that absorb moisture and also reduce ammonia. If any areas are too wet for good control with dressing, we remove the wet dressing and start over.
  • To keep bedding in good shape and humidity down, we top dress the areas that seem to get dirty more. We locate problem areas and top dress with the absorbent powder, then dress with wood shavings in the A-rooms and straw in the B-Rooms.
  • Spilled feed also can increase humidity (and pests). We clean all spills immediately.
  • We make sure the ventilation system in the barn is running at full capacity.
  • We clean up all water spills and fix leaks right away.

Humidity can be a huge problem in barns. Think about how uncomfortable it is for humans when it is humid. We want the best living conditions for our birds, so keeping humidity down is a daily concern. Birds grown in overly humid conditions can develop chronic health conditions like septic lung and other respiratory infections. Proper ventilation, housekeeping, and diligence goes a long way in keeping humidity down in our barns. The hotter and more humid the weather, the more work it takes to keep the barns a healthy living environment for our chicks.

If you want to try your hand at raising pheasant or partridge chicks in a controlled environment you can contact Brian Davis at for expert advice. Keep an eye on our website for chick specials! Our manual on chick rearing can be downloaded for free if you want to read up on raising healthy chicks!

All About Barn Housekeeping at MacFarlane’s






















All About Barn Housekeeping at MacFarlane’s

The How and Why of Peeping Pheasant Chicks

Pheasant peeping is typically done when chicks are 5 weeks of age. We want to keep them as healthy as possible and chicks tend to pick at each other. That sounds almost simplistic, but we are talking some serious picking here! They will pull out feathers and grab onto skin with their sharp beaks with an intensity that can lead to infections and even death.

Therefore, in order to prevent this from happening, we install peepers. Peepers are blinders that keep the chicks from seeing straight in front of themselves and they keep the birds from picking at each other. When someone first learns about peeping, they usually ask if it hurts the chick. The best answer I have heard is that it compares to getting your ear pierced, but with the importance of a flu shot!

The number of chicks that might be peeped in a day depends on how many 5 week old chicks we have placed in a barn. The number ranges from 4500 chicks to 20,000 chicks. The average person on our peeping crew can peep about 2000 chicks a day, so in a barn with 20,000 chicks we will have about 10 people. In smaller barns, 4-6 people can get the job done.

3 Steps to Setting Up The Barn For Peeping 

  1. Put up a wall of panels to separate the barn in half, pushing all of the birds to one side.
  2. Build a catch pen (sometimes more than one) on the side with the birds, right up against the panels.
  3. Crew members go into the catch pens and install peepers on the birds and send them through access doors, in the panels, to the other side. Peeped birds are on one side of the barn and unpeeped birds are on the other side. It is very important to make sure the wall is solid and you don’t get them mixed or you have a real time-consuming mess! You must also be mindful of how many birds are in the catch pen at a time. Too many chicks can result in piling in the corners and possible suffocation.

If you would like to see a peeper installed, watch our video on our website. Contact Rich Thomas at if you have questions about our peeping process. We are always glad to help you with any pheasant related questions.



















The How and Why of Peeping Pheasant Chicks

Information Technology at MacFarlane Pheasants

One of the major goals of technology is to make sending and receiving information easy and efficient. We often forget there is someone behind the scenes who makes sure the internet stays running, backs up and reboots the system, keeps everything running smoothly and is the main contact to the IT company we use.

Rachel Atherton is responsible for Information Technology (IT) on our farm. The responsibilities are varied and Rachel will be the first to tell you that variability is what makes the job so interesting. She helps fix computer issues and teaches people quick ways to use programs that make their communication needs easier to accomplish. She is self-taught, but credits her college experience and a previous job with helping to prepare her for her current responsibilities.

Rachel indicated that she really enjoys information technology and problem solving. The combination of enjoyment for the work and the ability to problem solve are key attributes in the technology department.  Let’s take a look at some of the tasks that are part of her responsibilities.

 Job Responsibilities

  • Ordering computers that meet our business needs
  • Working with the IT company, Startech, to get employee accounts set up
  • Making sure employee computers are set up correctly and connected to the internet
  • Making sure employee computers are on the network and connected to a printer
  • Setting up phone extensions and assigning phone information, using a website
  • Working with Startech to activate employee phone extensions
  • Assigning email addresses through Startech
  • Assisting employees in accessing their email directly and through their cell phones
  • Problem solving when equipment isn’t working correctly

In addition to the IT responsibilities, Rachel works with Foremost, the company that handles our website. With their assistance, she gets our articles posted to the blogs. If you have questions about information technology at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc., please feel free to email Rachel at  We always enjoy hearing from you!

IT Director








Information Technology at MacFarlane Pheasants


How Do We Communicate Efficiently?

Communication on the different MacFarlane Pheasant farms is a high priority. Two-way radios are a form of communication we have used for at least 25 years. We added a repeater about 15 years ago.

The repeater is a special device in modern communication. Traditional portable radios had a more limited coverage area. The repeater is a device that acts as a link between two radio operators to cover a larger area. The repeater transmits a two-way radio call at another frequency, in real-time. Our repeater has increased our coverage with the radios to 5 plus miles.

We rarely have problems with our radios now that we have a repeater. But, if there is a problem it is while transmitting from inside a building. We walk outside and the problem is solved!

Radios are important for a couple of reasons. They save both time (traveling across the farm to communicate) and money (gas, oil, and wear and tear on vehicles). As you probably already know, time and money are essential to every business. The pheasant business is not an exception!

Feel free to contact Chris Theisen at if you would like to learn more about our radio systems. If you have other questions, please contact us on our website. We are committed to providing you with up-to-date information about the game bird business.

Repeater 2 Repeater















How Do We Communicate Efficiently?

10 Ways To Get the Most Out Of Brooder Barns

MacFarlane Pheasants has 9 barns on our Janesville, Wisconsin farm and 2 barns in Milton, Wisconsin. The barns range in size from roughly 4,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet. These barns are obviously an enormous asset and we have to be sure they are cared for accordingly. About 500,000 birds go through the barns each year! Here are 10 ways we work to get the most out of our barns on a daily basis:

  • Attentive staff is the #1 priority. They provide the care for our chicks and check for system failures or weak points, continuously.
  • Proper washing and disinfecting is necessary to keeping birds healthy.
  • Maintaining equipment eliminates emergency situations.
  • Keep the correct number of chicks in the barns (4 chicks per square feet at 0-3 weeks and 2 birds per square feet at 3 to 6 or 7 weeks, which is when they move outside).
  • Keep feed and water space available and in working order.
  • Ventilation systems must be functioning at 100%.
  • Brooders ad heaters must be working at 100%.
  • Staff is diligent in providing the best care for birds.
  • Check out all equipment for bird care every time a barn is entered.
  • Communicate with managers and crew member so that all responsible staff are aware of any and all actions taken.

Brian Klein at or Brian Davis at can answer your barn questions. Feel free to e-mail them directly and in the meantime enjoy this video of brooder barn construction. You can get a real feel for the enormity of the operation!

ways to get the most out of brooder barns















10 Ways To Get the Most Out Of Brooder Barns

Intern Keagan Strange Carries on the Internship Tradition Between MacFarlane Pheasants and Kansas State University

Keagan Strange learned about the internship program between Kansas State University and MacFarlane Pheasants three years ago. Bill MacFarlane came to the University and spoke to students about the gamebird business and the internship program that Bill and others had founded 8 years ago.

Keagan said, “It was my first year at KSU and I will admit that I only had a mild interest in the industry at first, but after taking a gamebird production class, it was clear to me that’s what I wanted to specialize in. I can honestly say that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made!”

Keagan is now a senior in the Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management program at KSU. January 4, 2016 was Keagan’s first day at MacFarlane Pheasants and each day has been an opportunity to grow in knowledge and experience. He started in the breeder selection department, followed by the process crew, the office, the hen barn, bird care, the hatchery, the brooder crew and finally the process crew again. The finish date for Keagan’s internship is July 29, 2016. Then it is back to Kansas State for his final year of college.

Keagan is taking both skills, memories and gratitude back to Kansas State.

  • “I was fortunate enough to help with and attend the 2016 Gamebird Seminar at MacFarlane Pheasants. I met with and networked with some fantastic people from all over the world.”
  • “I learned a wealth of knowledge in every department.”
  • “I would like to thank everyone at the farm for being so open to questions and their willingness to share information.”
  • “Most of all, I would like to thank Bill for his generosity and for providing such an opportunity.”

Thank you Keagan for your time at MacFarlane Pheasants, we wish you all the best in your career.

Keagan Strange













Intern Keagan Strange Carries on the Internship Tradition Between MacFarlane Pheasants and Kansas State University