It isn’t easy transitioning birds from the barns indoors, to the pens outside. Although we like to have a little bit of cover started in the pheasant pens when we move the birds out, sometimes the weather doesn’t completely cooperate. We do a couple of things to lessen the shock for the birds when they move from the inside to the outside.
Cover is grown in the pens, leaving a five-foot lane down the center, and a perimeter around the sides of the pen so the birds have some open area. The birds use the open spaces to dust themselves, and a little bit of cover in those areas also prevents muddy tails.
You can’t put too many birds in a pen without cover because that will actually prevent the cover from growing. A general rule of thumb when we are starting out in a pen without cover or with just a bit of cover, is 50 square feet of space per bird – that’s about half the density that we will end up with in the pen. We also find birds acclimate quicker if we start out with fewer birds.
When the birds are first transitioned, we put lots of straw in the corners and under the huts. The straw in the corners prevents them from bunching up and hurting themselves, and the straw under the huts provides insulation. When it gets warmer, the huts provide shade and the birds hunker down into the dirt to cool off.
We put plenty of food and water out in the beginning, and it’s put out in the huts so it’s readily available for all the birds. We put cracked corn around the perimeter because it provides a quick energy boost for the birds and that helps with the stress of the transition, too.
We try to transition out when we know we have at least three days without rain, but sometimes that’s not possible. The huts, the straw, plenty of food and water all around the pens, and the cracked corn combine to help with the transition, since the weather doesn’t always cooperate.
Pheasant Pen Transitioning