Celebrate MacFarlane Pheasant Employees

Raising pheasant and partridges is the easy part of our job at MacFarlane Pheasants. We hire talented employees who enjoy working outside and are knowledgeable or willing to learn about game birds. The real challenge on a game bird farm, or in any business is to figure out how to help employees be successful at their jobs.

Our mission statement at MacFarlane Pheasants is “sustained profitability focused on integrity and accountability to employees, vendors, and neighbors, with respect for our birds and the environment.” We have Town Hall Meetings with employees and owner Bill MacFarlane, every 6 months. Managers do not attend these meeting but all crew members are in attendance. This is an opportunity for employees to share their needs and concerns.

  • What equipment/tools do you need to do your job?
  • Are the processes of your job clear so that you can do it correctly?
  • What changes would you make to the farm?
  • What makes a quality/professional farm?

In order to help employees succeed we need to get to know them as individuals. We figure out individual limits and interests by being in constant communication. We set goals with individuals and teams. Our Town Hall Meetings help us to meet this goal and to understand individual mindsets and strengths.

Managers celebrate accomplishments. Sometimes it is as simple as a pat on the back, a “thank you,” or “good job.” We have also celebrated teamwork and individual accomplishments by providing lunch, going to Badger games, Mallard’s games, tubing on the lake or a day of fishing. The most important part of employee success is to have goals and have your accomplishments celebrated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate MacFarlane Pheasant Employees

Art Schumacher Keeps Our Equipment in Tip-Top Shape!

Art Schumacher is the maintenance manager at MacFarlane Pheasants. It takes a lot of equipment to operate our pheasant farm so he is a busy man. Art has worked at MacFarlane Pheasants for 10 years. Prior to that, he worked at Allied.

Art learned some of the skills needed, to be in charge of maintenance, at his prior job. But he will be the first to tell you that much of what he has learned about keeping equipment running well, he learned from hands on experience.

A typical day in the maintenance department includes maintenance checks and repairs on the equipment and vehicles at MacFarlane Pheasants. When I asked him what his major responsibilities were, he said, “ to keep equipment working.”  This man of few words does just that. Our equipment is in tip-top shape and we can thank Art for his many years of service and skill at performing his job so well.

When Art is not working he likes to golf, fish, and camp. He also likes to spend time with those most important to him, his wife Pam, his daughters, son, and 5 grandchildren.

Last but not least, Art told me that the best advice he ever got was “Practice what you preach.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Schumacher Keeps Our Equipment in Tip-Top Shape!

Game Bird Delivery Season in the United States and Canada

We have begun shipping pheasants, French partridges, Hungarian partridges, and Chukar partridges from MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. for the season lasting from the middle of August until March of 2018. Our drivers have already traveled to Canada, Montana, South Dakota, Idaho, and Colorado since the middle of August and we are just getting started! By the end of the season, drivers will have also delivered to Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, Wyoming, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Michigan. During the first week of September local customers can bring their own crates or use our cardboard boxes to pick up birds, as long as they place an order 72 hour in advance. It really is an exciting time around the farm!

We have already shipped about 100,000 birds, this year. This includes 44,000 started birds (six weeks old).  Started birds are only delivered within 8 hours of the farm.  Just to give you some idea of the magnitude of our deliveries, we can transport as many as 5000 birds in the semi we rent. It takes this much space to fill the orders from private property owners, hunting preserves, and naturalists who release our birds into the wild to repopulate an area.

Keep in mind that a spring order is recommended for the fall season in order to ensure that you get the number of birds and breeds you want. Once it gets closer to the season we call our customers to confirm the delivery date. Our coordinator schedules trucks, drivers, gets all required paperwork ready, and calls the customer to confirm the delivery date in late summer. Details of the delivery are discussed in detail with our customers so they are ready for their game birds. Every year the long cycle of bird delivery follows a similar pattern, but the season also feels brand new each year as it starts over. Delivering birds means life is good at MacFarlane Pheasants.

Please contact Sarah Baker at s.baker@pheasant.com or call us at 608-314-3461 for questions about ordering game birds or getting ready for your delivery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game Bird Delivery Season in the United States and Canada

How do we ship game birds?

MacFarlane Pheasants Inc. ships pheasants and other game birds in shipping crates built by a dedicated on-staff carpenter. Basically, we use what we call a warm weather small crate and a cold weather large crate. Recently, we began trying out the use of manufactured plastic crates.  Avian Influenza is a threat we worry about constantly. Plastic is easier to clean and least likely to hold invasive bugs or micro-organisms.

We have had a great deal of success with our shipping crates in the past. Our birds are shipped all over North America and arrive healthy and on time, but there are important factors to crate design that help us get the job done efficiently and safely.

  1. We plan enough space for the number of birds we are placing in the crate.
  2. We plan proper ventilation for the time of year we are transporting birds.
  3. We plan for loading and unloading the crates efficiently.
  4. We plan proper size/weight/handles for carrying.

We have around 3000 crates on hand at all times. The majority of them were built right here on the farm. Though we are in the midst of a transition to plastic crates, I thought some of you might still be interested in knowing about the crate design we have used for quite some time.

The primary crate we use on the farm is a wire sided small crate with a flap door at one end. The size of the crate is 24” long x 16” high. The top and bottom of the farm-made crate are made of 1/2” treated plywood. The three sides are covered with 1” square vinyl-coated wire. The flap door is hinged and hangs from a metal rod at the top of the crate. It will only push open to the inside. The wood frame of the longer sides prevents the door from opening to the outside. The birds inside the crate keep the door from opening.

Each crate will hold:

  1. 6 mature Ringneck cocks or
  2. 10 mature Ringneck hens or
  3. 15 Chukar Partridges or
  4. 15 mature Hungarian Partridges.

The large crate is 24 x 32 x 9 1/2.” This is the crate we use for rooster shipping in the winter as it has holes drilled for ventilation but not open sides. This crate will hold 10 mature roosters.

Lastly, the dimensions of the plastic crates we are using also come in two sizes and hold the same amount of birds as the small and large wooden crates.

If you have questions please contact us! We love sharing game bird experiences with you! Join us on Facebook for more game bird fun.

 

 

 

 

How do we ship game birds?

Why Can’t I own Birds if I Work at MacFarlane Pheasants?

Health and safety are topics that are always at the forefront of our planning at MacFarlane Pheasants. Health and safety go hand in hand with biosecurity. That is why it states specifically in our employee handbook that employees are forbidden to own birds of any kind. There are many backyard flocks that are not tested regularly, like our flock is, for Avian Influenza and other diseases. Interacting with a backyard flock and then coming into our flock at MacFarlane Pheasants is dangerous for our birds. The ownership of birds is one of the many biosecurity issues on a game bird farm. 

Another common issue is that diseases can be carried on your boots. That is why employees cannot wear their boots off the farm. Even if they don’t own birds but they take a walk in the woods and pick up contaminates on their boots, the worker would bring the risk back to our farm. Employees must change into their work boots as soon as they get here. Incoming delivery drivers wear booties and clean off their tires with disinfectant before entering the grounds. Even in our workrooms, each crew member has dedicated coveralls and dedicated footwear for each bird room they enter. All footwear is disinfected before workers enter a workroom. This just names a few of our precautions beyond the rule that anyone working on our farm cannot own birds of any type. 

It is sometimes difficult to find employees who are willing to work outdoors year-round and understand and follow our biosecurity guidelines. Once we find a prospective employee who is willing to do so, we ask if they own birds of any type and explain our rules regarding bird ownership and all other biosecurity guidelines. MacFarlane Pheasants offer great benefits and competitive wages. It is a great place to work. If you are interested in working here, please read more about employment and biosecurity on our blog site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Can’t I own Birds if I Work at MacFarlane Pheasants?

Testing for Aflatoxins in Feed at MacFarlane Pheasants

Aflatoxins are nasty contaminates found in feed. No animal is immune from aflatoxins. They are produced by certain molds, like aspergillus flavus. The good news is that feed companies must test for these molds regularly and constantly and we have never had to return feed because of high aflatoxins. We don’t let the testing by our feed supplier be the last test, though. We test four random feed samples on the farm per week. We have often talked about how important it is to do everything possible to insure the health of our birds. This procedure is just one of many steps we take to make our birds stay healthy. 

When we test the feed, we grind up a small sample and dissolve it in a liquid solution. We use test strips and two machines that are specifically designed to process and detect mycotoxins. In our case, we are specifically looking for aflatoxin. A small amount of the sample is placed on the test strip and incubated in the first machine. Each strip is placed in the second machine where the aflatoxin would be detected. Anything below 3 ppm is not a concern. As I indicated in the introduction to this topic, we have never had to return feed due to high aflatoxins. Our feed company does a good job and we follow up with double checking our feed at least 4 times per week. 

Kate Roulette K.Rollette@pheasant.com and Chris Theisen Chris.@pheasant.com can answer specific questions about our testing for aflatoxins and other bird health and safety questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing for Aflatoxins in Feed at Macfarlane Pheasants

Karina Rangel Interview

Karina Rangel has been working at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. since October of 2016. She was hired as a temporary employee, but by January of 2017, she was officially hired as an administrative assistant. We were so pleased to add a talented and bilingual employee to our office staff! Please enjoy our recent blog post explaining how helpful it is to have a bilingual employee on staff. 

In addition to interpreting for employees and customers, when necessary, Karina helps the rest of the office staff by answering the phone, keeping track of inventory, ordering products for the store, keeping it neat and tidy, and assisting customers. She also helps with gift packs, assigning purchase orders, keeps track of the daily in/out board, takes orders, creates the health certificates and makes sure payments are all caught up. Karina’s work schedule is Tuesday-Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and Saturdays’s 10 am to 3 pm. You wouldn’t think she would have much time for anything else!

But alas, Karina has many interests. She enjoys reading, hiking, traveling, photography, and spending time with her fiancé. “I am currently reading Winesburg Ohio for the second time and enjoying it just as much as the first time,” she said. The book is a collection of short stories about life in a small town at the end of the nineteenth century. It doesn’t surprise me to find out that Karina has scholarly interests. She is so enthusiastic about life. 

After finishing one year at San Diego State University with a major in psychology and a minor in Spanish, Karina left college for the work world. She has worked as a marketing manager at Old Navy and as a dental assistant in San Francisco, California. She enjoys her work at MacFarlane Pheasants and though she hopes to return to college at some point she tells us she is very happy where she is right now! 

One of Karina’s favorite things about MacFarlane Pheasants is that every day brings something different. “Some days are chaotic, some days are not so much, but every day there is something new going on. It’s definitely a fast-paced job and I love it, “she said. 

Thanks for sharing Karina. It is a pleasure to have you working at MacFarlane Pheasants.

One of the many beautiful coasts Karina has seen in California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karina Rangel Interview

The Pheasant Business is Guided by the Weather

We look at multiple weather sites for information to plan our days and weeks on the pheasant farm. Generally, the Weather Channel, Accu Weather, and Wunderground, are our sources. We combine the forecasts and try to make rational decisions about our work and bird safety. Everything from warm rain to cold rain, snow and the wind affect our birds and the decisions we make!

Reasons to Check the Weather

Every week from April thru early October we have a group of pheasants to move from the brooder barns to outside pens. We have scheduled hatches of chicks arriving from the hatchery that need to go in the barn! If we are too cautious with the weather-related decisions, we can end up way behind schedule. If we send them outside when it is too wet and cold we can lose a lot of birds. You can understand why we check multiple sources! 

Bird move-outs

  • We want to make sure we have a three-day window without rain and lows above 50 degrees before we move young birds from the barn to the pens.
  • We also check for wind direction to determine how to place huts in the pens.

Planning our Work-week for Productivity

  • When we will have rainy days, we schedule inside jobs like peeping or sanitizing.
  • In the winter, we check snow fall predictions, to determine if we need to drop the nets in the pens. Pen nets will collapse with too much heavy, wet snow.
  • Planning mature deliveries means we need to load our truck according to the weather birds will encounter on their delivery route and destination.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of double checking multiple sources for weather forecasts you should talk to Brian Klein or Troy Cisewski on our farm. They are getting quite used to making weather related decisions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pheasant Business is Guided by the Weather

Employees Attend Layer School At Michigan State University

Erik Rusch and Heidi Welch, employees at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. recently attended Layer School At Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. It was a two-day crash course geared toward everything to do with layer chickens (chickens that are in cages laying eggs for human consumption). Heidi and Erik were the only two “non-chicken” students attending this class and were happy to find that the information was applicable to our pheasant farm. 

The topics covered included ventilation, water systems, bedding in the barns, disease control, identification, feed nutrition and consumption. Erik told me that in addition to good information on each topic, the information about disease control and identification provided valuable experience. He said the hands-on training, in this area, directly related to his job caring for birds on our farm. 

The students were able to autopsy birds to identify the diseases that took the birds’ lives. This experience, along with the disease training, will help Erik and Heidi inform other employees about what they learned and to catch problems sooner, so that birds that can be saved through medication can be identified earlier.

Erik also told me that all of the instructors were very informed on the topics covered and that most of them had been in the business 20+ years. They shared experiences they have had in the field and were always open to questions. The instructors were excited to see two attendees from a game farm! Erik and Heidi got about 20 hours of training over 2 days and left feeling positive about the training. They recommend that others on the farm attend this type of training when they have the opportunity! 

Continuing education is an important component of any business, but we feel it is especially important on a game farm. Our pheasants are raised for sportspeople all over North America and our pheasant food products are sold around the world. Our business is in a continuous growth pattern. If we can learn something new that helps us to raise our birds more effectively, we will do it. We appreciate our employees who travel to attend classes and bring home new knowledge to share with all of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employees Attend Layer School At Michigan State University

Understanding End of Season Chick Sales

Each year we sell lots of chicks over the course of our main chick season from April to mid-August.  Consistently, our sales reach 1.5 million chicks by the end of the season! During the several months, when sales are booming, our staff is working long intensive days to take orders, prepare records, and ship chicks all over the world! August is the end of our chick sales season and the month of chick sales that is least understood by our customers.

Each year we take a few orders from customers who order thousands of chicks consistently throughout the season year after year. But we have to be careful not to over-commit chicks for the month of August. We never know if production will begin to dip, as we near the end of the season. We definitely do not want to promise someone thousands of chicks and then call to say, “Sorry, we can’t fulfill the order we promised.”

Instead of promising August chicks, we advertise when we know what we have going on in our hatchery!  We send out emails and post chicks for sale on Facebook. Recently, using this method, we sold 15,000 chicks out of the 25,000 we had available, in two days, and were able to fill the orders we had.

Most importantly, we want you to know that we do have August chicks each year. We take some August orders ahead of times, so if you order lots of chicks throughout the season and want to plan for August chicks, talk to our office staff at 1-800-345-8348. If we are unable to accept an order before August, please watch your email and our Facebook page in late July and early August to take advantage of ordering the late season chicks in August!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding End of Season Chick Sales