Our Fabulous Pheasant Meat Is Everywhere!

Our Fabulous Pheasant Meat Is Everywhere!

MacFarlane Pheasant  reaches grocery stores and restaurants through food distributors who sell them to either smaller distributors or straight to restaurants and grocery stores. We work with Harris Teeter, Burris logistics, and Lipari foods. The main products we sell through these distributors are whole birds, the half pheasant, and the airline breast. The airline breast has an extra drumette on it-almost like an extra wing. Can you spot the difference?

airline breast  Airline Breast           boneless breast Boneless Breast

  • Currently our products are reaching Sprouts, which are located in the west and southwest regions of the United States, Woodman’s in Wisconsin and Illinois, and Whole foods, all over the United States!

All of our products are sold in our own retail store, so consumer choices are widely expanded when you buy directly from us.  Some of our favorite products are ground pheasant, pheasant brats, the boneless, skinless pheasant breast and our bulk boneless breast.  These products were developed and are marketing well, because they are delicious and healthy and we are hoping to grow their availability through our distributors.

Our recent USDA certification for our meat products means that our products can now be sold internationally. This means increased opportunities for pheasant meat to reach the world stage!  We have worked very hard to build our food business and it is paying off.  MacFarlane Pheasant is very appreciative of our distributors, the stores carrying our product, restaurants who sell pheasant dishes and the support of customers who buy directly from our Janesville retail store and our on-line stores.

Ask for pheasant meat at a store near you! Contact Rachel at r.atherton@pheasant.com to find out how to purchase your pheasant meat products.







Our Fabulous Pheasant Meat Is Everywhere!

Feed and Water Systems-Critical Concerns

Maintaining your feed and water systems is critical to keeping your gamebirds healthy. Be prepared to spend time checking feed and water systems in all barns at least three times every day of the week. If there are problems with either of the systems that are not recognized in a one-day cycle, your birds can get sick and/or start picking at each other. Insufficient food or water puts stress on the birds’ health, and that is the last thing you want when raising game birds.

What do we do daily?

  • Make sure there is feed and water in the systems and that they are full morning, noon, and night.
  • Check to make sure the systems are running properly. That means no water leaks and no feeding system deficiencies.
  • Call the maintenance crew when problems are found. They know the systems well and take care of repairs and parts replacements.

What kinds of systems do we use?

  • We use half-inch pex water lines and fittings. They are very affordable and the way the system crimps together keeps the water system from being knocked apart by big birds.
  • We use automatic waterers or “bell waterers” called plassons that are adjusted to bird chest height. Each plasson has its own shutoff valve to protect in case of leaks.
  • We use Cablevey and Chore-Time feed systems. These are automatic systems we can set to a timer to run at various times in the day, ensuring feed is always available in the feed pans. Cablevey is a disk system and Chore-Time is an auger system.
  • Chicks in the A room (first three weeks of life) use the Cablevey system, a feed trough/chain system, and some are hand-fed with feeders.
  • Chicks in the B room (after 3 weeks of life) all use the Chore-Time auger/feed pan system.

How often do we run into problems?

  • Water system problems can occur frequently. Birds can knock fitting on plassons loose by bumping into them and making them spin.
  • We can get large leaks from big birds knocking a plasson line off.
  • Occasionally we run into water-pressure problems from our well. If the well malfunctions or water-pressure reducers malfunction, we can get too much pressure, causing a leak in the lines.
  • Feed-system problems happen less often but can occur when something gets stuck in the system or there is an electric malfunction.

If you want to raise healthy birds you have to be persistent and constant in your assessment of the feed and water systems. If you would like more information about our equipment or our feeding and watering processes contact us at info@pheasant.com. Knowledge, preparation, and persistence go hand in hand!

MacFarlane_PheasantFeed (1)

























Feed and Water Systems-Critical Concerns

Game Birds Stay Healthy With Daily Monitoring

Game Birds Stay Healthy With Daily Monitoring

Monitoring of feed consumption is an essential component of making sure our birds stay healthy. One of the first signs of a sick bird is that they stop eating and drinking. This is why we are vigilant about checking our feed and water systems and our birds morning, noon, and night.  If our birds eat less feed one week compared to a previous week we intensify our monitoring and our inspection of the birds.

We usually start chicks out on flats of feed and hand fill them so we can base what they normally eat by how many buckets of feed we use. For example, a flock of 7000-8000 ringnecks should eat about 2-3 buckets of feed overnight. If that doesn’t happen, birds are examined more closely. So here is the bottom line-with chicks we monitor the feed flats daily and weekly. Mature birds’ feed consumption is monitored by how much food we order. Food is available to our birds at all times. We want them to eat as much as they want so they grow big and healthy! Birds that run out of feed get stressed.

At different ages, birds receive differing amounts of protein. Chicks start with high protein (around 25%) and as they grow the protein level in the feed can go down to around 15%.  We also feed different sizes of feed for different ages. Chicks are given a small crumbled feed (Hungarian chick feed is ground even smaller.) As birds grow they get switched to regular crumb size feed and then to a mini pellet.

 Tips for Pheasant Growers

  • Keep track of how much feed you order: when, for how many birds, and what age of birds. Once you get a history down you can estimate how many pounds of feed your birds are eating each week. With these facts, you can determine if the birds are eating more or less comparing each week.
  • You might consider getting a water meter for each group of birds so you can monitor how many gallons the birds drink on a daily basis. Low or high water intake can indicate an illness.
  • Contact k.merriman@pheasant.com for more information about keeping your pheasants healthy through monitoring feed consumption.




Game Birds Stay Healthy With Daily Monitoring

New Chicks in the Hen Barn

New chicks in the hen barn















Right before the new white pheasant chicks hatch we need to get busy preparing for their arrival. The day they hatch, they are brought to the hen barn; therefore we set up the barn in advance by doing the following steps:

  • Lay down a thin piece of paper in the front of the cage that is about 4 inches deep and long enough to cover the front of the cage. This keeps the feed from dropping onto the manure belt.
  • Lay down the 3-ply chick paper, which covers the whole cage, even the small piece that was previously laid down. The chicks’ feet are so small that they will fall through the wire so the paper keeps the chicks safe.
  • Fill the feed line with food.
  • Open the feed line just enough for the feed to begin coming through.
  • Push feed into the cage so the chicks can see where the feed is coming from.
  • Adjust water lines so that they are all the way down, so the chicks can reach to drink.
  • Test each water nipple to make sure the line is not clogged. This is done by tapping on the nipple to see if water is coming through.
  • Make sure the rope lights are on to provide chicks with extra light.

After the chicks arrive, we make sure the heat is set around 100 degrees. We check on the chicks throughout the day to see if we need to increase or decrease the heat. Later in the evening a staff members does a ‘night check’ on the birds to make sure they are continuing to do well.

We also make sure the alarm system settings are where they should be, in case the heater fails. If the temperature gets too low in the barn, the alarm will sound and one of the staff members will respond to the alarm to make sure everything is ok and fix anything that needs fixing.

We hope you will contact Trudy at t.deremer@pheasant.com  to ask questions about preparing for new chicks or even better schedule a tour at pheasant.com.

We look forward to seeing you soon. Spring will be here before you know it!




New Chicks in the Hen Barn

The One Tool No Pheasant Farmer Should Do Without

The one tool no pheasant farmer should do without

You might wonder how we remember what we did last year that worked so well in the brooder barn or how to best take care of the Winter White Pheasant or the Hungarian Partridge. We keep track of details in our employee manuals. These topics and just about every other process on our farm is described in these manuals and updated by managers, a minimum of once a year, during our slower winter season. Manuals serve several purposes:

  • To serve as an introduction for new employees: Many of our employees have a long history of working at MacFarlane Pheasant, but when a new employee is hired we do everything we can to provide them with quality information about the department where they will be working. The employee manual is an excellent source.
  • To jog our memories: Sometimes we make a decision at the beginning of a season to make a change that benefits the health of our birds. When we add that information to our manuals it helps us remember the changes we that made our last year so successful!
  • To enable other managers to have access to how each division works: All of our managers are aware that what happens in one part of the farm affects every other part of the farm. Healthy chicks make healthy mature pheasants. Successes or problems are important to all of us.
  • To ensure information is available when we’re looking for solutions to a problem: By keeping track of each area of the farm, we can sort out a problem by looking back to see if we followed protocol in all areas.
  • To ensure consistency in our practices: Consistency in pheasant rearing works just like consistency in every other part of life—it leads to success.

But manuals don’t tell the whole story. Our daily observations in each area of operation are the key to the success of our business. Conditions on the farm, such as weather, poorly performing equipment, even issues with feed, must be monitored daily. When an employee enters the barn they make several observations:

  • They listen for the sounds that indicate the health of our birds just as you listen for sounds that might indicate a problem in your own home.
  • They look to see how birds are distributed. Are they huddled together because they are too cold or perhaps looking distressed because they are too warm?
  • They assess the food. Does there appear to be too much food left because birds are not eating properly?
  • They make sure the water systems are working properly.

These are the types of daily concerns that can’t be identified by a manual. They can only be discovered by the watchful eyes and ears of employees.

Our manuals are like keeping a journal of how each part of our farm works and the changes we make over the years to improve our pheasant operation. They tell a story. They keep us on track. Consider keeping a manual/journal of your own pheasant experiences so that every time you raise chicks or buy mature pheasants you will remember the details for caring for them.

For more information, download our free Insider’s Guide to Pheasant Rearing or contact us.










The One Tool No Pheasant Farmer Should Do Without

We Irrigate Because Better Cover Equals Better Birds

Maintaining cover in outside flight pens is important work at MacFarlane Pheasants. Check out my post from last November to learn about the types of ground cover we use and other important facts about maintaining cover in outside pens.

We must maintain a balance of moisture in the pens. This is important because mud can cause the birds’ tail feathers to become dry and brittle if they are left dirty too long, causing them to break and chip. Extremely dry soil will not support good ground cover. Both our farms have environmental characteristics that support good health for our birds. Due to the good drainage on the Janesville farm, if it rains in the morning, the flight pens can be dry by afternoon. Our Milton farm soil is filled with clay and its strength is in moisture retention; therefore, we don’t need an irrigation system on the Milton farm.

Because we have good draining soil on our Janesville farm, it can become very dry during a dry season, so we have a costly irrigation system on this farm. If we do not irrigate the pens during dry years, ground cover will not grow, or in some cases, it will dry up after it gets started. If we allowed that to happen we could not put as many birds into the pens and could not utilize our facilities to their potential. Maintaining good cover means healthier birds, and that is our priority.

Pens are usually tilled by May  and in order to eliminate rain as a variable, we have to be prepared to irrigate during the dry years. There are several requirements for good irrigation:

  • Maintain a high-volume pressure well.
  • Install an irrigation pipe.
  • Purchase an irrigator.
  • Appoint staff to set up the irrigator and keep an eye on soil.

Once our cover is successfully growing, it has to be managed. Too much cover can be almost as bad as not enough! That’s when we do some mowing to keep 20% to 25% of the pen as open space.

To schedule a visit to discuss ground cover and irrigation, contact Chris Theisen at chris@pheasant.com. Spring will be here before we know it and it will be time to start preparations for new ground cover!

We irrigate because better cover equals better birds













We Irrigate Because Better Cover Equals Better Birds

How do we Calculate the Cost of Delivering Mature Birds?

Delivering healthy birds at a reasonable price has become second nature to our staff, but it is a detailed endeavor like everything else in the pheasant business. We can’t transport 6,000–7,500 birds across the United States and Canada without giving careful thought to how much it will cost. Every delivery we set up has been carefully laid out on excel spreadsheets and many factors are analyzed.

Here are some of the factors we consider:

  • Exact location(s)
  • How many stops will we make?
  • Is more than one customer located in the same area?
  • Can we coordinate deliveries to cut costs? (Multiple customers on the same load can reduce costs for all.)
  • Minimum delivery cost variables. (If we are going to the same area and have room we might be able to accept a 200-bird minimum for a specific buyer on the same route.)
  • Is this the only customer in a specific area? (Single customers will need to take a full load of birds or pay significant delivery costs.)
  • What is the current price of fuel?

We combine loads to give our customers better pricing whenever possible. It may mean a little more work, as we have to load trucks in the order they are going to be unloaded. We also need to carefully balance costs for the customer and our costs for delivery; truck maintenance, gas costs, crates for shipping birds, crating birds, and staffing for all of the related tasks are costs we have to take into consideration. But our customers are our reason for existence, and it is a priority for us to provide a variety of alternatives for getting our gamebirds delivered.

Contact info@pheasant.com for more information or call us at MacFarlane Pheasants: 608-757-7881.

 Calculating the cost of delivering mature birds




How do we Calculate the Cost of Delivering Mature Birds?

Looking for a Healthy Alternative to Chicken?

MacFarlane Pheasant highly recommends pheasant for entrees, soups, hors d’oeuvres, tacos, enchiladas or any dish of your own creation. Pheasant has a unique, rich flavor that makes any meal a special occasion!

If you’re looking for ideas, we’ve created a variety of recipes at PheasantForDinner.com that you can download, pin for later, or share with your friends. We even have an entire cookbook you can download for free! If you have a favorite recipe or variation you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you.

To show you just how healthy your pheasant meals will be, let me share a comparison from SkipthePie.org of the nutritional values between pheasant meat and the more commonly known healthy choice—chicken.

3.5 oz. Pheasant Leg vs. 3.5 oz. Chicken Tender

  • pheasant leg: 134 calories
  • pheasant leg: 1g saturated fat
  • pheasant leg: 80mg cholesterol
  • pheasant leg: 45mg sodium
  • pheasant leg: 22g protein
  • pheasant leg: Vitamin A–4%, Vitamin C–1%, Calcium: 3%, Iron-10%
  • chicken tender: 263 calories
  • chicken tender: 3g saturated fat
  • chicken leg: 41mg cholesterol
  • chicken leg: 451mg sodium
  • chicken leg: 15g protein
  • chicken leg: Vitamin A–0%, Vitamin C–0%, Calcium–2%, Iron–6%

To get your mouth watering, take a look at this recipe for enchiladas from our free cookbook. It’s so delicious, you might even forget how healthy it is for you—bon appétit!

Looking for a Healthy Alternative to Chicken.png


Pheasant Enchiladas

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

2–3 cups diced or chopped cooked pheasant breast
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream (NOT low fat)
1 can chopped green chilies
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
10 flour tortillas


Mix the first group of ingredients. Pour 1 can of enchilada sauce into bottom of casserole dish- about 9 x 13-inch size. Put the mixed ingredients into tortillas and roll up; place in dish. Pour another can of enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30–40 min.

Most folks who try this say it’s the best wild game dish they ever had. I also make it with pheasant thighs and legs, but breast is best. Vary the spiciness of the cheese, chilies and enchilada sauce to fit your taste.

From Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Panache Acres

MacFarlane pheasant is sold on-line and at our store located at 2821 US 51, Janesville, WI. Drop us a line or come visit us soon!






Looking for a Healthy Alternative to Chicken?

Pheasant Farmers Have to Collect Data!

Hen barn data collection is an essential part of growth and development at MacFarlane Pheasants. We use data to determine breeder selection because we want to breed the highest quality birds for our customers. Here’s how we find the top breeders:

  • Data is collected on bird weights at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 12 weeks of age.
  • After we have collected 7 weeks of data, we select top-performing birds identified from the data and perform feed conversion on them.
    • Feed Conversion is when we get a starting weight on each bird and then weigh the feed that we give the birds each day. After 2 weeks the birds are weighed again, along with the amount of feed left over that didn’t get eaten. How much feed each bird consumed and how well the bird converted that feed to body weight is important information. The data collected from each weighing and the feed conversion gives us the information we need to select our top-performing birds. These birds have characteristics we want to sustain in our breeding program.
  •  Mortality data is collected in order to determine livability of a family.
  •  Anything abnormal about a bird is documented; if abnormal traits are found, that bird will not be used for reproduction purposes.
  • Egg production data is also collected to assess how many eggs individual birds produce.
  • Each bird in the Hen Barn has a wing band. These bands are used for individual identification, and they also help us identify the parents of individual birds

We use scanners to scan the wing bands into the computer and then type in the weight. We also use a portable scanner to scan the egg data. The data collection only takes a matter of seconds per bird, but this adds up quickly with a large flock. Excel spreadsheets are used in the barn and then sent on for further assessment by Brad Lillie in our Logistics Department.

Knowledge is power, and data collection is essential to maintaining a successful pheasant business. This process allows us to breed the highest-quality birds. If you have any questions about our data collection process or our birds, feel free to email Research Manager Trudy DeRemer at t.deremer@pheasant.com.

 Pheasant Farmers Have to Collect Data!















Pheasant Farmers Have to Collect Data!

Send Us Your Favorite Pheasant Stories and Pictures

Send Us Your Favorite Pheasant Stories and Pictures












As the new year begins, I’ve been thinking about the many ways we could better serve our customers through our blogs. We have shared our experiences on the farm, our best practices for raising pheasants, and many support topics about raising chicks and mature pheasants during this past year. Just take a look at a sampling of our 2015 blogs.

When I thought about what might add excitement to our blogs I realized our customers’ pheasant stories, experiences, and pictures would be a real asset. We would like to feature you on our blog site during 2016. So dig through your files, my friends, and e-mail us at info@pheasant.com.  We would be thrilled to hear about your pheasant-related stories and to learn something new about MacFarlane pheasants after they leave our farm!



Send Us Your Favorite Pheasant Stories and Pictures