Pheasant Brats

Now that we’ve gotten past the March Madness basketball hangover, and, yes we’re dealing with the usual transition to outside problems with the finicky Wisconsin weather, let’s talk tailgating!

If bratwurst is your ‘go to’ choice for tailgating, MacFarlane Pheasant Brats are a great alternative. Remember, our pheasants are fed natural grains, no antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products. When we process the meat, we don’t inject it with water to bulk it up.

MacFarlane Pheasant Brats, which do have some ground turkey added to help the sausage retain its consistency when grilling, come in four flavors: Smoked, Southwestern, Golden Harvest and Cordon Bleu. Southwestern has a little kick with some pepper cheese and jalapeno, Golden Harvest has a Thanksgiving flare with apple, cranberry and almond added and Cordon Bleu has turkey ham and Swiss cheese.

They come five in a package for $8.99 in the store. The average sausage brat has 283 calories, and only 11 grams of protein. The calorie count for pheasant brats ranges from 140 to 160 calories and there are 21 grams of protein in a pheasant brat. Grill them on low heat and don’t poke with a fork; you want to keep that juice in.

We’ve got a nice stock of them at our store so if you decide you want to serve them at your next picnic or tailgate party – drop by the store at 2821 S. Hwy 51, Janesville, WI; or order online at www.pheasantfordinner.com (there’s a list of stores that carry our products there for easy reference, too) or give us a call: 608-757-7881 or toll-free 800-345-8348.

So let’s recap – pheasant brats taste great and contain less preservatives and fillers than traditional brats; they come in four different flavors, they have fewer calories and more protein and they’re easy to get. Even if your home team strikes out, you’ll be a winner with pheasant brats.
Pheasant Brats

Pheasant Brats

Avian Influenza

As much as you plan and clean and put measures in place to prevent avian influenza, you’re still at the mercy of what happens around you and that point hit home at MacFarlane this week.

A recognized leader in bio-security, our breeder farms, hatchery and grow out farms – even though it may be inconvenient for us – are at least a mile or more from each other. Collected eggs are washed and disinfected before they are moved and our outdoor pens are netted to prevent interaction from wild birds that may be carriers. We perform blood draws on the birds every 90 days even though the requirement is 180 days.

But an outbreak of HSN2 at a farm in Jefferson, Wis. for now means an export quarantine for the state. Our egg shipments scheduled for England and France have been cancelled. It’s a big financial hit for us and the frustration is that we do all we can and more – and in this case, it’s not enough. It hits home the nature of farming, sometimes it rains – sometimes it doesn’t. Certain catastrophes are just not covered by insurance and this happens to be one of them.

What happens now is the USDA tests all the flocks within 3 kilometers of the Jefferson County farm. We have no facilities that are close to the Jefferson farm, but we, like other Wisconsin operations will have to wait out the quarantine. If no infected birds are found within the 3 kilometers, the embargo gets localized to that area. It may take a week or more to determine that.

And, on the plus side, the weather has started to warm up. HSN2 likes medium temperatures 40s and 50s; warmer temps will burn off the virus. Until that time, we do what we always did to prevent the virus on our farms and a little more. We wash, we disinfect, we isolate operations, we visually check our birds, we do blood draws and our team continues to produce the healthiest game birds we can offer.

Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza

BOGO Ringneck hen chicks sale

Buy One Get One…Chicks!

You do not want to miss this! We have our Chinese Ringneck hen chicks on sale! Now through the end of April, they are BUY ONE GET ONE FREE! This is the perfect time to repopulate your land with pheasants, or even start your own flock.

We separate our Ringnecks by male and female right away and guarantee a 90% accuracy on sexing for all of our orders. They are shipped to you next day air. Expect your pheasants to grow to between 1.7 to 2.2 pounds at maturity.

In lots of 1,000 or more, hen chicks are only .15 cents each.

If purchasing in lots of 500 hen chicks, the price is only .20 cents each.

Don’t forget, if purchased before April 30th, you receive 2 chicks for the price of 1!

Place your order by calling our office at 1-800-345-8348 and we will be happy to assist you!

 

bogo chick sale 3-19-15

 

 

 

 

BOGO Ringneck hen chicks sale

MacFarlane Pheasants Around The World

In an effort to see how wide-spread our pheasants have become we are hosting an Around the World Tour. We are happy to publish our first two photo entries here. Both photo submissions have come from different islands in Hawaii.

Each person that submits a photo of themselves with our Chick Catalog in front of a US State sign or another landmark will receive a free can koozie and t-shirt. Find out more details here: https://www.pheasant.com/resources/aroundtheworldsubmissions.aspx

 

Photo Contest Entrant

Robert Neilson submitted a photo of himself with our chick catalog in front of The Island of Lanai sign.

Photo Contest Entry

Douglas Peterson submitted a photo of our catalog in the Welcome to Maui sign.

Reconciling Our Pheasants’ Feed

Keeping track of how much feed we’ve got coming in during a week, month, or year adds up with a farm the size of MacFarlane Pheasants. We’ve learned early on to monitor how much feed has come in and especially how much we paid for it. It takes good book keeping, but here’s how we reconcile our pheasants’ feed.

When feed is ordered, we’ll receive an invoice. We’ll take it and compare it to the form the driver has when the feed is delivered. We check for a few things. First, we make sure the weights match up—every pound we buy should be in the truck when it arrives. The next thing we’ll look at is the price. We contract our feed out at a certain price by a certain amount, and so if we’ve agreed on a lower price, we make sure we’ve been charged by it. If either of these is off, it’s back to the manufacturer to make sure the discrepancies are righted. The final thing we’re checking for is how far into that contract with the feed manufacturer we are, for example, we may lock in 500 tons at a certain price, we need to know where we are in that contract. Reconciling pheasant feed gives us that information.

We keep track of all these details and more in a spreadsheet. If there’s one thing we recommend, it’s keeping a good spreadsheet. Consistent bookkeeping in this area can make sure you get your dollar’s worth in feed. If it were only dollars, maybe it wouldn’t matter as much. But last year we purchased almost 7,000 tons of feed, and when you’re dealing in such big numbers, a small mistake can cost thousands—and that’s hoping you catch it. Some mistakes are never caught, meaning that money is just gone. Get a good spreadsheet going now and you’ll save yourself money down the road. We’d recommend starting with the following information: what type of feed, when it was delivered, and at what price. You can tweak it over time. We do it every year.

By keeping good records now, you’ll be able to avoid some common mistakes in the future. Sometimes a feed company will lose a contract or go off an old contract when pricing feed. Good records make it easy to go back to them to correct these issues.

It always comes down to record keeping. That’s why at MacFarlane Pheasants, reconciling pheasant feed is really a matter of diligence over a long time. Get a good spreadsheet and it will save you money and let you spend every dollar on raising quality pheasants.

 
Reconciling Our Pheasants’ Feed
 

 

Reconciling Our Pheasants’ Feed

Hold On to Those Pheasant Receipts

At MacFarlane Pheasants, we know where our money is going. We know this because we’re watching how we spend, and the best way to do this is keep an eye on the monthly credit card bill. Just like you might do with your own finances, by reconciling the bill at the end of each and every month, we’re able to monitor spending habits and make better decisions going forward.

The first thing we did to make sure we were spending both our time and our money in the best way was to put together some ground rules. For farm purchases of $50 or less, all the employee needs to do is submit a receipt. But for purchases greater than $50—with the exception of fuel—a purchase order must be submitted. A purchase order lets me examine those high dollar purchases to make sure we’ve checked out every angle.

For some of those purchase orders, I’ll actually set up a meeting with the employee to discuss the order. This can be great to make sure we’ve done our research for the best possible price and conditions through a few different vendors. It’s also a great time to ask why we need this.

Finally, I’d recommend deputizing a staff member to go after missing receipts. Our employee Pam Wallisch handles going after missing receipts. It’s an important job, but something that I don’t have time to do personally. Knowing she’s able to get the job done takes the stress off me.

Once all the receipts and purchase orders are in for the month, we’ll review and look for spending patterns. Finally, I’ll sign off and we’ll pay the bill. This part of my job isn’t the most fun, but at a pheasant farm the size of MacFarlane Pheasants’, it’s essential. More dollars saved in-house means more savings passed on to our customers.

 
Hold On to Those Pheasant Receipts
 

 

 

Hold On to Those Pheasant Receipts

Brooder Maintenance in the Pheasant Barns

Maintaining equipment at a farm the size of MacFarlane Pheasants is a job that requires attention. If you give it attention, then your equipment will work through its expected lifetime. If you forget, things break down and you have to spend even more time getting them back to working order. One of the most important types of equipment we maintain on the farm is our brooder heaters. They create the perfect temperature to raise more pheasants every year.

While we have a few types of brooders, they’re generally all maintained the same. The most important piece of equipment we use to clean them is an air compressor. We use it to blow the brooders and to clear the lines of dust and debris. Air is sent through every part that the propane passes, and then we blow out the burner itself for dust.

After the air compressor, it’s time to clean the gas orifice, and occasionally the pilot, too. We do this more frequently than blowing out the lines—often between groups of birds versus once a season. You can tell when it’s time because the brooders won’t burn as hot. What happens over time is that the orifice becomes clogged or corroded. What fixes this is a pin vice to drill them out. But make sure if you do this, you use the right size bit. If you use one that has too big of a diameter the mechanism won’t perform correctly. After you’ve finished, look through and make sure there are no particles in it.

We change the thermal couples every season. Even then, sometimes they’ll still fail, so it’s good to keep extras on hand. You’ll know if they’re failing because the flame won’t stay lit on its own.

There are a couple of pitfalls we’ve identified. First, anytime you’re undoing threaded orifices, make sure to pay attention you’ve threaded it correctly when you’re putting it back together. Otherwise it can leak and possibly create a fireball. It’s usually only small flame, but if you’re not careful, it can get exciting real fast. Also, after you’ve cleaned your brooders and put them back together, make sure your pressures are hitting the right temperatures. We use a laser heat gun to read the temperature and make sure the brooders are creating the perfect environment for pheasant chicks.

Maintaining brooders is a simple job. If you blow out the lines, keep the orifices clean, make sure the pressure is right, and ensure the gas is turned on, that’s all you need. But if you’re ever not sure, here’s our rule of thumb. Look at the flame. Orange is a bad sign—your lines aren’t clean. A strong, clean flame burns blue, and if you’ve got that, you’ve done your job right.

Brooder Maintenance in the Pheasant Barns
 

Brooder Maintenance in the Pheasant Barns

Speaking Pheasants Across A Farm

When a farm gets as big as MacFarlane Pheasants, communication can’t be ignored. That’s why we use several ways to keep in contact with each other. Between email, phones, and radios, our departments are able to keep in contact with me and each other so that we’re running as efficiently as possible.

Email is key in the business world, and it’s one of the main ways we keep in contact throughout the farm. It’s even more important when it comes to shipping our pheasants. Orders need a lot of paperwork from several departments, and email helps us keep everything ordered. If you’ve gotten your birds from us on time and as ordered, it’s because of the great email communication our staff has behind the scenes.

We also use radios to talk back and forth. They’ve been in use on the farm for more than 20 years now, and they’re great when our farm workers aren’t able to access email while doing rounds. Whether they’re feeding, watering, or catching, radios let us get in touch with farm workers if we need to. They’re also great in case of farm emergencies. There are a few protocols we use, including closing with “10/4.” I’d encourage you to develop a set of your own. They’re important again because they keep communication clear.

Finally, all our managers have cell phones. We started this manager-only policy in July of this year. This is great in case the first two methods of communication aren’t working, or if we need a manager to relay a family emergency to an employee. They offer privacy for a delicate situation.

The majority of our communication is over radio and by email, and with a backup of our managers’ cell phones, we’re able to keep the whole of MacFarlane Pheasants on the same page. It’s what works for us.

Speaking Pheasants Across A Farm

 

Speaking Pheasants Across A Farm

The Holidays at MacFarlane Pheasants

Now that we’ve posted a picture of our Christmas Tree, we never posted the tree skirt one of our staff from the office had made for the tree! Made completely with pheasant feathers, it definitely puts a new spin on decorating for the holidays at MacFarlane Pheasants.

Happy Holidays to everyone from all of us here at MacFarlane Pheasants!

 

The Holidays at MacFarlane Pheasants Christmas at MacFarlane Pheasants

 

 

 

 

 

The Holidays at MacFarlane Pheasants

What you need to know about Avian Influenza

I attended the annual National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) conference this past June in Charlotte, NC as a Wisconsin delegate.  I learned more about Avian Influenza than I’d wanted to know.  At that Charlotte meeting, Dr. Dale Lauer from Minnesota asked me to speak about our Gamebird Industry at a breakout session at the USAHA (United States Animal Health Association) meeting being held in Kansas City in October.  At that breakout session I heard even more about Avian Influenza, and the consequences of an outbreak (or anti-bodies indicating an outbreak may have occurred).

Here are some general things I have learned:

If there is an outbreak of Avian Influenza on your farm, and the Federal and State authorities determine that your birds need to be destroyed, indemnification (payment) will be made.  If you had been monitoring for Avian Influenza prior to the incident, full indemnification will be made.  If you had not been A.I. monitoring, indemnification will be paid $.25 on the $1.00.

If you choose to test for A.I. (which you must if you wish to transport your birds across some state lines, or into other countries) there are several accepted methods to test.  Using a blood test will indicate if there are antibodies to Avian Influenza present.  If A.I. antibodies show up in the bird’s blood, most likely quarantine will be placed on your farm and further testing will be required to determine if A.I. virus is present.   Alternatively you can test directly for the A.I. virus by using PCR (polymerase chain reaction), by swabbing the tracheas of the tested birds.  Again PCR will test for the presence of A.I. virus.   Blood testing is cheaper, but also introduces an increased chance of a possible situation where you may get quarantined when in fact no virus is present.  In short, test using PCR.

Be aware that if there is suspicion of Avian Influenza on your farm, State and Federal authorities will be in control of your farm and your facilities.  Most likely you will not be able to ship or sell your birds until the quarantine is lifted.

If you have a local Veterinarian who signs your health certificates or works with you and your birds, make that Veterinarian the Vet of Record if authorities ever show up at your farm. Having a Vet represent you gives you more rights.

Avian Influenza is “endemic” in the wild duck population across the United States.  Federal and State authorities aren’t even testing ducks for A.I., because they know they will find the virus.  A.I. (low path) doesn’t usually affect or kill ducks.  Since ducks are carriers, don’t have ducks anywhere near your pheasants, partridges or quail.  Nearly all of the A.I. outbreaks over the past few years that have occurred on Gamebird farms have in some way involved ducks.

What you need to know about Avian Influenza

 

 

What you need to know about Avian Influenza