New Chick Ordering System at MacFarlane Pheasants

We are always looking for ways to improve our chick ordering procedures at MacFarlane Pheasants. In the past, we used an Excel worksheet to keep track of orders and availability of chicks. Two or three people worked on keeping the worksheet updated. 

During the busy season, it was hard to track if we had oversold chicks or if our incubators were at capacity. Our new system will solve that problem. Chris Theisen inputs all production numbers into the chick ordering system. This allows the customers to order chicks online and for the sales staff to take orders in the office. 

The new system prevents us from over-selling because we can physically see the up-to-date numbers and the system will not allow us to sell chicks when there aren’t any to sell. Once we have a better idea of the hatching rate and fertility rate (usually three weeks before they hatch) we can increase or decrease production according to sales. 

If you would like to get a head start and see how we package chicks for delivery enjoy our article called “An Inside Look at How MacFarlane Pheasants Boxes Chicks for Live Delivery.” Please watch our website for chick availability. We are excited about the 2018 chick season and are sure your needs can be met, as we expect to provide at least 500,000 chicks again this year. 

Just an update for our chick customers: The new chick system requires full payment when orders are placed. We will no longer be taking down payments to hold the orders. We look forward to providing the same quality chicks we have sold in prior years. If you have any questions about ordering chicks, please contact April Goble in the office at MacFarlane Pheasants-608-757-7881.















New Chick Ordering System at MacFarlane Pheasants

Semi-Trucks Deliver More Pheasants!

Delivering our pheasants and other wild birds efficiently and cost- effectively is very important to us at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. That is why we leased the incredible semi-truck you see in these pictures. 

Our load capacity with smaller trucks was 650 bird crates. Currently, thanks to the leased semi-truck, our truck capacity increased to 910 crates. We use two to three large trailers with the semi, depending on the size of the delivery. 

Art Schumacher, our maintenance manager says we experience fewer mechanical problems and provide our drivers with a larger cab and a more comfortable ride. Fuel mileage has also improved which makes us very happy. 

So, the bottom line is that by leasing the semi-truck and attaching the larger trailers we have been efficient, cost-effective, and delivered more pheasants per trip. That is a win-win in the pheasant business!





















Semi-Trucks Deliver More Pheasants!

French Redleg Partridges are in Demand!

We started importing the French Redleg Partridge eggs a little over 8 years ago. We had good luck hatching the eggs and raising these feisty birds. In fact, the demand for the French Redleg Partridge has continued to grow over the past 8 years and we need more space to raise them! We are in the process of adding 2.2 acres of pens for the French Redlegs. This will allow us to raise about 20,000 more of these awesome birds.

The Redleg Partridges are very uniform in size and beauty. They typically weigh between 19 and 26 ounces and are 13-15 inches high. Redleg Partridges have light brown backs, gray breasts, and buff bellies. Of course, their red legs set them apart, as well as their streaked flanks.

Game Farms/Hunters Love French Redleg Partridges 

  1. Hardy and able to withstand extreme climates
  2. Wild, flighty, and easily excitable
  3. Exciting birds to hunt because they are a challenge
  4. Easy to raise in captivity
  5. Tasty to eat

How We Raise French Redleg Partridges

Partridge chicks like warmer temperatures and require brighter “A” and “B” room lighting than pheasants. We treat the chicks as if they are afraid of the dark. Lights are on 24 hours a day or else the chicks will pile up, leading to suffocation. Partridge chicks spend about four weeks in the “A” room and five weeks in the “B” room.

At 9 weeks, their feathering is good enough for outdoor pens. Once moved outside, they spook easily. We switch netting to a 1.5-inch weave at this point to prevent birds from escaping. Outdoor pens need 10 square feet per bird and huts or shelter of some kind.

We are pretty excited about increasing the space available to raise more of these exciting birds and meeting the demands of our customers!










French Redleg Partridges are in Demand!

The Production Palace at MacFarlane Pheasants

We kept you informed about our new Hen Barn as we built it, so now it is time to talk about what we are doing with that beautiful building. First of all, it has been renamed, “The Production Palace”. The Hen Barn staff was put in charge of naming the facility and we think they made a clever choice. 

The Production Palace is a white bird production facility where we are breeding the birds that produce the eggs that will hatch our birds that will be raised for meat production! Doesn’t that sound like a Dr. Seuss story? This new Hen Barn is a palace! It is a brand new 4900 square foot building, with all new equipment. Our staff says, “It’s decked out like a palace.” 

The Production Palace went into use on May 22, 2017, and the first group of chicks were placed on June 5, 2017. The Production Palace has 4 rooms. Room 1 is where we start the hens at day one of age and they remain there until they reach 24 weeks of age.

At that point, they are of breeding age and are moved into the laying room, which is Room 3. We have a young male room that the males are moved into from the Hen Barn at eight weeks of age. At 24 weeks, males are moved into Room 4 for light stimulation and where they will produce semen for artificial insemination. 

We are currently at the highest production levels ever at MacFarlane Pheasants! Fertility is being maintained at a high level in the newest Hen Barn and I believe our birds are satisfied with their Production Palace! The end result is awesome white pheasant meat for our customers to enjoy.
















The Production Palace at MacFarlane Pheasants

Dillon Seamster Talks About His Life and Work At MacFarlane Pheasants

Dillon Seamster has worked at MacFarlane Pheasants for a little over three years. He started out as a crew lead with the Pen Crew. As a crew lead, Dillon was required to learn all of the paperwork related to his job and also how to run full crews for an entire shift. He attributes his training and experience for helping him to develop his people skills and learning how to keep everything moving forward in a positive manner. One of the positive moves forward for Dillon is that he recently became the manager of the Pen Crew. 

As the manager of the Pen Crew, Dillon’s job entails delegating the breakdown of the crews and assisting in catching birds for customers. An important element of this job is ensuring that only the highest quality birds are caught for customers. After the main shipping season winds down, Dillon’s crew shifts their focus to placing blinders on the young birds and moving them out to the freshly prepared pens. 

He applied at MacFarlane Pheasants at the encouragement of a former employee. It turned out to be a very good decision! His advancement is an example what a good fit Dillon has been for the farm. 

Dillon graduated from high school in Newport, North Carolina, where his entire family still lives.The family is very important to Dillon and he stated emphatically that he wouldn’t be who he is today if not for them! In fact, when he was asked who was most influential in his life he said it was his dad because his dad led by example and taught him many important skills and attitudes. 

Dillon likes to be productive at work and in his free time. He likes to go to the gym, when he’s not working, work on car audio, and collect old and foreign currency. 

Dillon concluded his interview by sharing that for him “the best part of working at Macfarlane Pheasants is definitely the people.”












Dillon Seamster Talks About His Life and Work At MacFarlane Pheasants

NAGA Convention 2018-Motivating and Informative for Pheasant Farms

Brad Lillie, Sarah Pope, and Bill MacFarlane attended the North American Game Bird Association (NAGA) convention Jan 15-17 2018 in Seattle, Washington. MacFarlane Pheasants has been involved with NAGA for two generations so they never miss an opportunity to attend and participate. There were 70 attendees at the convention, this year, held at the Renaissance Hotel in Seattle. Many opportunities were provided for guests to network with others in the game bird business.

Brad, Sarah, and Bill came back from the convention with new information from experts in the business and motivation to try out some new ideas. It is always encouraging to be with like-minded people. The NAGA mission is “to protect, promote, and sustain a positive environment for game bird producers and hunting preserve operators.” They focus on preserving wildlife in rural America, raising public awareness, and environmental management.  The NAGA mission is truly a source of pride for all game bird operators.

Preventing disease in game bird populations is also a major mission of NAGA and so to honor that goal there was an excellent sectional on educating employees on biosecurity. Brian Beavers spoke about documenting biosecurity measures. John Metzer talked about implementing biosecurity plans and MacFarlane’s Sarah Pope spoke to the group about training employees regarding procedures for biosecurity.

Brad Lillie of MacFarlane Pheasants was also a speaker for the event. He shared his thoughts on where he sees the game bird industry in the short and long term. Brad thinks baby boomers will fuel the industry in the short run and that hunter interest will remain engaged. The economy could be either a plus or minus feature for the industry because the economy is so hard to predict. Brad expects less “public” opportunity for hunting to exist but says the opportunity for private hunting enterprises will be good! In the long run, there are mostly questions. Will there be a new generation of hunters and will hunter interest remain?

We encourage you to take a look at the NAGA website for more thoughts about game birds and taking care them and our environment.
















NAGA Convention 2018-Motivating and Informative for Pheasant Farms

MacFarlane’s Milton Farm 2017-2018

Management changes took place at the Milton Farm in late summer. Brian Check left the Milton Farm to become the farm manager at the Janesville Farm and Brian’s assistant, Matt Welsh became the Milton farm manager. Changes like this give employees opportunities for continuing growth and development. We think that is a winning combination for job satisfaction and productivity! 

The Milton Crew, lead by Matt Welsh, was running with three crew members until January. Now, only two staff members are keeping the farm in operation. Three of our South African guest workers had been working at the Milton Farm, but we wished them a fond farewell, as they returned to their homes, this month. 

During the winter months on the Milton Farm, crew members are caring for, roughly, 10,000 adult pheasants. 

Until just a couple days ago we have had plenty of cold weather in the Milton area, but very little snow. (We got about three inches of snow on the 23rd of January.) That meant that most days this winter, the birds have been watered daily, using the tractor and water tank. Once the water would freeze, the crew also had to break the ice from the pans before watering. 

The rest of their time involved feeding the birds, vacuuming excess feed, setting rat baits, and breaking down pens that were no longer in use. This continuing process includes cleaning and sanitizing all equipment, in preparation for spring set-up, our busiest time of year.














































































MacFarlane’s Milton Farm 2017-2018

Who Entertains Us with Pheasants Year After Year?

Our company Christmas card has been drawn by the same artist year after year. Every year we have a card with a pheasant theme to tickle your funny bone and share our wishes for a Merry Christmas. Ron Lawrence, currently living on a family farm in Crawford County, is the artist who has drawn the MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Christmas card for more years than anyone can remember! He has a long history with the MacFarlane family. 

Ron worked full time at General Motors in Janesville until his retirement, but for 28 years he worked part-time at MacFarlane Pheasants. Ron decided he needed to supplement his income because he wanted to buy the family farm. Obviously, it worked for him because he lives on the farm he began paying for when he was 20 years old! He took the job at MacFarlane’s when Bill MacFarlane was a teenager and his dad, Don MacFarlane owned the business. Ron continued to work at the farm when Bill took over the business. In fact, his work with pheasants was such a big part of Ron’s life that his nickname at General Motors was “Pheasant.” 

Ron (Pheasant) Lawrence was the youngest of three boys. When he was 5 or 6 years old, his older brother sent a picture to “Can You Draw This” from the back of a magazine. Ron decided he liked keeping up with his older brother and began to copy pictures from the comic strips in the paper. He continues to love doodling and making pictures out of the stories his friends tell. He has spent his entire life drawing cartoons for relaxation. 

Ron remembers drawing a caricature of the entire crew at MacFarlane Pheasants for Fred, a foreign exchange worker at the farm, who was leaving to return to France. Everyone enjoyed the picture so much that Bill asked Ron if he would be interested in drawing the Christmas card for MacFarlane’s. He has been drawing the Christmas card for the farm, ever since. Bill has two framed pictures in his office with all of the cards Ron has drawn. 

As you can imagine, Ron is very important to MacFarlane Pheasants. We hope you have enjoyed his cards over the years and though we miss him, we are sure glad that his many years of hard work led him to the farm in Crawford County that he loves so much!
















Who Entertains Us with Pheasants Year After Year?

The Talented Krista Ventimiglia Joins the MacFarlane Pheasant Team

Krista  Ventimiglia joined the MacFarlane Hen Barn crew in July 2017. Her work involves helping to create the white meat pheasants via artificial insemination and raising the pedigree white pheasants. She also works with the Hen Barn crew to collect and record data on the birds. Krista is in charge of weighing eggs and collecting the data for choosing the egg-laying pedigree hens!

Krista grew up and still lives in Durand, Illinois, which is about 25 miles south of the MacFarlane farm.  Poultry has always been her specialty. She was active in 4-H for many years, showing her prize poultry. Krista currently judges small animals for the Winnebago County Fair. But working at MacFarlane’s and judging at the fair isn’t enough to keep this active employee busy!

Krista also makes jewelry from, none other than, MacFarlane pheasant feathers, washed and sanitized before they become jewelry. The jewelry is made from Ringneck, White and Melanistic Mutant feathers with semi-precious gemstones, wood, or glass beads. Some of the jewelry contains found peacock feathers from another location. All of the jewelry is on display and for sale at our retail store on the main MacFarlane Farm.







This jewelry is so unique because the feathers were found on our farm and the employee is producing the jewelry for our store. Krista’s talents don’t stop there, though! She is considered the Hen Barn’s craftiest person, so she takes on the job of decorating the port-a-potty for the holidays.

In addition to her work for MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc., and her work crafting, Krista is busy raising two boys.  Dominic is in second grade and Nicoli is two years old. Their dog, Bea Arthur is a fun addition to her family.

When I asked Krista who the most influential person in her life had been, she was anxious to tell me about her former boss, Deb. She said, “Deb taught me to believe in myself and that I could do anything I put my mind to. I would not have gone after the job at MacFarlane Pheasants or started my jewelry making venture if it wasn’t for her continued support and encouragement.” Krista said Deb was a “wonderful example of tolerance and strength,” and considers herself very lucky to have her constantly cheering her on.

Lastly, when I ask Krista what she enjoyed most about working here she said it was interacting with the birds. She said, “I love their funny faces and their personalities. I enjoy snuggling the birds, which I believe is what has led to a significant improvement to the white pheasant program within the last six months.”

We enjoy Krista’s many talents and feel lucky to have such a hard-working, talented employee on our farm.









The Talented Krista Ventimiglia Joins the MacFarlane Pheasant Team

The MacFarlane’s Enjoy A South African Braii

In March 2017, 10 hard working and interesting men from South Africa got employment visas and traveled from their far-away homes to MacFarlane Farms. They certainly fulfilled MacFarlane’s need for workers and everyone gained valuable cultural experiences. Thanks, guys!

Wicus Jacobs

Ronnie Viljoen

Gerhardus Martunis Venter

Len Noort

Johan Jacobs

Jano Smith

James Saayman

Kallie Englebrecht

Bradley Wade

Anton Meijer

With that in mind, during a traditional Thanksgiving experience at the MacFarlane’s home, the men were discussing foods they missed most from their homes. A “proper” Braii was at the top of the list. A Braii is a cook-out!  The guys explained that a “proper” Braii does not use gas or a charcoal grill, though. A Braii is made with a huge bonfire and meat is placed on a grate over the fire, when the coals are hot enough. Our South African friends were at the right place because Bill and Dori have an outdoor fire pit!

When Bill and Dori MacFarlane asked the South African guests if they would like to have a Braii at the MacFarlane home, they were ecstatic and immediately volunteered to provide the meat. A date was set and plans were put in place, including inviting Sarah Pope, Brad Lillie, Chris Theisen, Brian Klein, and Troy Cisewski to join in the fun.

The guys explained that a Braii always features lamb, but also includes several other kinds of meat. Side dishes are not valued at a Braii. In fact, the only side dish was a Greek salad because Ronnie Viljoen’s Mom suggested it!

The day of the Braii arrived and the temperature was zero. Camping chairs were brought in because the swings surrounding the fire pit were too far away from the warmth of the fire. Ronnie and Martunis arrived first and with a little help from Micah Boyd, they got the fire started. The fire was going strong when the rest of the guys arrived.

Coolers of meat arrived with them. Johan brought his guitar and played and sang while everyone else cozied up to the fire. He started with American songs but was soon asked for some traditional South African music. The party heated up when others joined in the singing to traditional South African songs. What a great way to stay warm! Eventually, Johan put his guitar away and they played traditional music on the Bluetooth speaker, while everyone chatted.

After being outside in zero degrees weather for several hours, the coals were finally hot enough to cook, ribs, tenderloin, chicken, steak, and brats. Dori said, “Maybe there were more kinds of meat but, honestly, I lost track! We were having so much fun.” In addition to all that meat, Johan and Len made Braiibroodjie, which is a South African grilled cheese with tomatoes, sliced onion, and apricot jam in it. Traditionally chutney is used in the sandwich, but they just couldn’t find any, locally.

Under normal circumstances (warmer weather), this meal would be eaten family style, outside, but for this meal, when the cooking was done, all 20 people ate family style in the house. It was just too cold, as the fire began to die down. Bill and Dori said there was enough food for 100 people and the meal and company made the whole experience an unforgettable night.

What a delightful way to end the 10 months these South African men were a part of the MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. family.

















































The MacFarlane’s Enjoy A South African Braii