Smart Investments On Our Pheasant Farm That Pay Off in the Long Run

feed trucktractor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are making some big investments in our pheasant farm this spring. After completing our regular review of needs this year, we decided on some important work that must be done and some equipment needs that will improve our ability to effectively and efficiently accomplish caring for our bird population. Here’s what’s going on in spring 2016:

  • By April 22, 2016, we will have installed a new net over outside Pen #8 and repaired all broken posts and support cables on the pen. It will take our crew of 3 people 6 weeks to complete the project. The new net is 495,000 square feet (11.4 acres). We can expect this new netting to last around 20 years. Read more about flight pens on our website.
  • We have purchased a feed truck that will hold 15-18 tons of feed, depending on the feed type we are having delivered. There are 6 compartments on the truck that will hold 2-3 tons each. By purchasing our own feed truck instead of contracting the work out, we have analyzed the cost savings to be 35%. When you go through 6,400 tons of feed every year this works out to be a large savings. In addition to the savings, we now have complete control of where our truck goes and what goes into the truck. It’s hard to put a price tag on the added bio-security this truck will provide.
  • Our two Kabota tractors have been traded in for 2 new John Deere Tractors. The John Deere tractors are heavy duty and small enough to drive into all of our pens. We decided on the John Deere tractors for several reasons:
    • They are made extremely well. We use our tractors steadily and we need something that will hold up!
    • They are competitively priced for the product you get.
    • They are easily maintained.
    • They are easy to operate.
    • They are very reliable-we can’t afford to have a tractor go down during the busy season!

We invite you to visit the farm and view what a brand new pen looks like and see our new feed truck and tractors in action. Feel free to contact chris@pheasant.com with your questions! I know we have told you this before, but we love hearing from you! We hope you will visit our Facebook page to look for new topics and please let us know we are meeting your needs for information, by liking our posts!

 

 

 

 

 

Smart Investments On Our Pheasant Farm That Pay Off in the Long Run

MacFarlane’s Food Division is a Busy Place

Shayne Noller, our Food Division Supervisor, recently shared his excitement about how busy his crew has been during this last year. This was a recent post on our Facebook page that explains a part of Shayne’s excitement!  “Exciting things are happening at the farm today! We are shipping 40,000 pounds (over 1700 cases) of frozen pheasant to Japan. The container of pheasants will be trucked to Chicago, then it will go on a train to San Francisco and finally will take a boat ride to Japan. “

Shayne shared his comments about the importance of the USDA certification. “Our staff worked hard to fill this order and we are proud to say that our USDA pheasants will be available in the Japan market now! This would not have been possible if we had not received USDA certification in the past year. We were previously inspected by the state of Wisconsin, which was an excellent inspection, but did not allow us to ship internationally. After a process that took about two years, we became USDA certified and it gave us the ability to broaden our horizons.”

Let’s take a look at what keeps us busy in our growing Food Division!

  • Our USDA inspector comes in on processing days and reviews all of our paperwork, including our Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan, (HACCP), and standard sanitary operating procedures. He inspects the cutting room and cutting process. We are happy to report that conformance issues are rare. We have worked together to implement improvements, such as a new air curtain in our back loading dock that prevents any outside elements from entering the building, while we load and unload trucks. Since we are always looking for ways to improve and increase our food sales, we appreciate our USDA inspector’s assistance.
  • We have regular customers throughout the year that order products weekly so we are also busy processing those products. Many customers want fresh birds, so those birds are packaged and shipped or picked up the day after being processed. Our most popular product is dressed whole birds.
  • During the holiday season, from October to January, we ship gift packs that often include whole birds, pheasant pot pies, and smoked whole pheasants. In addition to these pheasant products many people also add items from the retail store into their gift packs. These include sauces, spices, sausages, candy, and recipe books. We even have specialty gift boxes that include wine and Bloody Mary glasses, cutting boards, and other specialty items.
  • Except for a few months in the spring and summer from April to early June, when we slow down after the holiday season, there are usually 6-7 full time employees and 1-2 seasonal employees, as needed. Terry overseas our cut room and ensures that the right products are cut to fill our orders. The main cutters, who cut whole birds into different products, are Maurice, Brenda, and Luz. Alan aids in cutting and mans the vac knife machine. The vac knife is used to retrieve the remainder of the meat from the carcass. Jordan runs our sealing. All items are placed in either bags or pouches and sealed in this machine. This removes all oxygen and seals the products tightly for storage.
  • When our work is finished for the day we clean and sanitize the cut room. The crew cleans all equipment and surfaces in the room. The room and all equipment is washed, rinsed, and sanitized with spray nozzles connected to a hose that is hooked up to a dispensary. It sprays just the right amount of cleaning and sanitizing products. All tools, such as knives and scales, are hand washed and sanitized in a designated sink.

We’re proud of our work in the Food Division at MacFarlane Pheasants. You can be assured that our products are top quality and we encourage you to take a look at all products we have available at our online store.

Japan truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MacFarlane’s Food Division is a Busy Place

Breeding Pheasants with Beautiful Tails

Ringneck Pedigree Pheasants are a unique population of birds we raise at MacFarlane Pheasants. They have the best combination of all pheasant traits. Their lineage is tracked and recorded as we continue to develop the best birds. Breeding pheasants that are hardy and healthy with long, beautiful tails is rewarding. Pedigree birds are used to reproduce breeder males.  When we find great traits we want those traits to be repeated for many years. It is such an interesting process to study pheasants and find those with the best qualities of a pedigree.

We measure a number of traits, including tail length, and then use the birds with the best combination of traits for breeding. It is possible that there are folks out there that don’t care about a long, beautiful tail, but once you see the Pedigree Ringneck you come to a new understanding! Actually, the breeding of birds, via specific traits, over time, leads to a very uniform and consistent bird year after year. Visit our website to view pictures of all the birds we raise at MacFarlane Pheasants. But, before you do, enjoy this good-looking pedigree pheasant!

Breeding Pheasants with Beautiful Tails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chinese Ringneck is the most popular of breeds. This pheasant is used primarily for stocking and hunting. These hardy birds adapt readily to the wild and are prized by sportsmen for their excellent flying ability, brilliant colors, and long beautiful tails!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breeding Pheasants with Beautiful Tails

What is the Big Deal About Maintenance?

We have lots of equipment at MacFarlane Pheasants and we spend a great deal of time making sure that every piece of equipment is kept in great shape. It is important for us to protect our investments, from feed and water systems to delivery trucks. If we don’t maintain our equipment, we waste our resources and we just can’t let that happen, if we want to keep our business profitable!

We have recently shipped our last birds. It is time to get our farm ready for a new season. New hatches will soon be ready to be moved outside to flight pens. We are removing feeders and water pans from the pens and mowing down the remaining cover. Once this task is accomplished we will begin rototilling inside the 150 acres of pens, in preparation for planting fresh cover. Other crew members are going through the pens and repairing any damage, including holes in the top net, holes in the side wire, and broken posts or gates. In addition to this work, we are washing and sanitizing all feeders and water fountains.

Equipment has to be checked out and made ready to go before we can begin preparing the pens. We have nearly 30 licensed vehicles on our farms. In addition to pickup trucks used on the farm, we have delivery trucks, tractors, mowers, manure spreaders and other pieces of equipment that have to be maintained.

We have gators that are great for getting around the farm and in and out of the pens. We use them to haul all the needed equipment into the pens. A gator is a John Deere 4-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle with a small truck bed on the back of it. Gators are important resources to the farm and have been excellent work-horses for us. We take good care of them and keep them fueled up and ready to go so every morning so we can begin the day with confidence.

Trucks that we use on the farm are maintained regularly but also cleaned out and washed each day. All tools and equipment are removed and put away at the end of the day. That way we can start every morning with both tools and equipment ready to go. There is nothing more frustrating than starting the day with missing equipment or a truck with a problem!

The trucks we use for chick and pheasant delivery are gone over with a fine tooth comb, by our maintenance supervisor before they go out on the road. Coolant leaks, flat tires, fuel problems or broken springs can be disastrous when we are delivering a cargo of pheasants. Imagine a driver with 10,000 chicks stranded during a delivery!

Spring is in the air and we are excited about another productive season. If you would like to learn more about  our maintenance procedures or any topic on our farms be sure to contact us.

What is the big deal about maintenance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Big Deal About Maintenance?

Hatching Time At MacFarlane Pheasants

It’s hatching time at MacFarlane Pheasant Farm, and we are busy! We will have about 40 hatches of Ringneck Pheasants between February and August of this year. Each hatch varies, but we will typically have about 16,000 Ringneck chicks per hatch. We have also begun the hatching of Hungarian Partridges (Huns) and French Partridges. We will probably have 6 hatches of 8,000 Huns in each hatch and 12,000 French Partridges in each of 3 hatches!

Although we follow specific guidelines during each chick hatch, each hatch is different, so we need to watch chicks carefully to see if any changes need to be made. During this very critical and busy time, managers make a list of who has been with chicks at what times of day and move crew members around, to get another viewpoint on how the chicks are doing. Constant communication between managers and crew members is necessary so that everyone stays on the same page. Adjustments must be made immediately to avoid any stress on our chicks. We have regular manager meetings and town hall meetings where employees can talk about their concerns or observations. These little extras help us make decisions about changes we might make in a particular hatch to assure that the hatch stays healthy.

Hungarian Partridge chicks and French Partridge chicks are much smaller than the Ringneck chicks, so they require just a little more tender loving care at first. Hun food has to be ground and double ground so that they are able to eat it. We check to see if chicks are perky, spread out evenly, and growing consistently. It is crucial that heat and light are adjusted perfectly. We have found that the French Partridge chicks have to be treated like they are afraid of the dark! Lighting is maintained 24 hours a day in both the “A” and “B” rooms. All of these factors keep our tiny chicks from being stressed and dramatically improve mortality rates.

Similar techniques are used for our Ringneck Pheasants, except we don’t have to grind the food because they start out a little larger. It is still important to provide a constant source of feed and water, keep them warm, perky, and spread out evenly. They can literally smother each other if they are not kept warm enough because they will bunch together to keep warm.

By the time Partridges are 8 weeks old, they are ready to be moved outside into enclosed pens. Ringneck Pheasants are moved outside at 7 weeks. By that time we have another hatch going in the brooder barns. This really is a round-the-clock job for a few months! We check our chicks morning, noon, and night, and more often if any problems are identified.

At MacFarlane, the health of our birds is our top priority. You can go to our Tips on Raising Baby Pheasants manual to read more about this fascinating process or contact us with questions or to schedule a tour.

Pheasant 1

Pheasant 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pheasant 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatching Time At MacFarlane Pheasants

Secret to a Successful Business Plan

MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. didn’t get to be so successful without a plan. We began by developing core values, followed by a mission for our business and careful communication with every employee on the farm.

We believe our plan can effectively help any business owner get on the right track toward running a pheasant business. One way to effectively carry out a good plan is to have daily, weekly, and monthly interactions between highly qualified staff that explain the who, what, when, where, and why of daily operations.

Almost every manager at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. is cross-trained, as are many employees. The importance of regular meetings and daily communications cannot be emphasized enough. If staff is trained only to perform tasks, but not to understand why procedures are followed or why a procedure might change, it is more likely that mistakes will be made that could negatively affect our core values and business mission.

Some procedures must be done automatically every day, but many  daily and long term decisions are based on new circumstances.  If we don’t talk to each other as individuals and as a group, our birds and our business are negatively impacted.

A good rule of thumb, if you want to be successful in any business, was shared by our Research Manager, Trudy DeRemer, “Never train a staff member to just do a job. Always explain why specific procedures are followed.”  New staff members, especially, do not always intuitively understand procedures, but when they know why a procedure is followed, they are far less likely to take shortcuts that would be detrimental to our birds!

We have developed a team approach to the successful operation of our farm and  would be glad to answer your questions about how we  keep our staff trained and current on the daily operations. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about our business.

An overview of our core values, mission statement, and managerial system follows:

Core Values

  • Humane treatment of our birds
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Profitability with integrity
  • Employee job satisfaction
  • Stewardship of the earth
  • Support and encourage community involvement

Mission Statement

  • Sustained profitability focused on integrity and accountability to employees, vendors, and neighbors with respect for our birds and the environment.

 Managerial System

 Owner Operator

  • Financial Officer
  • Division Managers
  • Production Managers for Janesville and Milton
  • Office Manager
  • Food Products Manager
  • Hatchery Barn Manager
  • Brooder Manager
  • Hun Partridge Manager
  • Bird Care Manager
  • Process Crew Manager
  • Saw Room Manager
  • Maintenance Manager
  • Construction Manager
  • Assistant Managers in all divisions

 

Secrets to a Successful Business Plan

 

 

 

 

Secret to a Successful Business Plan

How to Protect Pheasants From Wild Birds and Ground-Dwelling

Predators

The protection of our pheasants and the other game birds we raise is a high priority at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. Wild birds are a hazard we can’t afford to ignore! Birds of prey, such as red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and even bald eagles, prey on our pheasants.  Starlings populations are a huge nuisance and there are lots of them! We take precautions each year to control starling populations on the farm.

Wild geese and ducks transmit Avian Influenza, a  deadly, highly pathogenic virus, carried by migratory water fowl, that causes severe illness and death in poultry populations. The spread of this virus could decimate our farm and put us out of business! It is very important to eliminate contact with the birds and their feces. Read more about Avian Influenza and our biosecurity measures on our website. Salmonella can also be spread by wild birds and requires routine checks for the disease and diligent hygiene practices.

We must also protect our birds from ground-dwelling invaders, like  rodents, foxes, wolves, skunks, cats, and dogs. These animals get pretty excited when they see thousands of pheasants within their reach! They will try to get into pens or go after a pheasant that has escaped from a damaged pen! We are always on the alert for these dangers.

Hawk

Hawk

Steps to Keep our Pheasants Safe

  • MacFarlane Pheasants takes great care to keep feed that would attract wild birds and rodents cleaned up and out of sight.
  • We keep dead birds picked up and away from pens to eliminate the extra attraction of birds of prey and ground predators to the farm.
  • We set up a catch box outside the pens, baited with cracked corn to attract any of our pheasants that might escape the pen and put themselves in danger. Our pheasants can find their way in, but can’t get back out.
  • We check the pens and netting often and repair any damage, to prevent birds of prey from getting in and our pheasants from getting out. We immediately remove and release any birds of prey that get inside a pen. Falconers are sometimes called in to humanely capture hawks. They capture and release them or sometimes use them for educational demonstrations.

Controlling the wild bird population and other animals that come on to the farm requires vigilance because it is critical for disease prevention and to prevent predation of our pheasants. You might enjoy taking a look at our 150 acres of pens by visiting our farm or by taking virtual tour of our pens. You can see how careful we are about protecting the health of our birds! If you have questions related to protecting your pheasant population, feel free to contact Krystal Price at k.price@pheasant.com . She would be glad to help!

 

 

 

 

How to Protect Pheasants From Wild Birds and Ground-Dwelling

2016 Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar is a Hit!

2016 Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar is a Hit 2

2016 Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar is a Hit 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 6-9, 2016 was spent hosting guests from all over the United States. Several attendees came from the UK, Canada, and even a few folks from France came to learn and network about the pheasant industry! This year’s event included over 100 attendees and included veterinarians, producers, students, Dept. of Wildlife employees, hunt club representatives, and others wanting to learn what’s new in the pheasant business. Thank you to our attendees who shared appreciations:

“Where do I begin? I had such an incredible time at the seminar. Bill MacFarlane is an absolute professional and put together an event that far exceeded my expectations. The speakers and meaty topics were amazing and the whole atmosphere lent itself to learning and networking so that game bird producers on a world wide scale can take away incredibly valuable information and industry contacts that will benefit any size producer, Anyone attending the MacFarlane Seminar will leave knowing why Bill and his staff are so successful and respected industry wide. Thank you, Bill.” Darrell Meineke, Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., Wyoming

The seminar was a huge learning experience and the hospitality was excellent. MacFarlane people went out of their way to make everyone feel at home. Thanks.” Al Frank, BC Pheasant Company, Canada

Many who attended were particularly happy with the virtual tours during this year’s seminar. The managers of each MacFarlane Pheasants’ division were on hand to answer questions as the tour played. We owe these talented leaders many thanks!

Attendees also enjoyed the vendors who joined us for the seminar. Appreciations go out to:

3T Products-Todd Laudenslager
Best Vet Solutions-Harlan Schaefer
Hog Slats Inc./George Poultry-Austin Baker, Gary Herring, Cameron Watson, Scott Bauck
Kent Corporation-Tom Johnson, Rick Kuhl Jr.
Market Financial Group-Jim Longhway, Rob Wold
Olmix-Gary Johnson

Our great line up of speakers covered many topics including biosecurity and updates on Avian Influenza. Expert advice also covered diseases, breeding, health, brooding, improvement planning, ventilation, drinking water quality, food products, game birds in the UK and caring for mature birds. Thank you for your expertise:

Dr R. Keith Bramwell PHD, University of Arkansas Poultry Science Department
Dr. Susan Watkins, University of Arkansas Poultry Science Department
Chris Theison, Production Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Brian Davis, Brooder Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Ross Thoreson, Sales Manager, Best Veterinary Services, Iowa
Jeff May, Clear View Enterprises
Dr. Dale Lauer, Poultry Program Director, Minneapolis Board of Animal Health
Alan Pearson, Veterinary Gamebird Consultant, Grating, UK
Doug Anderson, DMV, Georgia Poultry Lab
Austin Baker, Ventilation Director, Hog Slat, Inc.
Maria Rodriguez, Technical Service Director, Olmix
David Wacker, Owner, Prairie Land Gamebirds
Brad Lillie, Financial Officer, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Trudy DeRemer, Research Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Troy Cisewski, Breeder Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Ben Lawton, Hatchery Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Ryan George, Food Products Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Shayne Noller, Food Products Shipping/Processing, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
Rich Thomas, Assistant Production Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.

Special thanks to Sarah Pope, Human Resources/Office Manager, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. for the countless hours she spent organizing this event and to all of the staff at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. for the extra time they put in to making sure the farm was in tip top shape! Feel free to visit our website with follow-up questions. We would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar is a Hit!

The Journey from Chick to Mature Pheasant-We can help!

Are you interested in raising pheasant chicks to maturity on your own farm? You won’t want to miss our excellent resource, The Insider’s Guide to Pheasant Rearing, where you’ll find tips and tricks to help you start preparing for an exciting pheasant raising adventure.

Here are some of the questions you’ll find answers to in our Rearing Guide:

  • Do I want day-old chicks or started birds?
  • What kind of structure do I need for the chicks when they first arrive?
  • How much space do the chicks need as they grow?
  • How do I handle chicks when they first arrive?
  • What kind of heating and bedding do I need?
  • What kind of feed do I need?
  • How do I build an outdoor covered pen to protect older birds from predators?
  • What kind of cover works best in outdoor pens?
  • How do I protect my birds from vermin and predators?
  • How do I protect my birds from disease?
  • How do I protect my birds from cannibalism?
  • What tips do you have for raising pheasant chicks?

Chicks will be available on March 21, 2016, at MacFarlane Pheasants, so it’s time to order. Explore our website at pheasant.com for even more information about purchasing chicks, raising chicks, and even how to visit our farm for a tour to get your questions answered in person.

Order your chicks soon, and feel free to email us with your questions or call us at 608-757-7881.  Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to get updates and information. MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. has raised millions of pheasant chicks to maturity and it is our pleasure to share our knowledge!

4 steps to keeping pheasants healthy in winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey from Chick to Mature Pheasant-We can help!

MacFarlane Pheasants Forms Unique Partnership with Rock Valley Community Programs

MacFarlane Pheasants Forms Unique Partnership with Rock Valley Community Programs

MacFarlane Pheasants has always had a deep commitment to serving the community through both financial contributions and service. We are proud to be associated with the community efforts of ECHO, United Way, Meals on Wheels, and with Rock Valley Community Programs.

MacFarlane Pheasants formed a special partnership with Rock Valley Community Programs (RVCP) about 6 years ago. Qualified clients of RVCP have the opportunity to become temporary employees of MacFarlane Pheasants, with the chance to obtain full-time employment when they transition out of RVCP.

RVCP operates several programs, including a residential re-entry program for adults transitioning from prison back into the community, a program that serves homeless veterans, a mental health service program, and a community service program. RVCP provides counseling, housing, assistance with employment, and transportation to and from job sites.

MacFarlane Pheasants’ partnership with RCVP has been a positive experience. It took some time for all the logistics, such as transportation from the residential facility to work each day, to be worked out, but we are proud to say that 15% of our employees from RVCP have obtained full-time employment with us over the past 6 years. Many more worked hard, gained valuable experience, and moved on to other jobs.

Those employees who have continued to work at MacFarlane Pheasants full time, have attributes like trust, loyalty, and the hard work ethic that we expect from every employee.

Financial Officer Brad Lillie, brad@pheasant.com, would welcome the opportunity to discuss the RVCP partnership and his experience working with the program and its clients.

 

 

 

 

MacFarlane Pheasants Forms Unique Partnership with Rock Valley Community Programs