French Partridges Continue to Thrive!

We have been raising French Partridges, also known as Red-legged Partridges, for several years now. We import the eggs directly from L’envol de Retz in France and we are the only commercial producer in the United States. These beautiful birds weigh between 19 and 25 ounces and are 13-15 inches in length. They have light brown backs, buff bellies and red legs.  They are also one of the most exciting birds to hunt because of their speed and wildness. Hunt clubs love these birds for their hardy nature and ability to withstand extreme climates.

Our ability to raise these partridges at MacFarlane Pheasants has continued to grow and improve over these past few years. For more information about our techniques you might want to look at, “The Secrets to Raising French Partridges” in our blog posts from 2015. The changes we made in rearing strategies over the past couple of years have continued to improve our mortality rate. This has been a great year for French Partridges on our farm!

The annual mortality rate for French Partridges used to fall in the 10%-15% mortality range. This season, we moved our last flock out at the end of August and the annual mortality rate is expected to be at about 4%. We raise an average of 3 hatches of 12,000 birds in each hatch, so using our mortality rate of 4%, we have increased our flock by an extra 2800 birds. That’s good news for our customers! If you want to know more about the French Partridges at MacFarlane Pheasants, Brian Klein at b.klein@pheasant.com is an excellent contact. Also, anytime you put your questions on our Facebook page we will be sure to respond!

french-partridges-continue-to-thrive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Partridges Continue to Thrive!

On the Road with James Clark!

James Clark spoke to me about his work for MacFarlane Pheasants while traveling from his home in Las Vegas to Alberta, Canada. He was making this 19-hour road trip to begin a three month assignment setting up and overseeing the provincial distribution of pheasants. Jim Clark is living proof of our dedication to putting our customers’ needs at the forefront of our business!

Sometimes that includes helping customers decide what their needs are. The following are a few examples of how Jim does this: 

  • Jim helps customers get orders placed on time so that their hunt clubs can be ready for the season.
  • He assists MacFarlane Pheasant customers with every aspect of caring for the pheasants they have purchased. This includes building pens or solving bird problems on-site.
  • He makes sure customers’ questions about their birds are answered. Large flocks of pheasants are a major investment, and Jim is there to ensure they remain healthy.
  • He offers customer consultations as-needed, which typically includes evaluating bird health, feed practices, and habitats.

It’s customer needs like these that have been sending Jim Clark all over North America since 2013, when Bill MacFarlane tempted him out of retirement to serve as a consultant to a hunt club in Idaho, that was experiencing some pheasant-related issues. Jim solved those problems, wrote a detailed report for Bill to confirm his findings and solutions, and ended up joining the MacFarlane Pheasant team, completing a full evaluation of the MacFarlane Pheasant operation in Wisconsin in 2014. Since that time, Jim has continued to work to build partnerships with customers all over North America and help keep them satisfied with their wild bird populations.

It’s no wonder Jim has a knack for understanding each customer’s specific needs—game birds have been in his blood from the time he was a small boy. As an infant, his mother would take him and his sister out by the pens while she was tending to the pheasants. While his 4-year-old sister was allowed to run around, an infant Jim was hung on a nail from his papoose until the work was finished. When he got a little older he was responsible for all the chores you will see on a pheasant farm. Hanging on a fence post was a thing of the past!

After purchasing his parents’ farm in 1978, Jim grew the business for 34 years, starting with raising 5,000 pheasants annually and growing to 100,000 pheasants by the time he retired. During this time, Jim also operated Wisconsin’s oldest hunt club until he sold it in 2006.

Jim’s relationship with Bill MacFarlane extends back to this time, as Jim bought all his pheasant chicks from him. Over 25 years later, they’ve come full circle, with Jim helping to assist MacFarlane Pheasant’s customers with their bird needs. And, according to Jim, he doesn’t have a moment of regret that he came out of retirement. He loves the travel, the business he knows so well, and the relationships he has established in the United States and Canada. “It’s a great life,” says Jim.

MacFarlane Pheasants is fortunate to have a man so experienced with pheasants representing us!  When you need help or have questions before or after your wild bird purchases or want to make a purchase, be sure to contact us at 608.757.7881, toll free at 800.345.8348, or by fax at 608.757.7884.

Jim Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road with James Clark!

Chick Sales are Growing, and Growing, and Growing!

Last year was a great year for chick sales, we sold 1.3 million chicks. This year was even better. We had excellent hatching rates and were able to hatch into mid-August! That led to a whopping 1.5 million chicks we were able to provide to chick customers!

During the week of June 20, 2016, we shipped to over 300 customers. During the 2016 season, we shipped chicks to every state in the United States. We also shipped to Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Haiti.

In addition to providing our customers with chicks, MacFarlane Pheasants has an excellent rearing manual and is available to answer questions before and after sales. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.

Please enjoy this video of chicks hatching while you contemplate how many chicks you will need in 2017!

Chick Sales are Growing, and Growing, and Growing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chick Sales are Growing, and Growing, and Growing!

Lets Talk About Ground Cover on the Milton Farm

Brian Klein oversees the Milton Farm for MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. I recently asked him how ground cover did this year. He gave me some detailed information about how he plans ground cover to best benefit the pheasants kept in Milton. The crew decides which of the 6 covered pens on the Milton farm get planted and which ones grow naturally, each year. The decisions are based on when birds will go into the pens. Pens that receive birds before June 1st almost always go into pens that grow naturally. We would have to plant by April 15th to have a pen ready by June 1st. That is impossible in Wisconsin because it is just too cold at that time of year. Yet weeds like lamb’s quarter or ragweed germinate at the time and provide great early season cover.

Cover is important when raising pheasants, for several reasons:

  • Shelter for birds to get out of harsh weather
  • Provides shade
  • Gives birds something to pick at
  • Reduces eye contact between birds
  • Gives birds a place to escape from one another

But open space is just as important!  Open space gives the birds a chance to come out of wet cover and dry off, a place to dust, and it allows us the ability to visually check on the birds as we drive by them on a daily basis. In order to make sure there is open space available, the crew uses a spray gator with a mild herbicide to spray a 5-foot path around the perimeter and down the center of each pen. In some situations, a 5-foot brush hog can be used to accomplish the same task.

The evaluation of cover is based on low cover, high cover, open space, and amount of ragweed in the pens. If we could get lamb’s quarter to grow in all of our pens, we would have A+ cover. When ragweed is present, we let it grow to about waist high, then it has to be managed. A mixture of 2-4-D herbicide will get rid of ragweed but still allow lamb’s quarter to survive.

This year’s pens were planted with corn. The weather in southern Wisconsin has been almost perfect for growing and the dry spring allowed us to get into the pens early and work the ground. Timely rains and heat this summer allowed cover to flourish. In Milton, we have approximately 40 acres under net, so it was beautiful to see!

If you would like to visit our farm and see first-hand how we provide a habitat for our pheasants that keeps them stress free and healthy, please contact us. We have lots of pens in both Milton and Janesville!

Lets Talk About Ground Cover on the Milton Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets Talk About Ground Cover on the Milton Farm

The Life of the Brooder Crew Changes in August!

The brooder crew in August have only a distant memory of grasses, trees, and shrubs turning green with the longer days and feeling the excitement of the first hatches. The final Ringneck hatches occur the week of August 15th. It is still hot and humid in August but we realize that it is time to shift gears and think about preparations for fall and winter.

We develop a new mindset when preparing for a new season. We go into maintenance mode and make barn conditions the best possible while waiting for the last hatch to move outside.  We concentrate on bird densities during this time which means we thin flocks by moving some birds to open rooms and pens to keep them stress free. Stress free birds are less susceptible to diseases! The pace of our day may slow without preparations for new hatches driving our work day, but daily chores become critical to protecting our birds. Cleaning, looking for problems with equipment, and repairing are major priorities!

Shipping season is ramping up, so our crew may be asked to help in other areas of the farm, like peeping and preparing birds for shipments. We are also focusing on other fall and winter preparations during August and early fall. Imagine turning the pages of a book from spring to summer to fall and finally winter. Our brooder crew has that vision in their heads as the seasons change. The beauty of nature’s changes is connected to the changing chores!  It is a beautiful time of year to visit MacFarlane Farms!

The Life of the brooder crew changes in august

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life of the Brooder Crew Changes in August!

Kaicie Chasteen-Proud University of Florida Student and MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Intern

Kaicie Chasteen is completing a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with an emphasis on beef cattle, a focus on poultry and a minor in fisheries and aquatic sciences. This impressive program demonstrates her focus and determination. She is a proud senior at the University of Florida, which by the way, is Florida’s land-grant university, established by the Morrill Act signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. Kaicie provided us with that bit of history and it was interesting to follow up on the Morrill Act.

Kaicie also spent two months this summer, as an intern at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.

It was an exciting 17 hour drive from Kaicie’s hometown in North Florida on the day she came to Janesville to begin her internship!  After a bit of rest, she started a whirlwind of training, ending up working in almost every department. This is an important feature of the internship program on our farm. We try to make sure our interns get a wide range of experiences. Kaicie started in the hatchery and went on to the hen barn, the catch crew, bird care, food processing and finally the office!

We all  enjoyed her sense of humor. When asked what valuable lessons she had learned on the farm, she responded with, “Never take a chile pepper from someone unless you are fully prepared to eat it with everyone watching.” I didn’t ask for follow up details as my sinuses were burning, just thinking about it!

More seriously though, Kaicie feels that the skills she learned in each department will help her achieve success in her chosen career. She is very appreciative of all the managers and employees, who she described as “great,” because of their willingness to show her how to do things and to answer questions. It is an awesome feeling to know Kaicie saw that we were serious about providing a learning experience that will make a difference in her future and the future of the game bird industry.

In addition to the farm experience, Kaicie was able to learn about Wisconsin. She got to visit the Dells, Devil’s Lake, The Wisconsin State Fair, The Rock County Fair, Milwaukee, and Lake Michigan, as well as partake in many other activities.

Thanks for joining us Kaicie. We wish you the very best as you graduate from college in December and move into the world of work!

Kaicie Chasteen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaicie Chasteen-Proud University of Florida Student and MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Intern

What Does It Take to Sanitize 21 Brooder Rooms?

Yep, you heard it right! We have 21 brooder rooms in our Brooder Department. We spend quite a bit of time keeping our rooms in perfect condition. The cleaning and sanitizing process takes place 3, 4, or even 5 days a week and each area can take several hours to clean, sanitize, and dry out. Depending on the size of the room, the drying process can be anywhere from 4-8 hours. Luckily, the brooder crew has a 2nd shift so we can be washing in both the day and evening hours. Let me detail the process for you:

  1. We hook up the pressure washer to a vehicle and take it to the room that needs washing.
  2. Supplies needed include hoses, pressure washer guns, kerosene for hot water, disinfectant foam, backpack for guns, and a jetter which helps if we get a clogged drain.
  3. Now its time to set up the pressure washer.
  4. We start at the ceiling, then move to the fans, feed and water systems, walls, floors and any equipment on the pad outside the door.
  5. Our next step is to start all over again with a new gun to apply the disinfectant foam and cover the room like a foam party!
  6. The last step is to allow the room to dry before putting down shavings and straw.

When we are starting the chick hatching season in spring, we pressure wash the A Room, use our foaming disinfectant on the room and equipment and make sure it is dry before we add the shavings and straw to the floor. Once the birds are old enough to go into a B Room, we wash, foam, let the area dry and set up the B room. Then we open a door and give birds a chance to move over, by themselves. We are so proud when they choose to move to the clean and ready room on their own! But, some birds are stubborn, so when time is available we give them a day to transition before we have to get involved in catching them individually or encouraging the groups of stragglers to move to their brand spanking clean living quarters. Then the door is closed and we start the cleaning process all over again in Room A.

Please enjoy an informative video from our website, describing our brooder barns. We hope you will “Like” our Facebook page and tell us about other topics that interest you. Your success is our success!

Brooder Barns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Take to Sanitize 21 Brooder Rooms?

What Does Day Length Have To Do With Pheasant Mating?

Pheasant mating is triggered by the longer spring days. The roosters’ pituitary glands become active at this time and the hormones produced cause the roosters to have the physiological desire to mate. At MacFarlane Pheasant Farms we have a select group of breeders, so of course we don’t want the pheasants we are growing for mature sales, to breed.

This year our first hatch was February 22nd. Typically, the first hatch is around March 7th.  Since we hatched earlier, as the days got longer, our males were triggered to want to mate. Imagine the scene when we noticed that the roosters in a flock of 20,000 pheasants were strutting around trying to claim territories! They strutted and crowed and had little tolerance for each other because their hormones were raging.

We had to move quickly to separate the 20,000 hens and roosters and eliminate the mating dances! We followed two basic procedures:

  • Separated the roosters from the hens to make sure breeding did not take place.
  • Added larger peepers to the roosters in order keep them calm and redirected.

All is well right now and we will have our beautiful mature pheasants ready for late summer/ early fall shipment! Now is the time to plan your orders and let us know your needs. We will help in any way we can to assist you. Please call our office at 608-757-7881 for advice on placing an order. You can also access an order form on our website.

What Does Day Length Have To Do With Pheasant Mating?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Day Length Have To Do With Pheasant Mating?

 

 

Town Hall Meetings Help to Keep Us Centered!

About a year and half ago we started having Town Hall Meetings, every six months, with each crew on the farm. Managers are not present at these meetings. Our owner, Bill MacFarlane, coordinates the discussions. This is an opportunity for employees to share concerns and ideas with Bill.

Sarah Pope, our office manager, sets up the meeting times and takes notes at the meetings. Bill  reviews the notes and follows up by discussing employee concerns and ideas with managers.  It takes about  a month to complete meetings with each crew. Prior to the beginning of Town Hall Meetings,Sarah spends many hours setting up meeting times that work for everyone. Every crew member is required to attend, so it takes a  lot of planning to pull the meetings together. Though Bill leads the discussions, he focuses more on being a good listener and allowing employees to be heard. There are four main questions asked at every meeting:

  • 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?

Meetings can last from 30 minutes to two hours. It all depends on how much employees have to say. Some groups have pages of ideas, questions, and needs at a particular meeting and others don’t have as many concerns or needs at the time of the meeting. The meetings are a special opportunity to build trusting relationships between Bill and his employees, and for Bill to get new ideas from the people who do the daily work that keeps the farm running successfully. Employees feel good about the opportunity to share their thoughts and Bill appreciates the chance to get caught up on how each crew is feeling, what their needs are, and how their work is going.

In addition to the Town Hall Meetings, we have an employee monthly newsletter that comes out with the paychecks. We have a communication board in the break room and supervisors receive emails that they share with employees. Our crew members communicate constantly throughout each day, in person and via the radios. These modes of communication are just as important as our Town Hall Meetings. As you have heard us say many times before, communication is the key to our success at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. Town Hall Meetings were devised in order to add another layer to the communication process.

Please feel free to contact us with your ideas, concerns and questions. We sincerely appreciate your thoughts.

Town-Hall-Meeting-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Town Hall Meetings Help to Keep Us Centered!

MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Features Intern Madison Demel

Madison Demel is a senior in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University. She is an ambitious student with a double minor in the Animal Science Industry and Business. Her major field of study is Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management.

 MacFarlane Pheasants has worked with Kansas State University for many years. While attending the Pheasant Fest in Kansas City, Madison stopped at the MacFarlane Pheasants’ booth. She swapped contact information during that first meeting and, later that week, emailed MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. to request a summer internship. Madison was invited to do her internship during the summer of 2016 and moved from Clearwater, Kansas to Janesville, WI in May of this year.

Madison expressed her enjoyment of the adventure and overall experience at the farm. “It has been a pleasure to meet such wonderful people who share the same passion and interest in game birds as I do,” she told us. She has already formed lasting friendships and the new friends have already made plans to visit, after Madison returns to Kansas.

Madison also told us that she has learned to appreciate the impact of each and every job on the farm and how crucial every job is to MacFarlane’s success. She has enjoyed learning what it is like to be part of a large scale production business and the importance of being knowledgeable about the entire life cycle of game birds.

Lastly, Madison told us that she is impressed with the positive impression MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. has made in the game bird and wildlife industries. She would like to give a shout out to everyone on the farm. She ended by saying, “I’m thankful for everyone having such welcoming arms and making my internship a memorable learning experience.”

We are so appreciative to have the opportunity to work with interns from Kansas State University. Thank you, Madison, for your positive attitude and hard work. We will miss you and expect to hear great things about your future impact on the game bird industry!

Madison Demel

MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Features Intern Madison Demel