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

Typical Work Day for The Brooder Crew at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.

The brooder crew is always busy at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. Crew members are responsible for the youngest chicks on our farm so their work is intensive and important. We have two shifts per day.

Day Shift Hours-7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Night Shift Hours-2:00 p.m.-11 p.m. 

  • A typical day includes both work and communication with each other, maintenance if needed, and the opposite shift.
  • Chores include walking every barn, washing waterers, checking feed, heat, and removing chicks that have died. The chores take about 3 hours.
  • Crew members meet up when chores are done to discuss any maintenance needs and report the needs to the appropriate person.
  • Each day is slightly different but after chores we might be putting chicks in barns, breaking down and cleaning out barns, moving birds from an A room to a B room, moving huns from room to room, bitting huns, helping with peeping, or moving older birds outside.
  • Luckily, we have lunch at noon!
  • The afternoon includes finishing morning tasks and making our afternoon check of every barn to check the well-being of our birds.
  • Lastly, the day shift communicates with the night shift about what is complete or needs work. The night shift carries out similar work and is in the brooder barns from 2:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. The last check of the evening before the night shift leaves, includes setting alarms so that if the temperatures drop in the barns, we are alerted immediately.

If you would like to learn about our brooder crew and their work, please contact Brian Davis (



















Typical Work Day for The Brooder Crew at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.

What does It Take To Work On MacFarlane Pheasant’s Brooder Crew?

Our job posting for a brooder crew worker lists the basic skills needed to work anywhere on our farm. A crew member needs to be: responsible, dependable, motivated, have organizational skills, common sense, acute attention to detail, have a valid driver’s license, and be able to lift 50 pounds or more.

In addition to those skills, we look for some other attributes and experiences that will insure success on the brooder crew.

  • Positive attitude
  • Willingness to learn
  • Quick learner
  • Internal drive and a sense of urgency
  • Ability to work independently and as a team member
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Strong communication skills
  • Punctual
  • Honest
  • Reliable
  • Ethical

Tractor and skid loader experience is also a huge plus in this position.

The reason these attributes are important for a brooder crew worker is that we work in a fast-paced and tightly scheduled world. We have young, wild birds in the barns and they can be unpredictable.

During our peak, we care for nine barns with around 220,000 birds at one time, with birds hatching weekly. It takes super organization to make sure their environments, feed, water, and care is top quality. We also do a fair amount of our own maintenance to keep our equipment in tip-top shape. We are always looking ahead to new technology so that we work smarter, not harder. Sometimes things go wrong. There can be lots of stress with so many young animals. A positive attitude and the ability to work with a team to solve problems are essential qualities.

MacFarlane Pheasants is an equal opportunity employer. If you are interested in working on our pheasant farm, please see our website at















What does It Take To Work On MacFarlane Pheasant’s Brooder Crew?

Charity Pheasant Hunt at MacFarlane’s Milton Farm

Every year for 20 years, Rick Rollo and his brothers have held a hunting event to “pay it forward” to the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical staff who helped to take care of their father, Big Al, as he battled cancer for 10 years. This charity event grew from a small event, with 8 hunters donating about $800-$1000, 20 years ago, to an amazing event with 56 hunters raising $21,100 in 2017!

Paying it forward required the involvement of many people along the way and Rick Rollo shared the story with me this morning. My heart was touched hearing about the people who cared and the activities that have been made possible by donations, during a once a year hunting event at MacFarlane Pheasants’ Milton Farm.

Rick and his family held the first event 20 years ago with the help of old friend and hunting buddy, Jim Clark. Jim owned Blonhaven Pheasant Farm in Milton, WI, in 1997, the first year of the event, and he offered the farm for the charity hunt. Let’s fast-forward a few years. Bill MacFarlane began leasing the same Milton farm in 2012. Rick met with Bill and asked if they could continue to run the “Big Al” event at the MacFarlane Pheasants’ Milton Farm. Rick remembers Bill telling him, “I’m all in. Tell me what you need.”

After the “Cancer Shoot” began to expand by leaps and bounds and Rick’s dad passed away in 2007, Rick met with the Safari Club, Wisconsin Chapter board members to discuss setting up a charity within the club. They were happy to be a part of a charity honoring Big Al Rollo!

Rick wanted to expand his dad’s legacy to benefit folks who would never get to experience all the benefits of land and wildlife, without a little help. The “Big Al” charity was expanded to provide hunting and fishing trips to physically challenged or terminally ill children and disabled vets. Rick remembered going along on a fishing trip with a group of physically challenged children and watching the joy on their faces as fish were caught and pulled into the boat. He said he went back to his car that day and cried. In addition to that particular activity, fishing trips for kids with cancer, buying an all-terrain wheel chair for a young man, providing pheasant hunts for disabled veterans, and trap shooting for chemo patients are just a few more activities funded by the “Big Al” hunt.

Brian Klein, the Milton Farm Manager, talked to me about what the event has meant to him and his crew. He said that the hunt takes place at a very busy time of year and that he and his crew spend about two weeks getting ready for the “Big Al” charity event, but he also said he wouldn’t give it up for the world! The day is such a positive experience. They hold a European style hunt, hold raffles, have a dinner and share camaraderie with other hunters. All in all, since 2007, $135,000 has been raised for “Big Al” charities. Who wouldn’t be proud to be a part of this event?

Rick knew we were going to talk about this event and he asked me to please thank Bill MacFarlane, Brian Klein, and the rest of the MacFarlane crew for their many years of dedication to the “Big Al Charity Hunt.”

Thank you, Rick, for sharing your story. I can imagine your dad smiling with pride at your accomplishments.































Charity Pheasant Hunt at MacFarlane’s Milton Farm

Manchurian Cross Pheasants Are Popular in Utah

It has been more than a quarter of a century since MacFarlane Pheasants first imported Manchurian pheasant eggs into the United States from China. We imported 1260 eggs and went through a rigorous process to get these eggs back to our farm. When we finally did, we ended up with 400 chicks that were certified by the USDA as 100% healthy. We are still the only pheasant farm in the United States that continues to maintain a pure flock of this bird. 

We crossed the Manchurian with a Chinese Redneck to produce a beautiful bird we call the Manchurian Cross. This bird is very popular in the northwestern part of the United States. We will always maintain this pure flock and continue to cross them with our Chinese Ringneck because they are such an exciting bird. 

Recently, I spoke with Royd Hatt, who runs a hunt club on the edge of the San Rafael desert in Utah, about his experience with the Manchurian Cross. He is in his 41st year of business and started buying Manchurian Cross eggs and chicks from MacFarlane Pheasants soon after they were first established on our farm. Royd’s excitement about these birds has not waned after all of these years. Here’s what he had to say. “They are a superior bird, the wildest pen raised bird available. The survival rate after release is fantastic, better than any other bird. Their flight is more explosive than any other bird and they are absolutely beautiful!” 

Thanks Royd for reminding us what a great bird the Manchurian Cross is and why we are committed to raising them for our customers. We have two articles about the experience of traveling to China to purchase the first eggs. Follow our link to 25 years of the Manchurian Project-Part 1 and Back to the Past Manchurian Project-Part 2 and enjoy reading about how the Manchurian Pheasant first came to MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.













Manchurian Cross Pheasants Are Popular in Utah


Sign Up Early for the 11th Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar March 4-7, 2018

It is our pleasure at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. to announce that the Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar will be held March 4-7, 2018 in Janesville,  WI.  Let me share what Darrell Meineke, from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said about the 2016 seminar.

Where do I begin,” he said. “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.” 

We have planned the 2018 seminar to be just as exciting and informative as past years. Our speakers are the best in the business and we are delighted to have them share their knowledge with other game bird growers. The topics and our speakers are listed below, but a full schedule with times and lunch and dinner sites is available on our website. 


Sunday, March 4th

Registration at Ramada – Poolside w/ cash bar 3:00-6:00 pm

Depart hotel for dinner 6:15 pm

Welcome Dinner at Prime Quarter Steakhouse 6:30 pm


Monday, March 5th

Welcome -Bill MacFarlane

Dr. Justin Fowler, University of Georgia

All about Feathering

James Clark, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc

Managing Vegetative Cover in a Gamebird Operation

Trudy DeRemer, MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc

All About Biosecurity

Austin Baker, Hog Slat

Modern Brooder Barn Ventilation

Drive Around Tours of MacFarlane Pheasants

Virtual Farm Tour – Brian Davis

MacFarlane Pheasants Brooder Barn

Virtual Farm Tour – Ryan George & Shayne Noller

MacFarlane Pheasants Food Production


Tuesday, March 6th 

Welcome – Bill MacFarlane

Dr. Richard Schambow

Interstate Movement of Birds

Michael Forsgren, Forsgren’s Pheasant Farm

Forsgren’s Pheasant Farm

Royd Hatt, Hatt’s Ranch

Raising Reeve Pheasant

Dr. Al Hollister, Dawe’s Laboratories

Feed Additives

Hands on Egg Breakout Lab & Demonstration on Sexing Day-Old Chicks

Dr. Keith Bramwell & Josh Deines

Necropsy Lab

Dr. Robert Porter & Dr. Nick Anthony

Virtual Farm Tour – Krystal Price

MacFarlane Pheasants Hatchery


Wednesday, March 7th 

Welcome – Bill MacFarlane

Josh Deines, University of Arkansas

Egg Storage and Impact on Hatchability

Jeff May, ClearView Enterprises

Mycoplasma in gamebirds

Dr. Richard Keith Bramwell

Early Embryonic Mortality

Farm virtual tour – Brian Check

MacFarlane Pheasants Pen Operation

Farm virtual tour – Kate Rollette

MacFarlane Pheasants White Breeding Program

Farm virtual tour – Heidi Welch

Brooding Hungarian Partridge

Farm virtual tour – Troy Cisewski

MacFarlane Pheasants Breeder Farm

The fee for this outstanding seminar has not increased for some time. It is still $500 for the 3-day seminar that includes dinner on Sunday night, and lunch, and dinner on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday! If you sign up for this seminar before December 1, 2017, MacFarlane Pheasants Inc. is pleased to provide a discounted fee of $475.

The newly remodeled Ramada Inn, 3900 Milton Ave, Janesville, WI is providing accommodations at a price of $75 per night, if you mention the seminar when making reservations. A hot breakfast is always included in your stay at the Ramada. Please call 608-756-4511 for reservations.

To speak with someone directly about this seminar, please call Sarah Pope at 800-345-8348 or email her at You may also visit our website resources tab to find the 2018 seminar and register online.






Sign Up Early for  the 11th Bi-Annual International Pheasant Management Seminar

March 4-7, 2018