Have a Very Gourmet Christmas and a Grand New Year

I don’t know about you, but the holidays seem to bring out the gourmet chef in me! We have scaled back on gifts at my house and have been splurging on having a pot luck of delicious foods. Pheasant has been a frequent request! I have served it baked with rice, in a pheasant pot pie, a pheasant pizza, a pheasant salad, and even on the grill.

This year I am serving pheasant brats. MacFarlane Pheasants has a great selection of brats that can be ordered from their online store.The brat flavor I am excited about for my holiday gathering is made from pheasant meat, pork and Swiss cheese! I expect it to be a real treat and I am NOT offering buns. I want friends and family to taste the full flavor of this delicious pheasant.

If you are looking for an easy gourmet delight for your holiday gathering, check out the online store at MacFarlane Pheasants. Be sure to download the recipe book for delicious recipes with pheasant. It’s free!



Have a gourmet holiday and a grand new year!

Winterizing Pens Keeps Game Bird Farmers Busy

On any given day at MacFarlane Pheasants, 3-6 people are kept busy winterizing the pens that hold pheasants, partridges, and huns. Typically, this work begins in October, as the temperature starts to get colder. The process we follow is repeated yearly, during the fall. Just like many jobs on a game bird farm, processes are repeated seasonally to make sure our pheasant population is well protected all year long.

What We Do

  • When the outside temperature drops below freezing, we shut the automatic water system down (pull plassons out of pens and pull pressure reducers and spindles).
  • Water pans are placed in the pens at 1 pan per 100 birds.
  • Wood blocks are placed under every prop post that holds the top nets, so when we have to drop nets due to snow or ice, the posts are not frozen in the ground.
  • Pens that are empty are mowed, feeders vacuumed, equipment is pulled and nets are placed down for the remainder of the season.
  • Pens with cover through the top nets are cut and pulled out so snow can fall through freely.

Why We Do It

  • The pans we place in pens are used until snow falls (like we had this past weekend). Once the snow falls the birds can hydrate through the snow.
  • The reason we pull the plassons and reducers out of the pens is to prevent them from breaking in the cold. Below 0 wind chills are expected this whole week so we would definitely have problems if we didn’t get them pulled.
  • The blocks are needed for the time leading up to the ground freezing. When heavy snow and ice are forecasted, we drop all the nets, so the elements don’t weigh down the nets and tear or break them.

All of these jobs keep our pheasant population protected during the winter, while we plan for our spring set up and a whole new seasonal process!  Take a look at 4 Steps to Keeping Pheasants Healthy in Winter to read more about winter preparations at MacFarlane Pheasants.

Stay warm and safe this winter and be sure to contact us if you have a topic you would like to have us write about!















Winterizing Pens Keeps Game Bird Farmers Busy

Memories from Early Winter in the MacFarlane History

As the cold settled in this past week, I was reminded of the Great Armistice Day Storm of 1940. Ken MacFarlane, Uncle to Bill MacFarlane, died in this infamous storm. He had gone duck hunting with friends on the Upper Mississippi on November 11,1940 and never returned.

A beautiful warm day turned bitterly cold as a blizzard surprised hunters. Temperatures fell to -55 degrees and Ken and his friends hunkered down to survive the night. More than 50 hunters were found frozen the next morning and Ken MacFarlane was among them. History changed that night! The full story of Ken MacFarlane’s life was covered in our blog last December. 

His memory is cherished by the MacFarlane family, not only because he was a young man with a new family, whose life was cut short, but because Ken was the first in the family to begin raising pheasants in Janesville, Wisconsin and selling them for profit. He started the business on his dad’s farm and then bought 15 acres to begin growing the business. That was 89 years ago! 

His brother, Don MacFarlane, whose interesting life is chronicled in a blog post called “The History of MacFarlane Pheasants, Part 2” continued to grow the pheasant business until his retirement in 1979. Bill MacFarlane, his son, took over the business in 1979. 

Bill takes great pride in the family business. He recognizes the sacrifices that were made to build this business and is quite sentimental about carrying on the tradition. Bill was 24 years old when he returned from college to take over the business and committed himself to working hard and making his dad proud. 

MacFarlane Pheasants has continued to grow during the last 37 years and I’m sure Bill’s dad and uncle would be proud. Who would have dreamed that millions of pheasant chicks would travel from Janesville, Wisconsin to the entire United States, Europe and Canada, in one year? Over 600,000 mature game birds will be delivered in North America, this year! 

Who knows if MacFarlane Pheasants would be the business it is today, if Ken and Don MacFarlane hadn’t started a pheasant business in Janesville! After knowing the story of Ken’s pheasant business and his devastating hunting trip, I doubt that a winter will pass that I don’t remember the Great Armistice Day Storm of 1940 and be reminded of MacFarlane Pheasants’ beginning.


















Memories from Early Winter in the MacFarlane History

10 Christmas Ideas for Your Pheasant Loving Friends

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and we are so happy to offer you some exciting choices for your pheasant loving friends and family!  Items can be purchased at our store in Janesville or online and we are sure that your gifts will delight the recipients and arrive on time! MacFarlane Pheasants’ employees pride themselves on quality service.

  1. Awesome Books, Game Bird Breeders, How to Hunt Birds with Gun Dogs, Upland Game Birds, Guide to Pheasant Hunting)
  1. The Elegant Pheasant Gift Basket (4 pheasant breasts, cranberry sauce, medium cheddar, pheasant recipes)
  1. Pheasant Tailgater Gift Basket (Whole pheasant, ground pheasant, cordon bleu brats, skinless pheasant breasts, cranberry grilling sauce, 2 old fashion glasses, Abdullah miniature mints, pheasant recipes)
  1. Family Pheasant Night Gift Basket (2 pheasant pot pies, spatula, sauce)
  1. Cheddar Cheese in the shape of a pheasant
  2. Whole Pheasant With Rice and Grilling Sauce
  3. Classic Pheasant (2 Whole Pheasants, wild rice silicone spoon)
  4. Whole and Smoked Pheasant Combo
  5. Quail Pack ( Ok, it’s not pheasant but it is a delicious game bird)
  6. Chili Con Pheasant (Ground Pheasants, Chili Mix, Chili Bowl, cheddar cheese, spoon, pheasant chili recipes)












10 Christmas Ideas for Your Pheasant Loving Friends

How Do We Monitor and Plan for Bird Deliveries?

Before MacFarlane Pheasants can monitor our bird deliveries, we make the sales! Many of our customers are repeat customers. Their orders come in early because they don’t want to miss out on getting their birds for the season. Every spring we send out quotes to anyone that has ordered the year before and we typically get a response right away. We also get new orders from people we meet through the North American Game Bird Association (NAGA), our website, and word of mouth. We deliver all over North America, to places like Alberta, Canada, Quebec, Canada, Florida, Washington, Oregon, and as far as California.

The process used for monitoring bird deliveries is typical for a large business. We use Excel, QuickBooks and a chronological schedule to monitor how many birds each customer has ordered. When people take birds, the number is tracked on each of these 3 methods and all the numbers must match. Using more than one method assures accuracy!

We have a delivery form that is given to the process crew so they know how many birds go on each load. The process crew then gives the office the crate numbers that explain how many crates and how many birds are in each crate. Once again, all the numbers must match before the delivery drivers take off. To read more about deliveries you might want to check out previous blog posts. It is quite a production and customer service provided by our drivers and representatives is exceptional.

Call us at 608-757-7881 with any questions you have about securing a shipment or learning more about MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.












How Do We Monitor and Plan for Bird Deliveries?

Clean Water is the Life Blood of Living Things

Water is needed for all of the organic processes necessary for life. It regulates body temperature, digestion, and elimination of waste. Game birds consume at least twice as much water as feed and it is a big responsibility at MacFarlane Pheasants to keep our water clean and flowing. It is also an easy and cost effective avenue to administer nutrients, acidifiers, and vaccines that our thousands of birds need to ensure good health.

However, keeping the water clean is complicated by the additives we use. The additives can promote bacterial growth inside the waterlines where it can go unnoticed. If the additive helps the birds, chances are there is something in the waterline that also gets a boost. We have a line cleaning system to eliminate the risk of contaminants, biofilm, scale and other bacterium build-up. Pseudomonas, E coli, and salmonella are conditions that can develop without proper water line cleaning.

The water line cleaning schedule and supplemental care must be performed regularly and with careful attention to detail. One issue with water line cleaning is that the process has to work without harming the water line, medicators, and pressure equipment used in the system. The system we have in place is safe for our equipment.

Water Line Cleaning Process 

  • Remove birds from area where water lines are being cleaned.( We clean the lines every time a hatch is moved from one room to another.)
  • Pump 3% solution CID 2000 (strong hydrogen peroxide/peroxy acetic acid solution) in the lines, including small bell waterer hoses, for 12 hours straight.
  • Fully flush lines and run a trader dye to make sure all lines get the solution and to guarantee that the solution is completely flushed from the lines.
  • Move new set of birds in.

Supplemental Care (especially after running vitamins or probiotics) 

  • Run up to 1 oz. of CID 2000, mixed in 1 gallon of water through our proportioner or medicator at a rate of 1:128 (Lines used with younger birds are usually started with 1/2 oz.) Lines are then tested with H202 test strips.
  • Remember that when testing waterers, nothing may show up on test strips. At that point the maximum of 1 oz. is run through the medicator. Testing at this point is essential, as the target residual in the lines is 25-50 ppm. A higher concentration can harm the birds by slowing their drinking.
  • Run Chlorinators on wells to aid in controlling bacteria, especially in outdoor pen facilities.
  • Test water regularly because if the chlorine level is too high, it will affect how much birds drink.
  • Chlorine is filtered out of the water going into brooder barns.

We check to see if our lines are plugged or water pressure is abnormally low to find out if water line cleanliness is negatively affecting our chicks. Birds need water, it is their life blood! So when we do our regular checks of our birds and they don’t seem right, one of the variables we look at is whether there is something in the water lines that can’t be seen. The only way to know is to have your water tested. However, it is inexpensive to run a maximum of 1 oz. CID 2000 solution when not running nutrients, to be sure your water is clean. Please contact b.davis@pheasant.com if you have question about water line cleaning.















Clean Water is the Life Blood of Living Things

What is the Largest Pheasant Breed Offered at MacFarlane Pheasants?

The Extra-Large Ringneck Pheasant is the largest pheasant breed we offer on our farm. This breed is primarily Mongolian blood and is a real challenge for bird dogs to get into flight! These big birds tend to be ground runners. When they do get off the ground they are slower flyers. The cocks weigh in between 3.5-4 pounds and hens weigh between 2.5-3 pounds, at maturity. They are about 1 pound larger than the standard Ringneck, which is our biggest seller. The Extra-Large Ringneck appeals to hunt clubs and growers for two main reasons.

  • Great for youth hunters because they are easier to hit
  • Super for growers and clubs who are looking for a bird for meat production

We encourage our buyers to get their orders in early if the Extra-Large Ringneck is their bird of choice!

Check out our recent blog posts to review descriptions of our most popular birds during the current season and give us a call at 608-757-7881, when you are ready to order.
















What is the Largest Pheasant Breed Offered at MacFarlane Pheasants?

Who Benefits from Our Feed Truck?

The feed truck pictured here, has been in use for about a year now at MacFarlane Pheasants. In the past we had feed delivered from a third-party vendor. The feed truck purchase has definitely improved our ability to take charge of our feeding schedule and costs.

Our truck holds 15-18 tons of feed in its 6 compartments. We analyzed the cost benefit of owning our own truck and found the yearly savings for feed to be at about 35%. Owning our own truck means we have complete control of where our truck goes and what goes into it. This eliminates many bio-security issues and our birds always benefit from added safety features.

Now that we have our own truck, we take it to the feed mill and pull under a chute that fills the truck from above. The truck sits on a scale and is weighed, after being filled, in order for the feed mill to bill us for the contracted feed. We immediately enter this information into our own reconciliation spreadsheet.

Once we get the truck home we use it to feed our outside birds by filling their feeders directly in the pens. We feed our inside birds by filling the feed bins that are then brought inside. This is a daily job so our feed truck is in constant use!

Everyone on the farm benefits from the feed truck. Obviously, it is a lot easier to drive our truck around the property to feed the birds. It is also a much more efficient use of employee time. Because feed is our 2nd highest annual cost and labor is our number one cost, we all benefit from the efficient use of a feed truck!

feed truck














Who Benefits from Our Feed Truck?

All About Feed and Record Keeping at MacFarlane Pheasant Farm

We go through about 6000 tons of feed per year to feed our birds. Those tons of feed translate into the 2nd largest constant expense on the farm. The importance of record keeping can’t be overstated. Feed reconciliation is kept on a spreadsheet where every feed delivery is recorded with the invoice price and the date payments are made. The spreadsheet  information allows us to assess the data and find out all the information we need to know about feed in order to make wise decisions about our feed purchases.

 Reconciliation Spreadsheet Information:

  • Monthly feed usage
  • Yearly feed usage
  • Monthly feed cost
  • Average feed cost for the month or year
  • Informs us how much feed we should contract
  • Informs us when to contract for feed
  • Helps to determine cash flow we will have available after planning for feed costs

Feed Planning Process

  • Internal feed orders are given to Chris Theisen
  • Chris orders the feed from Kent Nutrition
  • We pick up the feed with our own feed truck
  • The invoice for feed is recorded on the reconciliation form and then submitted for payment
  • Bill MacFarlane reviews the invoice and approves it for payment
  • Once payment is made, the invoice is marked paid and then filed
  • Lastly, the reconciliation form is updated

Record keeping is very important to the success of a business. If you would like to learn more about our process, feel free to contact chris@pheasant.com.

Keep watching our blog for information about our feed truck and how we use it to keep our birds fed, healthy, and happy. We began using our own feed truck about a year ago and we are looking forward to telling you about it. In the meantime, why not download our guide to what it takes to successfully manage and run a game bird farm?










All About Feed and Record Keeping at MacFarlane Pheasant Farm

Popular Game Birds in 2016-2017



The Chinese Ringneck is our best seller at MacFarlane Pheasants. We expect to sell over 450,000 of these birds in 2016-2017. They are the most popular breed in the United States. Since they were brought here from China in 1881, they have continued to flourish and can be found in over 40 States. Hunters love them for their excellent flying ability and beautiful coloring.





The Chukar Redleg Partridge is originally from Eurasian habitats, so they don’t do the best in snowy cold climates. They like stony desert-like habitats with bushy terrain and a water source. Hunters like them because they have get-up-and-go when flushed, adding excitement to the hunt. Interestingly, they run uphill and flush downhill, giving hunters many chances! Plenty of hunt clubs have the ideal habitat for these birds and we will provide 50,000 of these birds to hunt clubs, during this season.





The French Red-Legged Partridge has been around for centuries. MacFarlane Pheasants raises them from eggs we import from France. They are easy to raise, hardy, can withstand extreme temperatures and are flighty and wild. It is the speed and wildness of these birds that attracts hunters to clubs where they are offered. We will send out about 42,000 of these birds, this year.





The Hungarian Partridges are hardy and like to travel in groups. They are noisy birds, so hunters with a good ear can locate them more easily. Since they have lots of brown markings they blend well with their surroundings. They are one of the game birds that pair up and mate for life; so if you were looking to propagate some birds on a small farm they might be your choice. We expect to ship 40,000 of these birds, this season.





The K-Thunder was a bird developed by a partnership between Thundering Wings Pheasant Farm in Kansas and MacFarlane Pheasants. It is a high flying, smaller bird that gives hunters a run for their money! It is very popular with European customers. We expect to ship 32,500 birds this year.





The Melanistic Mutant is a pure pheasant breed. They are a favorite for release because they have an outstanding ability to survive and reproduce in the wild. Their gorgeous iridescent, greenish-black plumage and their larger size add to their appeal. We expect to ship 10,000 of these birds during the current season.




Popular Game Birds in 2016-2017