The brood-rearing period is a time of rapid growth for ring-necked pheasants, and keeping young birds in good condition can prevent many problems. Young pheasant chicks are somewhat dependent upon their mother to keep them warm in the wild. In captivity, pheasant chicks should be in a brooder house, which is relatively weather-tight, free from drafts and rodent-proof.
A special game bird brooder house or a building that has been used for rearing chickens can be used. If the building was used for rearing chickens, the brooder house must be disinfected properly. If such facilities are not available, a part of some other building, such as a garage in which a portion can be penned off, will work.
Today, many options are available for brooding pheasants, including self-contained brooders that possess all the requirements in a small unit. These units are very nice and can handle a fair number of birds, but the price may deter a beginning producer.
Your brooder house should provide no less than 1 square foot per two chicks up to 6 weeks of age. An area within the brood house or room should be sectioned off with a chick guard and the light should be placed in the enter of the area.
Use a 24-inch-high chick guard to confine the chicks to the brooder area for the first week. The guard keeps the little birds from straying away from the heat and prevents floor drafts.
Use roll roofing metal and make a circle around the light. Do not make square corners because the chicks will pile up in these corners. Keeping the brooding area large enough to allow chicks to escape one another and allow them to choose their comfort zone around the light is important; however, the brood area should not be so large that a proper temperature cannot be maintained. Perhaps the easiest and most economical way to brood 50 pheasant chicks is with a heat lamp. This is called cold-room brooding because the heat is directed at the chicks without regard for temperatures in the brooder house.
The heat lamp burns continuously and uses a 250-watt, red-end, infrared heat lamp. If possible, get the lamp with Pyrex glass. It won’t break if you accidentally hit it with a few drops of water. However, a commercial heat lamp made especially for brooding chicks and pigs is best. This unit generally has a reflector and built-in safety features.
Heat from the lamp keeps the bird swarm while the red color helps reduce cannibalism. The heat lamp needs no hover (stand to ensure the heat lamp stays in one place suspended in the air), but a reflector is desirable. When using a heat lamp, you can see your chicks at all times.
This makes caring for the birds easier to do than if using a conventional brooder. Hanging the heat lamp from the ceiling or some means that allows the distance between the floor and the face of the lamp to be adjustable will work best.
Once the brood area is safe and secure, the light should be placed approximately 15 to 18 inches from the floor. Once the brooder is ready, place day-old chicks into the brooder and observe their reaction to the light. If, after acclimating to their new home, they avoid the area directly under the light, this may suggest your light is too close to the floor and the temperature beneath the light is too hot. Simply raise or lower the light to adjust the temperature.
Keep the rest of the brooder house dark to keep the chicks near the lighted heat source and help prevent cannibalism. Again, day-old chicks cannot thermal regulate well, so be sure to maintain a temperature beneath the light of approximately95 F during the first week. As chicks age, their ability to thermal regulate improves; therefore, the temperature at chick height beneath the light should be reduced by roughly5 F on a weekly basis. When making adjustments to the light, be sure to monitor chick response and readjust accordingly.
If overcrowding of chicks occurs and they appear to be competing for space beneath the light, you may have to addl lights to meet the heat requirements of young pheasants. Also, remain mindful of outside conditions.
Dependent on the overall brood house, cold night time lows may greatly reduce the temperature beneath the brood lamp. A cold chick quickly dies, so be sure you are providing adequate heat.
Additionally, keep the brooding area clean and dry, and take out wet bedding as soon as it occurs and replace with dry bedding. Coccidiosisis a serious disease in young pheasants and wet bedding may contribute to a devastating outbreak.
Clean and disinfect the brooder house and all equipment after use and allow it to sit empty until the following season. Be sure to record all pertinent information in your journal, including causes and dates of all chick deaths. While using a heat lamp is one option for keeping chicks warm, others exist. Other heat sources include propane, electric hovers, oil and even wood.
Propane hovers have the advantage of keeping the birds calmer because of less intense light, and thus less feather picking (cannibalism).Regardless of which heat source you use, be sure to follow all manufacturer recommendations and test the heat source prior to the onset of brooding. Recognizing your heat source does not work after chicks have arrived undoubtedly will result in chick mortality.