Buying day-old chicks or incubating pheasant eggs on your own has pros and cons. The incubation process requires certain attention to details, including temperature and humidity. Also, eggs need to be turned several times per day, which can be tedious and time-consuming.
Fortunately, many manufacturers make incubators that possess the capabilities to maintain proper heat and humidity levels while automatically rotating eggs as needed. Whatever kind of incubator you choose, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to ensure success. Also, be sure to clean and disinfect equipment between uses.
Incubating eggs can be risky not only in nature for the wild hen, but also for you. Be sure to purchase eggs from a reputable dealer. Starting with bad eggs will ensure poor results. Eggs need to be handled with care and stored at appropriate temperatures. Always keep eggs stored at a minimum of 50 F. Eggs kept in proper conditions should stay viable for at least 18 days, but some reduction in hatchability should be expected.
Following these helpful guidelines when purchasing and handling pheasant eggs will increase your success of hatching eggs.
Once the incubation process is underway, methods exist that will allow you to monitor chick development within the eggs. Candling is one technique used to access the development of chicks within eggs with minimum disturbance to the egg (Weller, 1956).
However, ring-necked pheasant eggs have dark shells, which make candling difficult. The use of a strong candling light can improve one’s ability to candle pheasant eggs properly.
Another method that can provide accurate measures of egg development is the egg floating method (Westerkov, 1950). As the chick develops within the egg, an air sack forms on the tip of the egg. This air sack makes the egg buoyant, which causes the egg to float with time. Regardless of the egg-candling method employed, periodically monitoring incubating eggs may allow you to catch a problem, should one occur, and discard eggs that have become rotten and no longer contain a developing embryo.
These methods allow you to monitor chick development, which can be rewarding in itself. Experience is the best teacher, but sometimes your experience is full of fine details that can be difficult to remember. Therefore, you should keep a detailed journal regarding all aspects of the incubation process.
Journals should be used to keep records of such things as the length of time the eggs have been stored, storage temperature, date and time incubation procedures began, egg rotation times, and daily incubator temperature and humidity. Journals should be used daily for observations of eggs or for the incubation process in general.
If it interests you, write it down.
Finally, the success rate of eggs should be recorded following the completion of each incubation run.
These data will allow you to compare egg success rates through time, and the journal can be used to correlate the success of eggs with egg management, incubation procedures used, egg rotation schedule, and daily incubator temperatures and humidity used.
Incubating pheasant eggs can be extremely rewarding, but it requires some initial start-up costs, and when not done correctly, it can set your operation back. Buying day-old chicks is a good alternative and often is recommended for beginners.
Numerous vendors sell ring-necked pheasant chicks. Be sure to purchase chicks from a reputable dealer who can confirm your chicks are coming from a disease-free environment. While buying day-old chicks can belles work than incubating your own eggs, buying pheasant chicks that carry disease and introducing them into your flock may prove devastating.
Day-old chicks are extremely sensitive to temperature and require special feed, so prepare in advance for their arrival. The purchase price, vendor name, arrival date and any dead on arrivals should be recorded in your journal.