Pheasants. Controlled release. Input please.

espringers

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so, i've got a bunch of pheasants to release. i started with about 200 and must have 160-170 left. lost some do to mostly controllable circumstances. but, that tends to happen every time i raise the darn things. learn a bit each year.

in the past, i have basically raised them till they were 8 weeks old and then opened up the door and kicked them out to fend for themselves. this year, we made a flight pen and they have been going outside for the last 4 weeks or so. some don't even bother to go back inside at night and they have gotten much more protein than broods of the past. so, these are pretty big birds already and were born april 20.

after a bit of reading, i noticed a lot of talk of "controlled release". which from what i gather would involve giving them a water and food source outside of the pen and then letting them come and go from said pen as they see fit. based on what i have seen in the past, that seems like a bit of a difficult thing to accomplish because when i open the pen door, i fully suspect them to essentially disperse all over the damn place and i don't expect to see them hanging around the pen much after they decide to leave. but, i am willing to try it anyway.

i've got a springer that loves them. but, she does a good job of looking and not touching. so, here is my plan... in about a week or two, i plan to put a big pile of food about 20 yards away from the pen and a few more scattered throughout the property. then i plan to open the pen gate one morning and let them do their thing. i suppose i can put some waterers out too. but, there is a lot of slough water around for them to drink (and drown in). so, that's up in the air still. because of predators, the pen gate will get closed every night. so, they won't be allowed in unless they come back during daylight hours.

that's the gist of my plan. have any of you guys done this? any specific things to do or not do? thanks!
 


camoman

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I've been around a few bird farms and it seems that many of the birds that are released and are not harvested will return to the farm. Not sure how they find it, but you might be surprised by how difficult it may be to get them to stay away as opposed to leaving and never coming back.
 

KDM

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We used to raise between 3 and 5 thousand pheasants each year. Most for butchering, but we released a few as well. Our best luck was to release bred hens in the spring. NOT IN THE FALL!!! When we released anything in the fall, we saw nothing in the spring. When we released bred hens in the spring, they immediately nested and the chicks were 100% wild. THEN we saw birds the following year. There are still pheasants where we released the bred hens. Good Luck!!!
 

espringers

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thanks kdm... but, then i have to keep a bunch of these things for another year!? i don't know if i can handle that. they are food devouring SOBs. with 160, i suppose i could release 50%, butcher 25% and keep another 25% and see how the year goes. also, they are very tempermental. if they run out of food or water for more than 20 seconds, they start killing each other. why couldn't the chinese raise smarter more trainable birds? they sho are purdy tho!
 

KDM

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We only kept 20 to 30 hens and at most 4 roosters through the winter. They hit the road as soon as the snow melt was done and the grass dried out. Most years that was Late April or Early May. At that time, food costs were about 5 bucks a bag and they would eat 1 bag every 2 weeks or so. Total cost for the over winter time was about 200 bucks with everything, but your return on investment was about 80% nesting success or 16-24 clutches give'er take. 6-8 chicks per clutch (Average) and you have a lot of pheasants on the landscape. It worked for us.
 


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