If a Club has decided to produce its own poults, it is a relatively simple matter to catch up sufficient breeding stock from the club’s own area. It is advisable to put out and bait the catcher with wheat for a time beforehand. A four foot square by two foot high cage with an opening one foot high and nine inches wide on each end which will allow the pheasant to move in and out freely while feeding on the grain.
After a suitable time of pre-baiting, wire netting funnels can be slipped into the open ends. A sliding door in the roof will facilitate the removal of birds. These cages must be checked on a regular basis (i.e. intervals of every two hours) and the birds removed to avoid stress. Ideally this exercise should be completed by mid February to allow the birds to settle in and get acclimatised to their new living quarters.
Birds may be fed on wheat until mid March or thereabouts. Thereafter, a good quality game breeder’s pellets should be fed. For the first seven days a special feed containing Flubenvet should be fed. Under no circumstances should layers pellets be fed, the reason being it improves egg production but lowers fertility. Clean fresh water replaced on a daily basis is a must. A covered over dusting area is beneficial. Grit is very important.
Ratio Cocks Hens
It is an added bonus if you can source an unrelated cock and run at a ratio of seven hens to one cock with the cock interchangeable every 5-6 days. The reasons for this are the unlikely chances of an infertile or non-working cock, and also to avoid stress.
Collection of Eggs
It is advantageous to have a number of laying boxes located around the pen. A five gallon plastic drum is suitable, with the top removed, laid on its side and a nest of white bog grass inside. The benefit being, it is easier to collect the eggs and they do not require washing afterwards. If a pheasant hen gets broody later on, it is important that she be released where she will commence to lay again and have her own brood in the wild. Rough chalky eggs, misshapen and very small eggs should be rejected. Eggs should be collected from the laying pens twice a day 12.00-1 pm and 6-7 pm. They must be handled with great care, as a hair line crack can constitute a blank.
Storage of Eggs
Half dozen egg cartons make a very suitable container for storing pheasant eggs. Eggs should be stored at a temperature between 50F and 55F. We believe careful turning will help to maintain condition. If possible, they should be set within 7 days of laying. After this time eggs seem to lose their ability to hatch fairly quickly.