This article aims to give you background in raising pheasants as pets. We will focus on the diet aspect of pheasants by answering the question: what do pheasants eat.
We will also discuss basic information about pheasants such as:
- What are pheasants?
- What do pheasants eat in the wild?
- How do I start raising pheasants from chicks?
- What should I feed my pet pheasants?
- What are pheasants?
Pheasants are game birds that are closely related to chicken, partridges, and quails. This bird originates from Asia and now can also be found in European and North American countries. In the wild, pheasants prefer to live in forests, grasslands, and places near farms. Besides from being a popular game bird, pheasants has been domesticated because it is cooked into various delicacy all around the world. Because of the global forest destruction and denudation, wild pheasant’s population has dropped significantly in the last decades. Despite this fact, pheasants are not considered as endangered species. In the United States, it is legal to hunt this game bird during the hunting season.
What do pheasants eat in the wild?
In the wild, adult pheasants will scratch their feet on the ground to search for insects and worms. These game birds are adapted to eating seeds, grains, buds, berries, and acorns. If given a chance, wild pheasants also eat peas, pears, apples, barley, buckwheat, and oats. It’s kind of weird, but pheasants sometimes eat gravel to aid their digestion process.
Pheasant chicks in the wild eat insects for the first weeks of their life until one month. They choose insects because pheasants need high protein nutrition in order for them to support their growing body. Water is also critical for wild pheasants.
During the winter months that almost all of the fields are plowed, it is very hard for the pheasants to look for food to eat. Low temperature makes it even harder to forage. So the flock will cover their body with dry detritus and will come out just to feed. During this months, wild pheasants prefer to live near farms so they can eat corn and other grains unintentionally spilled by the farmers on the ground. Pheasants also eat other plant matter that they can find such as apples, berries, and weed seeds.
How to raise pheasants as pets
Before we delve into the topic “what do pheasants eat”, here are some basic information to get you started in raising pheasants as pets. First thing is to purchase your chicks from a pet store. You can also order your birds online from a reputable pheasant seller. Should you choose to purchase a laying hen, consider having pheasants from different age groups of birds. You can start caring for up to ten different age group.
Here are the things that you need to do immediately once your pheasant chicks arrived:
- Remove your chicks from the delivery box as soon as possible
- You should clean their beak using fresh water
- Supply heat using heat lamp
- Make sure that your chicks eat and drink immediately upon arriving so giving a constant supply of food and water are crucial for their survival.
- Make sure that the heat they receive is adequate. If the heat is just right, the chicks will come closer to the lamp forming a circle. If they start to crowd close to lamp, it means that the temperature is too low. If you notice that you chicks are panting and moving away from the lamp, your lamp supplies too much heat. So learn to observe their behavior and adjust the lamp’s heat as needed.
- Inspect the chicks several times day and night. Cold temperature can kill your checks especially in the first several days from arrival.
Let’s come now to the raising of your pheasant chicks. So after 2 or 3 weeks from your chicks arrival, you can let your chicks play in the pen outside your house provided it is warm and sunny. Don’t let your chicks escape by providing a 1 inch hole wire as covering all over the pen. The proper spacing for pheasant is one or two square feet per bird. Get your birds back inside its nursery. Don’t forget to turn the heating lamp on. You can put away the lamp when your chicks are already one month old.
Just like in other game bird species, cannibalism is also a problem in pheasants. If you see that there is blood on the smaller bird’s tail or wing tips, this is a sign that your birds are hurting each other especially the weak ones. Make your birds occupied by providing twigs or hay so they can play with it instead of bullying the other birds. Clip your birds’ beak with fingernail clippers if you see that they injure other chicks.
What do pheasants eat in captivity?
This is one the most important part, knowing what foods your pheasant will love to eat.
The space requirement for a brooder house intended for pheasants is at least ¾ square feet per bird. Just do the math if you own several dozens of birds.
A feeder is required so the food won’t scatter. The ratio is 2 foot long feeder per 50 pheasant chicks. Buy a one gallon waterer and put one in every 75 birds.
- From hatching until its third week, give your chicks 28% of pre starter designed for game birds mixed with coccidiostat.
- On its third to eighth weeks feed it with 26% of pre starter for game birds mixed with coccidiostat.
- From 8th to 20th week, your birds are able to consume game bird grower. Give them 20% of it.
- At 20th weeks onwards 14% game bird maintenance is the required ration.
In cases that you can’t find game bird feed in your area, a turkey ration is OK provided that it is in crumble formulation.
Sometimes you will notice that your birds are ill, antibiotic treatments like terramyacin should be given during its first week if you observe some kind illness on some of your chicks. Ask your veterinary practitioner if you are not sure on the correct dosage and frequency of medication.