Which Turkey to Choose

A question recently asked on the Murray McMurray Hatchery facebook page was this, “I have never raised turkeys before, what is the best breed for me?”

While this question certainly can generate many valid opinions, it is almost too difficult of a question to answer with a breed type. In following the training of years gone by, I would ask several questions to better understand the needs of the customers: What do you want to accomplish with the turkey? What kind of area will the turkeys be raised in? Are you concerned or interested in hatching your own turkeys? How involved do you want to be with your turkeys?

While this can be unpacked in several ways, let me stick with the brief questions I posed above to give some perspective on the question that will hopefully help you determine what breed is “right” for you. The timing of the question could not be more perfect as I just returned from the Livestock Conservancy Convention held in Austin, TX this year. The Livestock Conservancy just published their book, “Introduction to Heritage Breeds” and I referenced it several times in the marketing talk I was giving. A lot of statements in the book were enlightening on discussing what the best turkey breed might be for you and I  reference several thoughts from reading the book in the below statements.

If you want a turkey that provides the most meat possible, the Broadbreasted Bronze or Giant Whites are the breeds to get. These turkeys provide, generally speaking, a 23 pound hen and around a 40-45 pound tom turkey. Birds of this size, and specifically these breeds, are artificially inseminated because their size does not allow for them to mate naturally and successfully. Birds of this nature are typically more inclined to being fed rather than foraging for themselves. These breeds are typically what has been featured in the grocery stores during Thanksgiving. While the demand for these breeds is high, because of the large size, they pose a problem for small farms to raise and sustain future flocks as most small farms are not positioned well to artificially inseminate. This practice may be more embraced by larger farms with more resources. When grocery stores and the large farms push these types of breeds, it can reduce the demand for some of the heritage breeds that our country was naturally inhabited by.

According to the Livestock Conservancy, heritage breeds, “are the animals that you’d find on your great-grandparents farms. Heritage is an umbrella term that embraces pure breeds of livestock and poultry with deep histories in the United States. These are animals that were bred over time to develop traits that made them suited to specific local environments. Because these breeds have been developed and selected over time, they tend to have better disease resistance, are well-adapted to their environments, and thrive in pasture-based settings.” Heritage breed turkeys include Chocolate, Midget White, Narragansett, White Holland, Bourbon Red, Royal Palm and Standard Bronze, among others.

While the above breeds may not get as big as the Broadbreasted Bronze or other commercially created breeds, they offer several advantages as they are typically better foragers, which means on the pasture they will thrive. Turkeys that you can put on pasture may offer you a little more freedom from having to hand feed them everything they need. As well, heritage breeds will tend to thrive in the various climates throughout the country better than some of the commercial breeds. One of the fun aspects of the heritage breed turkeys is tracing the history of the breed and finding one that would best fit your particular environment. The historical aspect of the various heritage breeds allows people to enjoy the same or similar breed of turkey that their past generations also raised on the family farm so the connection to history is achieved. Of course, heritage breed turkeys are also able to mate naturally and produce offspring. If you want to create your own flock of turkeys, a heritage breed is what you want to look for. Again, those that understand and appreciate the benefits of raising the heritage breeds also are taking an active role in ensuring the various breeds that our ancestors enjoyed will continue to be enjoyed by future generations as well.

Murray McMurray Hatchery is happy to offer several of the heritage breeds of turkeys if that is the route you choose to follow. For more information on heritage breeds and the work of the Livestock Conservancy, please visit their website at http://www.livestockconservancy.com.

Posted in Turkeys | 10 Comments

Catalog Time

Catalog time is here again!  Actually, it has been here for several months but now we are at the stage where final decisions need to made and the final blessings are put on the various pages.  It is always a fun process but certainly brings with it some frustration as things don’t always happen when they are supposed to.

With several hundred product skus included in the catalog, it can be a challenge to get every vendor’s prices just right or predict cost increases and decreases.  Some vendors simply don’t know, for certain, what their prices and costs are going to be in the next 18 months or so!  We take a look at historical evidence, look at the value chain partners involved in the delivery of the products and develop our pricing.  Of course, this is just part of the process.

Deciding what products to put in the catalog is a collective process that starts from the day the previous catalog was printed.  New products that we have introduced in the past year are included and new products looking forward are reviewed to include.  The catalog in total involves several product managers, customer service reps, directors, buyers, IT personnel, hatchery managers, owners, vendors, printers, delivery trucks, the postal service and so much more!

Our 2015 catalog is nearly complete.  It again, has been a lot of fun putting it together and we look forward to sharing it with you in the next month or so.  In the mean time, feel free to look at our www.mcmurrayhatchery.com website!

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2014 Fall Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to our 2014 Spring into Fall Photo Contest Winners!

1st Place

1st Place











2nd Place

2nd Place








3rd Place

3rd Place









4th Place

4th Place









5th Place

5th Place








6th Place

6th Place

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2014 Spring into Fall Photo Contest – Semi Finalists Announced!

I love having photo contests as we get to see all of the beautiful birds that are raised with wonderful love and care.  Many of the birds showcased left our hatchery as newly hatched chicks and have since been providing loving memories, funny antics and so much more for families across the United States.

We recently announced our semi-finalists for the 2014 Spring into Fall Photo Contest.  Now you can rate these top 10 photos and determine our six winners!  Here is the link to rate the semi-finalists’ photos: https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/p/fall20141

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October is here!

Welcome to the first day of October…now it is really Fall in my mind! Today marks the opening day of pumpkin doughnuts at the local bakery. Bring on the pumpkin spice coffee, straw bales and corn stalk decorations and much more!

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Mold in the Feed

I didn’t know what was happening until I saw the mold in the feed bag – by then it was too late.  Unfortunately what I had to endure this week was nothing we had encountered on our little patch of heaven yet.  As I looked down at the snow covered feed, I couldn’t help but think, again, “I should have known better”.  I have said that many times since we moved onto the farm and I guess no matter how much you know or how much you research,  things can still happen.  This time they did.

Walking through the dew drenched grass I often envision a party type of atmosphere in the coop as I hear Mr. Doodle, our male Pearl White Leghorn sounding the morning bell early and loud.  His crowing in the morning has become a welcomed sound on the farm, one I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate.  His bold proclamations are gentle reminders that as I work on things around the property, he has everything under control in the coop.

Mr. Doodle

Mr. Doodle

When I open the coop door in the cool mornings my flocks of chickens are typically eagerly greeting me.  “Oh he’s coming in, he’s coming in Martha!”  “Glattice, Glattice here he is honey, come on, I think we need be first in line” I imagine the various girls yelling to each other.  I humor myself and greet them with a slow and deep voiced “Hellllloooo ladies…”  They have their clicks and groups they stay in and unfortunately there is the one chicken that everyone seems to like to pick on.  Call me a softy, but I always pour that poor chicken a separate little pile of food so she can eat in peace without getting pecked on.  I’m assuming she made a smart remark about one of the other girls’ patterns or made a comment about their naked legs as she stood full feathered and covered.  Regardless what it was the others no longer take to her well.

That’s the normal thoughts and sights and sounds to my morning feeds.  This particular morning when I opened the barn doors, however, there was no crowing heard from Mr. Doodle.  My normally anxious girls were rather in a slumber, some still high on the roost while others were walking around slowly, in a bit of a stupor.  As I surveyed the other pen inside, my group of male chickens appeared to have been injected with a balloon full of air.  They were puffed up like pumpkins and one, in the corner, lay dead.  I went to fill the feeders and the waterers but to my surprise, all were still half full.  This was like some weird scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie (I hated those movies).   They all stood still staring at me as if saying with their eyes, “Do not look behind the nest boxes, do not go there, walk slowly…”.  Was it a snake I wondered…oh, please please please do not be a snake I thought.  Unfortunately this would continue for the next several days.

Trips to the chicken coop were very frequent over those next days.  On day two, after losing five chickens, it came to a head.  It was an early afternoon and I went to check on how they were doing only to find, Mr. Doodle, our prized Pearl White Leghorn male that was the voice of our new farm, laying down, with little motion and sad looking eyes.  I couldn’t believe it.  The chickens that had perished so far were younger chickens and I thought perhaps they were just weaker in nature.  Mr. Doodle, however was the Mr. T of the farm.  He controlled the coop and everything in it.  He was the epitome of handsome chickens but now he was failing.  I went and tended to the turkeys and pheasants across the property and when I came back, just that quick, Mr. Doodle was dead.

It all happened so fast looking back I didn’t recognize the magnitude of the problem at hand to treat the flock with anything.  After Mr. Doodle died, we gutted the coop from top to bottom with a clean that would make the Chrysler building jealous.  I switched to a straw flooring piled high and washed all the waterers and feeders that were used.  As we worked on the coop cleaning I kept thinking, “I wonder if its the feed?”.

We had a ton of rain the previous days.  When I say a ton I mean 6-1/2″ of rain in one day.

Farm Rain Gauge

Farm Rain Gauge

The previous and post days also brought more rain and the temperature varied.  I have one particular low spot in the coop where it gets fairly wet during rains so I intentionally keep the feed on a board that serves as as type of wood flooring.  I was almost out of feed so I went and got new bags for all the flocks.  As I brought the new bags in and grabbed the remainder of the old bag, I glanced inside.   I mentioned above,  as I looked down at the snow covered feed, I couldn’t help but think, again, “I should have known better”.  There inside the feed bag was wet feed covered with a snow-like cap of mold.  I am not a veterinarian and perhaps there were other issues that I didn’t know about, but my conviction is that I let my feed go bad, and I fed it to my chickens.

Mold in the Feed

Mold in the Feed

I am further convinced the moldy feed killed the chickens as I read an excerpt from an article by Mississippi State University that says (talking about mold)

“The condition is caused by Aspergillus fumigatus, a mold or fungus-type organism. Occasionally other types of molds are involved. These organisms are present in the environment of all poultry. They grow readily on many substances such as litter, feed, rotten wood and other similar materials.

The bird comes in contact with the organisms through contaminated feed, litter or premises. The disease is not contagious and does not spread from one bird to another. Most healthy birds can withstand repeated exposure to these organisms. Inhalation of large amounts of the infectious form of the mold or reduced resistance of the bird apparently results in infection. In adult turkeys, the disease more often affects the male.

In the acute form in young birds, main symptoms are gasping, sleepiness, loss of appetite and sometimes convulsions and death. Occasionally the organism invades the brain, causing paralysis or other forms of nervous symptoms. The more chronic form in older birds usually results in loss of appetite, gasping or coughing and a rapid loss of body weight. Mortality is usually low and only a few birds are affected at one time.”

A day after we cleaned the coop, washed the waterers and feeders and changed the food, my girls were starting to come out of their trance.  By the following day, nearly all were back to normal.  When it was all said and done, I had lost five chickens in four days, including our prized rooster, Mr. Doodle.

While the lessons we learn first hand may be the ones that stick with us the most, again, I should have known better.  I should have anticipated the potential problems with all the rain we were having.  Now I have my feed bags in large plastic tubs with lids – off the ground.  Where I would normally have my feed bags open, they are now rolled closed with a clip on them to hold them tight together, as if unopened.

I hope you don’t make the same mistakes I do.  When the rains come and the waters fall, please keep your feed high and dry, remember Mr. Doodle, and your feed will be safe for all.

Mr. Doodle

Mr. Doodle

Posted in Feeds and Feeding | 3 Comments

Responsibility by Hunter Kemper


For the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the Exercise Your Character Event in Des Moines, IA, organized by Hy-Vee Inc. This is an event I look forward to every year as 7,000 4th and 5th graders gather together at HyVee Hall to learn about the 6 Pillars of Character. The atmosphere is fun, energetic, loud, and inspirational as professional athletes and coaches share with the students what it means to exercise good character. The 6 Pillars of Character include caring, respect, citizenship, trustworthiness, fairness, and RESPONSIBILITY.

This year my wife created a board to hang on the wall in our house to teach and remind our own children how to demonstrate the six pillars of character in their lives. The arrival of our chickens this year has been an amazing way for our kids to practice one of the 6 pillars, RESPONSIBILITY. Always doing your best, doing your chores, doing what you’re supposed to do, and taking care of your things are a few of the ways we’ve defined responsibility. Davis, our seven year old, has learned a lot about responsibility as it is his job to help take care of the chickens.

As a family, we don’t do allowances. We figure that to be a part of this family, everyone has to do their share. Depending on the age of the kid, everyone’s chores are a little different. Davis knows that he has to make his bed, keep his room neat, help clear the dinner table, gather and take out the trash, and he now takes care of the chickens. This may seem like a big job for a second grader, but it is NOT. As the books says, it literally is just “5 Minutes a Day.” His main responsibility is to give them fresh food and water in the mornings and late afternoons. The part he enjoys best about this job is that he is the one that gets to collect the eggs! I’ve learned that it is best to always let Davis collect the eggs, otherwise he will get upset. He has become very possessive over “his” fresh eggs.

Although we don’t give allowances, we do provide our kids the opportunity to earn some money through jobs that are out of their normal responsibilities; one of these jobs is cleaning out the chicken coop. This is understandably not one of the most pleasant jobs, but Davis doesn’t seem to mind it. I guess a little cash reward works well when it comes to some chores.

So far we’ve experienced many benefits as backyard chicken farmers, one of them being, teaching our kids responsibility. Taking care of our chickens may be only “5 Minutes a Day,” but our kids are learning life’s valuable lessons along the way.

Hunter Kemper is the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history. A four-time member of the USA Olympic triathlon team, he is one of only two men in the world to qualify for every Olympic triathlon (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and the only man in the world to complete all four.  You can follow Hunter and his journey with his Murray McMurray Hatchery chickens at http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/hunterkemper


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Chickens – A lot like my Kids by Hunter Kemper

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Summer on “the farm.” I’ve been a chicken owner since the end of January and it has been a fun adventure. We’ve gotten to watch our baby chicks grow into pullets that lay beautiful white, brown, and blue eggs (like the kind you see on Easter Sunday). As we’ve gotten to know each of our girls, I’ve realized that there are many similarities between our chickens and our kids. First of all, we have four kids, Davis (7), Hudson (4), Case (almost 3), and Price (9 months); each with their own unique temperaments. We have five different breeds of chickens, and they too all have their very own personalities. Both flocks include a leader, a follower, a jokester, a tender hearted one, and an easy going one.

The leader in our flock of chickens is London, our White Leghorn. She runs the show. All the chickens wait for her to eat first when breakfast or dinner is served, and they let her be the first to drink from the waterer as soon as it is replenished. She leads and everyone else follows. With our kids it’s like that with our oldest son, Davis. He leads and our other 2 boys follow. This can be a really good thing when he is playing nicely with his 2 younger brothers; however, there are times when we question his leadership skills and he’s not making the best choices, his brothers continue to follow.

After owning chickens, I now have a much better understanding of the phrase, “pecking order.” Earlier in the Summer when our chickens just started laying eggs, Athens, our Barred Rock pullet, decided to pick on Sydney, our Buff Orpington. Athens didn’t just pick on Sydney, she pecked on her so much that she caused Sydney to bleed and almost pecked off her entire comb! I was shocked to come home one afternoon from the Olympic Training Center and find Sydney with blood all over her face. I had to give her some TLC and remove her from the other chickens until she was all healed up. Sometimes my oldest son Davis will buddy up with our 2 1/2 year old son, Case, and pick on our middle son, Hudson. They don’t physically hurt him like Athens did to Sydney, but they definitely try and stir the pot by leaving him out of things they may be doing together. Brothers can be the best of buds, but sometimes be the cause of tears all in the same day – just like our chickens.

Finally, my wife will say that the greatest similarity between our chickens and our kids is that they are very good at making messes and not cleaning up after themselves. Both kids and the chickens love to play outside, scratch around in the dirt, look for bugs, throw things around. Thankfully my boys are all potty trained, unlike the chickens.

After our first Summer as backyard chicken farmers, I now know how much our chickens act like our kids. They play nice together, they follow the leader, they share, they take things away, they make messes, they pick or peck on one another, and they cozy up all in the same bed/coop at night. Chickens, just like or kids are so much fun to have around. There’s nothing better than a cool Summer evening watching your chickens and kids interact and play with one another, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Hunter Kemper is the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history. A four-time member of the USA Olympic triathlon team, he is one of only two men in the world to qualify for every Olympic triathlon (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and the only man in the world to complete all four.  You can follow Hunter and his journey with his Murray McMurray Hatchery chickens at http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/hunterkemper

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PolyFace Farms Field Day

Late last year I received an invitation from Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms to exhibit at their Field Day.  The Field Day I would learn consisted of Joel and his team opening up his farm to approximately 1,800 interested current future farmers, homesteaders, gardeners and others.  Located near Swoope, Virginia, PolyFace Farms offers a unique method of intense grazing with a rotation method of livestock to where each animal enriches or repairs the soil for the next occupant.

IMG_8511The Field Day began with folks arriving around 5:00am on a beautiful Saturday morning.  Located in the Shanandoah Valley, the setting that Polyface calls home is a welcoming sight of beautiful nature with freely flowing creeks, Blue Ridge mountains of bright green trees and abundant wildlife.  After a quick stint in the accumulating registration line a cup of hot coffee, I was ready to greet the many chicken enthusiasts that would flock to the farm.

I read through the information packet that I got at registration while I walked past the select vendors that were there by invitation only.  It was great to see several vendors of IMG_8501products that we sell in our catalog!  In addition to product vendors, several booths were occupied by organizations that supported the efforts of many people present that day.  Organizations and businesses such as Featherman Equipment, Premier One, Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association were just some I recognized to mention a few.  Housed in equipment sheds throughout the farm, this was one of the most unique uses of space I had seen but in line with Joel’s philosophy of function over form, this was no surprise.  With a light shower that would conclude the day, the sheds proved to be a wonderful booth location for many who did not have tents!

IMG_1155The day was jam packed with farm tours of how-to’s and good for you’s.  These how-to’s included discussions on gardening, chicken raising, cattle raising, turkey raising, marketing your product, butchering, raising rabbits, creating buying club and much more.  I was amazed at how transparent Joel and his team were with how they did things.  This was a true example of mentoring as the team held nothing back, offered all details (good and bad) of how they performed each task at hand.  Questions were asked by people of all ages and answered in a way that everyone listening benefited from.  Stories of other peoples’ methods were shared and enjoyed by all in a supportive family oriented atmosphere that generated many “Good for You!” congratulatory statements.

I was keenly interested in Joel’s chickens operations as several Murray McMurray

Chickens Free Ranging

Chickens Free Ranging

Hatchery laying breeds were present throughout the Polyface fields.  The birds themselves looked happy and healthy as they roamed either free on the pasture protected by Premier’s electric fencing solutions or enclosed in a mobile chicken tractor on the hillside.

Joel’s team offered discussions from brooding newly hatched chicks to raising chickens in the mobile tractors to keeping chickens ranging freely in the pasture.  Being a little sickened still by my recent encounters with a fox, I was surprised and encouraged to hear that the Polyface team rarely has instances of predator encounters with their chickens.  Of course, if they need to deal with the occasional bear on the property, I will no longer complain about a raccoon or a fox!

IMG_8499I had the pleasure of meeting with several existing Murray McMurray Hatchery customers.  It is always endearing to me to hear about the long history a customer’s family has had with Murray McMurray Hatchery.  The typical conversation usually starts with, “I’ve been a customer of your’s for a long time – my grandpa/grandma ordered chickens from you.”  To this beginning I am overjoyed because I am so appreciative that someone confidently guided a new chicken owner to us.  I am also extremely grateful to my many co-workers who have continued the tradition of service and quality chicks that this customer came to know through the recommendation and experience with their grandparent.

After a full morning, it was time to eat lunch.  As in true Polyface fashion, lunch was IMG_1124 IMG_1119absolutely delicious.  As our booth was located just three stalls from the “grill”, my stomach had been growling ever since 6:00am when they started the coals.  Roasting over the coals on a very unique grill setup was approximately 1,000 whole chickens.   I knew the crew had done this once or twice before as I watched a gentleman marinate each of the chickens with a mop!  After getting a small break from visiting with customers I looked up to see lines and lines of people waiting for the lunch lines to open up.  “I’m never going to eat” I remember thinking as nearly 2,000 people looked intently at the volunteer servers waiting for the go-ahead to start serving.  Amazingly all were served within about 30 minutes.  As I walked towards the lines, guests were all smiles as they feasted on marinated chicken, beef, pork, fresh vegetables and a piece of chocolate cake.  I immediately thought of the five loaves and two fish miracle as what the volunteers had just accomplished was something amazing.

IMG_1203It is one thing to see a manager or executive of a company say one thing and then direct others to do the task.  It was rewarding to watch Joel not just direct events but actively participate and lead talks, how-to’s and even drive guests on the tractor from talk to talk.  In fact, rarely did I see anyone with a Polyface shirt on sit.  The day, in general, was a very well orchestrated, managed and executed event.


“Future Lunatic Farmer” – One of the T-Shirts for Sale at Polyface

IMG_1135At the end of the day, it was wonderful to meet so many individuals involved in or wanting to be involved in raising chickens.  While not everyone has the land or the knowledge of Polyface, each person walked away inspired, educated and equipped to pursue their multitude and varied dreams of starting their own similar farm or homestead.  While this was one event, on one day, in a single state of Virginia, the seeds planted by the Polyface team are going to be bearing fruits for generations to come.  I feel so blessed that Murray McMurray Hatchery was able to participate in such an event and can’t wait for the next opportunity to meet future customers and play a small part in their new lifestyle.

Below are few more pictures that capture a little of what transpired throughout the day.  Thank you again to Polyface and all the volunteers that made the day possible.


Crowds walk to the next speaking section


Joel addresses the crowd at the mobile chicken coops


Joel Salatin and Chris pose for a photo before the festivities begin


Turkeys protected by Electric Fencing


One of the many Pasture Raised Chicken flocks


What child can avoid chasing a chicken?


Chickens in the Mobile Coop

Chickens in the Mobile Coop

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Pheasants Update – Wings of Flight

We went out of town for a couple of days so I had a relative care for my various flocks.  All was going well until the one day I checked in with him.  “Well, everything is good except you had a pheasant die,” he said.  While one pheasant in the grand scheme of things may not seem like a big deal, it was what I feared would be the telling sign of things to come.

Lean To

Empty Lean To Soon to Be Pheasant Coop


5 Week Old Pheasants

With several busy days leading up to our travels, it burned in my mind that I needed to get my pheasants into their permanent coop.  They were coming up on five weeks old and certainly were starting to grow where it was noticeable.  It sure seemed like pheasants    Pen being Built   Future Pheasant Home Chicken Wire Wall Door is On  Pheasants Running grow at a quicker rate than a typical chicken does!  The tail feathers of many were starting to grow out long and pointy.  On a few occasions during  feeding time, one or two brave pheasants would hop onto the feeder or water and try to take flight out of the brooder.  It was a struggle for them but they were now reaching the top of these 24″ sidewalls.

There were several indications leading up to the point where I knew it was time to get them into a permanent coop.  For starters, the amount of waste and the noticeable odor was continually increasing.  It seemed I could not keep the bottom of the brooder dry no matter how much straw I kept putting down.  While I have a fan blowing in the coop to keep the air circulating, the odor continued to be noticeable.  Feed and water were both being consumed at a noticeably increasing rate as well.  I was adding much more feed and the usual refilling of the water every other day or so now transitioned into every day.  And of course, with the news of the dead pheasant, I knew the crowding was becoming an issue.

As soon as we got home I started again on the lean to that would serve as their new coop.  Things were buzzing as I got started framing up the section they would reside in.  By that I mean literally buzzing.  I had several nests of yellow jackets swarming around me as I constructed the pen.  Once I got side rails attached to the beams I went to grab the chicken wire that I had on hand that would contain the pheasants to the pen.  While I was in rush mode to get this pen done, I wish I would have paid more attention to some details.  I constructed the frame to accommodate a 60″ wide chicken wire.  This would have been great if I in fact had 60″ wide chicken wire – unfortunately I had 48″ wide chicken wire.  I could have sworn that I had 60″ wide from a previous measurement but alas, the frame came down and was rebuilt.

Moving the pheasants from the brooder to the pen was interesting.  I was amazed at how tame some of the pheasants seemed as I reached in to pick them up and put them in the carrier I had on hand.  Others wanted nothing to do with me and practiced their upward flight skills to get away from me.  I have noticed that pheasants seem to be very….shy I guess is the word I would use.  Once I opened the gate from the carrier I expected some kind of majestic pheasant flight out of the carrier into the new pen.  On the contrary, the pheasants wanted nothing to do with the new pen and stayed in the back of the carrier.  I had to literally pull them out of the carrier.  Once in the new pen, they immediately ran for the darkest place in the new pen which was a corner surrounded by a high dirt mound.

Pheasants in Cover

Pheasants Hiding in Cover

As I look back and have watched the pheasants for a couple of days now, I wish I would have thought more about the cover or growth the pheasants would need to hide in.  The pen was covered on three sides with basically a dirt floor.  I knew they liked cover to hide in so I uprooted and replanted several large weed/trees that were around the farm.  The pheasants stay in the brush/cover and seldom are seen walking in plain view.  If I had to do it over again, I would have grown corn or some other type of cover for them to flourish and hide in.  Right now, the solution I have used is to shovel up large areas of my over-grown garden and replant those patches in the pheasant pen.  They seem to like the cover.

They are adjusting to their pen, however, there is still more adjusting needed.  I have noticed that they have eaten very little since getting into the new pen.  I’m assuming they need even more cover brought in so they get a little more comfortable in the new setting.  I know it doesn’t help that our two golden retrievers are continually visiting the pen and “welcoming” them to their new home.


For those of you who have seen some of my past blogs, you know that I have had some past battles with a fox on the property.  I have scoured the new pen and have tried to tighten up all instances where I would assume a fox would try to get into the pen.  I’m hoping if it does happen that the pheasants will be able to get a way a little better than my unfortunate chickens.  I guess we will tackle that problem if it presents itself.  I did see another young fox pup just last night on the road about a half mile from the farm.  It was not afraid of me at all as it stood on the side of the road.  I rolled my window down and had a brief yet stern talk with him assuring that I would be the one to end his life and any member of his family if they decided to frequent our farm again.  I’m not sure if he heard me well but it sure did feel good to let him know.

5 week Old Pheasants

5 Week Old Pheasants Huddling

I can’t wait to start seeing the male feathers come in on the pheasants.  Right now the pheasants look like a typical bird really.  Nothing fancy, nothing special.  Some of the pheasants have found that they can not fly through chicken wire and one has succumbed to what looked like a wing injury.  As I expand our pheasant flock, if we do, I think netting will be the better route to go given what I have seen with them flying into the chicken wire.

I recently updated our Chinese Ringneck page with a video of the birds at about 4 weeks old.  You can see that video by clicking here!

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