For success in breeding pheasants it is important to start with good birds. It is very unlikely that you will be able to breed good offspring from bad parents. It can be difficult, with some species, to find unrelated birds as many have been inbred for a good number of years, due to the scarcity of the species in captivity (which of course is often also due to their rarity in the wild). Another problem which is often found with pheasants is hybridisation. Although hybrids can look good and be perfectly healthy, as they have often been mistaken as pure bred birds, the gene pool of true species has shrunk dramatically. We do the very best we can at Allandoo to breed with only birds in excellent condition and as pure and unrelated as possible to give our chicks the best chance we can, genetically, as well as for their general health and beauty.
The next stage is to create an environment the birds will be comfortable in. Although it might not be as "clean" as concrete or plastic we decided to go for a more natural approach. We give the birds lots of plants, posts, boulders and wooden shelters and perches to make them feel more at home. The birds have plenty to occupy themselves with and seem relaxed in their aviaries. We give the birds lots of sand for dust bathing and any birds that are likely to use nest boxes have these included in the aviary.
Always of great importance is diet. Our birds get a good variety of fruit, vegetation, grain, peanuts and live food as well as their pheasant pellets. We occasionally offer other treats such as scrambled egg. This is usually fed to our peacock pheasants especially, during late January and February. We can not get the pheasant breeder pellets at this time as the game pheasants (which the food is produced for) start to breed later than our Peacock pheasants. We include a little milk and finely ground egg shell in the scrambled egg to give the birds the nutrients needed to produce their own eggs. Our birds are fed the breeder pellets as soon as it becomes available. They will be fed this throughout the Spring and Summer. If possible the birds should be on the breeder pellets at least six weeks before they start laying.
A third consideration is how to keep the birds as stress free as possible. All of the things mentioned above certainly help but often problems occur among the birds. They are extremely territorial and this can lead to disaster. Giving the birds plenty of places to hide is vital. We do try to keep a few empty pens. This might seem a bit wasteful and it is not always easy but it has often proven to be a life saver. If we find an injured bird we can separate it from the offender to give it a chance to recover and possibly swap partners around to improve the situation once he/she (usually she) is well again. As the breeding season approaches the cock can become very aggressive and can attack the hen unmercifully. To minimise this we sometimes keep the same species opposite each other. This way the cocks distract each other and they have no need to take their aggression out on their mate. The hen is safer and becomes far more confident, the males are seen much more and will often put on a wonderful display and everyone is happier, the birds and us. If trying this tactic for distraction do bear in mind that if eggs are infertile the cock may be paying too much attention to his rival across the way so a move elsewhere may be of benefit. It pays to watch your birds carefully and regularly so the birds behaviours can be learned and changes or problems spotted early. With pheasants trial and error and knowledge of the individual character of your own birds can make a huge difference. Always remember there is no one way of doing things. What I write here is a rough guide only going by our own experiences. Like I mention a few times on this website; if anyone has tips, they've had success with themselves, to promote good breeding results we'll be delighted to hear them.