Nutritional requirements of pheasants
The nutritional requirements of pheasants are similar to those of turkeys, so if producers are unable to obtain feed formulated specifically for pheasants, turkey crumbles can be used.
The ration fed will be governed by economic factors in the industry. This includes costs of raw materials (feed ingredients), feed conversion ratios and prices being paid for pheasant meat.
For best results, a 28% protein ration should be fed to chicks up to about 4 weeks of age, 24% from 4–9 weeks and 18% from 9 weeks until marketing at 16 weeks. Breeding stock also require approximately 18% protein in their ration.
Table 1. Minimum nutrient specifications
|Nutrients||0–4 weeks %||4–9 weeks %||9–16 weeks %||Breeders %|
|Metabolisable energy megajoules||11.64||11.97||12.52||11.51|
If it is more convenient to buy or mix only two growing rations, chicks can be started on a 25% protein ration fed to, say, 6 weeks of age, then fed an 18% ration to marketing.
In addition to the all-mash rations suggested above, up to 5% whole grain can be fed to growing stock from 6 weeks of age, and 15–20% additional grain provided for breeding stock.
Pheasants must also be fed a vitamin and mineral supplement (see Table 2) and have access to insoluble grit.
Table 2. Vitamin and mineral requirements
|Vitamin A (acetate form)||mg/kg||2400||2750|
Suggested pheasant rations are given in Table 3.
Table 3. Suggested pheasant rations
|Ingredients||0–4 weeks %||5–9 weeks %||10–16 weeks %||Breeders %|
The suggested basic premix (Table 4) is a general purpose one and can be fed to each class of stock. It should be included at the rate of 1% in each of the suggested rations.
Table 4. Suggested basic premix for growers and breeders
|Ingredients||For 1 tonne of feed (g)|
|Vitamin A (325,000 IU)*||33.0|
|Vitamin D3 (200,000 IU)||9.5|
|Vitamin E (25%)||9.0|
|Vitamin B12 (500 mg/kg)||10.0|
|Carrier to 10 kg||–|
*IU = international units
Insoluble grit such as blue metal screenings (3–4 mm) should be fed at the following rates:
|0–4 weeks of age:||250 g / 100 birds / week|
|5–16 weeks of age:||500 g / 100 birds / week|
To obtain maximum growth rates include 0.1% methionine in rations for chicks 0–4 weeks of age. It may also be advisable to include biotin for chicks 0–4 weeks.
If coccidiosis is a problem, include a coccidiostat in rations for chicks.
The above ingredients, including the additional methionine, can be incorporated as an additional premix.
At the end of the breeding season it appears that breeders can be transferred satisfactorily from a breeding ration to a maintenance diet consisting of a grain supplement with liquid vitamins. The same applies to growing stock that are to be kept as breeders for the next year.
Additional food supplements
As a general rule, no additional food supplements are necessary. If young chicks are not doing well, perhaps not eating enough food or looking a little ‘off colour’, include a liquid vitamin supplement in their drinking water for a few days.
If fertility and hatchability are poor, give breeding stock a massive dose treatment of liquid vitamins in the drinking water for 1 day. The essential vitamins for this purpose are A, B2 and E. Pheasants like fresh green feed, although it is not necessary if a properly balanced ration containing a premix is being fed.
Unripe ears of wheat, chaffed lettuce, cabbage and chickweed can be fed as fresh greenstuff. Older pheasants can be fed swedes, turnips, artichokes and potatoes.
Providing feed and water
As soon as chicks are placed under the brooders give them fresh drinking water and feed. To encourage eating, place feed on the floor on paper and in shallow trays.
Standard poultry hoppers are suitable for pheasants raised under intensive and semi-intensive conditions because they can be placed inside the building. They are almost completely rat-proof and sparrow-proof. Where range rearing is practised, large ‘home-made’ feeders will probably be more suitable because they hold more feed.
Chicken drinking fonts (4 L) or some hanging waterers can provide water for chicks during the first few days. Water for intensively housed older stock can be provided by hanging waterers, but use ‘ball cock’ or ‘fox valve’ type waterers for range birds.
Provide chicks with 1.5 cm of drinking space and 3 cm of feeding space per bird. Double these figures for breeders.
The amount of feed consumed by pheasants will vary depending on factors such as type of feed, method of feeding, nutritional composition and weather conditions.
A pheasant from day-old until marketing at about 16 weeks of age will eat about 5 kg of food. At this age, cocks will weigh approximately 1.25 kg and hens 1.0 kg. An approximate feed conversion of 4.5:1 is obtained for mixed sexes, which is not very efficient compared with other types of poultry.
Adult pheasants consume approximately 500 g of dry food per week.
Table 5 shows that weekly food consumption reaches a peak at 12 weeks of age and then gradually falls.
Table 5. Average feed consumption of 100 growing pheasants
|Age (weeks)||Feed for week (kg)||Cumulative feed (kg)|