Brooding, rearing and handling pheasants, and flight control

Brooding and rearing

The method of brooding and rearing will depend on the number of pheasants.

  • Provide chicks with about 500 cm2 of total floor space inside buildings, and with about 2 m2 each of ground space where outside runs are used.
  • Most types of poultry brooders are suitable for brooding pheasant chicks. However, if wire-floored battery brooders are used, transfer the chicks to ground-rearing facilities at about 4 weeks of age.
  • Chicks can be brooded and raised intensively on deep litter or wire floors. A combination of wire and litter for brooding and rearing is ideal.
  • If chicks are given access to outside runs, cover the tops of the runs with netting because pheasants are nervous and are able to fly from about 3 weeks of age. Cover the netting on the top of outside runs with branches to help simulate natural conditions.
  • At first brooders should operate at 35°C, with the temperature gradually being reduced to 25°C by the time chicks are 3 weeks of age. Where outside runs are used, chicks must still be able to come and go inside the brooder house until they are 6 weeks of age; this is part of the ‘hardening off’ process (weaning chicks off artificial heat).
  • Good ventilation is necessary for effective brooding, but draughts must be avoided. Pheasant chicks are much more seriously affected by draughts than chicks of other types of poultry.

After brooding, pheasants can be reared on range, provided they have adequate shelter. Yards should be enclosed with netting to prevent birds escaping. To prevent flying, clip wing feathers at least every 4 weeks, or pinion at day-old. (See 'Flight control'.)

Handling and catching

Pheasants have to be handled many times for weighing, beak trimming and transferring to different housing facilities. Because they are very nervous birds, they should not be panicked. They have been known to fracture their heads or break their necks trying to escape from a disturbing situation. When caught, they must be handled carefully because their bones are brittle. When being held they try to get free, which can result in a leg being broken. To prevent this happening, they must be held the correct way — one correct way is to hold the pheasant by both legs, with the head and body tucked under the holder's arm.

Pheasants can be caught with a net similar to a hand fishing net with a heavy gauge wide mesh. This can be placed over the bird to catch it without causing physical damage. Pheasants, when caught, should be placed in carrying cages covered with a hessian bag to prevent self-injury.

Flight control

Pheasants are very nervous and are also very good flyers, so they should be kept in completely covered yards or buildings. If they escape after a disturbance, they may fly too far away and become lost.


Wing clipping will only temporarily prevent flying. The primary wing feathers of one wing are clipped short. Birds can be clipped after they reach 6 weeks of age, but it will be necessary to reclip feathers about every 4 weeks. Obviously, clipping has definite disadvantages: the flock is regularly disturbed and the job is time consuming.


Brailing is another method of flight control. Attaching brail or tape to one wing prevents flying. To give both wings some exercise, change the brail or tape to the other wing every 4 months.

Attaching brail or tape to wings to prevent pheasants from flying

A brail is a thin, pliable leather strap (see D in diagram at right) cut with a small T-shaped strap (C and B) at one end. The smaller strap is fastened around the pheasant’s ‘forearm’ with a paper fastener (A). The longer section of the strap (D) is then passed beneath the wing and pushed up between the outermost flight feathers, before being bent back and secured with the paper fastener (A). The ends of the paper fastener should be curved back with a pair of pliers so that they can be bent under the fastener head. Some limited movement should be allowed to the brailed wing. With breeders it is advisable to change the brail to the other wing about every 4 months, to give both wings some exercise.


Taping wings can be used as an alternative to brailing. Two lengths of 6 mm linen tape should be laid side by side and knotted to divide the double tape into one-third and two-thirds of its length. Although the long end of the tape is double instead of single, the same technique should be used for securing the wing, as in brailing. Use a suitable knot to locate the tape on the pheasant’s elbow. Tape is cheaper than leather brails. However, the life of tapes will be shorter than brails.


‘Pinioning a pheasant’ means removing the first joint of one of its wings. The operation can be done at day-old using a beak-trimming machine, with virtually no injury to the bird. Pinioning should only be performed by a competent operator.

Pinioning is a common practice for birds raised for commercial meat production; however, if the operation is performed incorrectly, the males may lose their balance when mating and the fertility of the breeding stock may be impaired.