Silver pheasants are beautiful and eye cuddly birds. These beauties are a good dual purpose addition and can be kept for meat, eggs or as pets in bird aviaries.
For many years, pheasants have been seen as wild birds with majority of them living naturally on their own in forests and other wood populate areas.
However, modernization has changed things and today; In the United States, these game birds have gained popularity and are now common in most poultry farms or with dedicated pheasant breeders.
However, if you want to keep these birds, you need to confirm with from your State whether it is legal to raise them or not.
Remember, unlike chicken, they are game birds just like Mountain quails and Guineas. Therefore, you have to seek permission to domesticate wild birds.
In this article, I am going to take you through the profile of Silver pheasants. This will help you know whether they are the right birds for you or not.
Silver pheasants Background
Silver pheasants are an Asiatic species of birds. Here, these birds are found in forests where they live, feed, breed and raise their young.
These birds are endemic in the Eastern Mountains of Asia and some parts in Southern China. There are some who live in the island state of Hawaii but they were introduced there just like they were in mainland America.
The silver pheasant itself is not rare but for sub species like L.N. annamensis of Northern Vietnam, their status remains threatened and require conservation before they become completely extinct.
Otherwise, the next generation may live to hear about them just like we hear of dinasours and other extinct species.
The actual population of silver pheasants remains unknown but it is believed that substantive numbers still roam the Asian jungle.
Features of silver pheasants
Pheasant hens are gowned in a compact brown plumage while their sweet hearts the males are black and white in color.
In both sexes, they have a red face, red legs and a fancy hair-do where long head feathers grow from the back of the head falling on the neck.
The pheasant beak is grey, medium to short and slightly curved at the front. In males, a long spur like that of chicken roosters grows on both legs.
Eye color is bay. The boys have long and colorful tail feathers that require extra maintenance and clean pheasant pens with a dry bedding.
Pheasants are non-migratory birds and will stick to their habitat for the rest of their lives. These birds are ground dwelling preferring to forage, eat seeds, insects and fruits they find.
They are common in areas where the forests are not very dense so that they can easily spot predators. Pheasants are social birds and live in small flocks of 10 to 15 members.
However, there is a pecking order with a dominant male who mates with the hens and offers security.
You can see them in the wild mostly in the mornings and evenings. Additionally, you may hear them making calls though they mainly prefer to remain quiet not to attract enemies. When frightened, they flee by flying and roosting on tree tops because they are easily scared birds and very savvy.
Temperament and Hardiness
Silver pheasants are highly secretive, very skittish and flightily. They are better kept in bird aviaries and when they get a chance to get out they will fly away and never come back.
Keep them in bird cages or small pens because large structures like ordinary chicken coops will give them a chance to exercise their wing muscles and they can fly and hit the roof, ceilings and land hard on the floor causing injuries and death.
In a big poultry barn, they can easily fly and hit the ceiling breaking their wings or neck. Clip their wing feathers using a feather clipper to render them flightless.
Pheasants make good pets in aviaries because they don’t like being held. Additionally, they are beautiful and eye cuddly especially the males.
They are calm and not noisy only opening their voice box during the breeding season. Females make soft whistles while males are recognized with their deep grunts.
Silver pheasants are cold hardy and do very well in cold regions. They tolerate harsh weather and require very simple shelters.
However, enough shaded areas are very important for them during the hot season. Remember they are wild birds and live in forests where there is good shade and plenty of cool air.
Egg laying and Uses
Sterling silver pheasant pullets are ready to lay at the age of 2 years. The eggs are medium in size and have a pinkish to cream egg shell color.
Wild pheasants prefer to make a simple nest of twigs and grass on the ground where they lay the eggs and hatch chicks.
Pheasant hens are seasonal layers with most eggs being laid between months of February and May. During the breeding season, males mate with the hens and a clutch of 6 to 10 eggs are laid.
Some bird enthusiasts who domesticate these birds say that if you remove the eggs daily, hens will continue to lay without getting broody.
Pheasant chicks are hatched precocial after an incubation period 24-25 days. This means that they can walk right from the egg and follow the mom as well as look for food.
However, they remain with their parents until they are fully feathered and have learnt the art of flying, spotting predators and mastering their flight routes.
Chicks for sale can be bought from reputable pheasant farms near you or from dedicated breeders. You can also choose to buy some fertile pheasant eggs for hatching using an egg incubator.
Remember that they are social birds and will do well when kept as a pair or more. A single bird can easily suffer from loneliness and solitude.
According to source, pheasant meat is very edible and nutritious. It is low in total fat, saturated fat and chorestral.
It is healthy than beef, pork, mutton and even chicken. The meat is also rich in strong gamey flavors just like quail meat.
An adult male silver pheasant can offer 2kgs of meat while a hen can offer 1kg of meat when butchered.
Lifespan of Silver Pheasants
In captivity, the ring necked pheasant and the silver pheasant can live between 15 to 20 years. However, the case is different for wild pheasants because they have a short lifespan and can only live for 3 to 5 years.
The mortality rate of wild pheasants is very high compared to those raised in captivity. On their own, they are faced by multiple threats like poaching, draught and predation.
On the other hand, pheasants raised in captivity can live for long especially if they are pets. In captivity they are secure and free from any potential threat that may face them on their own.
Domestic pheasants are well fed, housed and treated unlike forest pheasants that have to battle any dangers on their own.
Raising Silver pheasants for profit
For pheasants to grow from chicks to adulthood, they require all the basic needs for survival. Just like you and I, they have basic needs which must be met.
After the new baby pheasant arrive in your farm, they require to be placed in a brooder. These juvenile critters are very vulnerable and are not able to regulate their body temperature until they are fully feathered.
A brooder acts like the mother pheasants by making sure the young chicks are warm and will not chill. Optimum brooder temperature should remain at 95 degrees F.
Heat lamps or heating plates can be used as the main source of heat. These two are the best because they only provide enough warmth and beddings cannot catch fire.
To tell whether the temperatures are right, you can observe the pheasant chicks’ behavior. When cold, they are huddled together under the heat source.
If it is too hot, they are fussy, drink a lot and stay away from the heat source.
Ensure the brooder floor has a dry and draft free bedding. In this case, chopped straw is the best because it is hard for them to swallow. In addition to this, straw remains dry and retains no moisture.
Baby pheasant require a well-balanced diet of crumbles. In this case, the feeds should be rich in protein at the rate of 28% to 30%.
Remember they are game birds just like quails and require more protein than chickens do. Ordinary chick starter feeds do not contain that much protein and it is not suitable for them.
Pheasant feeds should be fresh and free from molds and other contaminants. Preferably medicated feeds are good because they contain antibiotics and coccidiostats that helps boost their immune system.
Plenty of clean drinking water is vital throughout the growing period. Use shallow water troughs or chick waterers to prevent them from drowning.
Some people will add pebbles and small rocks in the water bowls for them to step on and minimize the risk of drowning.
Shelter is one of the most basic requirements these game birds need. A good pheasant pen that is well ventilated, dry and secure is good for them.
They are forest birds and will easily fly away if not housed properly. A proper house will offer them security and keep predators such as possums and hawks away.
After they are fully feathered, they move from the brooder to the pen or bird aviaries where they will spend the rest of their life.
Threats facing pheasant population
Oriental silver pheasant, ring-neck pheasants and other pheasant species are facing serious threats. They have their lives between a rock and a hard place that is sweeping off large numbers.
So, what threats do they face?
In recent years, vast tracts of land have been cleared to pave way for agriculture, infrastructure and settlement.
Lumbering has led to massive deforestation destroying the natural habitat for pheasants. This has rendered these magnificent critters homeless losing them in thousands over a short period.
Because of this, they are lacking a place to get their food, breed as well as raise their young like they used to years back.
Uncontrolled hunting of pheasants is threatening their numbers. Poaching has been propelled by the strong urge for pheasant meat that is used to makes different pheasant meat recipes and cuisines.
Female birds are targeted, killed and butchered leaving behind a clutch of eggs with no one to hatch. Some leave behind chicks that die due to starvation or predation.
In the last 50 years, global warming has led to a sudden rise in temperatures. This has dramatically tampered with the weather pattern leading to severe draughts or floods.
Pheasants have not been spared either and being reliant on Mother Nature, they have at times lacked food due to famine or drowned in flood waters.
In the wild, sometimes a wave of disease outbreak occurs. This sweeps a large flock of pheasants and other wild birds that are infected wiping large numbers within a short time.
In the last 100 years, the world has been taken over by industrialization. Modern factories and machinery like oil engines have taken over and replaced man power.
This has led to release of toxic gases in the air and industrial effluents in water bodies. Most bird species have become victims of pollution drinking contaminated water or eating crops laden with agricultural chemicals.
It has led to decline and loss of a large number of birds and other animals. Additionally, some birds have been forced to scavange in dumpsters just to feed themselves especially in urban areas.
Health Issues facing Silver Pheasants
Silver pheasants are strong, robust and hardy birds. They do well in cold weather and are not deterred by elements.
They eat a wide variety of foods such as grains, crumbles, tasty bugs and insects that keeps their bodies healthy.
Common chicken lice and scaly mites sometimes infest them. Using small amounts of diatomaceous earth in their dirt bath will help get rid of them.
Internal parasites like worms are known to infest poultry. Seek advice from a qualified vet on the right dewormer for poultry to administer.
Sometimes these birds develop a habit of pecking at each other damaging back feathers and causing open wounds.
A peeper is put on the bird’s beak at 5 weeks of age to deter proper vision. This way they cannot see what is in front properly and therefore minimizing pecking cases.
Manchurian and Silver pheasants are good and hardy birds that are easy to raise. They can eat a wide range of foods and live in simple structures.
They are good for eggs, as pets and for meat. Their meat is flavorful and healthier than beef and chicken. It is used to make pheasant recipe a popular and healthy delicacy.
Do you have silver pheasants? MacFarlane Pheasants is the largest pheasant farm where you can buy these birds from.
They have a good reputation and advice new farmers on how to start raising happy and healthy silver pheasants.
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