Raising Pheasants For Meat on the Homestead. Is it worth it?
You know us. We’re pretty much up for trying anything, at least once.
So when a dear friend of ours unexpectedly handed us a box containing a breeding pair of pheasants, we were stoked. We’d been curious about raising other types of birds for meat, and pheasants were on our list of considerations.
Our friend warned us that pheasants are very flighty, and that they spook easily. When scared they’ll jump around in their cage so violently that they could potentially kill themselves.
When we got them home and opened the box I was immediately struck by how beautiful they were. The male has especially beautiful plumage. Isn’t he gorgeous?
We made a large, unused rabbit hutch into an impromptu pheasant coop. One end is enclosed for protection from wind and weather, with a large open run area for plenty of roaming space. Eventually, if we decide to keep pheasants, it would be nice to build an aviary for them.
If you’ve never heard the sounds a pheasant makes, you should look it up. The male makes the most interesting calls. He makes this purring type noise when I fill their feeder or give them fruit, which I love to hear. I’m not sure if it’s a thank you or if he’s warning his lady of an intruder, but it’s lovely either way.
The hen did lay a little blue egg the first week we had them, but then winter set in and she hasn’t laid any more. She should pick up again soon, when the weather warms.
At this point, I’m not sure if pheasants are worth keeping on the homestead. Here are the cons to raising pheasants that we’ve discovered…
1. Pheasants are flighty. If they get loose you may never catch them. (Maybe this depends on how you raise them?? You could clip their wings.)
2. They don’t offer a lot of meat. (I’ve never eaten pheasant though… is it worth the trouble?)
3. They don’t lay regularly like chickens do, so they wouldn’t be dual purpose.
4. I’ve been told that you generally have to incubate pheasant eggs as the mother often won’t sit on them. So if you want to breed pheasants it may end up requiring equipment and extra effort.
5. They’re so beautiful! I’m finding it hard to justify eating them.
Honestly, we’re not sure what to do with them. As a matter of fact, yesterday I had a moment of inspiration and decided that I’d free the pair to let them live their lives out in the wild.
Be free, little birds!
I opened the cage, warned them that they’d have to be street savvy to survive, and stepped back to watch them flee. Except they didn’t flee. They stayed put, looking quite content. I tried to shoo them out of the cage but they had no interest in leaving. I realized they probably wouldn’t make it through a night in the woods, so after several minutes of persuading I closed them back up and forgot my idea of letting them go.
We have a friend who would be interested in giving them a home. We might let him take the pair.
What do you guys think? Do you have any experience raising pheasants? Are they worth keeping on a homestead? Right now, I’d say no. But maybe you have a different opinion!