Pheasants can be great, sociable birds to have on your farm regardless of whether you raise them for game. However, pheasant food is different to chickens and ducks you might have raised in the past.
Growing pheasants require more protein-dense food and have specific vitamin and mineral requirements to ensure they develop properly.
Before you start rearing pheasants, read our guide to find out how to prepare your property for pheasant chicks, tips for pheasant care, the nutritional and food requirements of pheasants throughout their life and common foods you can feed your pheasants.
Preparing before your chicks arrive
Wanting to rear your pheasants from chicks? There are a few things you can do to prepare for their arrival.
Pheasants mature surprisingly fast, leaving their nest less than 24 hours after being born. They are flying by 12-14 weeks, and by 15 weeks old you can’t tell the difference between a young and old pheasant.
We’ve got a few tips to make sure your pheasant chicks get the best start:
- Disinfect the brood/coop two weeks before their arrival
- Use chopped up straw for the nesting area (wood chips may kill the chicks if they eat them in the first week of life)
- Use brooder paper or burlap sacks to help chicks get their footing
- Use a red tinted heat lamp to keep them warm (red will reduce cannibalism). You’ll need 250 watts for every 100 chicks, hung 18 inches above the ground
- Provide 4.5 litres of water for every 75 chicks and one 65cm feeder for every 50 chicks
- Feed them high protein pheasant starter pellets. Pheasant chicks need a lot more protein than chickens and ducklings, for example
- Keep pheasants away from other animals to reduce stress and social issues
- The size of the brooding coop should accommodate approximately 6cm squared per chick
Tips for taking care and raising pheasants
Whether they are pets or being raised for game, pheasants can make a wonderful addition to your farm.
To keep your pheasants happy and healthy, there are a few key tips to remember when taking care of them:
- Keep them separate from other animals – if you have other birds and poultry on your farm, make sure pheasants are kept away from them. Male pheasants can start to pull their feathers out if surrounded
- Build an aviary – Although pheasants are ground foragers, they can and will fly if they feel like they are in danger. It is best to have an aviary or coop that they can’t get out of unless you want them roaming free
- Give access to water – Like all animals, pheasants need lots of water. Make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water (without chloride if possible)
- Keep them social – Pheasants don’t do well by themselves! Make sure you have more than one if you keep them as pets
- Meet their mineral requirements – As well as feed and protein intake, pheasants have a lot of vitamin and mineral requirements which we will go into in the next section on pheasant nutrition
Nutritional requirements of pheasants
Pheasants are omnivores, which means they eat a combination of plant and animal matter.
Although they eat both, about 90% of their diet is made up of plants and grains.
In the wild, pheasants forage and eat insects, grains, grass, seeds, fruit and vegetables.
So as pets or farm birds, you are responsible for these nutritional requirements.
A pheasant diet mainly consists of commercially developed pellets. This ensures that they get the protein that they need. For mature pheasants, you’ll be looking for something that has around 17% protein. Their diet as a whole should be nearly 30% protein.
As chicks and “teenagers”, pheasants need a higher percentage of protein in their feed, around 28% in the first stages of their life. It is also good to choose pheasant feed that contains coccidiostat, as they are prone to coccidiosis like chickens.
To aid digestion, you can add grit to their diet as well.
Pheasants also need vitamin and mineral supplements that support their health. You should have either feed or liquid supplements that give pheasants the appropriate doses of
- Vitamin A, D, E, K
- B2 and B12
- Zinc, copper, iodine
- Folic acid
If you are unsure about the vitamin requirements for your pheasants, make sure you consult a professional.
Common foods to feed your pet pheasant
In the wild, pheasants have an incredibly varied diet. They have even been seen eating small mice and lizards!
As pets and poultry, there are many things that you can incorporate into their diet to help them grow and flourish.
Poultry feed like Sharpes Pheasant Breeder pellets are specifically formulated to provide pheasants with the protein and nutrients they would forage in the wild. Pellets are the best food for pheasants as their main source of nutrition.
They are mostly ground foragers so you can put the pellets or crumble out for them in their enclosure.
Plants, fruits and vegetables
Although they eat animal matter, the majority of their diet is made up of plants.
Alongside pheasant pellets, you can give them rich leafy greens like spinach to supplement their diet. Other ground plants like dandelion can help them get their vitamins in as well.
Fruit can also be a good source of fibre and vitamins. Try feeding your pheasants black currants, pineapple and tomatoes.
Seeds and grains
You can add seeds and grains alongside the carbohydrates that are already in pellets. Pheasants are also known to enjoy peanuts, which can be a source of good fats for them.
Your pheasants’ diet is the difference between healthy growing birds and birds that will struggle to socialise, grow and reproduce.
Looking for the best pheasant food for happy birds? Sharpes have everything from chick, to grower to breeder feed, all specifically formulated for a balanced diet that meets all their nutritional requirements. Available in pellets and crumbles.