Covered Pen Management
Information provided by Chris Theisen of MacFarlane Pheasants
This article will outline the important aspects of managing your own covered pen. Make sure to never gamble with anything when it comes to maintaining your pens; don't gamble and do it right the first time. The goal of any pen should be happy and healthy birds so you have a top quality product to sell to your customers.
Preparing the Pen : Planting & Spraying
1. Work the ground, fence lines and feeder areas. Keeping these areas in good shape goes a long way in maintaining a healthy stock of birds.
2. Let the weeds come up for the early birds.
3. Spray post emerge as needed.
4. Grind your ground
Make Sure Equipment is Available and in Good Condition
Making sure all your equipment and the equipment inside the pens that the birds use daily is key to maintaining a healthy and happy group of birds. Below are some pictures of some of the things you need to make sure are in good condition always and to replace immediately if they are not.
Plywood Roof Birdy Hut
Plastic Birdy Hut
Gator Mounted Sprayer with Added Sprayer Arms
1) Thick cover is needed.
2) Open spaces are also just as important to balance the thick cover. Providing enough space for the pheasants to sun is essential. Maintain open spaces in the middle and near the fences is important.
3) Under growth is very important as well to provide enough cover.
Examples of Bad Cover
Make sure to avoid over growth just as much as under growth. You can make the birds feel cramped in their living space and a happy bird doesn't want to feel cramped.
Over Growth and the Solution
Make sure not to hide the feeders. They should be placed in easy to find, well maintained areas of your pen. The birds should know where to find their food and be able to rely that it won't be hard to get to.
Bad vs. Good Feeder Maintenance
Don't Hide the Fence Lines
The birds need a place to sun so keeping the fence lines well maintained and cut is a great place to do this. This also helps on maintaining the fences so the over growth does create holes and wear on the fences and netting.
Don't Hide the Fence Lines
What's Outside Needs Attention Too
1) Clean up the junk. Don't let things outside the pen clutter up the cleanliness of the pen. Maintain clean and well-kept surroundings for the birds.
2) Keep everything mowed. Just as any business, keeping everything mowed is just professional and also eliminates the possibility of weeds on the outside growing through the fence.
3) Control weeds. Again keeping weeds outside the pens in control will hep maintain them inside the pen.
Feeder and Water Management
1) Placement of the feeder in comparison to the water is very important. Make sure there is ample distance between the two, without making them in separate ends of the pen.
Bad vs. Good Feeder/Water Location
2) Control water. Don't just let vast amounts of water continuously run to the pens. Make schedule on how long and how much water you want to run and be detailed and disciplined about it.
3)Keep feeders level. This will reduce the amount that ends up wasted on the ground/muddy areas.
Keep Your Feeders Level - Bad vs. Good
4) Keep feed dry.
Control, control, control! Controlling field mice and rats is essential in covered pen management. They can eat your birds' feed, ruin your water lines and feeders, as well as take down fences and netting easily. If you can't get your feeders out right away during winter months, get them empty. Rats/mice come for food and if there isn't any, they should stop coming.
Sign of Rats/Mice
...and if all else fails....
A Few Other Tips
1) Pen repair is the best predator defense. Keep them out of your pens. They can't get to their food and they'll need to find somewhere else to get food.
2) Dead birds diligence. Make sure you are removing dead birds as soon as possible.
3) Keep your birds looking good.
4) Spread them out. Cramming a thousand birds in a tiny pen won't give you good results. Spread them out the roam and live is the best idea for getting happy and healthy birds.
5) Straw when it's muddy