Agriculture has always been part of my life. We live on a beef farm and every summer we grow our own vegetables in the garden. I also have raised poultry for quite a while and as a result, had some experience and some necessary supplies such as a heat lamp bulb and a place for the young birds.
My goal was to raise and maintain pheasants which I could breed and collect eggs from to hatch and sell to hunting preserves, as well as to keep and raise more so the process can continue, although eventually I May encounter a problem with inbreeding.
The first step was to locate a game farm from which I could by pheasant chicks. I found Forsgren’s Pheasant Farm Inc. in Delican Rapids rather than the proposed Stromberg’s Hatchery. I purchased 50 straight-run chicks from them. I chose Forsgren’s owns Stromberg’s because Forgren’s specializes in game birds and also had some re-used netting that was much cheaper and it was easier to get everything I needed in as few different locations as possible. Once these chicks grew, I started to build a bigger, year-round pen for them. This was quite a project but by using one and a half corn cribs, the 30’ X 50’ netting from Forsgrens, and the 3 rolls of ½” x ½” wire, I constructed a suitable pen that is relatively predator – proof. This is where the now mature pheasants are and in the spring I will begin collecting eggs and continuing with the proposed plan of action.
My father was probably the biggest help to me in this project. He helped immensely with constructing the pen. He also took care of the pheasants sometimes when I was gone to 4-H camp or other such activities. My mother was also involved in this project. She was the one who had first heard about this youth grant through her job as the Cass County 4-H Program Coordinator. I gathered a lot of the information for this project from several books about pheasants, but I also received some helpful hints from people that I have gotten to know through my years participating in the 4-H poultry project. These people include Robin Otto and Kurt Dullinger.
The current result of this project is that I have a pen with 25 mature ring-neck pheasants in it. I cannot speak as to long term results as I have yet to hatch out and sell pheasant chicks from these 25 mature pheasants. These results were expected although I was hoping to have a few more than 25 pheasants. This brings about the topic of changes. There is only one thing I would change about this project if I were to do it again. I would get more tightly spaced netting for the top of the pen. When I moved the pheasants from the brooder to their pen they were not fully grown and as a result some of them were able to squeeze through the netting in the top. Therefore, I did lose some pheasants due to this. However, several of these escapees are still alive and visit their friends in the pen every now and again.
I have explored the environmental side of sustainable agriculture through this project for SARE. By raising pheasants to sell to a hunting preserve I will be reducing hunting pressure to the environment. Also, although everything so far has involved cost and not profit, hopefully this spring when I start hatching and selling pheasant chicks there will be some profit. These have also been a few neighbors that have stopped by to look at the pheasants because they agree that they are beautiful. This may not be a big affect, but nonetheless it has somehow affected members of my community.
I used a couple methods for outreach on this project. Firstly, I made a cardboard display explaining this project and what I had done and entered this display in the Motley Fair on June 24-26. I also entered this display in the Cass County Fair in Pine River on July 28-31. This way, anybody wandering through the 4-H buildings could find this display and read more about my project. Then, I brought the display and talked about this project at our Becker Busy Bees project day on November 14 at the Becker town hall. I also printed off and handed out a page from the NCR-SARE website. That explained more about youth grants, so that any 4-Hers interested in this could apply next year.
I honestly cannot say that I would like to see anything changed. I learned quite a bit throughout this project and although the project didn’t go exactly perfect it went well, and even if I didn’t this would be no fault of NCR-SARE.