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Pheasant Egg Incubation
Pheasants are a distinct and unique bird that require unique hatching conditions. Many people raise pheasants because they are such an attractive animal to have on their farm. Like a peacock, these animals are bred more for their colors and character than for meat or egg production, although some breeders do note that they have a more flavorful taste than a chicken. They are also known as a great game bird and are also used for hunting.
Incubating Pheasant eggs takes between 22-29 days, with egg turning ending at day 23 (or day 19 for breeds with shorter incubation times).
The correct temperature for incubating pheasant eggs is 99.5 degrees, but typically within 1 degree range should still yield you a successful hatch.
The humidity level in the incubator plays the biggest role in successful artificial incubation of pheasant eggs. It is recommended that you maintain the humidity level at 60%. This converts to a wet bulb temperature of 86 - 87 degrees F. The humidity level can be measured with a hygrometer or through the use of a wet bulb thermometer and a conversion chart. The humidity level can be adjusted by opening or closing the vents on an incubator to allow more or less air to enter and escape, if your unit comes with air vents. The humidity level can also be adjusted by the use of a water pan in the incubator. The water evaporation is controlled by the surface area of water in the water pan. In other words, water will evaporate quicker from a large shallow water pan than from a smaller, deeper water pan, even if they contain the same amount of water. The more water evaporating from the water pan, the higher the humidity level.
It is important to prepare your pheasant egg incubator ahead of time. If you are using an automatic egg turner, you will want to make sure that you all of your components are working properly- including your motor. It make take some time to determine if it is working since they move so slowly, so I recommend setting it and checking back in about an hour when it should be in an obviously different position. You will also want to make sure that all of your components are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized- this is crucial. Even if you have purchased a new incubator for this hatch, it will still need to be thoroughly cleaned in order to reduce the potential for egg contamination and possible loss of your clutch.
Now that the incubator is ready, it is time to set the eggs. You will lay the eggs on their sides in the incubating trays with the pointed end of the egg tipped slightly down. If you are turning by hand, make sure that you lightly mark each of the eggs so that you can ensure you turn every egg each time. Use a crayon or pencil, never a permanent marker to mark your peacock eggs. If you are using an automatic turner, you may still want to mark your eggs so if you remove them for pheasant egg candling, you will be able to place them back in the turner the right way. Some experts recommend turning your egg completely over twice a day in addition to using the egg turners to increase your hatch rates.
Determining pheasant egg fertility can be done by candling the egg. You should be able to recognize signs of fertility by day 10. It is suggested that you remove any eggs that still do not show signs of fertility after 10 days and discard them. This helps eliminate the risk that they will contaminate your viable eggs. Many recommend that you candle your eggs weekly after you have determined fertility so that you can monitor the growth of the embryo and ensure that everything is still going as planned. It is hard not to candle your eggs more often since watching them grow is such an amazing thing, but you want to handle them as little as possible, and you also want to maintain your temperature/humidity.
You may have a pheasant egg incubator with a hatching tray or area, or you may choose to use a separate pheasant egg hatcher. Either one can give you great results if you carefully monitor your humidity during this delicate time. You will want to stop turning your eggs at day 19-23 and relocate them to your hatching area. This allows them to properly orient themselves for hatching. They should begin to hatch within 2-3 days. You can leave the temperature the same as for incubating (99-100 degrees F), but you will want to increase the humidity (90-94 wet bulb reading). This helps keep the membranes in the egg from drying out too much while the chick is hatching. You will want to leave the pheasant chick in the hatcher for about a day, or until it can stand on it's own and move about easily.
When brooding pheasants, there are things that you can do to make sure the baby pheasants are healthy and grow quickly. Once the fertile eggs hatch, place the pheasant chicks under a standard brooder lamp at 95 degrees F. Decrease the temperature of the brooder as the pheasants mature and grow feathers, lowering the overall temperature of the brooder by five degrees every week until the heat lamp is off. Feed the pheasants high-protein starter feed (unmedicated, of course). They will then be able to be moved to their permanent home.
Pheasants are a great multi purpose bird in that they are both attractive to raise, and good to hunt and eat. Your success in hatching pheasants lies in your ability to maintain good temperature and humidity, as well as take care of your equipment. Good luck, and happy hatching!