DNR Hatchery ~Picking Up Our Pheasant Chicks

MacKenzie Center, part of DNR.

MacKenzie Center, part of DNR.

Our Adventure to the DNR Hatchery began Thursday April 18th, 2013. Earlier I placed a order with the hatchery to buy 100 day old hen pheasants. Thursday they being separated from the roosters so I could go pick mine up. The Hatchery is on The State Game Farm along with the MacKenzie Environmental Center.

“Experience the best in outdoor education.”

The MacKenzie Environmental Education Center (MEEC) is one of the most diverse environmental education centers in Wisconsin. Encompassing 250 acres, the center has a variety of habitat types including prairie and forestland. MEEC is an excellent place to visit and learn more about the natural world through hands-on outdoor experiences, family outings, hiking and picnics.

Located just 25 miles north of Madison, MEEC is readily accessible to people of all ages in south-central Wisconsin.

Rearing Facility.

Rearing Facility.

This is what the state game farm does, taken from their website:

State Game Farm

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) – State Game Farm is located near Poynette in central Columbia County. The goals of the State Game Farm and the pheasant stocking program are to provide quality pheasant hunting opportunities on public and private lands, promote safe and ethical behavior in the field, and cooperate with conservation groups dedicated to promoting pheasant hunting in the state. There are a number of programs the WDNR uses to accomplish these goals.

All ring-necked pheasants provided by the WDNR for each of these programs are produced at the State Game Farm. A pair of indoor breeder barns were built in the early 1980s to increase bio-security measures and pheasant production levels. By adjusting indoor lighting levels, the Game Farm staff is able to artificially induce production at any time of year. Currently, pheasants in these barns are put into production in February and the first eggs are collected in early March.

The original hatchery from the early 1930s is still in use today. Approximately 330,000 eggs are incubated annually in incubators that have been in use since the 1950s. Weekly hatches occur from early April through the end of June. At the end of the hatching season approximately 250,000 chicks will be hatched. Many of these chicks will be reared on the Game Farm, with some going to conservation clubs that participate in the Day-old Chick program. Hen chicks are also available for sale to the public.

Pheasant chicks are reared in two environmentally controlled brood-rearing barns. These barns were erected in the early 1980s to increase bio-security measures and the efficiency of chick rearing operations. Approximately 60,000 chicks are reared indoors until they are 6 weeks old. Chicks are then transferred from the indoor rearing facilities to the outdoor range fields until they are released in the fall.

DNR office building.

DNR office building.

The Hatchery.

The Hatchery.

Once inside the hatchery to pick up our hen pheasants I asked the gentleman working there if he minded me taking some pictures for my blog, he said “of course you can and I will give you a tour”. I thought that was great! I have picked up hen pheasants from them before but I never got a tour.

Sexing the chicks.

Sexing the chicks.

These are the workers sexing the chicks. The chicks were just hatched out and being sexed. They keep the roosters to raise and release during the Wisconsin pheasant hunting season on the DNR public land. The hens are sold to the public. I paid .15 cents for one day old.

Picking out the roosters.

Picking out the roosters.

Roosters go in this hole.

Roosters go in this hole.

How they tell the roosters.

How they tell the roosters.

You can sex the roosters by the hens when they are a day old. You look below the eye on the cheek pouch and there will be a line with no feathers. This is the rooster. When I have gotten hens in the past I have gotten a couple roosters so some do slip by. It is hard to sex them after

Another rooster.

Another rooster.

150 roosters.

150 roosters.

They count 150 roosters and put in these containers.

Recounting and making sure 150 in bin.

Recounting and making sure 150 in bin.

This guy is recounting and making sure there are 150 birds in a bin. These will then go to the brooder house.

1934 incubator.

1934 incubator.

This was one of the first incubators used back in 1934. They were still using this incubator up until a few years ago.

Can see how old this incubator is. 1934

Can see how old this incubator is. 1934

You can tell how old the above incubator is by looking at the number 662W. That number was the phone number of the incubator company. What a great piece of history.

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5 thoughts on “DNR Hatchery ~Picking Up Our Pheasant Chicks

  1. Wow that is very interesting how they sex them, I had no idea. I happen to see a male pheasant the other day on my way to work, flew up from the side of the road. Don’t get to see them very often, would love to get some tail feathers.

    Like

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