Our Hatching & Rearing Process
In order for you to understand our rearing process and why we believe that we have the Best British pheasants please take a minute or two to look through our hatching and rearing process by clicking on the main headings below.
March - Laying
After being carefully graded for size, colour and health the seconds are removed and the rest are vaccinated as required. They are then moved from their large grass winter pens into their respective laying pens. They are split into either a harem - 1 cock to 10 hens or a communal pen of 3 cocks to 30 hens. The majority of the birds are moved to or have access to pens with fresh grass halfway through the laying season. This helps to produce clean eggs and gives the hens a valuable fresh source of nutrition from the grass.
We believe that our low stocking rates produce healthy chicks and do not use artificial light to "bring on the birds". At Holme Park Game Hatcheries, we try to do everything as naturally as possible.
April - Egg Collecting
We will begin to start collecting eggs in April and continue until the eggs are no longer required. Over this period each bird will produce in excess of 50 eggs. We will only pick up once a day in the afternoon to keep disturbance to a minimum and to reduce the chances of eggs being left on the ground longer than necessary.
Grading & Washing
All the eggs are washed and then graded according to size, colour and shell quality all within hours of being collected.
|Ready for incubation
Once washed the eggs are then given a secondary wash and rechecked for cracks again the following morning. Eggs are put into "setters" twice weekly to incubate for 21 days before being moved to the hatchers where they hatch on Mondays and Thursdays, therefore delivery of chicks takes place early in the morning on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Customers are more than welcome to collect chicks in their own vehicles.
May / June - Hatching and Spraying
Normally the first hatch is during the first week in May. We have seven hatchers at Holme Park. The chicks are sprayed with Aviguard which helps and promotes a good gut flora in the chicks and hence a better start in life.
We start grading and packing chicks once they have dried off and absorbed the Aviguard. Around 50% of each hatch is allocated to be sold as day-olds. The rest go out into the rearing fields.
The chicks are boxed (34 to a box which incorporates 2% extra free of charge) and go to the chick room, where they stay overnight before being dispatched to the customers. We use cardboard boxes, which are not re-used as we've found this works best from a bio-security point of view. Spending a night in the boxes in the temperature controlled chick room gives the chicks time to strengthen and absorb yolk.
The balance of the chicks are then put into brooder houses and they will usually be allowed out of their brooder houses and onto grass at 4-5 days old, weather permitting, where they are then reared at a low intensity having access to large feed and drinking areas per bird along with adequate perches to encourage flying and prevent boredom.
At the same time we will be building and extending the brooder houses with 'A' frame panels. We aim to provide additional space for the birds frequently with the runs being extended up to 70' as they continue to develop. In addition we put perches into the pens - all of this extra space and activity helps reduce aggression. The rearing field is on a new ley each year to provide fresh, clean grass.
June / July - Bitting, Catching and Delivery
All the birds are "bitted" which prevents them from pulling feathers from other birds. The "bits" are fitted at 2 weeks and removed at catching.
Within each of the 70' 'A' frames we provide at least 16' worth of perches which reduces boredom as they can see other birds in adjacent pens and also they allow the poults to start learning to fly and roost quickly on release.
Clipping and Catching For Delivery
Before delivery poults are carefully caught and graded, either as full wing birds or clipped at no extra cost, on the morning of delivery. This means that the poults leave the farm recently fed and watered and are with most customers by late morning / early afternoon depending on your location. We never clear a pen in one visit therefore allowing the crated poults to be of a uniform size.
We aim to deliver poults, in our own easy to carry crates to the release pen, thereby minimising stress.
Once all of poults have been sold our "closed flock" is then moved to our over wintering fields before breeding starts for the following season.