Heart of America Game
Breeders' Association

Questions & Answers on Raising Impeyan Pheasants

The monthly segment called "Questions & Answers", featured the Impeyan Pheasant in the January 1998 issue of the Heartland News. This month, the questions were answered by well known breeder Bernie Jager of West Olive, MI.

1. How or why did you become interested in raising this particular species? How long have you been raising this species?
I became interested in raising Impeyan Pheasants about fifteen years ago when I saw a pair at a game bird swap in Indiana. This multi-colored bird caught my eye. The following year, I bought my first pair. I now have three breeding pairs.

2. In what size pen are the birds kept? Is it landscaped? If so, with what?
My pens vary in size from 8' x 20' x 8' high to 12' x 12' x 12' high. One pen is only 8' x 12' x 6' high, and they do very well in this pen size as well. Impeyans are great diggers so you must protect any shrubs with wire so the roots are not destroyed. To avoid this problem, I use old Christmas trees as shade.

3. What sort of shelter is provided for the birds? What special things do you do to protect them during the winter?
All my Impeyan pens are built under shade trees. The birds don't need much protection during the winter. In Michigan, it gets down to 30 degrees below zero. The Impeyans love the cold weather and sit outside and really enjoy the cold. I do keep a shelter in each pen that I put the feed in to keep it dry. The shelter size is 3' x 5' x 2' high with a fiberglass dome for a roof. This shelter sets on legs about 1 1/2 feet off the ground. In the summer, they love to spend time under these shelters.

4. What do you feed the birds during the non-breeding season?
During the non-breeding season, I feed all my pheasants a game bird maintenance food which is about 14% protein. The feed is milled by VandenBosch Feed Company in Zeeland, Michigan.

5. What do you feed the birds during the breeding season? When do you switch to this feeding program?
During the breeding season, I have a mix made by Hamilton Feed Company. I use their egg mash and add soybean meal and alfalfa meal to the feed to get the protein level up to 22%. I add 3 pounds of Vitamin D to a ton of feed. I believe this helps the hens from getting egg bound. All this feed is mixed together and made into a pellet. I start feeding this mixture around February 10, about five weeks before the breeding season starts.

6. How do you prepare the pens for the breeding season? If nest boxes are placed in the pen, what type and size are they? Where in the pen are they placed? What is used for nesting material?
As early as possible in the spring, I try to clean up the pens from the winter mess. I try to put put nest boxes about two feet off the ground, but my Impeyans prefer to lay their eggs under the pine trees. They will scrape a hole about four inches deep to lay the eggs in. My soil is sandy and well drained. Sand doesn't stick to the eggs like heavy soil, so the eggs stay clean. I try to place the pine trees in a corner close to the door so I can collect eggs without disturbing the birds.

7. How often do you collect the eggs? How long are the eggs stored before they are incubated? How are they stored?
I collect the eggs every night after they lay and store them in my basement in a pan. I mark the eggs with an "X" on one side an "O" on the other side. I turn them a half a turn every night. The basement stays about 65 degrees year round. I try to set the eggs every four to five days.

8. On the average, how many eggs will a hen lay during the breeding season? Are the hens allowed to set?
Impeyans lay from eight eggs the second year up to twenty-nine eggs a year as they get older. I don't let the hens set, but I do set some eggs under broody chickens. Some Impeyans don't always lay the second year. I had one pair that took five years to before I got any eggs. Sometimes it becomes necessary to place the hens in one pen and male in another. Place the roost at the same height in each pen to see which female sits next to the male. Then place that male and that female together in a pen. Hopefully, they will mate and produce eggs. Sometimes just switching the hens will produce a bonded pair.

9. How are the eggs incubated? If an incubator is used, what kind do you use? At what temperature are the eggs set? What is the length of incubation? What special things do you do during incubation that helps you to have a more successful hatch?
I use a GQF model 1202 circulated-air incubator. The temperature is set at 99 1/2 degrees with a wet bulb reading of 84. Always disinfect your incubator brefore starting the season. I use Tek-Trol aerosol. Be sure to run the incubator several days to get the temperature steady before setting any eggs. Sue distilled water for humidity in the incubator. When you hear the eggs start peeping, lay the eggs in the hatching tray on a thin rubber mesh (Easy Liner), which can be purchased at Wal-Mart. The chicks get a good grip on the mesh after they hatch which strengthens their legs. I leave the chicks in the incubator for 24 to 30 hours. The rubber mesh can be washed and used again.

10. Describe how you brood the young? What are they fed? Do you use a "teacher" for those that are hard to get started eating? How long are the young kept in brooders?
When the chicks are taken from the incubator, they are moved to the brooder house. The brooder has twelve seperate compartments which measure 2' x 4' by 1 1/2 feet high. The temperature in the top pens is set at 95 degrees. Each pen has three light bulbs fore heat. They are regulated by switches. On cold nights, all three bulbs are on. Each pen has a thermometer to check for steady temperature. The middle pens are set at 90 degrees, the bottom pens are set at 85. Chicks are moved down from the top every week. Chicks are fed a 28% protein turkey crumble for the first three weeks. I always try to keep an Elliot's chick in the brooder for a "teacher". I sprinkle Vionate in with the turkey crumble. Depending on the weather, I try to move the chicks out of the brooder at three to four weeks of age. I try to keep chicks of the same age together to prevent feather picking at each other. Warm water is used the first week. After that, tap water will do.

11. As the chicks grow, do you change the type of feed? If so, what do you feed and when do you switch to this feed?
After the chicks are three weeks old, I switch to a 22% turkey crumble to which some Vionate is added.

12. At what age do you move the chicks to larger brooders or indoor pens? Describe these brooders or pens?
When the chicks are three to four weeks of age, they are moved to my barn where I have several pens which measure 8' x 8' 6' high. These pens have sand on the floor so the chicks can dust themselves. I keep a heat bulb in the pen for cold nights. Roosts are kept in the pens, that way, they get plenty of exercise. They are gradually switched back to an 18% unmedicated chick grower.

13. How long are the birds kept there before being moved to outdoor pens? What special things do you do to protect the young once they are placed in outdoor pens?
As soon as the birds are feathered completely, they are moved to pens outside. They are locked in the coops for a couble of days. If the weather is good, they are let outside to graze. If the weather turns bad, they know to go back into the coop. Never put pheasants outside without protection. Wet birds die fast.

14. At what age do you sex the young? How are the young of the various bloodlines and/or the males and females marked or banded?
Impeyans can be sexed when they are around three to four months old. The males get black feathers under their necks while the females stay white. Bloodlines can be kept seperate by web clipping or by keeping different bloodlines in seperate pens.

15. What is interesting, challenging, etc. about raising this particular species?
Impeyans are my favorite pheasants. There is nothing more beautiful than a male in full sunlight. They are not a flighty bird and can become quite tame. Both the male and the female have beautiful blue skin around the eyes. A bonded pair can produce eggs for twelve to fifteen years. Treat your birds well and they will give you a lifetime of enjoyment.

Monal Pheasant, photo by John Corder

January 1998 The Heartland News