Raising Pheasant Chicks: Ultimate Guide

Pheasant Chicks Featured Image
Raising Pheasant Chicks requires proper preparation and consistent monitoring to avoid stock losses and disease. As a minimum, you'll need to construct or purchase a proper brooder and a flight pen for the first few months. 

If you’re interested in breeding or simply raising pheasants, it’s important to gather as much information about these birds as possible in order to give them the care they need to thrive.

This article will discuss where and how to purchase pheasant chicks, how to provide for their needs to raise them to adulthood, and information about how to ensure they have the type of specialized environment they need to grow. Let’s jump into it!

Where do Pheasants Come From?

The game bird most people refer to as a pheasant is actually the Ring-Necked Pheasant, which is a bird that originated in China. This bird was introduced to North America in 1881 and was released in Oregon, where the population grew and thrived.

Later, these pheasants were introduced to other states and to other countries around the world. They became one of the most well-known birds for hunting due to their delicious meat and beautiful plumage.

Some people even kept them as ornamental birds for pets due to their unique appearance.

Today, there are hundreds of farms dedicated to raising and breeding the Ring-Necked Pheasant.

What do Pheasants Look Like?

Males and females have distinctive markings so you can easily tell them apart as adults but as chicks they are identical.

a pheasant chick
Males and females look identical

After several weeks, roosters begin growing deep, vibrant blue-green heads, bright red face wattles and crisply outlined white neck rings with black and white spots on their bodies.

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Hens are a rich brown color and have a long neck, with markings of black on the wings and body.

Both sexes of adult pheasants have elegantly long, pointed tails.

How do You Buy Pheasant Chicks?

You can buy the Chinese Ringneck Pheasant from many different game farms. They are not difficult to find, but you should select a breeder that is close to you as the chicks will need to be shipped by the post office, and you want to ensure they arrive as quickly as possible if you aren’t able to pick up your chicks yourself.

The largest, most well-known farm is MacFarlane Pheasants Inc. They, like many other farms, have a waiting list for pheasants if none are immediately available.

It is fairly easy to order them online but keep in mind that most breeders will have a minimum amount that you will need to purchase, and they typically come as a straight run.

2 phesant chicks in hand
Buying chicks online is relatively easy with refunds available for stock losses

Chick availability should be checked with your breeder, but most pheasants are born in late Spring and early Summer.

How do You Set up a Brooder for Pheasant Chicks?

Setting up your brooder is essential and needs to be done at least a few weeks before your pheasant chicks arrive.

Baby pheasants are extremely vulnerable and need a specialized environment. Two weeks prior to their arrival you will need to thoroughly clean and disinfect the brooder area and all equipment and materials that will be used there.

Do not re-use a brooder that was used previously for chickens as cross-contamination can occur.

FlooringYou should provide chopped straw as flooring so baby pheasants can stand and navigate on it, versus wood chips which can kill them if ingested too young.
HeatYou will need a heat source and can choose between heat lamps and heat plates. Ensure the heat source is not too far and not too near the chicks (roughly 18” if you go with a heat lamp) – and make sure they have cooler areas to go in case they are overly warm.
If you opt for a heat lamp, a single 250-watt bulb should suffice for up to 100 chicks, but you will need to ensure the bulb has a red tip – you do not want them to have too bright of a light.
ShieldA ring or draft shield should be used for the first 7 days around all of your chicks. You can make one out of cardboard, and simply build a ring roughly 20 inches high around them to prevent drafts.
SpaceSpace requirements are crucial as pheasants are cannibalistic and without enough space, they are more likely to consume one another. Ensure each chick has 3/4 of a square foot of space. Additionally, you will need both a feeding area and a watering area, the size of each will depend on how many chicks you are raising:
FeedA 2ft long feeder will be required for every 50 chicks you have. Feed your chicks a 30% protein-medicated gamebird or turkey starter crumble feed that contains coccidiostat (Amprolium) until they are 6 weeks old.
After 6 weeks of age, you can change their food to a protein grower feed with 20% protein until they are mature.
SupplementsIf your pheasants are sick or dying in the first week, you can add Terramycin soluble powder to their water for the first week only. This is an antibiotic but should only be used on sick birds.
WaterThey will need a shallow water source with clean water at all times. A 1-gallon waterer with a narrow lip will suffice for up to 75 chicks. Ensure you place stones or marbles at the base for deeper waterers to prevent chicks from drowning accidentally.
If you have all of the above ready for your pheasant chicks, then you will be set up for success.

If you have all of the above ready for your pheasant chicks, then you will be set up for success.

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How do you Raise Pheasant Chicks?

When your day-old chicks arrive, you must act quickly after their hatching and transport as this is when they are most at risk. Dip their beaks into water immediately before placing them into the brooder and encourage them to eat and drink.

You will want to watch for where the chicks gather as this will tell you if they are too hot or too cold and you will need to adjust as necessary. Have they directly huddled themselves under the heat source or mostly away from it along the perimeter?

It is crucial that you check on your 1-2 day old pheasant chicks frequently, especially at night on the first two nights as these are the nights they are most vulnerable and most likely to die from cold.

2 pheasant chicks on dirt
After a couple of weeks, chicks can begin exploring outside

Once your chicks are 2 weeks old, you can allow them time in a pen, outside of their brooder box but only during the daytime. The pen, referred to as a flight pen, has special requirements to ensure your chicks are safe from predators.

How do You Construct a Flight Pen for Pheasant Chicks?

The pen you construct has to be completely covered and surrounded with chicken wire (1 inch) so your baby pheasants cannot escape. The pen at this point needs to have 1 to 2 square feet of space for each bird.

You will want to continue to provide food and water. You will also want to add ground cover such as corn, ragweed or lambsquarters so your pheasants have a safe place to hide and somewhere to keep cool.

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In the late afternoon, you will need to return your chicks to the brooder. The brooder at this point will need to be expanded to also allow for the 1-2 square feet of space per chick.

Your heat source doesn’t need to be on during the day in the brooder since the chicks are outside but should be on at night until the chicks are 4 weeks old. If you live in a very cold climate, you may need to adjust the heating as necessary.

Once your pheasants reach 5 weeks old, you will want to expand their flight pen to give 25 square feet of space per chick and they should have peepers.

a phesant pullet
Like raising any chicken, Pheasants need more space as they grow

The pen still needs to be completely enclosed and predator-proof and to prevent your birds from flying away.

Keep vigilant in watching for signs of cannibalism – it usually starts with bits of blood visible on tails and wingtips of smaller, weaker birds.

If you see evidence of this, you can add alfalfa hay and branches to encourage the stronger birds to peck at instead of each other.

If what you add doesn’t help, you may need to trim the tip of the top beak of your pheasants so they cannot cause damage – a standard pair of fingernail clippers will do the job. Repeat trimming just until you see blood, and as often as necessary to ensure the health of your flock.

Once your chicks reach 6 to 8 weeks old, they can be outside in their flight pen full time.

Are Pheasant Chicks Right for You?

Raising pheasant chicks can be rewarding, but it comes with a significant time commitment.

Pheasants have special needs and you have to stick closely to the timeline and adjust their environment multiple times as they mature to optimize their chances of reaching adulthood.

Pheasants can be profitable if you’re willing to do everything that is necessary to keep them healthy and happy, so ultimately it comes down to the amount of work you are willing to do, and whether it makes sense for you to do it to have these lovely birds in your backyard.


A longtime resident of Southern California, Christina recently moved across the globe to Austria, where she bought land specifically to build a small house with room for a backyard chicken coop. Christina spent her childhood summers on a farm, raising and caring for a flock of hens owned by her grandparents, which prompted a lifelong love of chickens, and other farm animals. Christina is passionate about writing, having written hundreds of articles for well-known websites, and uses her English degree in service of her love for animal welfare, most recently taking on a writing position at Chicken Care Taker in 2022.

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