All stock is blood tested for mycoplasma and grass reared on
new ground every year, which helps to avoid disease. The main
strains reared include French ring neck, Kansas ring neck, Kansas
crosses and black necks. They also rear red leg partridge, and
The day-old chicks are transferred on arrival into brooder huts
where they receive food, water and heat (from a LPG gas heating
system). From there once a week or so old they are released
into sun parlours and eventually into grass runs and then the
pens, which are covered in black netting to avoid birds escaping
or predators entering. Much of the equipment used is bought
locally or constructed by the team themselves on site.
The youngest birds are under constant 24-hour care. The temperature
of the brooder huts is monitored and the feeders and drinkers
regulated. Once the birds are old enough they are allowed to
roam beyond the sun parlours - at night they are shut up into
the sun parlours and brooder huts for easier temperature control.
Birds can begin to arrive from early May, so all the construction
work has to be completed by then. From mid-June the 6-7 week
old birds will start to be caught and sent away in batches.
From the beginning of July batches are required on a weekly
basis, up until mid-August. The trio devise a rota for the daily
routines and accept voluntary help from anyone with a genuine
interest in their activities.
Summer Friday evenings often begin with the unglamorous task
of catching six young pheasants at a time, tagging them and
carefully placing them in large plastic crates ready to be collected.
The task is made easier with the help of several keen volunteers,
who later congregate for a much needed drink in the local pub.
The talk revolves around the mysterious in and outs of game
bird rearing, drinker systems, and leads on to animated stories
in anticipation of the shooting season.
Customers include local and national shoots. All three members
of the team are active shooting men - with the local shoot and
on occasion acting as beaters for national shoots. They have
always had a keen interest in game birds and enjoy the rearing
side of producing high quality birds. Over the next few years
they would like to see themselves working in the business full
time with the possibility of providing local employment and
All three agree that they are happy that their particular method
of rearing the birds is one of the best they have encountered:
they try to reduce the stocking levels, which may be more costly
to them, but has obvious benefits for the birds. 'A happy bird
is a healthy high-flying bird', they chorus.