Quail are an ideal bird to raise. They are easy to care for, take up very little space and provide meat and eggs in a very short time. Quail are a popular game bird prized for their meat and eggs. They start laying eggs about 7 weeks old. The two types of quail found on American homesteads are bobwhite, which are native to many parts of the US, and Coturnix, which originate in Japan. Most people choose to raise Coturnix quail on their homestead because they mature quickly and lay an egg almost every day. Hens can lay up to 300 eggs per year. You’ll have to collect the eggs and incubate them yourself because the hens are not broody. Bobwhite quail begin producing eggs after they are a year old and only lay during May, June and July. Quail require very little space compared to other poultry. They are content with one square foot per bird. They do not return to a coop to roost like chickens and prefer to sleep on the ground. Because they fly, they do not free-range, therefore they must be kept in an enclosure to ensure their safety. They can be kept in aviary or a wire bottom hutch raised off the ground. Quail are fed non-medicated turkey or game bird crumble since it contains more protein than other poultry food. Chicken feed can be substituted but the birds will grow more slowly. Quail require greens to supplement their diet. If they have access to grass they will get what they need on their own. When kept indoors, they must be provided with grass clippings, clover or various greens such as spinach and kale. It is a good idea to use the smaller water containers designed for quail as quail chicks are small and can easily get stuck and possibly drown if the containers are too big. Quail can be fed free-choice as they self regulate their food intake. Coturnix quail are ready to butcher at around 8-12 weeks of age. Bobwhites are ready between 15-20 weeks. They are easy to pluck and do not require a dip in boiling water like other poultry. The meat is tender and quail can be cooked whole just as one would cook a turkey or chicken.
Quail eggs and chicks are available from late March to late September.
The Talisch Caucasian Pheasant (P. c. talischensis) is a subspecies of the Common, or Ring-neck, Pheasant. The genus Phasianus or 'true pheasants' has the most expansive range of all. The true pheasant is made up of over thirty separate sub-species in five groups. The Five Groups of Phasianus Colchicus are 1) Grey Rumped, 2) Tarim, 3) Kirghiz, 4) White Winged and 5) Black Neck. The Talisch is part of the Black Neck Pheasant sub-species. Of the 30+ subspecies that are recorded, they can mostly be identified by the male plumage, specifically the presence or absence of a white neck-ring and the color of the uppertail (rump) and wing coverts (feathers). The females of the different subspecies mostly look alike. Although millions of Common/Ring-neck Pheasants are raised each year, most of these are a mixture of the Grey Rumped races and the PURE subspecies are VERY rare in the United States. There are only a few breeders in the US that keep and specialize in the distinct, pure subspecies. Phasianus faces elimination due to hybridization in captivity. Pheasants are large birds, measuring 20 - 35 inches (50 - 90 cm) in length, including the 8-inch (20-cm) long, pointed tail, which may account for half its length. Talisch Pheasants are large birds, measuring 20 - 35 inches in length, including the 8-inch long, pointed tail, which may account for half its length. The male can be identified by his bright barred plumage and green, purple and reddish markings. The head is green with a small crest and distinctive red patches around the eyes. Females (hens) are sandy brown with black barring. Juveniles look like females, except for shorter tails. Immature males show the characteristic bright feathers on the chest, head and back about 10 weeks after hatching Talisch Pheasants mostly breed from February to June. The average clutch consists of 6-12 eggs that are laid over a two-week period. The hen will continue to produce eggs if the eggs are removed from the nest and incubated. If allowed to do so, the females will hatch their own eggs in 23-26 days with the males assisting in the chick rearing. The true pheasants, as an aviary bird, do best in planted aviaries where their nervous tendencies can be kept to a minimum by providing cover. In a large, well planted, aviary true pheasants can be kept with other pheasant species such as Monals or Tragopans. To prevent possible fertile hybrids, they should be kept with long-tailed pheasants or ruffed pheasants. The true pheasants, in pure form, are quite a rarity in aviculture, especially in the US. Due to hybridization over the years, pure birds of many of the available subspecies are VERY difficult to locate. Most breeders are unaware of what pure birds of any of the subspecies should look like. Identification of females is very difficult due to many similarities. Many descriptions in literature are too vague to be of any value to the hobbyist. Our Talisch Pheasants descend from James Pharr's imported lines. James Pfarr is a lifelong hobbyist and propagator of pheasants and other galliformes, pursuing their preservation in aviary and the field. He has been involved with numerous aviculture organizations spanning twenty-five years. As an avid outdoorsman, he has a deep appreciation for conservation. A structural engineer by trade, he resides in Washington State where he continues to rear pheasants and take pleasure in the gifts of the outdoors.
Talisch eggs and chicks are available from late March to late July.
The Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) hale from New Zealand and Australia and are not indigenous to this country. Some are bred and sold in the US for private lakes and would normally have their wings pinioned when very young such that they cannot fly and escape into the wild. Unlike many other waterbirds, black swans are not migratory; they spend their entire life in the area where they were clutched. Black Swans form isolated pairs in shallow wetlands or ponds. Birds pair for life, with both adults raising one brood per season. The eggs are laid in an untidy nest made of grasses and reeds. Male and female swans share the care of the nest and the cygnets. They keep their young with them until it is time to nest again. Breeding generally occurs at 3 years of age. Clutches average five eggs but may number as many as ten. Incubation for most swan species is 30 days. Their breeding season typically begins in October. If they start laying and not sitting, and the temps are cold, you will have to pull eggs and incubate them. Black Swans living on fresh water feed primarily on algae, aquatic plants as well as tadpoles and insects; but they also eat grain, grasses and crop foods, such as wheat, potatoes and carrots - especially in the winter when other food sources aren't readily available. Swans also forage by swimming and picking up plant material from the water's surface or water's edge. Occasionally they will graze on land, but they are clumsy walkers. If you want to feed the swans then give them fresh bread (mold is poisonous to them), grain such as wheat or corn, and fresh greens such as romaine lettuce or spinach are a nice treat. A pellet grower/finisher food is good but it should not be more than 17% protein. Black Swans are winter hardy and only need to have access to some type of shelter, to get out of the weather, as well as access to water and food during extreme winter temperatures. Our swans stay out all winter and we keep our pond open with aerators. Their life expectancy is recorded to be about 10 years. We ship our swans safely, same day service, via Delta Airlines Cargo.
A great website for raising swans can be found at: http://www.howtoraiseswans.com/
The Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera) is a species of Pheasant found in the mountains of Southeast Asia and eastern China, with introduced populations in Hawaii and various locations in the US mainland. There are fifteen subspecies of the Silver Pheasant. The male is black and white, while the female is mainly brown. Both sexes have a bare red face and red legs. Males of the northern subspecies, which are the largest, have white upperparts and tail (most feathers with some black markings), while their underparts and crest are glossy bluish-black. The males of the southern subspecies have greyer upperparts and tail with extensive black markings, making them appear far darker than the northern subspecies. Females (hens) are olive brown with black-tipped crest and shorter tails than the males. Females have whitish underparts strongly patterned with black. Silvers do not achieve their brilliant plumage until their second year. Hens can lay up to around 20 eggs in a season which are incubated for 25-26 days. They start laying at the end of March or beginning of April and will continue until around the end of May, which is a shorter laying season than most Pheasants. The Hens easily go broody and are great mothers. It is very interesting to observe the family behavior of this species as the males participate with the rearing of the chicks. The chicks do grow quickly and are able to fly at only a few days. They are extremely hardy and tough birds. Aviaries need plenty of brush and bushes as Pheasants are secretive nesters and build their nests on the ground. Ample shade is recommended during the summer.
Silver eggs and chicks are available from late March to late July.
The Golden Pheasants or Chinese Pheasants (Chrysolophus pictus) are native to forests in mountainous areas of western China. Golden Pheasants in the wild are called Red Golden Pheasants in captivity. The males of these species are one of the most brilliantly colored of all birds. Sporting scarlet red plumage, a silky yellow-golden crest, an orange and black ruff or cape, green upper back feathers that lead to a yellow back and a long spotted (not barred) tail feathers, these birds are breathtaking. The adult male is about 40 inches in length, with his tail accounting for two-thirds of the total length. It takes a male two years to acquire "his colors". Immature males look just like hens for the beginning stages of their life. You will be able to tell them apart after a couple of months by looking at their eyes. The male eyes will change color (blueish/green/yellow) while the females will be a brown. The female (hen) is much less showy, with a dull, mottled brown plumage. The female's breast and sides sport brown barring on a buff colored body. Both sexes have yellow legs and bills. The Red Golden Pheasant is one of the best known and easiest pheasants to keep and breed in backyard aviaries. Red Golden Pheasants don't require a lot of space for the aviary and is perfect for those with limited space. They are very compatible with other types of birds such as Ringneck Pheasants, Lady Amherst Pheasants and also with peafowl. The only thing I noticed is when raising them from a chick you don't want to keep quail in with them because the quail will actually tear the top beak off of the pheasant and it will not grow back and look like a normal beak should look like. They are very hardy (both extreme climates, hot and cold) and able to withstand extreme temperatures with little shelter. They are forest birds by nature, so you will need to provide plenty of shade for them during the hot summer months or direct sunlight will cause the male's plumage to fade. The average lifespan of Red Golden Pheasants is 5-6 years; however, captive birds that are well taken care of could live 15-20 years.
Golden Pheasants are commonly found in zoos and private collections. Frequently they have been crossed with the similar Lady Amherst's Pheasants and, as such, it is very difficult to find birds that are completely pure representatives of this species.
Red Golden eggs and chicks are available from late March to late July.
The Lady Amherst's Pheasants (Chrysolophus amherstiae) are native to southwestern China, southeastern Tibet and upper Burma. This species is closely related to the Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) and can interbreed with with the Golden Pheasant producing fertile offspring. Crosses occurring in captivity are commonly sold as "pure stock" making it very difficult to find pure stock in captivity. The adult male sports a beautiful metallic green crown followed by a crimson crest. The ruff, or cape, consists of white feathers outlined with black border. The "cape" is raised in display during courtship. The male's chest, upper and middle back has metallic green with black borders. He sports dark metallic blue with black borders on the wings. The rump is yellow, which turns to an orangish-red at the base of the tail. The tail is white, with curved unbroken crescent shaped blackish-blue bars and wavy black lines on the interspaces (hybrids will not have solid, unbroken bars). The upper tail has long orange vermilion tips. The adult male averages 43 inches in length, with its tail accounting for 31 inches of the total length. It takes the male two years to acquire his breeding plumage and until that time they resemble a female. The female (hen) is tan and brown, striped and penciled with black to create dark barring and having a greenish sheen. She will have a reddish chestnut coloring on her head, neck, throat and upper breast. She is very much like the female Red Golden Pheasant, but has a darker head, finer barring and is larger than the hen of that species. Both sexes have bluish gray (olive) beaks, legs and feet. The male's eyes turn yellow while the hen's eyes remain brown. Lady Amherst are the same in terms of breeding, housing and care as the Golden Pheasants. They are well able to tolerate the most severe weather conditions, with neither cold nor damp harming them. They are docile birds and can be kept with other bird species such as doves, small pheasants and peafowl. The average lifespan of Lady Amherst Pheasants is 6-8 years; however, captive birds that are well taken care of could live 15 years.
This pheasant species was named for Sarah, Countess of Amherst (1762-1838). Her husband, William Pitt Amherst, Governor General of India, was responsible for sending the first birds to London in 1828.
Lady Amherst eggs and chicks are available from late March to late July.
The Yellow Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus mut. luteus), also known as the Ghigi's Golden, is a popular color mutation of the Red Golden Pheasant occurring in captivity. This mutation was developed when the late Professor Alessandro Ghigi, of Bologna, Italy, was presented with one male in 1952. Initial breedings were with a normal hen and normal heterozygous chicks were produced. The heterozygous females were then bred back to the mutant male. By 1955 the Yellow Golden mutants were breeding true. Today the Yellow Golden Pheasant is a popular aviary bird and is the most striking of the mutations of the Golden Pheasant. The obvious difference is in the color with yellow replacing the red and the blue of the wings is replaced with brown. The crest is bright yellow and the ruff, or cape, is the yellowish-orange with black barring. The chest and lower back are yellow, the upper back is brownish, wings are dark brownish. The majority of the tail is white with brown-grey spotting. The Yellow Golden female (hen) plumage is pale yellow all over with gray barring. Both sexes have yellow beaks, legs and feet. The male's eyes turn yellow while the hen's eyes remain brown. Yellow Goldens are the same in terms of breeding, housing and care as the Red Golden and Lady Amherst Pheasants. They are well able to tolerate the most severe weather conditions, both heat and cold with little to no shelter.
Hens lay many eggs in their first year. She will lay an egg every day or ever other day, in a clutch, from April thru July, depending on the temperatures for the birds and where you are located. 21-23 days is normal incubation period. Hens lay eggs in one clutch and will lay more if you take the eggs and incubate them yourself. Some hens will be broody while others wont. Best bet is to incubate the eggs yourself. They lay a small sized pale cream colored egg. It is best to collect the eggs throughout the day and mark on them with a pencil (don't use a marker as the ink can seep into the embryo) with the date and breed. The eggs should be incubated right around the same temperature as a chicken so if you have hatched chickens you can hatch these birds!
Yellow Golden eggs and chicks are available from late March to late July
The Melanistic Mutant Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus mut. tenebrosus) were discovered and developed in England in the late 1800s. Melanistic Mutant Pheasants are a 'mutant' variety of the Ringneck Pheasan. They are a mutation and not a hybrid. The Melanistic Mutant Pheasant is very similar in size, structure, and style to the original Ringneck Pheasant from which it was developed, however the Melanistic Mutant Pheasant has a whole new coloration. The Melanistic Mutant Pheasant has beautiful black, purple, and green feathering. The females have black-brown feathering. At first glance in a shadow, they may appear black, but when they step out into the sunlight, the dark colored feathers are extremely iridescent. The tail has the characteristic black barring of the Ringneck but with green and blue sheen shades. Beyond their dark and exotic coloration, Melanistic Mutant Pheasants also differ from their Ringneck originators in their survival abilities. They are known as having a phenomenal ability to survive and breed when released into the wild. These are the ultimate naturalizing pheasants, and are a prime choice for establishing a beautiful pheasant population on your acreage. Males are about 2.5 lbs, and females are smaller, usually around 1.5 to 2 lbs in weight. Total length of the males is between 24 and 36 inches, and up to 20 inches of that total length can be their tail! Females have shorter tails and usually measure 20-24 inches in total length with 7-8 inches of tail. Melanistic Pheasants have one of the longest wild life-spans. In captivity, they live 9-15 years. Black Melanistic hens will have a dark black base-color with an iridescent purplish-greenish tint. Green Melanistic hens also get iridescent but have more of a brown base color, usually with lighter tips on the feathers.
Another notable difference in Blacks and Green, Black chicks are black with yellowish white markings, usually on the throat, chest and wings. Green chicks are usually a milky chocolate brown with maybe some white markings but not always, they can be solid also.
Melanistic eggs and chicks are available from late March to late July.