This is the third in our series regarding raising pheasants.
After 10 to 20 days the chicks have grown enough to become young poults. At this point in the raising pheasants schedule the birds need to be ‘bitted’, this ‘bitting’ is to ensure that they do not peck each other. The ‘bit’ is a temporary way of preventing the birds pecking. It is a small plastic clip piece which is split and sits between two halves of the beak allowing the birds to live normally by breathing; eating and drinking but it does prevent the pheasant from closing its peak entirely. Thus it prevents the poult from biting or pecking at other poults. The clip is inserted somewhere between 14 and 20 days and is removed after seven weeks.
Some of these causing symptoms you can relieve, so for example do not overcrowd your birds; make sure they get good food and clean water
Why do birds do this? Sometimes they do it out of boredom; hot weather, bullying, lack of food or water and sometimes they just do it for no reason whatsoever. Somethings your brooding pen is full of calm healthy well balanced birds. But on one day you arrive there are a few poults that have been ‘got at’ the next day you come back there is a blood bath with many birds pecked and dying all around, this pecking is in fact cannibalism.
the birds in each broody house must be ‘bitted’
Once one poult starts pecking they all join in, meaning that the one poor poult is pecked to death usually having its innards pulled out which is a horrific method of death. Some of these causing symptoms you can relieve, so for example do not overcrowd your birds; make sure they get good food and clean water however this will not necessarily stop the behaviour so the bits have to be fitted.
It is necessary to singly catch all the birds in one particular broody house and using a special tool clip the plastic bits into place. It does not hurt the bird and there is no blood. All the birds in each broody house must be bitted in one go.
They also alter the pheasants behaviour and vision
The next method is fitting a rubber hood or ‘spectacles’ called peppers in some quarters which sit on the pheasants beak. They almost inevitably falls off and few would really recommend this method. To put the hoods on the birds is a complicated business they also have a tendency to get caught in fences; feeders, wire you name it. They also alter the pheasants behaviour and vision so they are not recommended.
Last solution is ‘beaking’ or beak trimming which includes nipping the tip of the beak off with a pair of clippers or machine. This is part of the beak that grows back and is constantly growing so that the pheasant cannot peck. It is controversial and has to be repeated every 5 weeks as the beak grows back.
You must keep an eye on your birds constantly from 10 days old moving forward
Of all the 3 methods ‘bitting’ is the most effective and not considered cruel.
If you can put off the pecking for as long as possible your birds will become stronger. It is possible to get away without fitting these at all but that is an extremely rare event and you would need acres of pens.
You must keep an eye on your birds constantly from 10 days old moving forward. At the first sign of pecking you need to intervene by bitting birds keeping them fed and watered and keeping an eye on the temperature. If the situation is really bad you may have to move some of the birds into the weather runner pen early to reduce the bird density in your broody pens (pray for warm dry weather).