A great idea takes flight in Alberta

The following is a report from Logan and Megan Andrews of the South Slope 4-H Beef Club in Newell County on their experiences with last year’s 4-H pheasant project. Logan, 15, has just completed his seventh year in the club and has done market steer and heifer projects in addition to the pheasant project. Megan, 13, has been in 4-H for four years and has also done heifer and sheep projects. This year, 91 4-H’ers in five regions in Alberta received 9,690 pheasant chicks to foster. For more on this and other 4-H Alberta activities, see facebook.com/4halberta.

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When our 4-H regional specialist, Ginny Smith, presented the 4-H clubs with the opportunity to take part in a pheasant project we couldn’t refuse.

We learned that we would partner with the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and it would help us navigate through this exciting new project. The thing that sparked our interest the most in the pheasant project was the opportunity to release these pheasants that we raised back into suitable habitat. We have seen a steady decline in the pheasant population in and around our area and this would be an excellent way of contributing to habitat conservation.

The ACA hosted a pheasant-raising presentation that covered pheasant husbandry from day-old chicks up until the 14-week release date, pen construction, and basic habitat needs. It also provided each new 4-H member with netting along with feeders and waterers.

Megan and Logan Andrews incubated 40 eggs and had 20 of them hatch in April.

Megan and Logan Andrews incubated 40 eggs and had 20 of them hatch in April.
photo: Courtesy of the Andrews Family

With all this new information it was time to get started finding a brooder house and constructing our flight pen. We received 200 day-old chicks on May 13 (100 each) and used a 10×12 wooden shed for our brooder house. At seven weeks, we moved the pheasants out into the flight pen as they were getting too big for the brooder house. Our flight pen is a 50×150 area. We were so surprised at how big our chicks got so fast.

On Aug. 19, the ACA picked up 112 of our pheasants to release into certain habitat areas it had sourced. We were able to release 35 pheasants onto our own property. We had four different release sites. The most exciting part of the project was releasing the pheasants and seeing them thrive in their new habitat.

Last August, the Andrews family released 35 of the pheasants they had fostered onto their property. This spring, they spotted one of the hens they had released with 10 chicks trailing behind her.

Last August, the Andrews family released 35 of the pheasants they had fostered onto their property. This spring, they spotted one of the hens they had released with 10 chicks trailing behind her.
photo: Courtesy of the Andrews Family

We kept four hens and two roosters in our flight pen to overwinter. We did not have any experience in this but thought it would be a fun and interesting aspect of the project. We had great success overwintering our birds. In the spring, we collected the eggs from the hens and put them in an incubator that we had. We collected 40 eggs over a period of time, with 20 hatching. We put these chicks into the brooder house and began the process again.

We believe the best part of the project was this spring when we were out on our property in one of the release sites and we saw a hen that we released last August with her 10 chicks closely behind. The project was a true success!

We were thrilled with the new opportunity that 4-H gave us, as well as the partnership and enthusiasm we received from the Alberta Conservation Association.

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