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Thread: Rearing Grey partridge/pheasants under broodies

  1. #1

    Rearing Grey partridge/pheasants under broodies

    Alright folks

    Just wondering if many on here have much experience of going 'old school' and rearing birds using broodies?

    I have done my time on rearing fields in the past for pheasant and duck (never part only released them as poults/ex layers) althou going back a few years now but i have never had much involvement with poultry.

    Hopefully this time next year i should be set up and in a position to have some chickens etc and thought it would be nice to try and get some grey partridges (possibly a small no of pheasants too) rerared under broodies and hopefully they should be a wilder bird and have a better chance of breeding in the future.
    Is there a certain breed that is better than others? (think perdix mentioned slinky's on previous thread we touched on this) Wot are u looking for?
    Is there any decent sites/boooks for the poultry side of things?

    Do u all just use 'A' frame type hutches.
    I read an old keepering book ages ago and it mentioned 'tethering' the broodies, i persumed (possibly wrongly) the broodie was tied/tethered to the hutch so chicks were free range and would just come to broodie's calls?

    Also when u relaese them would u also release the broodie or keep the broodie as a call type bird initailly to get the birds to hold/heft to an area

    Cheers folks

  2. #2
    I used Silkie crosses and Buff Pekings too to good effect.
    Any small Bantam that will sit nicely and that is not clumsy will do the trick.
    All I used to do was wait until the old girl was sitting well and then stick 20 eggs(greys) under her.
    The runs I used were like the old run and coup arrangement.
    The hen had access to water and food and was left in peace as much as possible.There was also a sliding hatch on the coup that allowed me to confine her to the coup if I felt it was necessary.
    When the eggs are due to hatch I would make sure that the brass in the run wasn't too high to prevent the chicks from getting too wet and change the food on offer to micro-crumb and mini-drinkers with chains or gravel in to stop the chicks from drowning themselves.
    The pens were gently moved as the ground under them began to foul(very important) and the food altered as they grew to mini-pellet.
    When the young poults got to 10-12 weeks I would move them out with the hen to where I wanted them and gradually release them from the run over a couple of days.Some times I would leave the mother hen in but it was really an open invitation to charlie/brock so as the old girl had done her bit for me I usually kept her at home just releasing the poults.
    Personally I would shy away from tethering any hen to a pen.

    As for pheasants,you have a little more scope as to what size broody you use but the principle would be the same and I would imagine the pen would want to be bigger.

    If you want I will PM you my number and we can have a chat?

  3. #3
    Cheers perdix, hoped u'd post I'll give u a bell sometime, no hurry as really be next season anyway, just thought i'd ask early so i can research it in plenty of time

    It was a rite old book from when that was the only rearing there was, not even sure if i understood it right to be fair, think in thoose days keepers would keep hundreds of broodies. Possibly they just had a small coup and had them tethered outside, probably not legal now.

    That open day had photo's of a small A frame coup inside a 10x10 pen so when birds old enough had the run off pen, althou sounds easier ur way.

    I take it when a broodie is incubating u have no problems with hatching, moisture and turning etc, never done any of that before
    I take it u don't need any heaters, big cardboard circles etc that u normally would have with day olds as the hen will provide it all.
    Like i said complete novice when it comes to poultry side of things

  4. #4
    The old broody takes care of the turning and stuff like that mate.
    Be aware that first timers can be skitty sometimes.
    Forgot to mention that I used to have them sitting on plastic eggs in the boxes on a nest of hay(made with my own fair hands LOL) ready for action.
    If I can help you in any way at all please feel free to give me a bell.I love this sort of rearing, although not really suitable for larger numbers it can be addictive.
    My old bosses boss used to tell tales of rearing large scale under broodies.Certainly not for the faint hearted by all accounts

  5. #5
    The tethering was just a short term thing while the broody had a feed and an empty out. She would be lifted off the nest, one leg tied to a short tether and left outside the broody box whilst the keeper worked his way along the row. After a given time and after she had fed etc she would be picked up again, untethered and placed back in her box with the clutch.

    the GWCT have been doing some work on the best way to re introduce greys back onto ground. Even with broody reared birds the successes have not been great, but better than incubator reared birds. The message comes across that even if you have only a pair or two of real wild birds left do everything you can to preserve them, as once they are gone it is very difficult to get them back by reintroduction.

  6. #6
    I let a Marin X incubate and hatch out a few pheasants last year and simply let them free range around the garden until she naturally weaned them off herself.

    Lost a few small chicks to the big gulls this way so probably best to keep them in a run until they are poults.

  7. #7
    I Do exactly the same as perdix , the hens I use are silky/light sussex , the chicks off these are sex linked so you can knock all the males as they hatch ! So end up with all females , good luck , its a nice way to rear afew for a small shoot .

  8. #8
    Never really worked with broodies other than as a youngster with my father who reared his birds with broodies, as someone said broody was only tethered to nest box when she was let off to clean and feed herself.

    When he released birds to the wood Pheasants that is, released in small numbers four to six broods in one spot , and ten or a dozen release points, broody kept in coupe as call bird chicks were free range no release pens as today.

    Did not have many partridges, these were mainly left to their own devises, though all roadsides were checked for nests and any found had the eggs replaced by dummy's, the eggs then placed under a broody until they started chipping they were then returned to the partridge nest, as it would be hard to find better parents than the partridge and once hatched will normally not do to badly, the critical time is when the hen is sitting especially by roadsides or tracks, disturbance from roadworkers cutting verges, dog walkers, hunting cats will also work roadsides.

    While rearing with broodies in my opinion still produces the best birds, its not really practical today, as a hobby fine but you could not find enough broodies these days to hatch a substantial amount of birds.

    I can remember the struggle even in my fathers day scouring the countryside trying to get enough broody hens, and you needed spares because sure as fate some would go off the brood.

    Now if you really want to go back to how things used to be, you could start making your own chick food as there was no or very little proprietary food for pheasant chicks available, so the alternatives was to feed chicken feed or make your own as most keepers did, custard powder, fine oatmeal, boiled and minced rabbit, and some closely guarded secret ingredients, a very labour intensive business.

    No things were not always better in the good old days

  9. #9
    i use to do this when i foirst started i think from memory i started with 200 broodies first season and a floating stock of 350 hens mostly solks or solk cross light sussex with several pekins in the mix for partridge

    loads of woks but very satisfying

    nothing worse than feeding time when you open up a nest box on a hen thats sat for 19 days and has decided it wants out = destroyed clucth and usually ***** all over the box
    Official Sponsor to Team GB F Class

  10. #10
    Cheers folks, keep them coming.

    Aye only lookin at small numbers, hopefully in future will do all the greys we release this may plus mibee a few extra pheasants.

    Aye mudman ur right about not releasing if u still have a few wild ones, far better to look after thoose as the released birds/genes don't seem to be anything like wot truely wild birds are for breeding etc.
    Was on a GCWT Grey re-intro course just a few months ago, quite depressing really just how hard they are to re-establish them and the ammount of work and money some estates are investing for very little return really

    Been no greys on this area for a long time, more an upland/hill type area all rashes, white grass and bog myrtyle (so according to GCT wasting my time as not arable ground) but the greys we release do tend to hang about reasonbly well most years

    On the course they were saying if possible the best way (if no wild bird breeding) is to put coup's out with 6ish week old chicks and they reckon any wild ones with no broods/barren pairs or singles will come up to the coup and hang around it and u can use it and just release the chicks, seemingly 1 of few wild birds that will adopt other chicks

    Am i being niave or is it not quite a cheap way of doing it cost wise, for small numbers at least?

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