Obviously, what works for one farm doesn't necessarily work for another. Many things determine what works where - geographic location and climate are two of the biggies. The size of the operation and available work force (employees) are two more important aspects. Our farm, located nearly in the geographic center of the country, is a small operation with just the two of us for a labor force. When we built our pens (he built, I provided moral support) we built them with an alleyway running North and South. The pens were built off both sides of the alleyway and run East and West. We also have brooder pens that attach on one end to the alleyway and to the brooder house on the other. This design is particularly helpful when moving the birds from the brooder house/pens to the flight pens or, if necessary, from one flight pen to another. Below are some photos and brief descriptions of some other items that make life easier for us.
Please be patient - the photos are sometimes slow to load !
While the photos are loading, please check out the following "Counting Game Birds in the Pen". The pheasant grower who told me about this is brilliant, absolutely BRILLIANT !!! He is however, shy and didn't want me to use his name so I'll just refer to him as "Smartman". The way we have always counted birds is to "herd" the birds to one end of the flight pen, then move them to one side and up the sight barrier to count them as they passed a specific point. If a large number flush and fly, you start over - sometimes several times. "Smartman" moves the birds around the same way, but instead of standing out there in the cold counting, he makes a video of them. Then, he goes to the house where it is warm and counts as he views the video. If he has a large number flush or run, instead of having to start over, he just slows the video down or stops it !!! He cautioned that whoever is using the camcorder needs to "kind of count" as they video so that the folks driving the birds don't go too fast. If the birds are being moved too fast in the pen when the video is viewed, it is in slow motion too much.
Below is a "rat bait" station. This design is from Mike Hamman, Lone Pine Gamebirds, Toronto, KS. It is built using three pieces of 2" PVC, one 2" PVC "T" and one 2" PVC cap. The bait shown in front of the bait station is threaded onto a piece of wire. The wire has a hook bent into the end of it to prevent the bait from falling off. The wire is cut so that when the loop and the bottom piece of bait are resting on the bottom of the inside of the PVC "T", the wire extends slightly above the upper leg of the "T" but is still short enough that the PVC cap fits down snuggly. The wire allows for multiple blocks of bait to used without the rodents packing them off.
The photo below shows day-old chicks gathered around the drinkers we use. Notice how many chicks are drinking from each little "saucer". These drinkers, called activators, are available from Gillis Ag Supply, 800-992-8986 Willmar, MN location or 800-792-6828 in Storm Lake, IA. Other advantages of these drinker systems is that they keep the litter dry and teach the birds to drink "down". If you already have nipple waterer strings, depending on the brand, you can order just the activators and replace the "nipples" with them.
Probably the best investment we have made is the skid steer. The photo below is of a cattle cube feeder adapted to fit on the skid steer. The cube feeder also works great for lifting top nets so that we can easily reinsert the prop sticks. The 3rd photo in this line shows one of the Chukar feeders from 3T Products.
Another handy facet of the cube feeder is that you can pull up under the auger on the bulk bin and fill it.
The photo below shows the winch on the front of the skid steer. This arrangement is real handy for those who tend to get "stuck" in the mud! There is a hitch receiver welded to the front of the skid steer and the winch attaches to it.
We have a pair of pallets built from 1½" 16 gauge square tubing. We use the skid steer to take both pallets into the flight pen, one empty and the other loaded with empty transport crates. We catch and crate the birds and as we crate, we load the full transport crates onto the empty pallet. When we have finished crating, the crates are already loaded on the pallet and then we use the skid steer to pick up the full pallet to move it out of the flight pen and load it onto the flat bed.
Tim Zindl, owner, Oak Ridge Pheasant Ranch, Watertown, WI, supplied the following photos demonstrating how they replace posts on their flight pens. The left hand photo shows Tim pulling a post using their skid steer. The middle photo show the pulling plate attached to the skid steer forks. The right hand photo shows the crew "pounding" a new post in place. Thank you Tim for sharing your photos.
Troy Laudenslager, Mahantongo Game Farm, sent us the left hand photo below showing how they feed at their farm in Pennsylvania. The middle photo shows the roof of one of their Chukar breeder barns, notice the middle area of the roof isn't covered with tin, it is covered with wire and in the summer when it is hot, they cover the open area with shade cloth making the building cool and comfortable for the Chukar. The right hand photo was taken at one of their chick customer's farm. The platform under the feeder allows the pheasants access to any feed that is "slopped" out when the birds are eating out of the feeder and helps eliminates mouse and rat problems. It also appears the platforms would eliminate the problem of rain "splashing up" into the feed pan. Our thanks to Troy for providing these photos.
Below is the latest skid steer "accessory". After having recently been kicked by a "surprise" snowstorm, (5 hours after we had 8" of really heavy wet snow, the weatherman was still saying scattered flurries with no accumulation) it was decided that it would be handy to have something to knock the snow off the nets and/or assist in lowering and raising them. It is built on a "blank" skid steer face plate with trailer house tires and rims (tried a 55 gallon plastic drum reinforced on both ends with steel plate, but it cratered in the middle). The tires/wheels are mounted on a rod that acts as an axel so that when they are under the top net they roll. A hydraulic dump bed vibrator (the red thing) is mounted on the front side of the face plate and vibrates the top net when the tires are up against it.
If you have any handy labor saving devices please send them to us. We will gladly add them to this page along with credit to you for your ideas!
© HPH 2015
© HPH 2001