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What Do Pheasant Chicks Eat?- A Complete Guide

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Pheasants are flighty game birds that live alone or in small, loose flocks. These beautiful birds were first brought to North America from Asia in the 1700s.

pheasant-chicks

Pheasants can now be found on many farms in the US. The beauty that a male pheasant exudes and their distinct sounds have made them a sensation, and many people are now keeping them as pets

When it comes to feeding baby pheasants, it’s important not to rush them along or give them too much food.

Overfeeding will make your pheasant chicks grow too quickly and get to adult size before they are ready.

Unfortunately, this will make their meat tough and stringy.

What Do Pheasant Chicks Eat?

Pheasants are omnivores, which makes them easier to care for in terms of what to feed them.

It’s best practice to keep your pheasants with another batch of chicks or young birds of their species for the first few weeks until they’re at least 5-6 weeks old.

This helps them learn how to eat and drink.

The amount of food that pheasant chicks eat varies greatly depending on the type of feed, feeding method, nutritional value, and weather conditions.

A day-old chick to about a 16-week old chick will consume about 11 lbs (5 kgs) of food. At this age, a pheasant cock will weigh approximately 2.8 lbs (1.25 kg), while a pheasant hen will weigh 2.2 lbs (1.0 kg).

The table below explains the protein intake that pheasant chicks should consume at the appropriate age.

Required Protein Intake

WeekProtein ratio
0-428%
4-924%
9-1618%

Crop milk

When your chicks first hatch you will need to feed them every two hours during the day, then once at night.

At this stage in the wild, they would be drinking their mothers ‘crop milk,’ which is full of protein and nutrients. Once they are 4-5 days old you can begin weaning them from this diet by offering other foods.

Chick Crumbs

When they are under a week old, pheasant chicks need to be on a constant supply of a powder that contains all the nutrients and vitamins necessary for growth. You will find chick crumbs in your local feed stores and online.

Give them a small amount, about one-third of their feeding container, twice a day. You should avoid giving them feeds with higher than 28% protein content, as too much protein will be hard on their body.

Offer the chicks a handful of crumble once a day if they are with their mother or mix it with dry feed if they are hand-raised so that they can start getting used to eating crumble.

Grains

Grains are the best choice of foods as they are easy to digest and provide plenty of energy. Pheasants are greedy little birds, so you should give them a constant supply of grain throughout the day. Be sure not to leave them for too long without food.

Grit

Don’t forget to give them grit!

The pheasant chicks will need plenty of sand or grit to aid digestion.

They should have access to this at all times – especially when they are eating.

Peas

Pheasant chicks love peas, so you can give them some from a young age. About one handful per chick should be more than enough. Peas are naturally higher in protein, so take care not to overfeed peas.

Whole Foods

Wean them gradually onto whole, live foods.

Once your pheasant chicks are quite big (about five weeks old), you can try feeding them live food for an extra treat! They love crickets and mealworms. 

If you notice that there are some left, pop them into the freezer so that your pheasants can have a treat later on.

Mealworms

Mealworms in a stainless bowl.

Pheasant chicks love mealworms. You can give them about 5 or so each day from the age of five weeks on. Mealworms are very nutritious.

Frozen mealworms can be stored for longer periods of time than live worms, and they contain a lower chance of parasitic infection. Freezing kills any parasites that the mealworm may be carrying, making them safer to eat.

Lettuce

A quarter of a head of lettuce should be given once or twice a week, or as much as your pheasants will eat in about ten minutes.

Lettuce is a great source of vitamins and minerals for your chicks and is also rich in fiber which helps with digestion and softens their droppings. Lettuce should only be given as a treat and not as the main feed.

Bread

Stale bread is a great addition to your pheasant’s diet as it contains lots of vitamins, and protein. Chicks will enjoy pecking away at this tasty treat.

Grasshoppers and Worms

Grasshoppers are a great treat for your pheasant chicks, as they are crunchy and full of nutrients. Make sure that you are feeding them freshly molted ones (soft exoskeleton), or else they will not be full of protein.

Small worms are also a favorite treat of many pheasant chicks.

Insects

Crickets are a favorite among pheasants – they are rich in protein and calcium and high in amino acids. For all of these reasons, they make a great addition to their diet and are very tasty!

Crickets can be found almost anywhere. Try looking under leaves or logs or in damp spaces for live crickets.

Seeds and Grains

Various seed and grain in a close up photo.

Although pheasants enjoy eating seeds, do not give them too many. A quarter of a handful once or twice a week will be sufficient. Don’t be surprised to see some in their droppings.

Pheasant loves eating peanuts, which is a high-fat food. Most of the fat in the peanut is mono-unsaturated which is healthy and good for the heart. It can actually lower the amount of bad cholesterol in the body.

Peanuts also have high levels of protein, which a pheasant chick will benefit from. Peanuts contain vitamin E and some small amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

In the wild, pheasants will consume grains like millet, wheat, or barley that remain in the fields after harvesting. These are also great choices for feeding pet pheasants.

Berries

Pheasants enjoy wild berries such as raspberries. You can provide your pheasants with exercise and entertainment by planting berry bushes nearby so they can help themselves when the fruit is ripe.

Water

The list will not be complete without adding water. Water is essential to any living thing and, thus, vital for keeping your pheasant chicks healthy.

Given that the chicks may not initially know how to drink water, you can encourage them by misting them with warm water using a spray bottle or dribble some water over their beaks to initiate drinking.

Don’t forget to change the water regularly if droppings or food accumulate there. Use boiling water to clean the drinking container properly. This will keep the containers clean and prevent any bacterial or fungal growth.

In conclusion

Pheasants are easy to keep and feed. If you consider having them as delicacies, then a proper diet will be essential to get them to a good weight for eating.

If you want to keep them as pets, you will not have a boring day with these striking birds. All they need is proper care and they will thrive.

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