14+ Fun Facts About Domesticated Pheasants

Pheasants are unique birds that can’t be fully domesticated, have long lifespans, can fly and swim, and are popular additions for some backyard owners.

domesticated pheasant

Unlike chickens, pheasants can never be fully domesticated. No matter how much love and care you give them, they will always be partially wild. Keeping these eye-catching game birds is quite different from raising domestic poultry, and their wild tendencies have made them highly adaptable to various terrains. There are plenty of fun facts that make pheasants unique. 

Male pheasants are called cocks, and they can crow. There are 49 species of pheasants. Domesticated pheasants can have long lifespans. Even though pheasants originate from Asia, the ring-necked pheasant is a state bird. Pheasants can fly and swim and can never be fully domesticated. 

Pheasants are becoming a popular addition, or alternative, to chickens for many backyard owners. Let’s take a quick tour through some interesting, fun facts about pheasants.

Keeping pheasants can be challenging. They have plenty of unique characteristics and are physically built to flee at all costs. These agile birds are always looking for a way to escape back to the wild. 

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Male Pheasants Are Called Cocks


While most pheasant-related terminology is the same as chickens, male pheasants are always called cocks. A chicken rooster over the age of one can also be called a cock, but male pheasants are not called roosters

Young male pheasants and young male chickens under the age of one are called cockerels. Other chicken-related terminologies like hens and pullets also apply to pheasants.

The Ring Neck Pheasant Is A State Bird

It may not be native to the United States, but ring-necked pheasants became so popular in South Dakota that they made it their state bird. Since pheasants are often considered symbols of good luck, it makes sense that these attractive birds received the honor. 

Pheasants Can Swim

While they prefer to run about and take cover in thick brush, unlike chickens, pheasants can swim when they need to. Their swimming activities don’t have anything to do with washing themselves, as they take dust baths to keep their beautiful plumage clean and free of parasites. 

There Are 49 Species Of Pheasants

Most of us use the word pheasants to describe many different types of birds with the same major overall characteristics. All pheasants fit into the large, broad family, Phasianidae, and pheasants is a collective term that includes 49 distinctly different varieties. 

A Pheasant Nest Is Called A Nide


While most people would call it a nest, there is an actual term for pheasant nests. The term nide can also describe a brood of pheasants from the same nest. 

Pheasant Cocks Crow

Like roosters, pheasant males like to let everyone know they are around. In fact, they crow more frequently than roosters and may even make their voices heard if they get a fright or during bad weather. 

The sound of a pheasant crowing does not sound like a chicken rooster. It is a shorter version of a rooster crow – you can listen to it here:

Domesticated Pheasants Have A Long Lifespan 

If you are considering keeping pheasants as backyard pets, be prepared to have them around for a very long time. Wild pheasants have a tough time staying alive because of predators, hunters, or unfavorable conditions, but well-cared-for domesticated pheasants can enjoy long lives. 

Captive pheasants have been known to live for up to 18 years. That’s almost double the life expectancy of even the most pampered chickens. 

Pheasants Can Fly 

Pheasants can fly over short distances. They tend to shoot straight into the air if startled or frightened and can fly up to 35mph. However, they can’t fly far, and their preferred method of escape is running for cover. 

Pheasants Can Be Wild Or Farm Raised In The USA

pheasant farm 14+ Fun Facts About Domesticated Pheasants
five weeks old pheasants on the farm

Pheasants are regularly released by individuals, clubs, and even government agencies. There are more than 100 pheasant production farms in the United States. 

Fertile eggs, chicks, adults, or even pheasant meat is available from pheasant hatcheries and producers throughout the country. Wild pheasants in huntable numbers occur in about 40 states.

The First Pheasants In The USA Came From China

Pheasants are native to Asia. Even though the UK is famous for pheasants, they only got their stock from the east around the 11th century.

The original group of pheasants brought to the New World in 1773 was not strong enough to survive. Pheasant keeping only really got underway in 1881 when a few survivors from a shipment of birds from Shanghai were released in Oregon. 

A Group Of Pheasants Has Lots of Names

You have probably heard of a flock of chickens and a school of fish, but when it comes to pheasants, no one seems to be able to agree on the best term. Collective nouns for groups of pheasants include a nye, bouquet, bevy, and covey. 

There Is A Famous Children’s Book About Pheasant Hunting

Danny the Champion of the World, by renowned author Roald Dahl, is the story of a young boy and his father in the UK who poach pheasants. Pheasants are not native to that country and were reared solely as gamebirds for hunts. 

The 1965 humorous fictional tale of Danny who saves his father, and together they kidnap, or rather pheasant-nap, an entire flock of game pheasants. The famous story is regarded by Time magazine as one of the top 100 best young adult books of all time. 

Pheasants And Chickens Are Difficult To Keep Together

There may be bloodshed and tears if you try to keep pheasants in the same space as chickens. Pheasants are naturally wilder, more aggressive birds who have had to fight for survival, while chickens are typically more laid back. 

Domesticated pheasants need plenty of space and get frustrated if they can’t roam. Frustration leads to picking on more vulnerable birds, which will be the chickens. Also, remember that keeping your chickens and pheasants apart is less likely to result in poultry diseases spreading. 

If you have a huge enclosure and want to keep pheasants and chickens, the best way to start is by getting chicks of the same age. That way, they get used to each other early, although you will undoubtedly need to step in or extend the available space further when roosters and cocks mature and start challenging each other for harems of females. 

Pheasants Avoid Bad Weather

Don’t be surprised if your domesticated pheasants refuse to leave their coop during spells of bad weather. They have been known to go without food for days, so they don’t have to face the elements. 

That is not to say that pheasants aren’t hardy birds. Pheasants have been noted digging through snow to forage – they just prefer not to if they have a choice. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Pheasants Be Domesticated? 

Pheasants can never be fully domesticated. They become extremely stressed if confined, and anyone planning to keep pheasants needs to ensure they have plenty of space where the birds can roam without getting out. 

While it is possible to keep pheasants healthy if they have the right conditions, they will always remain partially wild. That is why it is entirely possible to purchase and release adult pheasants, and if the environment isn’t too hostile, they can thrive. 

Can I Raise Pheasants In My Backyard? 

One can keep pheasants in a backyard setting, but it is much more challenging than keeping chickens. There are several reasons for this: 

  • The birds often don’t cope well in an enclosed space, especially if they are acquired as adults. 
  • If you let them free-range, they are easy prey for predators. They are also inclined to leave and not come back.
  • It is best to keep them in a large fenced-off section and clip at least one wing to prevent them from flying out.
  • Pheasant coop roofs must be quite high or have a layer of soft netting underneath. Pheasants tend to shoot straight up if they get a fright. This quality made them attractive for hunting as gamefowl, but you may not want a group of unconscious or injured pheasants each time you go near your coop.

Can You Raise Pheasants? 

Domesticated pheasants are becoming increasingly popular, and birds can be ordered as chicks. You can even order fertilized pheasant eggs and brood them using an incubator. 

Raising pheasants is not the same as raising chickens. Pheasants quickly get stressed in confined spaces and develop behavioral problems or become hostile. Before you decide to acquire them, it is essential to do plenty of reading about the subject and make the necessary modifications to your setup. 

It is also important to decide what you will be using the pheasants for so you can setup accordingly. Meat birds need less space than those being raised for hunting preserves which need to remain agile.

How Long Do Pheasants Live In Captivity? 

Although wild pheasants only live for about a year, birds in captivity with a reliable source of food and protection from predators can live up to 18 years. 

Next Steps

Pheasants can add an exotic touch to a backyard setup, but they are not easy to keep. They can never be fully domesticated. Since they are speedy runners, good flyers, and can also swim, keeping them on a property can be challenging.

    More FAQs

    Can you domesticate a pheasant?

    It is more challenging to domesticate a pheasant compared to chickens, as chickens have been bred for domestication with specific breeds that are highly productive in terms of egg and meat production. On the other hand, while certain strains of pheasants have been tamed, they have not undergone the same level of domestication as chickens.

    Do pheasants get aggressive?

    Pheasants do get aggressive during the breeding season as a result of hormonal and pheromonal triggers, which is further intensified by the presence of swollen red wattles around their face.

    Are pheasants worth raising for meat?

    Pheasants are worth raising for meat because they provide a good food source. We reserve a significant quantity for our own consumption. Pheasant meat is a lean and white alternative to chicken. Additionally, pheasants are relatively easy to butcher.

    Is it hard to keep pheasants?

    It is challenging to maintain pheasants if their housing is not properly prepared. Pheasants have a strong desire to escape and return to the wild, and they possess exceptional skills in escaping if they sense even the slightest opportunity.

    Can you raise pheasants in cages?

    Pheasants can be raised in cages, specifically colony cages, for brooding purposes. However, it is important to avoid keeping them in the cages for extended periods as it may negatively impact the quality of their feathers.

    How much space do pheasants need?

    Pheasants require approximately five square feet of space per bird in a covered pen. A 25-foot square area can accommodate 125 chicks. It is advisable to have a larger yard as these birds are wild and easily startled. Overcrowding can result in feather-picking and cannibalism.

    What do you feed pet pheasants?

    Pet pheasants are fed game bird feed, which provides them with all the necessary nutrients. In case game bird-specific feed is not available, turkey feed can be a suitable alternative. Additionally, if temperatures remain low for an extended period, supplementing their diet with cracked corn can be advantageous.

    Can pheasants be kept free range?

    Pheasants can be kept free range, but it is important to acquire them at a young age. Older birds that have been raised in a confined area may struggle mentally with the open space.

    Will pet pheasants fly away?

    Pet pheasants have the potential to fly away unless their wings are clipped, although this is not always a foolproof solution. To prevent them from escaping, it is necessary to provide a roofed coop, run, or aviary. Nonetheless, despite these precautions, I believe that they are remarkable birds and can make a unique addition to any farm, collection, or garden.

    Can pheasants survive winter?

    Pheasants can survive winter if they have access to quality winter cover, such as grass for roosting, trees and shrubs for loafing, and food. The arrival of cold and snow does not necessarily mean death for these hardy birds. They can actually thrive in tough winters with the right habitat.

    Can you raise pheasants in a barn?

    Yes, it is possible to raise pheasants in a barn. To do so, you will need a barn that provides at least 3/4 square foot of space for each baby pheasant. Additionally, you will require a feeder that is approximately 2 feet long for every 50 chicks. For watering, a 1-gallon waterer should be sufficient for 75 chicks, but it is important that the waterer has a lip that is 1/2 inch or less to prevent the tiny pheasant chicks from drowning.

    Can pheasants be aggressive?

    Pheasants can exhibit aggression when they encounter food that they desire, but their aggressive behavior is primarily intended to intimidate rather than cause harm. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being targeted, it is generally advisable to calmly walk (or run) away from the pheasant.

    How much land do you need for pheasants?

    The ideal amount of land needed for pheasants is a 40 to 80 acre tract. However, it is possible for small landowners to increase their chances of assisting pheasants by collaborating with their neighbors. While stocking pheasants may temporarily increase sightings, it is important to note that game-farm birds are not well-suited for survival in the wild.

    Can hand raised pheasants survive in the wild?

    Hand raised pheasants may struggle to survive in the wild, as research suggests that their annual survival rate is likely to be extremely low. In fact, only two birds were found to have survived longer than 90 days. This finding aligns with previous studies that have shown pen-reared pheasants can have a survival rate as low as 4% (Buss 1946, Dorr 1952).

    Can you raise pheasants for meat?

    Pheasants can be raised for meat, among other purposes such as hunting, releasing into the wild, or even as pets. Due to their versatility, pheasants are a popular choice for raising as they can serve various needs.

    How cold is too cold for pheasants?

    The optimal temperature range for pheasants is between 40 and 104 degrees, as stated in a report by Pheasants Forever. When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, pheasants need to increase their food intake in order to generate sufficient energy to keep warm.

    Can you raise pheasants like chickens?

    Pheasants cannot be raised like chickens due to their different foraging habits and higher activity levels. Unlike chickens, pheasants require a larger enclosure and are more inclined to search for their own food. Insufficient space can lead to aggression and even cannibalism among pheasants, making a spacious coop essential for successfully raising these birds.

    What is the lifespan of a pheasant in captivity?

    The lifespan of a pheasant in captivity is typically between 11 and 18 years, whereas in the wild, their average lifespan is around 3 years.

    Can pheasants be raised in cages?

    Pheasants can be successfully raised in colony cages, but it is important to avoid keeping them confined for extended periods as it could potentially impact the quality of their feathers.

    Are pheasants easy to keep?

    Pheasants can be kept in captivity, similar to chickens, and can offer continuous amusement. However, it is important to confine them due to the presence of predators and their inclination to fly away. Apart from that, meeting their basic survival requirements is essential to ensure their well-being and satisfaction.

    How many pheasants can be kept together?

    The number of pheasants that can be kept together depends on their species and nesting levels. It is recommended to have only one male per species in the aviary due to their territorial nature. However, you can mix and match different species of wild pheasants as long as they have different nesting levels.

    What age can pheasants go outside?

    Pheasants can be moved outside full-time at 6 to 8 weeks of age, so it is important to include the flight pen in your pre-planning for the arrival of chicks. If pheasants have peepers, they will require approximately 25 square feet per bird in the outdoor pens.

    What do pheasants need to survive?

    Pheasants require a specific habitat to survive. This habitat should consist of a mix of grasslands, idle fields, wetlands, croplands, haylands, and shrublands. The ideal habitat for pheasants would have undisturbed low- to medium-high grasses and legumes, which are essential for nesting and raising their young.

    Do pheasants lay eggs like chickens?

    Pheasants do lay eggs similar to chickens. They start mating during the months of April and May. On average, hens lay around 12 eggs, which take approximately 23 to 25 days to hatch. Pheasants are known to be persistent re-nesters.

    Will pheasants fly away?

    Pheasants will fly away unless their wings are clipped, so it is necessary to have a roofed coop, run, or aviary to keep them contained. Although you can eat their eggs, they only lay seasonally, and most breeds will not become tame or exhibit behaviors such as sitting on your foot, following you around the garden, or posing for photos.

    How many acres do pheasants need?

    Pheasants ideally require a minimum of a 40 to 80 acre tract for effective management. Nevertheless, small landowners can enhance their opportunities of supporting pheasants by collaborating with their neighbors.

    Are pheasant eggs good to eat?

    Pheasant eggs are indeed good to eat. They are not only packed with healthy nutrients but also have a delicious taste. Whether enjoyed on their own or used in various recipes, pheasant eggs provide ample protein, essential amino acids, and a range of vitamins such as vitamins B and D, similar to other edible eggs.

    How often do domestic pheasants lay eggs?

    Domestic pheasants lay eggs approximately once every two to three weeks during the months of April to June. During the spring mating season, roosters usually have a group of several females, and the hen pheasants build their nests on the ground. Each clutch typically consists of around twelve eggs.

    Can pheasants and chickens cohabitate?

    Pheasants and chickens can cohabitate as long as they have ample space. It is important to note that pheasants are more likely to fly compared to many poultry breeds, so it is advisable to include soft roof netting in their enclosure. However, pheasants typically do not adapt well to a conventional chicken coop.

    Can you raise pheasants for eggs?

    Pheasants can be raised for eggs as they have the ability to fertilize a harem of 10 to 15 hens, each of which can lay approximately a dozen eggs in a clutch. However, it is important to note that since pheasants are considered game birds, many states require a permit to raise them.

    Do male pheasants sit on eggs?

    Male pheasants do not sit on eggs. Instead, they typically accompany multiple females and protect their territory and group of females from other males through aggressive battles. The eggs, measuring approximately 45 mm by 36 mm, have a smooth, non-glossy, olive-brown appearance. It is solely the female’s responsibility to incubate the eggs and care for the independent and active nestlings.

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