Pheasants are semi-wild and difficult to handle, especially in large numbers. At least seven million birds are now reared annually during a relatively short season, frequently for shoots where the owners have little or no knowledge of animal husbandry. The nutritional requirements are not accurately known. Hatchability and hygiene problems result from dirty eggs, inadequate egg storage and poor egg handling. Husbandry deficiencies contribute to major losses which include failure of feed and water intake especially during the first few days of life, cannibalism and feather loss with subsequent mortality in the release pens from exposure, and disease. All these may cause welfare problems to which more attention should be given. The younger keepers are becoming better trained and more aware of the requirements for effective intensive poultry keeping. Major infections are those associated with galliform birds in general, but especially important are colibacillosis and salmonellosis, coccidiosis together with hexamitiasis and histomoniasis, syngamiasis and adenoviruses causing marble spleen disease. A major difficulty is ensuring adequate intake of prophylactic and therapeutic medication for all the birds in a flock.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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