With so many different, beautiful, pheasants to choose from it can be tricky deciding what to buy so for anyone interested in ornamental pheasants but unsure which species they would prefer I have included a page, “Choosing Pheasants”, on this website. After that decision has been made there are still many important factors to check to make sure you buy the best birds possible.
Unfortunately many pheasants are far from perfect. At Allandoo we are constantly trying to improve our birds and due to havingmore space than the average keeper and also time to spend with our birds we are able to have at least a few pairs of most of the species that we own (there are occasional exceptions due to the lack of birds available for us to buy). Having more birds helps when it comes to choosing which birds breed well together to produce the best chicks. If a bird does not breed well we can usually find a customer that does not wish to keep birds for breeding and is more than happy to buy a bird at a much cheaper rate even if it is not a 1st class stud or the most fertile of females.
When buying pheasants, if possible, take a good look at the bird. There are some things like a little feather pecking which may not be a huge problem but do check that the bird does not feel thin. Look for parasites crawling on the bird. Do not buy anything crawling with lice as even though they can be treated it is quite likely the bird has other health problems and that is why the parasites have had the chance to become abundant.
Although when caught a bird may be a bit shocked and pant a little until it has calmed down do look and see that it is not struggling for breath. There are a few respiratory diseases common in pheasants and if the area near the eyes and base of the beak (at the face wattles) is contracting when the bird is breathing, if the eyes or nostrils are watery or if the bird's breathing sounds “rattly” stay well clear.
Try and buy birds which stand well with good strong looking straight legs and toes. It is better if you can have a chance to see the birds wandering about before they are caught to make sure they are healthy as a bird sitting hunched up should not be purchased. They should walk well without knocking their “knees” or high stepping which once again seem to be common traits in ornamental pheasant species. Also check the legs are smooth as rough legs with raised scales are a sign of scaly leg caused by a mite which buries under the skin.
Try and buy birds which hold their wings up well as this does seem to be hereditary and improves the look of the bird tremendously. It is easier to see if there are any problems with the wings when the bird is relaxed. If it has been chased around the pen and is flustered it may well keep its wings down a little and it could be that there is no problem with the bird at all. Angel wing is where the wing sticks out unnaturally and is something else to avoid.
The skin colour of a bird should not be pale. Obviously there are differences from one species to another but if the skin does not look a good bright colour the bird may be unhealthy or at the least not used to a life outdoors. Once a bird has been living in accomodation which allows outside access the skin colour deepens and the plumage will have a sheen which is absent on indoor birds. If the feathers look dull the bird may not be sufficiently waterproofed for life outside and could quickly chill if allowed to sit outdoors during even a short shower of rain. A lack of any shine to the plumage may also point to illness in a bird.
The above points may well seem like a lot to remember when going to collect your new bird but it is always best to be prepared and it soon becomes natural and easy to see the difference between a good pheasant and an unhealthy or poorly bred one.