Our pheasant aviaries range in size from 144 square feet (12' X 12') up to 432 square feet (12' X 36').
The smallest pens are usually used when we need space for single birds such as an agressive cock bird or possibly a pheasant needing time apart to recover from an injury (it does happen from time to time no matter how good a bird keeper you are). They are also handy "overflow" pens for our busiest times of year when we have a lot of young birds and need every space available. Mostly these pens are used for short term housing although we have kept pairs of Goldens or Peacock Pheasants in them during the breeding season at times. All our larger birds need more living area than this and I do not recommend keeping pheasants if you can only offer them a small space as a permanent home. They should not be kept in a chicken coop.
The Eared Pheasants and Monals which spend much of their time digging need a large area and any of the birds such as the Tragopans who enjoy eating a lot of greenery also do best in our biggest pens.
We have both heated and unheated aviaries as the Firebacks and Peacock pheasants are not hardy so do need some extra heat during the winter months. Luckily in Stranraer we get very little frost and snow so a brooder lamp is enough to keep the shelters warm during our cold spells.
Although we have a few different styles and sizes of shelter my favourite ones, which the birds seem to like, are 6' X 12' shelters which are open at the bottom and also have a doorway (no door though) for us to use. The birds, I think, don't feel as trapped with the escape route available to them and they can see anyone approaching the shelter easier. These of course can only be used for our hardy species.
All our shelters have a high perch for the birds to roost on. These are just cut branches which are roughly 3 - 4 inches thick. The birds should be able to cover their toes completely when roosting to keep them warm. If the perches are too thin they can't do this, as their toes are curled under the perch.
We use lighting in the shelters mainly to encourage the birds indoors in the evening as they will go to the lightest part of their aviary. Once they are roosting we turn the lights off.
Some of our pens are on the side of a hill which is a definite advantage where drainage is concerned. This is very important especially with our clay soil. The pens we have on more level ground are all based on sand. We removed all the soil and replaced it with around 80 tons of sand and gravel. All the pens do still need a rest from time to time to recover especially when we've been using them for numerous poults but thankfully the greenery can resume growth quite quickly when it gets a break from trampling feet for a short while.
We have some large aviaries with no sheds in them at all. In these we have thick cover of evergreen conifers, at the back, for the pheasants to shelter in. It is amazing how difficult it can be, at times, to find brightly coloured birds among the branches. These aviaries are ideal for our hardy birds who enjoy all the roosting space (not to mention giving us the run around when we need to move them out of their cosy haven for one reason or another).
We try to make our aviaries as natural as possible for the birds and include lots of plants. Good cover for the birds to hide in can be vital for the hens, giving them the opportunity to escape and rest from an aggressive or overly amorous cock. As well as being good hiding places the plants provide extra food and entertainment. Whether it is the leaves, shoots, buds, flowers, berries or even the insects that the pheasants enjoy they get some nutrition and enjoyment from pecking and scratching at the plants. Also in their outdoor area we have boulders, posts and logs for them to perch on and peck at.
I am sure when I watch our birds that they are happy and content. The work that we have put in to make them a comfortable home has rewarded us with wonderful, relaxed, healthy birds which have been breeding very well for us so far. What more could we ask for?