Pheasant is the most popular game bird that is closely related to wild chickens, quails, and partridges. They are widely distributed in Asia, Europe, and North America, and their meat is consumed as a specialty in different parts of the world. The most popular type of pheasant is the common pheasant, which is widespread across the globe, in introduced feral populations and farm operations. Other pheasant species can be found in aviaries, such as the golden pheasant. They are characterized by strong sexual dimorphism. The males are brightly colored and covered with golden, brown, green, purple, and white feathers, while females are relatively dull and tend to be brown or grey in color.
- Pheasants are usually a representation of good luck.
- English aristocrats raised pheasants for hunts. Only the wealthy were invited to these hunts, while poor people often starved in nearby villages.
- Pheasants can fly for short distances. Most of the time, they hide in fields and stay on the ground.
- Pheasants build their nests on the ground.
- Once the pheasant chicks are hatched, they start developing or growing flight feathers and are ready for small flights within two weeks.
- Females have several broods per year. They sometimes even adopt abandoned or lost chickens.
- When a pheasant senses danger, it prefers to use its legs to run away from the threat.
Cocks – Male pheasants
Hen – Female Pheasants
Sexual Dimorphism – The distinct difference in size or appearance between the sexes of an animal
Broods – A family of young animals, especially of a bird, produced at one hatching or birth.
Pheasant Buying Guide
Farm-raised pheasants are available fresh or frozen. When buying, make sure the limbs are intact. The skin and fat should have a golden color, and the meat should be dark. If you are buying frozen pheasant, make sure that the packaging is well sealed and intact. The meat should not show any sign of ice crystals or discoloration due to freezer burn.
Pheasant Production & Farming in Texas
There are more than 50 different breeds of pheasant that are quite common worldwide, initially wild or home raised. They can still be found in the wild, but most of the pheasants that we have today are domestically grown either for the food industry or use on hunting preserves in the United States.
They are omnivorous birds that eat both plants and animals. They feed on seeds, berries and fruits, insects, worms, and occasionally small reptiles such as lizards. Hens lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch, that are generally large in size. The chicks are nursed and fed by their mother until they fly away from the nest.
Breeders primarily concentrate on raising the Common Pheasant, but fanciers also increase the number of the more exotic species. Some conservationists are dedicated to raising endangered and threatened species to help maintain their populations.
Pheasants have been in the US for more than 200 years now. They were brought to America from China. An Oregon native, Owen Nickerson Denny, brought the first Ring-necked Pheasant to Oregon in 1881. He was able to ship 60 of them over the ocean to Washington, and then transported them over the open road from Washington to his home state of Oregon. Today, Pheasants are raised by more than 100 farms in the United States, and MacFarlane Pheasants Incorporated is the largest farm in North America that produces approximately 1.3 million pheasants per year.
Pheasant has been described as lean meat that is tender, sublime, and highly flavored. It has something of the flavor of both chicken and venison. The hen has more tender than the cock, and it has more meat on the breast and a slightly subtler flavor. While it’s meat is somewhat darker, denser and tougher than chicken, you can cook a pheasant pretty much any way you would like a chicken. One pheasant can serve two people.
If the meat of pheasant will be stored and frozen correctly, it will maintain the best quality for six months in the freezer. Pheasant that has been kept frozen continuously at 0°F will stay safe, as long as it has been stored correctly, and the package is not damaged.
If dry spots or discoloration have developed on the frozen pheasant, freezer burn has begun to set in – this will not make the pheasant unsafe to eat. Still, it will harm the texture and taste.
Cooking pheasants is different from cooking other meats. According to culinary experts, it should be hung first before being eaten. Another thing that you should know when cooking pheasants is that it doesn’t have the same amount of fat compared to other meats, so make sure it will not dry out. You can use extra fat, or seal them in a cooking bag. Some experts prefer hens to cocks, as they claim hens are more flavorsome and moist.
Because of the wild flavor of the pheasant, heavy seasoning is not needed when cooking. Older pheasants are better to cut into joints with the pieces cooked in a sauce or a casserole while young pheasants will roast well. When roasting, you can put strips of fatty bacon on top of it and baste the meat of pheasant while cooking to neutralize the leanness. Roast it for about 20 minutes at 400F or 200C. Then roast for an additional 10 to 20 minutes at 320F or 160C depending on the size of the bird.
Pheasant is a good source of Vitamin B12, Phosphorus and Selenium, and it is also an excellent source of protein and Vitamin B6. It is low in sodium but high in Cholesterol.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A: It is essential for healthy vision, the immune system, and reproduction.
Vitamin B6: It is essential for the formation of red blood cells.
Vitamin B12: It is essential for blood formation and brain function.
Vitamin C: It is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues.
Calcium: To build and maintain strong bones.
Iron: Helps to preserve many vital functions in the body.
Magnesium: Its essential jobs is to regulate muscle function throughout the body—and that includes the heart muscle.
Selenium: It helps your body produce thyroid hormones, which regulate your metabolism and growth rate.
Phosphorus: It is essential for body growth and maintenance.
Zinc: A vital mineral, zinc is necessary for a healthy brain and immune system.