Making a profit on the homestead is part of becoming self-sufficient, and we should all be looking for ways of making out homestead work for us. If you’re considering raising pheasants vs. chickens for profit, this guide will help you choose.
Chickens are usually more profitable than pheasants since they are higher in demand. Still, pheasants can make a larger profit if you sell fertile eggs or meat or release the pheasants for hunters. Pheasants generally need more space and will never be as docile as chickens.
When deciding between pheasants and chickens, you need to consider various aspects of each bird’s characteristics, suitability, and whether you have a market for your end product.
Pheasants vs Chickens: An Overview
Before we get into the details, here’s a quick overview of the most significant differences between pheasants and chickens when considering raising poultry for profit:
|Meat||Has a distinct flavor and is leaner and tougher than chicken||Broiler chickens offer excellent meat; Laying chickens produce slightly tougher meat|
|Eggs||Only produces eggs during the breeding season, the taste is gamier||Layers produce 5 eggs a week; broilers produce 3|
|Hardiness||Only hardy in areas where they’re native, babies are hardier than chickens’||Hardy in most areas and climates though chick mortality rate is higher than pheasants’|
|Enclosure||May attempt to escape; need more space than chickens||Docile and easy to house; rarely try to escape|
|Demand For Eggs & Meat||Low to Moderate||Consistently High|
|Average Size||2.7 lbs||6 to 7 lbs|
Pheasants vs. Chickens
We all know by now that chickens are usually a staple in homesteading. Chickens‘ eggs sell well, they are low-maintenance birds, and they make great meat.
However, another wonderful bird, the pheasant, seems to be ignored quite often, and it can do all of these things, too.
Still, these birds have some significant differences. For example, chickens have been domesticated for centuries. On the other hand, pheasants are essentially still considered wild birds or game birds.
Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between these birds and discuss how profitable each one is for meat and eggs.
Chicken Eggs vs Pheasant Eggs
If you want to raise chickens or pheasants for profit, you’ll likely want to understand how their egg production stacks up.
Chicken and pheasant eggs look very much the same, but there are some clear physical differences between them. Firstly, pheasant eggs have a pointier top. Chicken eggs are very smooth and round.
However, the most significant difference is the yolk-to-white ratio.
But now I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s look at a direct comparison between these two types of eggs:
Depending on their breeding, a chicken might be a better egg layer or have superior meat. Then again, some breeds have been specially selected because they are both suitable for meat and are good layers.
If your intention for poultry on the homestead is producing eggs for profit, then purpose-bred chickens are probably the better choice, as they will lay eggs more frequently than meat chickens.
Chicken eggs are desirable because they have plenty of whites and a mild, smooth taste. They’re also easy to crack, which is pretty convenient when cooking.
Chickens that are raised for laying eggs usually produce five eggs a week. On the other hand, broiler – or meat – chickens usually only produce around three eggs a week.
So, the difference isn’t huge, but it adds up if you want a constant supply of eggs to sell.
If you’re selling eggs, it’s always best to make sure you’re making a profit by calculating your feed and care costs when setting your price point.
However, since you’ll be selling farm-fresh, free-range chicken eggs, you can make at least $5 to $8 per dozen. These proceeds usually cover the cost of feeding each chicken monthly with a couple of dollars in profit.
Pheasants, on the other hand, are just pheasants. Although their meat and eggs are great to eat, humans don’t usually breed them for this purpose.
A chicken bred for egg-laying will out-lay a pheasant without a problem.
Pheasant eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs but not as rich. Most of a pheasant egg is the yolk, and you’ll find very little whites inside one of these eggs’ hard shells.
The flavor is slightly gamier than a chicken egg and is usually an acquired taste for people who are used to chicken. It’s also creamier thanks to the large proportion of yolk.
Pheasants generally only lay eggs during their breeding season from spring to summer. Overall, they will produce between 40 and 60 eggs a year, so these aren’t the best animals to raise if you want to start an egg-selling business.
Still, these eggs come out quickly during the season, and you can expect an egg almost every day from a female pheasant.
You can usually charge between $3 and $5 for one fertile pheasant egg or around $7 to $15 per dozen if you’re selling them as food.
If you want to learn more about pheasant egg incubation on a large scale, you might find this video as interesting as I did:
Chicken Meat vs Pheasant Meat and Taste
Aside from the easy profits of selling eggs, raising poultry for meat can give you a second income stream for every bird you own.
Both chickens and pheasants produce great meat but have different flavors, fat levels, and going prices.
So, let’s get a taste of the differences between pheasant and chicken meat!
Chickens bred for meat produce large volumes of meat, which is succulent and juicy, but they can’t lay nearly as fast as tailor-bred layers.
These chickens, called broilers, have larger bodies than layers. Their meat is usually very soft and tender. It’s also mild, which is part of why chicken almost always comes heavily seasoned when cooking from a recipe – it pairs well with nearly anything!
Free-range chicken meat is in high demand, and while the price per pound isn’t as high as a pheasant’s, selling on average at $6 per lb, it’s pretty easy to profit from selling chicken meat if you also sell eggs.
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A meat chicken will always have more succulent meat than a pheasant.
Pheasant meat is often likened to the taste of turkey and is far less mild than chicken.
The taste of the meat can, however, be influenced by what the pheasants eat. For this reason, farm-raised pheasant has a taste that is closer to chicken than wild pheasants.
Pheasant meat is lean compared to chicken and is, therefore, a healthier choice of meat.
Usually, free-range pheasant meat sells for around $13 a pound, and most birds weigh between 2 and 3 lbs. So, you can expect to make $26 to $39 off each bird, putting your profits at $8 to $21 per bird.
Raising Pheasants vs Chickens
Unless pheasants are endemic to your area, they may be more susceptible to disease and weather changes than domestic chickens.
However, if the pheasant is indigenous to your area, you may find that they are hardier to local environmental conditions and diseases than domestic chickens are.
Enclosures and Space
Chickens are generally easier to house and are less likely to escape their enclosure, whereas pheasants are more likely to try and escape.
Pheasants need a larger enclosure as they are more used to foraging than being given food and are, therefore, generally more active birds than chickens.
When you don’t give your pheasants enough space, they may fight and – unfortunately – resort to cannibalism. So, a big coop is critical when raising these birds.
When raising babies, the pheasant babies are more robust than their chicken counterparts, making for a lower mortality rate than chickens.
Like their adult counterparts, pheasant babies are much more active than chicken chicks. They’re also much smaller, so you may need to reinforce your enclosures before setting them loose. They will escape anywhere they can.
Pheasant vs Chicken Size
Pheasants are leaner in size than chickens. Average pheasants weigh 2.7 lbs, are 27 inches tall, and have a wingspan of around 10 inches. On the other hand, chickens generally weigh about 6 to 7 pounds, are about 27 inches tall, and have a wingspan of just over 17 inches.
Although your average chicken is the same height as a pheasant, chickens are much rounder than pheasants and have meatier fatter bodies. That’s thanks to many centuries of domestication and selective breeding.
Know Your Market For Pheasant and Chicken Products
Whenever you are looking to undertake a venture where you expect to make an income, you need to know if there is a market for what you produce.
There is a higher demand for chicken meat and eggs since they are widely known and accepted products. You can quickly get rid of chicken meat and eggs by selling them at farmers’ markets, your neighbors, or your local co-op, to name a few.
However, if you’re raising pheasants, you may need to educate the people around you – many people won’t be familiar with eating pheasant meat or eggs.
Still, that novelty might get you more sales. You just can’t expect pheasant products to sell as quickly as chicken eggs and meat – unless you’ve found the right buyer.
Marketing Pheasant Eggs and Meat
While pheasants might not be as popular as chickens when considering selling eggs and meat, there are some circumstances where you can make a fair amount of money from your birds.
You’ll just know who to sell your pheasants to and how to make that profit.
Selling Pheasant Meat for Restaurants and Tourism
Restaurants often like to have pheasant on their menu as a delicacy, so if you are in a location where you have access to several restaurants, there may be a market for you there.
Likewise, if you live where there is a lot of tourism, you may find that people visiting from outside the area are more partial to pheasant or would like to try something new while on vacation. This could be another potential market.
Selling Pheasants For Hunting
Pheasants are game birds, and they are popular birds to hunt. If you have a community where hunting is popular, you can breed pheasant to release onto your property for hunting and charge hunters for access.
You may need permission to do this from your local council unless the birds are native to your area. Some local wildlife protection agencies may not allow a non-indigenous species to be released into the wild.
You’ll also have to raise the birds with minimal human interaction to maintain ethical hunting standards. Avoiding interacting with your pheasants can be difficult, though, and it may also result in more escape attempts.
However, the profits may be well worth it. According to a study from the Pennsylvania game commission, the cost of raising one pheasant to an adult age is $18.93. On average, hunters will pay between $45 and $75 to take home a harvested female pheasant from private property.
So, by allowing hunters to come to hunt your pheasants, you can make at least $26 in profits per bird.
Pheasants or Chickens – Which Will You Raise?
If you are getting started with your first income-generating project on the homestead, I would recommend chickens, as they are easier to raise, and it is easier to sell chicken eggs, meat, and chicks.
On the other hand, if pheasants are popular in your area, or if you already have another income-generating activity, then, by all means, give raising pheasants a try!
The best thing about pheasants and chickens? Even if you don’t get to make a substantial income, you will, at the very least, have food for your family, which in itself is a cost-saver for you!