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Golden pheasant

(Chrysolophus pictus)

The Golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) is one of the most popular and colourful pheasants kept in aviculture.  It is classified as a ruffed pheasant due to the cape or ruff that extends around the head and neck.  This cape occurs on the males and is used in courtship displays.

This pheasant naturally occurs in forests and mountainous environments in western China and is not of concern as far as its conservation status.

Seasonal behaviour

These pheasants can be kept as pairs or trios.  It is not unusual to keep only the cock bird due to his spectacular colouring.

The hen lays between 8 to 12 eggs and incubates them for 23-24 days.  To do this, the hens require a secluded place within the aviary.  Some hens make excellent mothers, whilst others are very poor.  If eggs are collected regularly, the number of eggs a hen lays will be maximised.

Golden pheasants can withstand very cold weather, but shade in the aviary is important in summer.

Aviary environment

Golden pheasants are one of the easiest pheasants to keep and do not require a very large aviary.  I have experienced a cock bird become very aggressive and kill its hen, but this is very rare.  Trios may alleviate this problem, or if a cock bird is being particularly aggressive to its hen, then it may need segregation.  

Golden’s perch high in the aviary during the night.  Some vegetation in the aviary to enable hens to escape the amorous attention of the cock may be useful.

They appear to be very compatible in mixed species aviaries and share their space with finches, parrots and doves.

Bird development

Raise chicks on a high protein chick starter crumble or game bird crumble.  Progress to a grower ration when they reach adult-sized birds.  Provide green feed as often as practical, particularly coming up to egg laying and during their growing stages.  Shell grit is important when they are laying eggs.

Male pheasants do not develop their full impressive colouring until their second winter.  Even so, male and female birds are able to reproduce in their first year.

Golden pheasants readily cross with Lady Amherst pheasants producing fertile hybrids.  This has become a significant problem.  There is much debate as to whether the dark-throated golden pheasant is in fact a hybrid of these two species.

Generally, if in doubt, golden pheasants, both male and female, will have yellow legs and bills even from a very young age.  Lady Amherst pheasants or crosses will have darker coloured legs.

Pest and diseases

Generally these birds are considered tough, although they can be susceptible to poultry and aviary bird diseases.  Consider worming your birds if they are kept in a mixed collection or in wet conditions, if for no other reason than to protect the other birds in your aviary.

Text by Doug Somerville , June 2014 Copyright author. Disclaimer: The information contained in this information sheet is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing (June  2014). However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that information upon which they rely is up to date and to check currency of the information.

Photo by Jade Welch Photography

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