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Day-Old Chick Program

Day-old Pheasant Chicks in a wooden crate
Day-old pheasant chicks

Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program

The DEC's Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began over 100 years ago as a way for surplus pheasant eggs from state game farms to be utilized and distributed to farmers to place under broody hens. Since then, the program has continued to grow and develop into what it is today.

The program provides educational opportunities while supplementing the landscape to increase fall hunting success. Pheasant chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site that allows pheasant hunting access. Participating in raising and releasing pheasants is a great way to get youth involved in the outdoors while supporting New York's longstanding tradition of pheasant hunting.

The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program Guide (PDF) available here is designed to provide rearing and release guidance for individuals receiving day-old pheasant chicks from DEC. If you are interested in raising pheasants on your own and not in cooperation with the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program please visit the Special Licenses webpage for more information on obtaining a domestic game bird breeders license. Key points about the program:

  • The DEC distributes 30,000 or more day-old chicks annually.
  • Anyone can apply to participate in the Day-old Pheasant Chick Program.
  • Participants must have the appropriate brooding facility and outdoor rearing pen.
  • Release sites must be open to public pheasant hunting.
  • Birds may not to be released on private shooting preserves.
  • Applications for chicks must be submitted by March 25th.
  • Participants should become familiar with the Day-old Pheasant Chick Program guide.
  • Day-old pheasant chicks are provided to participants in April, May, or June.
  • Pheasants must be released at eight weeks of age or older, but no later than the end of the pheasant hunting season.
  • Pheasants provided to participants may not be bought, sold or traded.
  • Habitat improvement projects on release sites are encouraged.

To participate in the day-old pheasant chick program, please complete the following application: Day-Old Pheasant Chick Application (leaves DEC website). The application period is from January 1st to March 25th annually. After submission, you may be contacted with further questions or to be notified of an approved or denied application. Please be sure to include a copy of the landowner consent form for releasing pheasants with your application. If you cannot attach a scanned file or photo of the landowner consent form (PDF) with the application it may be mailed to Attn: Reynolds Game Farm, 81 Game Farm Rd, Ithaca NY 14850. This form must be attached/received to be eligible to participate. All pheasant chicks are provided by the Reynolds Game Farm in Ithaca and staff from the Game Farm will contact approved applicants to arrange delivery accommodations approximately 3-5 weeks in advance of receiving your chicks. If you encounter any problems with the online application, please contact your regional wildlife office for assistance.

If you have questions or would like more information about program participation or pheasant rearing, e-mail us, or contact the Reynolds Game Farm (607-273-2768).

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    Reynolds Game Farm
    81 Game Farm Rd.
    Ithaca, NY 14850
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