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The Rockport Pheasant Farm

The Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to provide birds for the Pheasant Stocking Program but no longer raises them at Rockport. Birds are now purchased from commercial sources but are stocked by Division staff. See Rockport's Future below for details.

2020 Pheasant Stocking Schedule (pdf, 160kb)
Pheasant Allocation Formula

How Pheasants Were Raised At Rockport, 1923-2017
Day-Old Chicks In the Brooder House Video - (.avi)
Releasing 5-Week Old Brooder Birds To the Range Pens Video - (.avi)
A Year In the Life At Rockport - (pdf, 1.5mb)
Snowstorm, October 2011 - (pdf, 1.6mb)

Final Pheasant Stocking Season - YouTube, 1917
Pheasant Farm Chick Hatch Video - YouTube Channel

The Rockport Pheasant Farm is a 492-acre facility (within the 1,380-acre Rockport Wildlife Management Area) operated by the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife. Acquisition of the production area began in 1912 and was completed by 1925. The first release of Rockport pheasants was made in 1923. Since 1923 over 2 million pheasants were raised at Rockport. All pheasants were released for the sporting public (no pheasants are sold to the public); the operation was funded by the sale of the Pheasant & Quail Stamp.

Pheasants raised at Rockport were stocked for "put and take" hunting on 23 Wildlife Management Areas throughout New Jersey, as well as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Why Release Pheasants?

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Pheasant Program provides over 150,000 man-days of outdoor recreation annually, with approximately 12,000 hunters participating.

The Pheasant Program generates $2.6 million in income to local businesses such as gas stations, motels, diners, taxidermists and sporting goods stores. The cost of obtaining pheasants is borne completely by the Hunter and Angler Fund, which is comprised of revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and permits. No state tax dollars are used.

How Pheasants Were Raised at Rockport

Breeder Yards
Each year, 190 male (cock) pheasants were placed in "breeder yards" with 2700 females (hens). This resulted in approximately 160,000 - 170,000 eggs being laid between mid-March and the beginning of July. Eggs were collected three times a day and taken to the "egg room."

Egg Room
In the egg room the eggs were disinfected, sorted and put in trays. The room was maintained at 55 degrees F. to keep the eggs dormant until moved into incubators.

Pheasant eggs require 24 days to hatch. The first 17 were spent in forced air circulating incubators which automatically roll the eggs five times daily. The final 7 days were spent in flat hatchers. Hatching ended by August.

Brooder Houses
After hatching, chicks were moved to brooder rooms. They stayed in these temperature controlled rooms until 6 weeks of age, then moved outdoors to the...

Range Pens
More than 35 acres of range pens housed the pheasants until fall. The pens were planted in cover crop (Sorghum) to provide the birds with protection from the weather. In the pens the male pheasants grew to 2.5 - 3 pounds, females about 1.5 pounds. Pens at Rockport

Beginning in early November, the pheasants were run into a large (24' x 300') building. Here they were crated and loaded onto trucks for distribution. The birds were stocked on approximately 100,000 acres of state Wildlife Management Areas. Today, birds are purchased from commerical breeders and distributed on select Wildlife Management Areas.

Rockport's Future
The Rockport Pheasant Farm has preserved valuable open space since 1912 and is now part of the Rockport WMA. However, due to recent changes in quarantine requirements in the USDA National Poultry Improvement Plan in response to Avian Influenza, the raising of pheasants would require costly measures that the Division simply cannot afford. These measures include sanitizing all vehicles that enter and exit the facility, constructing decontamination rooms for each building, and assigning staff to work only in one building or area of the farm. Consequently, meeting these requirements would not only be cost prohibitive, but would require doubling the amount of staff. Therefore, the Division has pursued alternatives to raising our own pheasants.

Recognizing the challenge ahead, the Fish and Game Council voted in February, 2018, to expand the purchase of adult pheasants to satisfy 100% of the birds needed for the stocking program. Contracts to procure adult pheasants are in place, and the purchase of birds has been implemented for the pheasant hunting seasons.

Pheasant Stocking Locations Map
Rockport WMA Map (topo) (pdf, 255kb)
Rockport WMA Map (showing roads and parking areas (pdf, 110kb)

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 8, 2021