Health Benefits of Cooking Wild Pheasant for Dinner
Eating wild pheasant has numerous health benefits over farmed pheasant, and especially more than chicken. Wild pheasant has a lower omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, is not treated with antibiotics, and contains less fat than farmed poultry. Wild pheasant also contains the health benefits of a foraged diet, and ingesting fewer pesticides and agricultural chemicals than farmed poultry.
Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio
Until recent history, human diets consisted of foods with a low omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of about 4:1 (some cultures had a ratio of 1:4). Today’s typical western diet has increased the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio to 20:1. Changes in livestock feed, cooking food in vegetable oils, and processed foods are the leading cause for the increase in omega 6 intake in America. The problem with a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is that it causes a chronic inflammatory state, and leads to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, allergies, etc. A diet high in omega 3 has been shown to suppress chronic inflammatory effects.
Wild Pheasant’s Low Omega 6 Levels
The chart below shows that wild pheasant has an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 3:1. Studies have shown that a diet with a reduced omega 6 to omega 3 ratio (4:1) decreased cardiovascular mortality by 70%. Another study showed that a ratio of 2.5:1 reduced colorectal cancer proliferation, however a ratio of 4:1 had no effect. Another study showed that a ratio of 3:1 gave pain relief to rheumatoid arthritis patients. Further studies showed that a ratio of 5:1 had beneficial effects to patients with asthma, while a 10:1 ratio had adverse effects. You can read more about omega 6 and omega 3 in these studies.
Pregnancy and Omega 3 Health Benefits
One study of 154 pregnant women with a history of allergies (or have a previous child with allergies), increased omega 3 intake and resulted in the offspring born with a 7x reduction risk of developing food allergies, and a 3x reduction risk of developing eczema. (Increasing omega 3 intake with vitamins, reduces the overall daily omega 6 to omega 3 intake ratio.) Another study of women with normal pregnancies with an increase of omega 3 showed a 63% reduced rate of asthma and 87% reduced rate of allergic asthma. Eating wild pheasant has overall health benefits for the entire family. You can read more about this study on pregnancy and consuming wild pheasant.
Researchers are hopeful for improvements in ulcerative colitis and chrons disease with a low omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. However, further research is needed to prove the health benefits.
Wild Pheasant Meat Nutritional Information
|3 Ounces of Chicken||3 Ounces of Wild Pheasant|
|15:1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio||3:1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio|
|190 calories||114 calories|
|29 grams protein||20 grams protein|
|7 grams total fat||3 grams total fat|
|2 grams saturated fat||1 gram saturated fat|
|89 milligrams of cholesterol||66 milligrams of cholesterol|
|15 milligrams calcium||11 milligrams calcium|
|1.21 milligrams iron||0.98 milligrams iron|
|25 mg magnesium||17 mg magnesium|
|195 mg phosphorus||196 mg phosphorus|
|243 mg potassium||223 mg potassium|
|86 mg sodium||31 mg sodium|
|0.7 mg vitamin C|
|2.1 mg zinc||0.82 mg zinc|
|140 IU vitamin A|
Common Chemicals Administered to Farmed Poultry
Aminoglycoside is an antibiotic residue found in chicken meat, and is usually fed to the chickens to prevent illness in the flock. Inhumane and crowded conditions cause bacteria like salmonella and E. coli to infect entire flocks, and antibiotics are given to prevent human foodborne illnesses. Unforturnately, antibiotic residues in meats have been shown to cause adverse effects in humans that eat them. The most common adverse effect is the destruction of intestinal flora, or good bacteria in the gut. Chronic alterations in intestinal flora can lead to many bowel diseases like heartburn, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, chron’s disease, mood disorders, obesity, and more. Other adverse effects includes allergic reactions like skin rashes, anemia, vasculitis, and thrombocytopenia. Chronic liver disease, reproductive health issues, infertility, and cancer are other adverse effects from eating antibiotic residues found in farmed poultry. Lastly, developing a resistance to antibiotics is a health effect concern from eating antibiotic residues. You can read more about these studies.
Nitrofurans are a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used in livestock. Nitrofurans have been banned for use in livestock in Europe since 1995, due to their cancer-causing potential. However, because nitrofurans are easily metabolized, nitrofurans can be detected in any animal-based products. Gelatin contains nitrofurans, and has been discovered to contaminate a wide variety of products like baby food, marshmallows, gummy snacks, shampoo, and cosmetics. Common adverse health effects caused by nitrofurans include liver injury, pulmonary fibrosis, neuropathy, hemolytic anemia, and systemic inflammatory response syndrome. You can read more about nitrofurans here.
Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are forever chemicals found in nonstick cookware, grease resistant food packaging (like takeout containers, fast food wrappers, popcorn bags, etc.), and contaminated water supply. Animal feed is largely unregulated, and unfortunately livestock is fed many chemicals including PFAS. Adverse health effects from exposure to PFAS include thyroid disorders, kidney disease, cancer, preeclampsia, and more. You can read more about PFAS here.
You can read more about chemical residues found in meat here.
Pheasant Hunting Season
Wild Pheasant Population Density Map
You can hunt pheasant in the United States from October through January. In some states, pheasant hunting season doesn’t start until November, and can end as early as December. Check with the appropriate state’s wildlife department for hunting regulations.
Care for Wild Pheasant Chicks
- Pheasants typically begin nesting and lay eggs in May, and usually hatch in June.
- A typical pheasant nest contains 12 eggs, and about 50% of chicks will survive.
- A broody mother will typically remain with her chicks until autumn. Depending on the severity of winter weather, 20% – 90% of pheasant chicks will survive the winter.
- Adult pheasants are most likely to be killed by predators including foxes, raccoons, feral cats, skunks, and opossums.
- Food plots for pheasant should be at least 20 acres in size, to minimize predators patrolling a small area of pheasant. Ideally, food plots should be located next to wooded areas, giving additional cover areas and blocking cold winter winds. The best food plots contain alfalfa, sweet clover, wild flowers, and native legumes for pheasant chick survival. Switchgrass and cattails provide winter protection, while corn and grain sorghum remain on the stocks above winter snow drifts. Wheat, soybeans, millets, rye, and buckwheat are also good sources of food, however, they need to be planted in areas that won’t be covered by snow drifts.
How to Harvest Pheasant
Clean the pheasant as soon as possible, especially if hunting in warm weather. To start, remove the head (leaving the neck for easier maneuvering), remove the legs at the knees, and remove the wings at the elbow. Next, remove the skin and feathers by cutting a slit in the skin at the belly below the breast. You can then slide your fingers in the slit, and tear the skin towards the neck, removing the skin and feathers from the pheasant breast. Remove the skin from the legs by sliding the legs up toward the belly (almost like taking pants off the pheasant). Peel the skin and feathers from the back, and slide the shoulders out. The skin and feathers should remove easily, and then give the pheasant a quick rinse and remove any remaining feathers. Gut the pheasant by cutting a slit under the breast, and expose the abdominal cavity. Slide the backs of your fingers up the cavity against the breast. When you reach the top of the cavity, bend your fingers and scoop the organs out. For extra flavoring, you can soak the pheasant in a brine solution overnight. (1/2 gallon of water, 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and optional spices including garlic, onion, bay leaves, thyme, etc) Then remove them from the brine solution, put them in a freezer bag with enough water to cover the pheasant and freeze for over a year.
- Room temperature: Aging pheasant for 3-7 days outdoors in cool autumn weather (32 – 55 degrees Farenheit) before removing the feathers and organs, will improve the flavor and texture of the meat. Anything warmer will spoil the meat, and anything cooler will freeze the meat and prevent the aging process.
- Refrigerator shelf life: Storing pheasant in the refrigerator for 3-7 days before eating or freezing will age the meat, and improve its taste. Aging with intact skin and feathers will protect the meat from drying. By day 6, soak the pheasant overnight in a brine solution to cook or freeze on day 7.
- Freezer storage: Age pheasant in temperatures 32-55 degrees for 3-7 days with skin and feathers intact. Process pheasant by removing head and limbs, feathers, and organs, and soak in a brine solution overnight. Submerge processed pheasant meat in water in freezer containers for up to 18 months. The block of ice surrounding the pheasant will protect the meat from freezer burn. Otherwise, store pheasant meat in freezer bags wrapped in freezer paper for up to 6 months.
- Canning pheasant: Age, clean, and cut up the pheasant. Add optional seasoning and chicken broth (or pheasant broth), and process boneless pheasant at 11 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts. For bone-in pheasant process at 11 pounds of pressure for 65 minutes for pints, and 75 minutes for quarts. (Optional seasonings that go well in canned pheasant meat include garlic, onions, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper.)
Taste the Best Pheasant Recipes for Dinner