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MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc., located in Janesville, WI has been a family-owned business for over 80 years and is presently the largest pheasant producer in North America. MacFarlane Pheasants produce pheasant products, both ready to cook or already smoked, as well as birds that are sold as day old chicks or as fully-grown adults. MacFarlane is the industry leader in day old game birds, mature game birds, and dressed pheasants. MacFarlane’s customer base is made up of hunting preserves, other game farms to high-end white tablecloth restaurants. Their pheasants were served at the inauguration dinner for President Obama.
Pheasants are not indigenous to the United States. The first pheasants were brought here from Great Britain in the late 1800’s and shipments of eggs continued to be brought here into the early 1900’s. By the 1920’s, pheasant populations were able to sustain hunting and there was a demand for pheasants for release and propagation. Kenneth MacFarlane (founder of MacFarlane Pheasants) went to New York and completed a game rearing school and, in 1928, Kenneth imported eggs from England. In 1929, he founded MacFarlane Pheasant Farm. Kenneth’s brother Donald joined him in running the pheasant farm in 1935. Tragedy struck in 1941 when Kenneth was killed in a hunting accident and Donald continued to operate the pheasant farm. In 1946, Donald contracted polio that resulted in him becoming a paraplegic; however, he continued to operate the pheasant farm.
During the 1960’s Donald expanded the breeding aspect of MacFarlane Pheasant Farm and began large-scale production of day-old pheasant chicks. Over 200,000 day-old pheasant chicks were produced annually and approximately 3,000 dressed birds. About 200 acres of corn and soybeans were raised yearly. During the 70’s, Donald’s health declined and farm sales began to decline. There was talk of the farm being sold and Donald persuaded his son, Bill, to return to Janesville and form MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. In the 1980’s, Bill traveled to China and was able to successfully import wild pheasants back to the United States. MacFarlane was the only pheasant farm in North America to be able to supply true wild pheasants to the game bird market. In 1981, Donald’s brother-in-law James Adamson, who had been coordinating day-to-day operations of the farm, retired. In 1985, Donald passed away. Bill MacFarlane was now in charge of the operation.
In the early 90’s, sales began to grow not only for the new products, but for existing products as well. During that period, interest was not only being generated through the US but also in places such as Canada, England, Ireland, and the Middle East. MacFarlane has successfully exported day old chicks and eggs to many different countries around the world including Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tajikistan and dressed pheasants to Mexico. Although export of dressed pheasants has been limited to this point, one of MacFarlane’s initiatives is to increase its export sales in the coming years
MacFarlane has dealt with the actual process of exporting by having key personnel well trained in the different aspects of exporting the different products and working closely with brokerage and expediting companies that aid in the documentation required. Each different market requires not only specific product requirements but differs in pricing structure. Recently, the falling US dollar has aided exports to Europe, making MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. products very price competitive in local markets. This understanding has been critical to MacFarlane’s success. Pricing of their products has allowed the company to leverage difference in exchange rates between currencies to open up opportunities in other markets. Macfarlane is currently working with the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and is targeting future exports of dressed pheasants into the Caribbean.
Every two years, MacFarlane Pheasants conducts an international pheasant seminar. Attending this seminar are various game bird producers from the US and many countries around the world. During the last seminar in the spring of 2010, there were several attendees from England, Ireland and as far away as Israel. This unique opportunity allows domestic producers to network and learn from producers around the world and vice versa. During the three-day event, many contacts are made and the stage is set for future export business.
MacFarlane Pheasants has worked with the Small Business Development Center, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and are actively involved in working with academia and other industry. This progressive nature has allowed the company to develop market leading innovative products and services.
One of MacFarlane’s core values for their 35 full-time and 15-part-time employees is job satisfaction. To this end, MacFarlane constantly improves their wage and benefit package for employees to gage their marketability in the workplace. They hold regular company meetings to keep employees informed of company happenings and they encourage employees to participate in area organizations by donation of time and money.
MacFarlane’s mission statement is “Sustained profitability focused on integrity and accountability to our employees, customers, vendors, and neighbors with respect for their birds and the environment”. This mission statement has boded well for MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. through the years in making their business the success it is today.
MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. is SBA’s 2011 Exporter of the Year winner for Wisconsin. This was accomplished through their increased sales, profits and/or growth of employment because of exporting; creative overseas marketing strategies; effective solutions to export related problems; encouragement to other small businesses to export; introduction of unique trading companies and volunteer assistance to other small businesses entering the export market. Peek at MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc. at http://www.pheasant.com/ and see what they are all about.