In this study we sought to determine main predictors of the body condition of hen pheasants Phasianus colchicus in Great Britain. We collected a total of 181 hen pheasants from 21 estates throughout Britain in 1996 and 1997. Pheasants collected from shooting estates which undertook spring supplementary feeding had significantly larger fat reserves than pheasants collected from estates where supplementary feeding stopped at the end of the shooting season (1 February). Hens from estates managed for wild pheasants had larger fat reserves than hens from estates managed for reared pheasants. However, there was no difference in parasite loads of Heterakis gallinarum, Capillaria sp. or Syngamus trachea between pheasants from wild and reared estates, and parasite load did not influence body condition. Our results suggest that food availability is a key factor influencing body condition of hen pheasants in Britain. We recommend that game managers provide supplementary grain in breeding territories through the spring to increase food availability and maintain pheasant body condition.
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Vol. 8 • No. 1