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|The rearing of pheasant and grouse
Written by Elizabeth K
(5/19/2010 6:13 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Grouse, partridge, and Pheasant, penned by Adrian
Gamekeepers have the job of rearing pheasants and other game birds: "The pheasant-shooting season starts annually on 1 October and ends on 1 February in the following year. Egg production starts in March and progresses to July using surviving birds that are caught up at the end of the season. Chicks are maintained in the development areas until they are aged between 6-7 weeks and moved to Release Enclosures as poults from May and June onwards. At least one month before 1 October, the birds are seduced by feeding and watering to cover-crop or wooded areas that surround the Release Enclosures. For the remainder of their lives until destruction by shooting, they are fed, sheltered, watered and protected from predation by gamekeepers". From this link: House of Commons - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Pheasants would have been reared in a very similar way in the Georgian era.
Here is a quote from Leisure and Pleasure in the 18th Century by Stella Margetson: "Enormous bags (of birds shot) were a status symbol among the landowners and it became necessary for them to start rearing pheasants on their grounds to provide enough birds for the season's massacre" (p. 53, 1969, Coward-McCann).
Regarding grouse, gamekeepers were (and are) responsible for the upkeep of moorland for rearing grouse. They also had (and still have) beaters to steer the birds towards the shooters so it is not as if all the birds from different estates were 'jumbled' together: "In the 1790s, with the growing demand for ever bigger 'bags' of game, the battue was developed, whereby beaters drove the birds towards the guns, and sportsmen no longer had to search for their quarry". (Pamela Horn, Flunkeys and Scallions: Life Below Stairs in Georgian England, p. 184, Sutton Publishing, 2004).
The birds usually stay in their locale and they are mainly ground birds, although they can fly, just not for very long distances. I live on an estate where pheasants are reared for shooting and they stay in the woods where the feeders are. It is the same with grouse on the moor, although pheasants can be reared in an enclosed area and they learn to stay in the area but "You can't rear grouse in an enclosed area, like you can pheasants. All you can do is manage their habitat so it's as much to their liking as possible" from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/5979263/How-grouse-shooting-helps-rural-economies.html
So Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bennet would have had gamekeepers who were responsible for the rearing of game birds for shooting.
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