Partridge

Although several species of partridge can be reared in captivity, the chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) is most commonly reared for hunting and table use. This bird, first imported into the United States in 1893, is native to Asia, where it inhabits mountains and valleys at elevations from 4,000 to 16,000 ft. Chukars have been established as a game bird in several western states. The plumage is predominately grey, with distinctive black-and-white markings on the head. Males and females are the same in appearance. Chukars are good fliers and are often released within private hunting clubs.

Chukars are widely raised throughout North America. Chukar eggs hatch in 23 days; hens reach sexual maturity at about 16 weeks and lay about 30 to 40 eggs in a season. Like the pheasant, the chukar hen becomes refractory to long days and can be cycled to lay again by exposure to a short day length for 8 to 10 weeks. Chicks can be brooded in wire floor or litter pens. Chukars are often raised on wire to prevent diseases. They are quite aggressive, and fighting and picking often injure pen mates. Beak trimming or use of antipicking devices may be necessary when the birds are raised in close confinement.

Chukars are excellent table birds and are often sold in an eviscerated, whole-body package for $3 to $4 per pound. They are often seen on the menus of upscale restaurants during the Christmas season.

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