How to Raise Grouse

How to Raise Grouse
Grouse are some of the most difficult game birds to raise because of their delicate nature and extensive needs. In the wild, populations of grouse experience a very high percentage of loss, so a high mortality rate is not necessarily unexpected.

Breeding grouse to adapt to life far removed from their environment means breeding birds even less able to thrive and adapt. Isolating birds from contact with soil or vegetation also may make their systems less capable of handling a natural load of parasites.


Difficulty: Challenging


Step 1
Provide a number of areas for grouse to roost and perch, to nest and explore. Grouse thrive in a wide ranging habitat. If you have them caged in a small pen, the habitat you provide will be vital to their condition.
Step 2
Plant appropriate native vegetation and trees in and around the enclosure to replicate the bird's wild habitat. Allow the hens a place to nest and scratch, and allow all birds access to the ground.
Step 3
Use a lightweight mesh, wire or electric fencing if you cover the enclosure. The situation is a bit of a Catch-22: the birds require proper protection from predators but fencing in the tops of pens may allow the grouse to harm themselves.

One way grouse deal with the overhead approach of predators in the wild is to burst violently into the air. If kept in fully enclosed pens, this natural reaction can result in serious injury or death to the birds.
Step 4
Separate the birds by sex. Males are territorial and may harass females when kept in the same enclosure.

While some breeders have had luck keeping a breeding pair housed together year-round, the birds by nature are solitary creatures. Except for a short period where small, loosely formed flocks of younger birds may gather, grouse tend to meet, breed and go their separate ways in the wild.
Step 5
Grouse may be more negatively affected by issues that other birds can shake off. For this reason, grouse should not be housed in the same pens or alongside other bird species.


Step 1
Provide access to native foods. Foods closest to the grouse's wild diet are the ideal choice, but collecting such material is labor intensive. The labor can be lessened by planting trees and plants the birds use as food in the wild near or within their enclosure.
Step 2
Provide bulk nutrition from specially formulated game bird feeds, but supplement that feed with fresh flowers, green leaves, fruit and insects appropriate to the species.

These wild foods may not only provide the birds with dietary requirements not met by processed feeds, but their digestive systems should be better able to handle such feeds when roughage is provided.
Step 3
Feed in a manner that encourages birds to search out their meals. Discovery and consumption (as opposed to feeder use) allows the birds to express instinctive behaviors, which may keep the birds more mentally healthy.


Step 1
Reduce or eliminate as many potential sources of stress as possible. Stress is a major factor influencing the health of fragile birds. Stress can come from almost any aspect of daily life, including human presence.

It is far easier to reduce or eliminate stress than to undo the harm that it can cause.
Step 2
Look at the area in which you house birds and the assignation of birds within the housing for stressors.

Address excessive noise, unnecessary transport or movement of birds and birds housed in too close in proximity to one another. Create a plan for the introduction of new birds.
Step 3
Adopt a hands-off policy. If you have a sick bird, it may not require your immediate intervention to recover.

A sick bird is already under the stress of illness, and the need to handle and treat a grouse can compound the effects.
Step 4
Establish a routine for every aspect of care. Changes in diet, habitat or routine can be sources of stress.

Tips & Warnings

Before embarking upon a wild bird project, check on the need for permits and what special regulations may apply in your area.

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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