There are several species, and subspecies, of Partridges, from the Chukar to the Rock, the Red, Gray, and many others. Partridges are native to Asia and have been introduced to other parts of the world as a game but more and more people, or hobbyists, are keeping them as pets, or as ornamental birds. They live about 12 – 15 years, and males and females look very much identical.
Not all species, or variations, of Partridge, are available everywhere, as such you may have to settle for whatever is in your area to start. Chukar Partridges are generally considered one of the easiest to start with, although no Partridge is considered difficult.
The bird in the photo is a Stone Partridge. Photo source.
You may find Partridges at breeders, if you are unsure of one in your area, the local feed store might know of somebody. I often see them for sale at exotic livestock and bird auctions, and some bird clubs hold shows and sales where you can meet breeders and fanciers.
Male Partridges tend to be slightly larger and have a slightly larger knob on the back of their legs. I suggest you purchase a “mated pair”, or trio. If space allows, you can have more birds, as Partridges do get along in smaller groups.
Look for healthy, active birds. If their legs are scaly this may indicate old age. Look for bright eyes. Also, check the facilities, if they are neat, chances are their birds are healthy, if the place is a mess or overcrowded, chances are their birds are stressed or unhealthy. Do not reward sloppy breeders by purchasing their animals.
The cost of Partridges varies depending on availability and demand in your area. Plan on transporting them home in a pet carrier or cardboard box.
Feeding, Housing, and Care of Partridges
Partridges eat seeds, greens, and insects. You can feed them a “game bird” diet, or even chicken feed, as long as they also have access to grass, and can forage for bugs. Additionally, they should have smaller grit, and even oyster shell if you are breeding. A shallow bowl should be used for water or a proper chicken waterer.
Partridges require a minimum of six square feet per bird, although more is certainly ideal. I recommend at least 36 square feet for a pair. They need their ground to be dry, or at least, not soggy, so a higher elevation is good, as well, the addition of some rocks or tree stumps is important.
We made our birds an enclosure out of 2 x 2’s and covered it with stucco wire, this would be fine unless you have a laying pair as young birds could get out smaller holes, as such another layer of chicken wire is good. The stucco wire is stronger to keep predators out. They should have higher perching areas within their enclosure.
Like all animals, Partridges need shelter from poor weather. This can even be a dog house, or an old shed, anything that provides shade, protection from rain, snow, and wind. I suggest putting cardboard on the floor and covering it with straw. If possible provide an “upper level”, this will not be used as much but increases the room within the shelter should they need it.
Although I have referred to keeping Partridges as pets, they are not typically a pet you can pick up and hold to play with, they will tolerate handling, but are not a pet that appreciates it as a cat or dog would.
Partridges are compatible with other birds and are often kept with doves or even Bantam chickens. It is best to keep them with other gentle birds around the same size if you are going to keep them with any other bird.
Should you get some laying fertile eggs, you may want to remove the eggs and have a broody hen (such as a Silkie) raise them or you should put them in an incubator. Partridges may lay 40 eggs in summer, but getting them to sit on their eggs to hatch them is a tricky matter.
*As a note, the pair in the picture was kept by my stepdaughter.
Other Information on Partridges and Links
In some places, it is legal to set Partridges loose into the wild, in other places it is not, make sure you check before releasing any domesticated animal into the wild.
One advantage of keeping Partridges is that they provide insect control, and will eat slugs, ants, grasshoppers, flies, and so forth.