e-chickens Peafowl Care Tips

 The following Article is by Martin Caunce of http://www.BrowFarmPeafowl.co.uk - Rearing & Selling Peafowl in the UK.

 

In response to a growing number of phone calls and our passion for Peafowl, We at Brow Farm have spent a great deal of time passing on our knowledge & experience via dedicated web pages. Although our contact details are posted, We would very much appreciate you taking the time to read all the information. Should you then have any further specific questions not already addressed, please do not hesitate to contact me, where I will do my best to deal with your query.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.

I have gathered some information and tips from 25 years of raising peafowl. These come from my own experiences as well as from things I have heard or read and my good friend Harry Hunter who introduced me to these beautiful birds.

If you do choose to raise peafowl, please do not go only on what I tell you on this site, but also consult other sources to make sure you have the best and most complete information available. I am looking for a suitable book about Peafowl that gives good information about them, when I find a good book I'll let you know on the web site.

 

Housing

Peafowl can be raised in both fenced areas as well as roaming free (free range). This choice will most likely depend on your circumstances, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Leaving your peafowl the ability to free range can provide you with many enjoyable hours of watching them roam and interact with their surroundings. However, this is not always a good option. If you have many roads near where you plan to set the birds free, it's always a possibility that one may be hit by a car. (Peacocks like to stand in front of or on top of cars, which may cause you problems with some of your neighbours.) They can also make a lot of noise during the mating season. Early morning and late evening is a favourite time for this. I've found that most people either love the sounds they make of they hate them, but people never seem go grow to love it. So I always say ask your neighbours about how they feel about peacocks. If you have peafowl they will wander a little and I have found that hens are more prone to it than cocks. If you have your birds penned up all the time then you can shield it from your neighbours. But if they are free range you have no say were they will roam or roost. So it could be in your neighbours garden so it could be his garden they they start calling from first (4.00am) in the morning.
Another thing to consider is what other animals are around. Natural predators such as foxes can prey on peafowl. Many Peahens are taken by foxes when they are incubating their eggs. You should also beware of dogs, even if they are your own pets and have never caused any problems. I know that dogs can and will go after peafowl even if it is only in play, so this should be considered before letting peafowl roam free.

 

Introducing New Peafowl to Your Home.
When introducing new peafowl to an area, after they are first purchased, don't let them out right away or they may well disappear down the road. The best way to acclimate them is to pen them where they can see the area where they'll be living. After they've been penned for at least 6 weeks or longer if it is a cock bird with a full tail, let a new hen out before the male as the hens are more social and will stay around the birds that are still penned up. So it will learn its way around it's new home. After a few days, let another out to run with it. If they stay around it's usually safe to let the rest out soon thereafter. So it's a good idea to do this when you have a long weekend so you can keep an eye on them from a distance.
When I put new birds in pens but I intend to release them I make sure they have fresh water and food they are used to eating. Then I do not disturb them for a week or so. After that time if I think they have settled in, I remove the food but NOT the water. Then when ever I walk past the pen or go in with the birds I give them some food. But only enough so they eat it all and non is left. This way they get to know that when you come around is when they get fed. I find this gets them used to you so your a part of their life not just a spectator.
You don't have to have lots of birds a pair would be fine. You can even have two males if they both have room to perraid their tails away from each other. Peafowl dont pair up for life or even for a season. I call peahens the tarts of the bird world! What I mean is they will go with who ever looks good that day.
Keeping peafowl in pens is a safer option but you do miss seeing these beautiful birds wondering around your garden. So if you are going to pen your birds up all the time then a tall pen should be constructed (6-7 feet). Think of the male during mating season, those feathers get quite large and take up a lot of room! Make sure that the birds have plenty of room to move around, how would you like to be cooped up in a small space?
The cage should be rather tall, and at least one roost should be provided. Peafowl like to sleep in trees in the wild, so they will want to sleep of the ground in the pen. There should also be a covered shelter to protect them from bad weather and give them a little privacy (they do not like rain). Peafowl can fly, so the whole pen should have netting or some sort of cover on top of it so they can't fly out. But I would also say that if you are going to release your new birds you will not need so big a pen and you need to be able to take the pen down after you have finished with it. I have used a cabin, shed or stable and fitted a wire cage over the door so the birds can see out during the day. Don't make a pen with the idea that the birds will come back in every night to roost after you release them, THEY WON'T.


About the Birds
Tail or Trains
Peacocks don't develop their long trains until they are 3 years old and they molt the train yearly. In the UK they begin the moult in late July or early August and are finished by September. The train is not actually the peacock's tail. The train itself is composed of 100—150 upper tail coverts, which are supported by 20 retrices (true tail feathers).
 

Age
Peacocks can live to be 20 years old. But most live past 12 years. Peahens don't live has long, so around 10 years. Peahens should lay in their second year. Peacocks will fertilise eggs in their second year, before they have a full tail.
 

Diet

Wild peafowl have an omnivorous diet, and peafowl that are allowed to roam will scavenge for many things on their own. They should, however, be supplied with food at all times. Different types of bird pellets and grains are some of the options, but check around locally to see what is available. I provide my birds with a mixture of game bird feed, wheat and barley, which they seem to enjoy. Peafowl also need at least 20% protein to be healthy and reproduce well. (This number is debatable. I have seen some peafowl enthusiasts suggest as high as 32% protein, while some get by with lower. Twenty percent seems to be a safely agreed upon middle ground.) Dry cat food is a great source of it, but dry dog food also works, however it has less protein. During the summer, free ranging fowl and ones that have large pens with lots of vegetation can get most of their necessary protein from insects and other bugs that they eat. However, in winter, some type of protein supplement is especially necessary. I feed my Peafowl on Turkey starter, grower and breeder pellets and have done for the last 25 years this seems to fore fill their diet needs. Peafowl will also eat a number of other treats and table scraps, you can experiment in small amounts to see what your birds like. My peafowl like occasional treats of sweet corn, apples, and lettuce. If peafowl are on raised pens, you should provide them with vegetation as well as grain. Clean water should also be provided at all times, and special medication can be added to it to prevent different diseases.

 

Back Ground Information About Wild Indian Peafowl
The male Indian Peafowl, commonly known as the peacock, is one of the most recognizable birds in the world. These large, brightly coloured birds have a distinctive crest and an unmistakable ornamental train. The train (1.4-1.6 meters in length) accounts for more than 60% of their total body length (2.3 meters). Combined with a large wingspan (1.4-1.6 meters), this train makes the male peafowl one of the largest flying birds in the world. The train is formed by 100-150 highly specialized upper tail-coverts. Each of these feathers sports an ornamental ocellus, or eye-spot, and has long disintegrated barbs, giving the feathers a loose, fluffy appearance. When displaying to a female, the peacock erects this train into a spectacular fan, displaying the ocelli to their best advantage. The more subtly coloured female Peafowl is mostly brown above with a white belly. Her ornamentation is limited to a prominent crest and green neck feathers. Though females (2.75-4.0 kg) weigh nearly as much as the males (4.0-6.0 kg), they rarely exceed 1.0 meter in total body length. National Insignia The Indian peacock ,Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), the national bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck. The peacock is widely found in the Indian sub-continent from the south and east of the Indus river, Jammu and Kashmir, east Assam, south Mizoram and the whole of the Indian peninsula. The peacock enjoys immense protection. It is fully protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972. Distribution and Habitat The Indian Peafowl occurs from eastern Pakistan through India, south from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka. Though once common in Bangladesh, it may now be extinct in that country. Its highly ornamental appearance motivated early seafarers to transplant the peafowl to their homelands in other parts of the western world. Phoenician traders in the time of King Solomon (1000 B.C.) introduced the birds to present-day Syria and the Egyptian Pharaohs. In its native India, the peafowl is a creature of the open forests and riparian undergrowth. In southern India, it also prefers stream-side forests but may also be found in orchards and other cultivated areas.


Diet
Indian Peafowl do most of their foraging in the early morning and shortly before sunset. They retreat to the shade and security of the forest for the hottest portion of the day. Foods include grains, insects, small reptiles, small mammals, berries, drupes, wild figs, and some cultivated crops.

 

Folklore & History
Conservation and History of Relationship with Man The great beauty and popularity of the Indian Peafowl has guaranteed its protection throughout most of its native and introduced ranges. It is the national bird of India. The peafowl is prominent in the mythology and folklore of the Indian people. The Hindus consider the bird to be sacred because the god Kartikeya (son of the Lord Shiva and Parvati and brother to the god Ganesh) rides on its back. Legends hold that the peafowl can charm snakes and addle their eggs. Greek mythology describes how the peacock acquired the many eyes in his ornamental train. The goddess Hera had a beautiful priestess named Io. Io was greatly admired by Zeus. To protect her from Hera’s jealousy Zeus transformed Io into a heifer. Hera tricked Zeus into giving the heifer to her as a gift and set her faithful servant Argus to watch over her. Argus had numerous eyes all over his body, making him a natural choice for the assignment. Zeus sent the god Hermes to free Io from Hera’s watchman. Hermes charmed Argus to sleep until all of his eyes were closed and then killed him. To honor her faithful watchman, Hera took Argus’ eyes and placed them on the tail of the peacock. This long and close association with humans has proven the peafowl’s adaptability to human-altered landscapes. This species does not appear to need any additional legal protection or conservation attention.

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Martin's website has pictures of different coloured peafowl http://www.browfarm.co.uk/hens_ducks_peafowl/peafowl_breeder.htm (UK based)

Another site I found useful for general info and pictures is http://www.peafowl.org/ (USA based)

 

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