Peafowl Care Tips
following Article is by Martin Caunce of
- 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.
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).
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.
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
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.
Martin's website has pictures of different
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