Caring for Peafowl
Just like every living creature, peafowl require care and a good amount of it. They necessitate food, water, housing and space along with other things. This article covers the three main branches of care.
Food and Water
Just like the wild ones, domestic peafowl are omnivorous and if allowed to free range, will forage for many things themselves. But, unlike wild peafowl, domestic peafowl require other feed besides what they can find outside. Game bird and/or pheasant feed are more appropriate than chicken feed. Other various forms of bird pellets and grains are some of other options but be sure to check around locally to see what else is available. In order to be healthy, peafowl also need at least 20% protein in their diet. If you can’t find a feed with this high of protein content, dry cat and dog food is a great source of extra protein. Know that both of these foods do not have enough protein in them to be the birds’ only source of protein though. Also, you won’t need to feed dog or cat feed in the summer if your peafowl free range in areas with lots of vegetation because they can get most of their necessary protein from insects.
Peafowl enjoy eating table scraps as well as other treats. Corn is the most popular treat. But fruits, vegetables, dark greens, meat scraps, mealworms, seeds, oats and grains are other healthy treats. Know that these foods should only take up 10-15% of their daily diet. If your peafowl are kept on raised pens, you should provide them with vegetation as well as different grains.
Fresh water should be provided at all times. Also, special medication can be added to the water to prevent different diseases. Apple cider vinegar is a great thing to add to the water. It aids in digestion and respiratory health. Peafowl are large birds and thus drink around 2-3 cups of water a day. Therefore, tubs, water troughs and large waterers are imperative. You can use shallow water containers to prevent drowning in young peafowl but avoid small containers once they are grown.
You should check the water and food supply daily. Never let them go without water. However,you can feed them any way you want. Free choice means you put the food in toughs and allow the birds to eat as often and as long as they wish. Hand feeding obviously means feeding by hand. This causes the birds to be on a routine with you and eat only as much as you allow. It also will keep them tamer. However, bossy peafowl will sometimes hog the food and end up making it so the other birds don’t get to eat at all. Therefore, free choice is probably the best method of feeding if you have lots of birds.
Housing and Space Requirements
Peafowl are like all other poultry; they require shelter and room to roam and play. If you keep peacocks then know they will need more room because of their ever growing tail which can reach up to 5 feet long!
Peafowl require 100 square feet per bird so a pair should fit in 200 square feet. The coop itself should be at least 7 feet in width and height.
Wild peafowl like to sleep in trees so yours will want to sleep in the air on a roost at night. Because of their long tail, you need to build a tall coop to allow your birds to roost without hitting their heads or crushing their tails. Use 2X4” wooden boards as the roosts. Do NOT use metal for roosts or else you’ll have an awful mess of frostbite in the winter.
When it comes time to build the run, you have to consider two important things; peafowl love to run and peafowl love to fly. (Clipping a wing (or both wings) is not enough to keep them within a 5ft fenced in area!) If you don’t want them escaping then you have to completely enclose the run because these birds will get out otherwise. You should use netting for the roof because peafowl have the tendency to spook and fly straight up into the air and crash into the roof. You don’t want them hurting their heads on hard wood. Netting gives and moves with things that force it to and thus make a suitable roof choice.
The ground on which you build upon is important when designing your pea pen. Peafowl dislike have to walk around on wooden floors with nothing to scratch at. They also risk the chance of bumble foot. Try and not build on soft dirt either because this will become muddy in rain causing feather breakage and illness. Concrete is a good thing to build on because it prevents burrowing predators, bumble foot and doesn’t get moldy or muddy.
As far as bedding goes in the sheltered part of the pen, straw is probably your best option. It traps heat in winter and prevents boredom. However, it gets moldy when wet which causes respiratory issues so make sure to only use it in an area where rain and snow cannot enter.
The walls of the pen you intend to build should be made of something which prevents your birds from poking their heads through at ground level. The walls should also not have jagged edges which your peafowl can cut themselves on.
If you choose to let your peafowl roam your property, you need to be aware of predators. Allowing them the ability to free range can provide you with many enjoyable hours of entertainment. But there are still those predators to worry about. Coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, foxes, domestic dogs along with other large animals will all enjoy having your peas for dinner! You don’t want our peafowl being in danger in the first place! Make sure there are no holes or gaps in the lower part of your fencing. Chicken wire or hardware cloth is best for covering up holes. Also, make sure you lock all doors at night. Latches, carabineers and even deadbolts are all great to use depending on the door type. Remember, roofs should be sturdy and under good condition so that no predators can enter.
In winter you need to consider the peafowl breeds you are obtaining. Some peafowl are a lot more cold sensitive than others. Java Greens are an example. If you plan to keep these you should use heat lamps in winter.
When introducing new peafowl to an area, after they are first purchased, it is advised to keep them in pens for at least a few weeks so they can get used to the area and know where they are to be fed and where to sleep. Even so, some birds may wander off and not return.
If you are introducing new peafowl to an already established flock of peafowl, be sure to quarantine the new birds for two or three weeks. This quarantine pen should be a good distance from your other birds (20-40 yards is best). The quarantine area also makes for a good place for a sick or injured bird to recover. Always clean the quarantine pen after use.
Diseases and Medicines
Peafowl are generally healthy creatures who take good care of themselves. But they still can get quite sick. For the sake of this article, I won’t be going into every disease and problem known to peafowl. But I will list the medications used in the health treatment of them and how to keep your flock healthy.
Fenbendazole-Given down the throat (½ cc bird between 3 months and 1 year as drench down the throat for 3 days.)
Tramisol- Kills most all of the internal parasites. This should be given by mixing one packet into one quart of water.
Ivermectin- Kills all internal and any blood-sucking parasite. This is to only be used in birds over 1 year of age. It is given through either a shot un the skin or down the throat.
Levasole- Kills most all internal parasites. This should be given by filling the plastic bottle with water, shaking thoroughly and then added to the drinking water.
Tylan 200-Effective for treating peafowl with swollen sinuses. It should be given as a 1-2 cc in the leg or the breast muscle for birds over 1 year.
Tylan powder (100 g)-Effective for respiratory illnesses in peafowl. Given by mixing 1 teaspoon of into 1 gallon of water and mixing thoroughly for five days.
Baytril Tablets-Effective for treating peafowl with swollen sinuses. Given crushing 2, 22.7 mg tablets per quart of drinking water. (3, 68 mg tablets per gallon of drinking water.)
Corid-Effective for treating coccidiosis in peafowl. Given by mixing 1 teaspoon per gallon of drinking water.
Flagel-Effective for treating Blackhead in peafowl. This should be prescribed by your local veterinarian.
Keep your birds healthy by regularly worming them and checking for illness often. Here is a checklist of what too look for within the flock:
•Eyes= Clean, bright and alert
•Mouth=Clean, liquidy and not swollen nor black
•Neck and back= Clean, strong and not lopsided
•Tail=Bright, flowing with few broken feathers
•Breast=Full and rounded
•Wings=Clean, strong and not broken
•Feet=Clean and smooth with no scales lifted
•Vent=Clean and moist
Peafowl are wonderful birds whom are enjoyed by people all around the world. With the proper care, they make for excellent entertainment and companionship. Care for them correctly and they will be with you for up to 20 to 30 years!