How to Raise Peafowl: Information on the Basics

Peafowl are a beautiful bird whom people love to see. Their big, blue and green colors will take your breath away. They are one of the most detailed animals in the world. However, although gorgeous, peafowl are a lot of work. This article will show you the basics on caring for and raising peafowl as well as tips, facts and pictures.

General Info

Peafowl are from the the family "Phasianidae." There are three species of peafowl. The Javanese, (also called green peafowl, originated in Java and Burma) the Congo (originated in Congo) and the Indian Blue. (Originated in India and Sir Lanka and is the most common.) Peafowl were first kept as pets by the Chinese and Europeans who were attracted to their lovely plumage. The word Peacock derives from Old English "pea" and the -cock or the -hen was added by the Middle English period in order to distinguish between the females and males. The Old English form comes from the Latin word pavo meaning "peacock."
The Romans probably took peafowl to Britain where their name for the bird was adapted.

Sexing/Gender Terms
We often say "peacocks" when refereeing to all peafowl. However peacocks refers to males. Peahens refers to females. Babies are referred to as peachicks. You can determine gender several ways. First of all adult males are more colorful, have longer feathers and are of a larger build. (4 feet in body length.) Females are smaller, have shorter feathers and are not as colorful and bright. (5-7 inches in body length.) Around five weeks you will be able to sex your birds. You will notice a barring around the shoulder and saddle area where males grow organge-ish primaries. A mature peacock can be mated to as many as five peahens.

It takes 27-30 days for peafowl eggs to hatch. The eggs need to be candled after 10 days of incubation. They need to be kept at 99-100 degrees F and at a wet bulb temperature of 84-85 degrees F. Also, eggs must be placed in the incubator as soon as possible after they are laid and no eggs should be help more then 10 days before the incubation process starts. You can also let broody peahens hatch eggs. Or you can let ducks or chickens hatch the pea eggs. A peahen's clutch ranges from 4-12 eggs with 6 being the average. Peahens usually go broody about twice a year. Peachicks are are hatched fully feathered and can fly within one week.

Peachicks need a brooder whose temperature starts out at 95 degrees F. Decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week so that once they reach about two months, the heat can be removed. Brooders are fairly easy to make. Otherwise you can buy them. Peachicks poop a lot so you may want to cover the floor with wire so that the droppings and feed fall through. Make sure, though, that the wire gaps are not big enough to harm the peachicks' feet or allow them to slip through and suffocate. Peachicks grow fast so the brooder either must start out big or you must have another, bigger one on hand to transfer them into. You also should hang feeder and water troughs on the brooder walls so that the chicks can't spill them or poop in them. You also will need a lid for the brooder to contain the chicks as they are good flyers. If the brooder is tall enough then put a roost or two in for them too.

If the hen is brooding the chicks then make sure that she is in a safe area where other animals cannot bother her. It's best that you put her in a large dog crate or other box from the time she starts brooding to when she has her chicks. Keep her and her babies confined in the box for at least three days after hatching so that they can get acquainted with one another and not get killed by predators. Make sure the crate or box has food and water.

The breeding season starts around march and ends in august. Hens sometimes start laying before they are bred with. Once the male has lost his tail train, egg production and fertility levels will drop noticeably. Breeding pens can be kept for pairs if you are wanting to breed specific birds to each other. (See further on down for more on breeding pens.) Peahens DO NOT lay in their first year. After this though, expect one egg every 2-3 days. Again, clutch size varies between 4-12 eggs with 6 being the average. If you remove eggs while she sits on them, she will continue to lay through the whole breeding season. One thing to remember when breeding is that not all colors and patterns will breed true. Peafowl are MUCH nosier in breeding season also.

This fact may surprise you: Peafowl are VERY noisy! Peacocks make a loud calling sound all day, starting early in the morning. This loud, shrill call can be heard up to 5 miles away! They also make a honking sound often too. Peahens make several sounds but are not nearly as loud as the males. Peachicks are normally quieter. The male chicks start getting loud when mature which is 2 years. (Males don't get long tail trains until 3 years though.)

Life Span
Peafowl live for a long time. Some can live up to 50 years! Normally their live 4-15 years.

Where and When to Start

It's best to start raising peafowl in the spring or summer, especially if you raise them as chicks. Peachicks have a harder time surviving in harsh winters. If you do get them in winter, make sure their brooder is warm, dry and draft free.

You can get your peafowl from many places. Hatcheries, breeders, farmers and places like BYC! (Here are links on where you can ask and find peafowl here on BYC.
Many hatcheries sell peafowl. They are expensive and good quality. Breeders also sell peafowl. If you are looking for specific genetics and breeds then a breeder is your best bet. Local farmers sometimes are willing to sell or swap peas too. Most likely you will get adults from them.

Make sure that wherever you get them from, you get a healthy bird. If ordering from a hatchery find out ALL you can on their peafowl, hatchery and busniess. Look up what other buyers have said about them. Contact them and ask questions about your birds. If purchasing from a breeder then observe and examine your bird. He should have clean eyes, nostrils, feathers and feet. His feathers should not be broken and he should look glossy, clean and healthy. Try and not buy them during the molt season as it is hard to tell if they are healthy or not. Also, their living quarters should be clean, spacious and tidy. If the birds' living quarters are clean then the birds should be healthy. If you plan to visit a local farming and buy some peafowl, again, examine them and make sure they are healthy. When buying from a place like BYC, talk to the owners and find out all you can about the peafowl you are interested in.

General Care Info

Peafowl are not picky eaters! Being omnivores, they will eat most anything. Shelled, raw or cracked corn, oats, dog food, pasta, rice, breads, cooked meats, mealworms, fish, sees, grass, rabbit food, weeds, insects, fruit and veggies, eggs, etc. However they need food other than table scraps and treats. Their feed must be structured like their relatives, the pheasant. Breeders should eat a game bird layer feed during breeding season. They need a game bird maintenance feed during their months before and after breeding season. Dry dog food along with these feeds is a great source of protein which is best fed in fall and winter. Cracked or shelled corn is also a good thing to feed during the cold weather months as aids in the calories and helps produce extra body heat. Some people feed their peafowl chicken food. This will not harm them but is does not have the right protein content they need. You should then give out dry dog food. But peafowl should eat a game-bird feed. You can also provide oyster shell or egg shells for peahens as this will help her produce strong, smooth and large eggs.

Chicks need a medicated started feed during their first six months. It also is recommended that you mix this with a game-bird starter. Also, make sure that they get a starter with "amprolium" to prevent coccidiosis. Starter feed should contain 20-24% protein. Like chickens, they need grit if they eat other foods or treats besides the starter. However, there are some soft foods such as yogurt, eggs and oatmeal that can be fed without the need for grit.

Peafowl need access to clean, cool water all the time. There is no exception. Like any living creature, peafowl can become dehydrated very easily which can quickly result in death. So, always have water available to your birds.

Housing depends on the age and use of your peafowl. Breeders require a ton of space due to their long tail train and need for exercise and tail fanning. A pen for breeders must be at least 7 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The length depends on the number of birds you plan to keep. It should have a roof too since peafowl can fly and predators can enter. Or you can simply let them free range if you have the space. Remember though that peafowl fly and jump a lot so your property should be able to withstand this. Predators are another concern with free ranging. Raccoons, coyotes, bears and other animals will gladly have peas for dinner! Your housing also needs roosts. The roosts should be placed about 4-6 feet off the ground. The best kind of roost is simply a 2" X 4" with the 4" side facing up. Try and not use round roosts as your birds will get frostbite in winter. When the toes are curled around something instead of flat and covered by the chest feathers, they have a higher likelihood of freezing. You also will need nests for the peahens. Peahens like to nest on the ground so try and make nests out of straw on the ground. If you put the nests up high then the hens will find their own place to nest! Males will fight if you keep them confined together in an area that is less than 100 square feet per adult.

Peafowl don't require a fancy bedding. They just need something dry, absorbent, cozy and most of all insulating. In the winter, peafowl can get frostbite especially if their bedding is not appropriate. Straw and pine shavings are your best options.

You need to worm your peas every 3-5 months. (Free ranging birds should be wormed 4 times a year.) The best and most common wormer is Piperizine. It comes in a liquid or pill. The liquid is easiest to put in water and is very effective. If you get the pill then you have to put it down the peafowl's throat. Ivermectin Cattle wormer and Panacure are two other wormers you can use also. The Ivermectin Cattle wormer is best given in bread. The panacure also known as "Fenbendazole", is used if there were excessive amounts of capillary worms.
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Remember to treat your birds with love and respect. Maintain peace and quiet in their living area. Peafowl are anxious birds and don't cope well in stressful times. Peafowl are one of the most gorgeous creatures in all the earth. Enjoy keeping them!