A collection of general and care information for your peafowl.
I will edit and add information as I find it.
Corrections and additions can be PM'd to me (Kedreeva).
Common terms and their meanings:
Peafowl- generic term for the species, without gender. Can be plural or singular.
Peacock- Male peafowl
Peahen- Female peafowl
Peachick- Young peafowl
Train- The group of long feathers peacocks show off during courting displays. These are not actually tail feathers. They are the coverts above the tail, greatly elongated.
Party- Term for a group of peafowl
Bevy- Term for a family of peafowl
General Information - The stuff I don't have a better category for!
Peafowl have an average lifespan of 15-20 years. The Indian peafowl originated in the Indian subcontinent while the Green peafowl are native to Asian countries from Burma to Java and prefer warmer climates. Peafowl are very loud creatures for several months of the year. Average adult live weight is 8-15lbs.
A BYC thread on how to clean feathers for sale.
The sex of your peafowl can be determined in several ways. Obviously adult males (2+ years old) will grow that long, distinctive train of feathers. Adult females will be drab in comparison and will not sport the display train.
Young peafowl can typically be sexed at around 9-12 weeks by their plumage, except a few. Whites, for example, will all have the exact same plumage until the males begin to grow their trains. In other colors, you will see barring on the shoulder/saddle feathers (excepting solid wing birds) and the males will grow distinctive burnt-orange primaries.
If you want to determine the sex of a peafowl younger than 4 weeks, DNA sexing can be done by a vet. Of course this can be done at any age if you want to be sure and are not certain about the feather patterns. Unlike chickens, peafowl cannot be vent sexed because their organs are too far inside the body.
On very rare occasions, one might encounter a 'unisex' peafowl.
If you would like to hear what peafowl sound like, here are a few links to videos.
Common chick noises
If you are considering getting peafowl, bear in mind that they are VERY loud birds- the male's call can be heard up to 3 miles away, and they will call all summer.
There are a few basic sounds you will hear your peafowl make, starting from the minute they hatch until they are full grown.
As chicks they will make noise -constantly-. Mostly they make a high-pitched "pi-wheep" noise, punctuated with plenty of screaming. If you leave them alone, they will make their 'lost' noise, a "WHIIIIII WHIIIII WHIIIII" cry that only gets louder in volume the longer you are gone. When they are upset as a chick, they will scream.
As juveniles, their voices get a little deeper. Their pi-wheep deepens and will eventually fade. Mine make a low "Heww" noise of concern and interest instead. When they are upset or do not like something (like you picking them up, for instance), they make a fast series of "pik pik pik pik" noises. Mine will also sometimes hiss at me instead if they are not particularly upset.
As yearlings, they will lose the pi-wheep noise and begin making, for lack of a better term, a honking noise (like the one in the second video). They may also make the low, concerned "heww" noise, and continue to use the "pik pik pik" when they are upset. Yearlings may also start to make more 'adult' calls (somewhere between the noise in the first video and the second).
By maturity, the boys will begin to make their loud wailing call (which sounds remarkably like a woman screaming "help me" so make sure your neighbors know you have peafowl and what their call sounds like so the cops don't show up!). They will continue with the same upset noise and do some honking.
There are two ways to describe how your peafowl looks- Color and Pattern. These are two very different descriptions. The best way to describe the difference is that pattern is the way the color is displayed and distributed. Several patterns can be present in a bird, but only one color (the exception possibly being Peach, which is believed to be an interaction of 2 colors). There are only 2 species of peafowl: The Indian (blue) peafowl (Pavo Cristatus) and the green peafowl (Pavo Muticus). All others are subspecies of the greens or color mutations of the Indian peafowl.
For anyone interested, their ranking in the animal kingdom would be: Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Phasianidae Pavo (and then either Cristatus or Muticus). They belong to the same family as pheasants, turkeys, grouse, and partridge.
For more detailed information about genetics and colors/patterns, there is a link to Peafowl 201 at the bottom of this post; feel free to hop over there after reading through this!
Blue, Cameo, White, Charcoal, Purple, Bronze, Peach, Opal, Midnight, Jade, Taupe, Sonjas Violeta
The above are or are color mutations of the Indian peafowl.
Green colored peafowl belong to the muticus species (see below), or are hybrids between muticus and the India blues.
Patterns apply only to peafowl descended from the India blue. Patterns can apply to some spaldings (ie, emerald pied spalding) despite their Green blood because they also have India blue blood.
Barred wing- Wings are brown/tan and black 'striped'.
Solid wing (also known as Black Shoulder and abbreviated as BS)- Where the barring is on a barred wing bird will be the solid color of the rest of the bird. In an India Blue, it will display black/blue/green but can be other colors for other color birds.
Pied- White patches on body (result of leucism genes).
White eye- The black eye of the tail feathers will be white (or have white spots). Some birds can be white-eye without displaying white eyes.
Silver pied- Body looks white with patches of color. Resulted as an interaction between pied, white, and white-eye genes.
All of these find their doubles in being crossed with greens to create spalding birds in other words, impure muticus birds also called hybrids (although these hybrids are unlike most hybrids, and are fertile). The term 'emerald' refers to a spalding that has 75%+ green blood from any muticus subspecies.
Please note: The term 'emerald' is no longer used by the UPA, as it was basically being misused by sellers. Sellers were using the term 'emerald' to refer to birds with a large portion of green displayed in their phenotype, but by genotype the birds were less than 75% green blooded. Beware when purchasing from sellers using the term 'emerald' without stating the blood percentage, as some may be truthful and some may not. As well, you cannot always blame the seller, as they may simply be misinformed as opposed to maliciously deceptive.
The greens are the second species of peafowl. There are three sub-species:
Muticus Muticus (Java)
Muticus Imperator (Indo-Chinese)
Muticus Specifier (Burmese)
So far no mutations in color or pattern have shown up in the green species.
Please note: There is one more species of peafowl, called the Congo Peafowl but these are endangered and are not commercially available, nor is much known about them at this time.
Please note: There is a bird called the 'peacock pheasant' but they are pheasants, not peafowl.
Brad Legg's Basic Genetics
UPA approved Varieties of Peafowl
UPA article about family Phasianidae
Where to obtain peafowl:
Of course there are many sources through which to obtain your pea, anything from hatching your own to buying adult birds. Which is best? Well, that depends entirely upon what you are looking for in your bird.
Before buying you must always consider your own situation and ability to handle peafowl first. It may turn out after some research that you just don't have the ability to meet their needs and perhaps a different bird would suit you. It may also be that you find you have a lot more work ahead of you than you thought.
Buying hatching eggs is always risky business. First you have to locate a reliable breeder with eggs for sale. Second, the eggs can be expensive ($5-10 each for wild type blues, and I've seen colors going for $30-50+ each) and they will most likely be subjected to the rigors of shipping and will definitely have to survive your incubator afterwards and anyone who has incubated an egg in the past will tell you that sometimes, even if you do EVERYTHING right, your hatch still goes poorly. Following the hatch, you have a very fragile life in your hands that will require a lot of time to care for. You also have to have some idea of how peafowl genetics work, because not all colors/patterns breed true (ie, pure India blue x India blue will create 100% India blue, but silver pied x silver pied will produce silver pied, white, and dark pied). You will also not be able to tell the sex of any chicks (except some sex-linked colors depending on parentage) except by blood sexing.
On the bright side of buying eggs, you have an excellent opportunity to craft an incredibly friendly bird. If you are looking for just a pet and you are not particularly attached to a color or pattern, the eggs can be relatively cheap to find (some people on eBay sell mixed pen eggs for around $5 an egg). When the chick hatches, you have the opportunity to imprint the chick to you. This is NOT advisable unless you have a LOT of time to devote to that chick, they do much better in groups.
Incubation: Peafowl eggs have an average incubation time of 28-30 days (though many report hatches at 25-27 days instead). They need 99.5 degrees and 45-50% humidity through the hatch, with 60% humidity at hatch. Lockdown begins at day 25 (though you can start it as early as day 23 without harm). It is advised that you incubate peafowl eggs on their sides (horizontally instead of upright on a turner) and turn by hand 3+ times a day (always turn an odd number of times so the egg doesn't sit on the same side for 2 nights in a row).
Your best bet for easily finding hatching eggs is between March and August on these forums, on eBay, on eggbid, or by contacting known local breeders to try to work out a deal. If you can possibly find a local pickup, go for it! Eggs always do much better without being shipped first.
BYC's Buy/Sell/Trade forum for 'other' poultry hatching eggs
The UPA's breeder directory - Breeders listed here may or may not be willing to sell eggs. You would have to ask individually.
Artificial Incubation of Peafowl Eggs
Natural vs. Artificial Incubation of Peafowl Eggs
Hatching Time Information
Chicks are probably your best bet if you want a fairly friendly peafowl but dont want to go through the trouble of hatching the eggs. They are available in many places and some will even ship to you (though its best to actually visit the place if possible to pick up the chicks, so that you can see the location and the parent birds). Most chicks are sold at or after 3 months of age, as chicks can be hard to care for and the mortality rate before the age of 3-4 months is fairly high due to many factors. If you are going to buy chicks, be ready to worm them and make sure that they can be kept with proper heating, food, and medications. Before the age of three months, you will not be able to tell the sex of any chicks (except some sex-linked colors depending on parentage) except by blood sexing.
On the bright side of chicks, you have a chance to raise a young bird and handle it from a young age, which will most likely result in a friendlier bird. You also have control over its early environment without having to own an incubator. If bought at a safer age of 3-4 months, you can usually tell sex and still get a fairly friendly bird, while skipping the worst period for mortality.
The price of chicks varies on your location and the color of the chick. Around me, locally-bred India blue chicks (2 weeks or younger) sell for about $15-20 while in other areas they are seen going for $40+. A decent average price is between $20 and $50 for more common colors, depending largely on where you live. A good place to look for chicks is at local game bird/livestock swap meets, which are held in many states.
BYC's B/S/T forum for 'other' poultry chicks
The UPA's breeder directory
Legg's Peafowl Farm - Day old peachicks for sale in lots of 8.
If you are not particularly in need of a pet type disposition for your birds or you are looking for rare colors, adult birds are often the way to go. These can be VERY expensive ($200+ a pair is not uncommon and newer colors can sell for upwards of $2,000 a pair) but if you want a specific color and want to be sure you have males or females, this is the best way. You also skip the early days where their mortality is high and you wont have to make a brooder or have the incubator (unless you want to breed them).
Adult birds can be shipped (some breeders will, some will not), but it is very stressful on the birds to do this, so it's preferable to buy as locally as possible. However, it can be difficult to find the colors you want nearby, so sometimes shipping is the only way. The hens are typically more expensive than the cocks, and often times breeders will not sell hens or will not have many for sale. If you find someone that can ship, know that the shipping must be done in special boxes, will be very expensive, and is very hard on the birds. They will need special care upon arrival.
Adult birds also vary greatly in price depending on where you live and what color you want. A yearling male India blue around me sells for around $50, and in other places I've seen them going for $75-100. Pied males (2+ years) here sell for around $100-125. A 'common' color male (like the india blue) will typically run between $75 and $125 (if you aren't having it shipped) after 1 year of age, whereas I have seen an adult Bronze male going for $400. As stated above, rare colors will only increase the price.
BYC's B/S/T forum for 'other' poultry adults.
The UPA's breeder directory
Legg's Peafowl Farm - Adult peafowl of excellent heritage
There are numerous ways to identify and keep track of your peafowl with the aid of identifying markers. You can mark on the wings or the legs or the toes and some markers require the aid of special tools to apply.
Wing Bands: Wing bands are applied through the membrane of the wing and some kinds require an application tool. They typically come with a 6 digit number and can be bought in numerical order (ie, 1-100) or non-consecutive but not repetitive (ie, 100 numbers but may not be in order). I believe custom made wing bands can have letters for putting your name, or specific numbers.
Leg Bands (solid plastic): Round, thick plastic bands that typically do not require an applicator. These should sport a numerical identification. Typically brittle.
Leg Bands (metal): The same as the plastic, but more enduring and I believe they require an applicator. These are usually imprinted with information such as numbers or letters so you can record which birds are which. Some places I have seen can actually inscribe personalized information, such as your name or phone number (which can be helpful for lost free-range birds!)
Leg Bands (Spiral plastic): These are thin, spiral pieces of plastic in an array of colors. They do not sport identification numbers, but instead can be used in combinations to denote birds. There is every color of the rainbow plus black and white, and two legs to put them on. Colors and positions (both on the leg and in relation to other spiral bands on the leg if you put more than one) can be used to denote a lot of information without having to look at a log. The downside is that these are much less durable than leg bands and as they have no identifying number if one is removed its a pain to determine where it came from or what is missing from which bird.
Toe Punching: I don't know that this is used very often. A small hole is punched in the webbing between the toes. Location and number of punches donates which bird is which. This is not recommended.
NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Plan): Peafowl are one of the breeds that should be NPIP certified. This is not really 'identification' of individual birds, but rather whole-flock identification. In most instances, NPIP certification is expensive to obtain (in Michigan it is $300 the first year and $125 every year after, in addition to whatever the pullorum tester charges). It will certify your flock is free of pollarum and typhoid, which then allows you to sell hatching eggs and birds. You will have an ID number that people will be able to look at later.
Leg Band Size Chart
Cutler Supply - Has all the above identification methods for order
Chicks should be housed in a brooder with temps around 95 degrees for the first two weeks dropping 5 degrees every week following (less or more depending on how their feathers are coming in and whether or not they are shivering or huddling, of course, and not below 70 until after 3 months of age). Many will recommend wire-bottom brooders because a lot of diseases that will easily kill peachicks is found in the soil. I kept my own indoors in a clean, new brooder with pine shavings and have not had a problem. The most important thing to remember is to keep them off natural ground and DO NOT use anything slippery for bedding- newspaper, bare plastic, metal, etc. Improper footing can lead to spraddle-leg. The brooder should be free of drafts and kept clean. Chicks can be moved to normal pens around 3 months of age in warm weather. By this time they will have full feathers and be better able to cope with any medical problems that may arrive. You may still want to keep a heat lamp on them over winter the first year, depending on where you live.
You may want to raise chicks with their parents (or with surrogate parents if you have other fowl and are looking to buy eggs for them to hatch). Many people raise peachicks via broody and a real mom, but you should be aware that the mortality rate per this method is higher than chicks raised in a brooder- significantly higher, around 50% mortality for mama to raise them but closer to 10-20% for brooders. Your chicks raised by mom will be exposed to elements and diseases and parasites in the soil (and some diseases can be present whether or not you've personally had fowl on your land EVER, as they can come in on wild birds). There's a higher chance that predators may find their way in or that the chicks may encounter death due to something in their environment (getting their head stuck in the fencing, stepped on by other peafowl, mom loses it and pecks its face off... things like that).
Peas which are old enough (3-4 months at least) that they do not need the heat lamp can be moved to a larger space. Many people have small versions of adult pens for the young peafowl, until they have gotten the hang of perching and surviving the night times. These sorts of pens also serve as a way for peafowl to see more of their surroundings and get used to where home is supposed to be- this wont stop 100% of them from leaving if you let yours free range but it may help. Once your birds have access to real ground, they will need to be wormed and watched closely for signs of disease.
Adults can either be kept in pens (usually for breeding or if you don't want to risk free range) or be allowed to free range. Whether or not they free range, they should have access to an indoor area where heat can be provided (especially in winter). They can have free access to ground by now. Wire fencing and wooden enclosures seems fairly typical for them, though many people use netting for the enclosure ceiling so that if the birds flush, they do not risk breaking their necks against the ceiling. Enclosures for adults should have at least 100sq feet per bird, and should definitely have a ceiling which is at least 6 feet high (though the higher the better). Roosts/perches should be provided and it is best for these to have flat surfaces so their feet can lay flat on them. In the winter, a round roost will leave their toes exposed overnight and can lead to frostbite. If you are allowing a male to free range, it is a good idea to keep a female penned to increase the chance that he will stick around.
Please note: If you are housing a muticus species of peafowl, they are not well-adapted to cold weather so unless you live someplace very warm throughout winter, they should be kept in an indoors, heated area, not just be given a heat source.
Information on heated roosts for peafowl
Creating free ranging peafowl
Peafowl are omnivorous, which means they will eat any plant matter they can find as well as bugs, amphibians, and anything else alive that is small enough to fit in their beaks. Food should be provided to your peas in such a way that they cant fling very much of it around. They do not eat as much as you think they would, but they do love to fling it everywhere. A good food stand will be off of the floor and stable enough that they cannot knock it over. Food should be provided fresh and any that smells off or is moldy should be thrown away to prevent occurrences of Coccidiosis.
Peachicks can be fed medicated game starter (if you can find it) or medicated chick starter mixed with gamebird starter (30% protein). Make sure to get the starter with amprolium for the prevention of Cocci- I believe Purina offers starter with AND without and both are considered medicated due to the medication included for other problems. Starter should have 20-24% protein, which is higher than chickens (For example, my chick starter has 18% protein, my game bird starter has 30%... I mix the two which should land them somewhere in the middle). Substituting their starter with other foods can be harmful. They do not need grit if they are only eating the correct starters. If you feed them nearly anything else (which you shouldn't do for a couple weeks at least) then they will probably need some grit sprinkled on their crumbles. Cleaned/baked sand works well for this.
Acceptable treats for chicks (that can be fed without grit) include plain greek yogurt, egg yolks or whites, mealworms, and non-instant oatmeal. The instant sort has too much salt and sugar and is hard to digest. After they are a week or two old you can introduce soft greens like baby spinach.
Adult birds can be fed gamebird maintenance crumbles/pellets. You can feed them normal chicken food but it will not have sufficient protein- they need 28-30% protein to maintain those gorgeous feathers and produce adequate nutrients for eggs. We made up for this in the past by feeding them kitten hard food as a supplement/treat, but some of the game bird crumble chows are doing better now. If they are penned without access to dirt or pebbles, they may need supplemental grit (oyster shell is preferred for the calcium). Adult females should have access to an additional source of calcium (oyster shell, fresh kale, dandelion greens, etc)
Treats for adult birds can be: hardboiled eggs, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, etc), squashes, tomatoes, greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens, dandelion, etc), beans, crickets, mealworms, wet cat food, pasta, cooked rice, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries (etc), peas (har har, feeding peas to peas), cucumbers, raisins, cooked meats (never raw or partially raw), grapes, corn... well, you get the picture.
What NOT to feed to peas: never feed raw meats. Cabbage, avocado, peanuts, eggplant, and greens from tomato plants are all toxic to birds. Bread is not nutritionally sound and may rot in their crops. Avoid foods with red 40 in them.
Also be wary of what bugs you give your birds, as some can be hosts for other parasites/worms (and yes they will eat these insects anyway, which is why you worm your birds at least twice a year by a different wormer each time). Here are some of the common hosts/parasites:
Worm - Hosts
Cecal worms - Beetles, grasshoppers
Capillary - Earthworms
Gapeworm - Earthworms, slugs, snails
Tapeworm - Ants, beetles, earthworms, slugs, snails, termites
Flukes - Dragonflies, mayflies
A BYC Thread about Peafowl Nutrition.
Captive vs Wild bird diets
Feeding Exotic Game Birds
Water should be provided so that they have access at any given time. A lot of feed stores sell waterers but you can also make cheap ones. I have seen waterers made from 5 gallon buckets with screw tops, with holes cut in the sides to allow access. The biggest thing about providing a waterer is to keep it off the ground and make sure they cant 1) get into it and 2) tip it over. It should be provided fresh every day.
Vitamins can (and should) be provided in the water, especially to females during the breeding season, even more especially if you intend to hatch the eggs. The most important vitamins are E, B, calcium, and omega. Mix-in water-soluble vitamins are widely available.
The breeding season begins around late March (when the males have grown in their new trains and start calling) and ends around August (when the males drop their trains). Hens may begin laying before they allow the males to breed them, and many will lay after the male has dropped his train. After the male has dropped his train, though, expect a drop in egg fertility as his fertility will drop or (though she is still laying) the hen may not be allowing him to mate. Sperm may (but will not always) remain viable inside of the hen for about 2 weeks after a mating occurs.
A breeding pen can be set up for specific pairs (or parties, with a male and several females) if you are looking to breed a certain male to certain females. These pens should be similar to their normal pens, with places for the females to lay. It is recommended to have at least a 10x30' enclosure for a trio, with at least a 6-8 foot tall roof. Provide perches high enough that the male can keep his train off the ground and clean, so as to win the ladies' favors with his beauty. A fully mature peacock in his prime can breed up to five females, but egg fertility should be monitored at 4 hens or above.
Females will lay one egg about every 2 days, and can collect a clutch of 3-12 eggs before they go broody. Twelve is a high number, though, and clutches are usually closer to 4-6. However, if you remove the eggs as she lays them, she will continue to lay through the breeding season, with pauses every few weeks. They do not use enclosed nesting boxes as far as I'm aware, and prefer to lay under open cover (for instance, at the base of a bush or in a corner of a coop, or like mine in the big food dish).
Be aware when breeding that not all colors/patterns will breed true (like silver pied to silver pied will not produce 100% silver pied). Others will breed true (ie: India blue to India blue will produce 100% India blue... providing none of the blues are split to another color). Some colors, like cameo, are sex linked. This means that one sex will not not display the colors (but will carry the color). Some birds can be 'split', which means they are carrying genes for a color they are not displaying... for instance, a blue split white bird will look blue but be able to produce white chicks if bred to white.
Nesting boxes for Peafowl
Diseases and medications:
I was going to write up a whole thing on diseases and medications... but I found a great link that has all of them listed.
Click to read about peafowl diseases.
Some of the standard medications are as follows:
Tylan 200 (NOT 50) - Used typically for respiratory infections/problems
Ivermectin - Wormer
Duramycin - Antibiotic
Fenbendazole - Wormer (found in safe guard for goats)
Wazine - Wormer (for roundworms only, be aware your birds may dehydrate after use)
Meloxicam (Metacam) - Anti-inflammatory/Pain medication (Non-steroidal, most steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are only given in the event of emergency, as in cases where birds have gone into shock)
Ammoxicillan - Anti-biotic
Baytril - Strong Anti-biotic
Many medications can be obtained through your vet if you know the name of the medication. As many vets do not cover birds (or have zero knowledge of farm birds, especially peafowl), it's possible that if you go in knowing what you want, they can write you a prescription. They'll probably want to see your bird. Peafowl are considered "exotics" at my vet, and you may be able to find a vet that will take them if they take other exotics. Most vets that take exotics will jump at a chance for something unusual, but don't be surprised if they tell you they don't know enough to feel comfortable treating your birds.
Oral Medication Dosing of Peafowl
More on worming and Diseases
Infectious Coryza Information
Wounds vary in nature and cause, but if a wound is caused by trauma (as opposed to disease), then you have to make an assessment of whether or not the bird needs a vet. If the wound is small or simple enough it can be taken care of at home. If it involves uncontrolled bleeding or broken bones, you should go see a vet. It's important to separate injured birds from the healthy ones so that they can rest without stress and in a clean place so they don't get anything in the wound which will cause it to get worse (like dirt and bacteria). I have included a link to Peafowl 103: Illness, Injury, Medication, and Care at the bottom of this page.
History of Peafowl:
A link to the history of peafowl in captivity: Click Me
A link to the peafowl that appear throughout history: Click Me
Other Helpful Peafowl Links:
Legg's Peafowl - This has got a lot of peafowl images and information. Brad Legg has got nearly all the available colors, and a lot of information on peafowl genetics and breeding.
United Peafowl Association - Standards and pictures and information. Official peafowl site!
Wikipedia's entry on peafowl
Conner Hills Peafowl - A lot of good information on this site, including a link to record keeping.
If there is information I have missed or gotten wrong, or if you have additional basic questions please feel free to send me a PM!
If there are useful links I have missed (and I have), please PM them to me and I'll add them in too.
Peafowl 102 - Advanced Housing and Accessories
Peafowl 103: Illness, Injury, Medication, and Care (in progress)
Peafowl 104: Anatomy, Motion, and Behaviors (In progress)
Peafowl 201: Further Genetics- Colors, Patterns, and More (needs updating)