Peacock aggression

Discussion in 'Peafowl' started by McIntosh1272, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. McIntosh1272

    McIntosh1272 New Egg

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    Last May an adult India Blue peahen adopted us. She has free ranged around our home on the Georgia coast ever since with us supplementing her diet with wild bird seed and dog food treats. She roosted every night in one of our live oaks reaching over the salt marsh and became a family member, Marsha. Attempts at finding her owners were unsuccessful.

    My wife and I decided she needed a boyfriend and after building a spacious peafowl pen (40'x20'), we purchased 2 three year old peacocks. One is an India Blue and the other is an Emerald Green Spalding.
    We also got 2 nine month old peahens, an India Blue Pied and an Emerald Green Spalding.

    After a couple days of adjusting to their new home and doing fine, we introduced Marsha to the group by placing her in the pen. The first day was uneventful, but on the second day, the Emerald Green peacock started asserting his dominance over the India Blue cock. Starting late in the day about 11/2 hours before sundown he would start to 'herd' the other India Blue, first slowly, then starting to chase him around the pen and begin spurring him. We separated them to allow the Blue to rest, but when we stepped out of the way, the pattern would resume and did so until sundown and all the birds roosted.

    The next day, all was fine until late afternoon when the dominating Green (now called Mean Joe) began the process all over and continued it until the birds roosted. During the day he would actually be friendly with the Blue (now called Oakley) until late afternoon arrived.

    Guess what? we now have a separate 10'x12' pen within the main pen when this occurs so we don't have to be physically present to protect Oakley from Mean Joe. It's the time out room.

    Looking for feedback/suggestions: Options as I see them.
    1. should we remove Marsha from the pen and return here to free ranging? Every day before dusk she gets anxious and paces the edge of the pen as though she wants to be in her wild oak tree to roost. I'm thinking that the presence of Marsha as the only breeding age female has brought out the aggressive behavior in the boys, Mean Joe, at least.
    2. should we consider looking for 1 or 2 more adult peahens to give the boys more breeding options and less need to compete for Marsha?
    3. permanently separate the males within the larger pen. We would place visual barriers as well.

    In many ways, I think what has occurred was predictable. I had anticipated having all the peahens being adults, but it just didn't work out. My naiveté.

    Also interested in why the aggressive behavior does not occur until late afternoon an hour or so before sunset. Has anyone seen this or know of an explanation for such? Seems strange to me everything is fine during the early part of the day.

    Thanks for your input/suggestions in advance. I look forward to learning from your experiences!

    best regards.
    McIntosh1272
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I can only speak from my experience with chickens, turkeys and geese (sorry, I've got only a few weeks' experience with peafowl before they went feral on me, which is probably how you got Marsha I'd guess)...

    When aggressive behavior occurs before roosting it's based on instinct to separate family groups, apparently. The dominant animals will drive the subordinates away. If an adult animal is approaching breeding, it is also more aware of its environment and it will act on any lack it perceives, such as dietary or space limits, usually by trying to "depopulate" for the sake of its future offspring. Sharing perches is perceived by some birds as having excess members in their family group that need to move out into their own territory.

    Also, the showier the males are of any species, generally, the less useful they are for anything else like paternal duties. Their life revolves around themselves and other males more than it does around females and their offspring. If your males have their trains grown, like turkey toms it may just be the inclination of most of the males of that species to spend most of their time of day focusing on other males, at least during breeding season. So if there's no bloodshed, or not much, it may just be a trait worth ignoring. Some conflict is natural enough.

    Even if you separate them, chances are they'd spend a lot of time of day displaying at each other; but I don't know for sure, I've met a few different "stripes" of peafowl and turkeys and chickens (etc) and none of them had read the books detailing the universal laws of their kind as written by humans. Generally, the dumber the male, the more time he spends on other males, in my experience with basically all species I've ever dealt with.

    I would think you need to separate them. If you continually have to interfere in their conflicts they could come to view you as another male peafowl which could be dangerous. If you separate them you might not need visual barriers, in fact I wouldn't use them unless the birds are harming themselves on the mesh trying to get closer. A physical barrier of both mesh and some distance would be ideal, i.e. don't build the next cage directly onto the first one.

    The reason I would not use visual barriers is because later on, if you choose to free range or mingle your hens, males, or both, the likelihood of their being a violent meeting with birds they've never seen before is reduced. But I do notice some people who keep many peacocks in adjoining runs often use visual barriers so obviously just go with what you think is best. Some people free range their males together, too.

    Intolerance of other birds or animals is often learned and reinforced by what we do, so if you want peace it's best to place an emphasis on peaceful animals as breeders and work out how to achieve and maintain the peace. Some people are happy enough, though, to put up with killers and constant stress and aggression. Depends what you're willing to deal with. Best wishes.
     
  3. McIntosh1272

    McIntosh1272 New Egg

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    Dec 8, 2013
    Georgia, McIntosh County
    chooks4life,
    Thanks so much for your very thoughtful reply. I had no idea about the pre-roosting behavior that you explained so nicely.
    It certainly makes sense to me.
    McIntosh1272
     
  4. Dany12

    Dany12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A male (spalding) in the aviary with peahens and other peacocks free ranching.
    Now they are a family ... a group and they will not leave this group !
    .... if free ranching is possible !
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  5. McIntosh1272

    McIntosh1272 New Egg

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    Dec 8, 2013
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    my plan is for ~8 weeks in the peacock barn and then giving them access to the flight pen for another month followed by giving them free range. sound appropriate?
     
  6. MinxFox

    MinxFox Overrun With Chickens

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    The longer you keep the birds penned, the better especially because the peacocks are adults and it can be harder free-ranging birds that did not grow up on your property. Zazouse can tell you that peafowl will sometimes wander off and you will have to herd them back (I will agree with that too) but also sometimes they are content to stay in a small area in the backyard. I think it depends on your setup. Free-ranging peafowl has different outcomes for everyone. For me, I kept my first pair penned for a month to a month and a half and they stayed for a month then the peacock left and a few days later the peahen left too. I only got the peahen back. That was the first and last time I free-ranged, I have tried doing it again but the peas only want back inside the pen so I just let the peafowl out sometimes to walk around a bit then I herd them all back inside the pen. Maybe a year in the pen would be safe? Then let them out slowly like for a little bit of time a day until one day they get to stay out.

    I would keep at least a pair inside the pen so that no mater what happens to the free-range peafowl, you will have back up birds. Peafowl love to roost in huge, tall trees. From what I have seen they love roosting in big old oak trees and at several zoos they like roosting in tall pine trees. Make sure you have a good roosting tree in your yard or else they might be sleeping over at the neighbors. When I free-ranged mine, they roosted in an oak tree right at the edge of the fence so some mornings they would fly down onto the neighbor's side and get stuck there because those silly peafowl didn't know they could fly over the fence! Luckily we know the neighbors really well and they loved the peafowl visits.

    The male aggression is just a dominance thing. The dominant peacock has been lenient most of the year letting the lower ranking peacocks show off their new train to peahens and other things, but once breeding season hits, the king of the flock will be after the other peacocks which often means several days of chasing around the lower ranking peacocks, making calls of victory after he is satisfied with chasing them, etc. Since you mentioned that the dominant peacock is a Emerald Spalding (you don't say the green in there, it is just Emerald Spalding [​IMG]), that makes since that he is the dominant peacock because he has some green blood in him, and green peafowl are more wild than India blues.
     
  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    One of my mature males got loose the other day and came very close to flying onto the busy road, so be prepared.

    -Kathy
     
  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    You're very welcome, I hope it helps. Best wishes with your flock.

    EDIT: regarding training them to stay in one area: I don't know how they train them, but one family I know runs an outdoor market style setup where they sell second hand goods, and they breed blue peafowl at their farm, bring the males with full trains and all to the market, and just let them roam unsupervised among the dozens of stalls and strangers. They just stroll about and never take off despite the fact they don't live there and they go back home every night. These aren't the typical blues, but I forget what variety I was told they were. Anyway, I'm still wondering how they get them to remain in the general area. Peacocks seem difficult compared to other fowl.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014

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