Peafowl 101: Basic care, genetics, and answers.


Longfeather Lane
11 Years
Jun 10, 2010
I will edit and add information as I find it (or pm sent it as several people have already done), but here is the base!

A collection of general and care information for your peafowl. Please leave replies with additional information and I will integrate it to the first post.

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 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.

A BYC thread on how to clean feathers for sale.

The gender 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 4-5 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 blackshoulders) and the males will grow distinctive burnt-orange primaries.

If you want the gender 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.
Male calling
Female chattering (And no, I have no idea why she makes this noise).

If you are considering getting peafowl, bear in mind that they are VERY loud birds- the male's call can be heard up to 5 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. There are only 2 species of peafowl: The Indian 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, Sonja’s 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.

All of these find their doubles in being crossed with green (I think muticus?) 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.
Note: The term 'emerald' is no longer used by the UPA, as it was basically being mis-used 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 have shown up in the green species, the mutations are mutations in the india blue genes.

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.

Brad Legg's Basic Genetics
Peafowl Varieties Database - A directory of peafowl colors and patterns with GREAT information on the particulars of each mutation.
UPA approved Varieties of Peafowl

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, they are expensive 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).

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.

Incubation: Peafowl eggs have an average incubation time of 28-30 days. They need 99.5 degrees and 50-60% humidity through the hatch, with 75% humidity at hatch. Lockdown begins at day 25. 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 eBay, eggbid, or contacting known breeders to try to work out a deal. I have seen peafowl eggs for sale with prices anywhere between $5 and $25 apiece, depending on the breed.

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.

Chicks are probably your best bet if you want a fairly friendly peafowl but don’t want to go through the trouble of hatching the eggs. They are available in many places and some will even ship to you (though it’s best to actually visit the place if possible to pick up the chicks, so that you can see the location and the parent birds). 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.

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 gender 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, India blue chicks (2 weeks or younger) sell for about $5-10 while in other areas they are seen going for $40. A decent average price is between $20 and $35 for more common colors, but in some areas the more standard IB chicks can go as low as $5, depending largely on where you live.

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 like Taupe can sell for upwards if $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 won’t have to make a brooder or have the incubator (unless you want to breed them).

Adult birds are not usually shipped (some breeders will, some will not) and it can be difficult to find the colors you want nearby. 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 between $20 and $60, 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. 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
Amy's Peacock Paradise for sale
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 (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.

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’s 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 it’s 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.

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 of your flock. In most instances, NPIP certification is cheap to obtain. 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 101 degrees for the first week 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). Many will recommend wire-bottom brooders because a lot of disease 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 or metal, things like that. 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 (to be safe). By this time they will have full feathers and be better able to cope with any medical problems that may arrive.

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% for mama to raise them but closer to 10-20% for brooders. Your chicks raised by mom will be exposed to elements and diseases in the soil (and some diseases can be present whether or not you've personally had fowl on your land EVER). 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 goes nuts and pecks its face off... things like that).

Peas which are old enough 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 won’t stop 100% of them from leaving if you let yours free range but it may help. At 3-4 months, they can have access to real ground, but should be wormed after introduction as a precaution.

Adults can either be kept in pens (usually for breeding or if you really don’t want to find out if your pea will stay or leave if you let it 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. Chicken wire and wooden enclosures seems fairly typical for them. Enclosures should not be smaller than 10x20x6ft high, and it should definitely have a top. Roosts/perches should be provided and it is best for these to have flat surfaces. 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 return.

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, they should have access to an indoors, heated area.

Amy's Peacock Paradise - A page with links to additional care and housing information.

Peafowl are omnivorous, which means they will eat any plant matter they can stuff in their beak as well as bugs, amphibians, and anything else alive that they can fit into their beaks. Food should be provided to your peas in such a way that they can’t fling very much of it around. They do not eat as much as you think they do, but they do love to fling it everywhere. A good food stand will be off of the floor and stable so 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 should be fed medicated game starter (if you can find it) or medicated chick starter mixed with gamebird starter. Make sure to get the starter with amprolium for the prevention of Cocci and 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 24%... 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 yogurt, egg yolks or whites, and non-instant oatmeal. The instant sort has too much salt and sugar and is hard to digest.

Adult birds can be fed gamebird maintenance crumbles/pellets. You can feed them normal ‘chicken’ food but it will not have sufficient protein. We made up for this in the past by feeding them kitten hard food as a supplement/treat. If they are penned without access to dirt or pebbles, they may need supplemental grit.

Treats for adult birds can be: hardboiled eggs, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, etc), squashes, tomatoes, greens (spinach, lettuce, etc), beans, crickets, wet cat food, pasta, rice, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries (etc), peas (har har, feeding peas to peas), cucumbers, bread (may want to moisten), peanuts, 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. 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.

Still compiling a list, feel free to add to this.

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 can’t 1) get into it and 2) tip it over. It should be provided fresh every day.

The breeding season begins around March (when the males grow in their new trains) 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 hi 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 3-4 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 400 square feet for a trio, with 6.5 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 full mature peacock in his prime can breed up to five females, but egg fertility should be monitored.

Females will lay one egg about every 2 days, and can collect a clutch of 3-12 eggs. 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. They do not use enclosed nesting boxes as far as I'm aware.

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 gender 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.

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)
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.

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, probably 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).

A link to the history of peafowl in captivity: Click Me
A link to the peafowl that appear throughout history: Click Me

Helpful 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, please leave a reply and I will update/amend the first post!
If there are useful links I have missed (and I have), please post them and I'll add them in too.
Also, please ask questions and I will do my best to locate answers to add here!

Hope this helps someone!

Next Lessons:
Peafowl 102 - Advanced Housing and Accessories
Peafowl 103: Illness, Injury, Medication, and Care (in progress still)
Peafowl 201: Further Genetics- Colors, Patterns, and More
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10 Years
May 12, 2009
Burton, OH
excellent post and GREAT idea!
maybe once all is complete we can make this one a sticky!

I'm sure you are still adding but don't forget BYC for finding eggs!
Also, i see you linked to Brad's site, might want to mention what a great link he has on genetics. I notice a LOT of questions on 'if I breed X to Y what could they produce'. I know I reference that page a TON.


10 Years
Aug 15, 2009
First, I want to say that I appreciate the BYC Forum and the people that make it active... I would like to add some comments to this section. I think a group of peafowl is called an ostination ( not sure of the spelling on this ) but there may be a number of names for a group of peafowl.( like a loud buntch of birds, that leave piles on your deck) . On the B S pattern the shoulder will be absent of baring but will be the color of the bird. bronze wings, Vilote wings, tan on the purple. The wording of Emerald spalding in not use in the UPA colors. Many people got to calling any spalding an emerald and emerald normally sells for more money that a spalding as it can take another 2-3 yrs to produce an emerald than to produce a spalding, and slow down the selling of high percentage emeralds as greens.. Once a spalding always a spalding. The phenotype may differ in siblings but the genotype will be the same. The UPA encourages breeders to list the percentage of green blood in the bird. Any sub specis of green can be used to make a spalding. The name comes from a lady named Mrs. Spalding that made the first recorded cross and that was thought to be between a green male and a black shoulder hen. Thank you - George A Conner... UPA V.P. ,, UPA forum administrator,, owner of the newest color " Sonjas Violete" web site -
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Longfeather Lane
11 Years
Jun 10, 2010
I altered the BS information and the information on emeralds a little. They get addressed a little better in the Peafowl 201: genetics post, this is just basic knowledge

Will add in the other terms for peafowl groups... there's a bunch of them, it slipped my mind to go back and add the others.

Also, your link did not work. Please re-link and I can add the link.


Aug 26, 2009
It seems to me that Spaulding peachicks seem to keep the barring for quite some time longer than 4 to 5 weeks even if female.


9 Years
Nov 14, 2010
Great post. The female chattering is a warning to other peafowl, she is saying that she is seeing a bird of pray


7 Years
Jul 22, 2012
Thank you for the stickied information. I'd love to have some peafowl, but the mention here of their noise level cements it. Although I live on some rural acreage with no zoning and very lax covenants, I'm sure my neighbor wouldn't appreciate the calls. :(

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