Peafowl 102: Advanced Housing and Accessories

Discussion in 'Peafowl' started by Kedreeva, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Kedreeva

    Kedreeva Longfeather Lane

    2,219
    81
    226
    Jun 10, 2010
    Michigan
    PLEASE NOTE: This thread is under construction and in need of photos/examples to accompany. If you have photos of your housing, your perches, your brooders, your young-one housing, your feeders, your waterers, or anything else which you add to a peafowl pen to make their life better, please submit it here or PM me a link to the images. I will rehost (with credit) images to put here. You can also mail them to me at ItamashiiSparkle at gmail dot com if you don't know how or don't want to host them someplace else first, just make sure you include your username for credit.

    I will be making/completing this over the next few days. Feel free to voice additions along the way or wait until these notes are removed from the top of the thread. I'm posting it here because I will be editing at several locations in my life (work, home, friends' houses)

    Welcome! If you are here I assume you have read through Peafowl 101: Basic care, genetics, and answers. If you haven't, I suggest you read through that thread first, and then join us here.

    This thread is going to discuss housing across the ages from Egg housing to Adult Breeding housing. Dimensions, heating, lighting, cost, hazards etc will all be discussed. I will cover free ranging last, but I will go over it! We will also cover the various accessories to housing, including perches, feeders, waterers, and decor.


    Pre-Peafowl Housing Considerations
    Before considering the housing of a peafowl, please consider whether or not the land you have is suited for one.

    You must understand that 3-4 months out of the year (and possibly longer), peafowl make a noise that closely resembles a dying child. Some have described this noise as a woman screaming 'help me'. Whatever way it's described, it is VERY loud (I know the ones around us carry for at least a mile), and it is VERY persistent. Some housing may cut down on this noise (if they are completely enclosed), but keeping peafowl indoors is not typically what people want to do and probably not what you envision when you imagine yourself having a peafowl. Make sure that you check with your neighbors before obtaining any peafowl, as you certainly wouldn't want to buy one and have to get rid of it when someone calls the cops saying someone's screaming 'help me' two houses down.

    Another consideration you must make is that peafowl are birds and they are going to have a certain smell to them and their area. If nothing else, their waste is going to smell, and you must decide how you are going to handle it. If you have them in an outdoor pen, you are still going to have to rake it out or replace some amount of bedding from time to time. Make sure you know how you are going to handle this part of their housing.

    The final consideration for housing is space. Peafowl need a lot bigger pens than chickens do, especially if you plan to have a male that you want to have display his train. They also need well built perches, and protection from predators. In addition to the outdoor space they need, peafowl will need an indoor space to come to during the winter. If you have standing accommodations already (maybe a barn already standing in your yard, or a shed you think will work) you must consider whether this will actually provide the amount of space as well as the correct sort of space for your peafowl or whether you will need something new. Also bear in mind that you may need a space to quarantine sick/injured/new birds away from the others.



    Egg Housing
    Yeah right, get out! Why are we discussing egg housing?? Well, simply because people ask.

    To properly store an egg before incubation, it should be stored in a cool area (60 degrees Fahrenheit) with the pointed end facing down. This preserves the location of the air cell in the large end of the egg. Just as when they are in incubation, turning the eggs while in storage helps to keep anything from sticking to the inside of the egg. When you rotate, do not rotate the same direction each time or the chalaza (the spirals holding the yolk suspended inside the egg) can get wound up/stressed. So for instance, rotate clockwise one time, and then counterclockwise the next. The easiest way to remember which way you're going is to mark an O on one side of the egg and an X on the other, and then put a line between them. Rotate the egg so that line passes the top side every time and never goes underneath the egg. Alternately, if you store the eggs in a carton, you can 'rotate' the eggs by tilting up one side and then the other. For best viability, do not store eggs for more than 10 days.

    In an incubator, the eggs should have at least 2 inches of clearance above them for when the peachick hatches. It is best to house the eggs in the incubator on their sides and turn by hand. Auto-turners are nice for chickens, but they seem to confuse the peafowl eggs.

    In pen eggs
    When you are allowing your peafowl to breed in a pen, you may provide nesting "boxes" for them to lay in, but bear in mind that a nesting site for a peahen is a lot different than a chicken. They do not like or want to be enclosed when they nest (we can assume this is so they can see predators coming). The most usual spots hens choose to nest in while free ranging are spots under vegetation. There they will scratch a shallow bowl and nest in that. As such, a nesting site you construct should resemble this set up as closely as possible.


    Chicks: 0-2 weeks
    After hatching, chicks should be left in the incubator until they begin to fluff out a little bit. If your humidity in the incubator is correct, then this could be as long as 24 hours. Do not worry about getting them food or water during this time, as the remnants of the yolk will be enough to sustain them for the first 24-48 hours. For now, they just need to be warm.

    After you remove the peachick from the incubator, it should be moved to a small brooder (I used a cardboard brooder that was about the size of a 10 gallon fish tank for the first week, and then moved them to one the size of a 30 gallon). The temperature in the brooder should be close to 100 degrees for the first week, lowered by approximately 5 degrees each week. Please Note: 5 degrees is a rough number. If you take the temperature down by 5 and notice that your chicks are shivering or huddling together, raise the temperature a little until they are warm again, and wait. Alternately, if you notice your peachicks avoiding the heated area or panting, you can turn the temperature down by more. In place of a solid-bottom brooder, a wire bottom brooder can be used (I don't have pictures of this if anyone else does). Which-ever brooder you choose, be sure to keep the chicks off of 'outside' ground where they can pick up a host of diseases or ailments.

    Regardless of the temperature they want, make sure that the brooder is protected from drafts. If a breeze is able to blow through the brooder, it can shift the heat or steal it entirely, and this can harm your chicks.

    When constructing a wire-bottom brooder, still do your best to assure the chicks are safe from drafts. This may entail keeping them indoors for those first few weeks. Wire-bottom brooders can be made from various materials (you can modify an old rabbit hutch for instance, or construct it from scrap wood), and generally resemble just a box with a door. The bottom wire should not have bigger holes than 1/4 inch- larger than this can allow a young chick's leg to fall through, get caught, and possibly break when they panic about it. Bear in mind that you will have to spray down the bottom because their dropping will get stuck on top of quarter inch wire, but will pass through when sprayed. Some people use material other than wire for the bottom of brooders like this (such as tarp or hardware cloth), but unless your chicks are indoors in a vermin proof area, this can leave them susceptible to animals like raccoons clawing through the bottom to get to them.

    Waterers
    Whatever you choose to give your peachicks water from, make sure that they cannot drown in it. You may think that an inch of water is not enough to drown in, but in the first two weeks of life, peachicks are pretty much narcoleptic. They can and do fall asleep just about everywhere in the brooder and if that happens to be next to the water with their head over the edge, you've just lost a peachick to something that was completely preventable. To avoid this problem, I bought a quail waterer base from Tractor Supply. If you don't have access to a store which sells this sort of equipment, find a shallow bowl (or heck, clean out a tuna can if nothing else) and place clean pebbles in the bottom. I would recommend glass stones you can buy at just about any plant or hobby shop, or collect clean, smooth pebbles from outside, wash them, and then bake them in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Other people use milk cartons they have cleaned- cut a hole a few inches off the bottom, enough for the birds to get their head through and high enough that if they fell asleep they can't fall in. These tend to be slightly more work and hard to clean. Another option (and my favorite) is to teach your birds to use a nipple waterer or rodent water bottle. So far these have been amazingly clean and the peachicks learned to use them within a day.

    Feeders
    At this age, medicated chick starter should be their only food. If can be offered in a bowl, a shallow dish, in a chick feeder, or even in a parrot food dish if your brooder allows. As with the waterer, you could also construct a feeder from a milk jug by cutting a hole an inch or two above the bottom- this method helps to keep the spill ratio down and can train then for this type of feeder later. Be aware that they will probably spill a lot of food (or just fling it around) and that your brooder should be cleaned as often as you can clean it to avoid any food getting moldy on the floor. Inside the brooder, food and water should be kept apart from one another to help keep spilled food from getting wet by spilled water.

    Bedding
    Bedding in the brooder (unless it is a wire-bottom brooder with no bedding) should be something the chicks can get footing on, NOT something like newspaper or plastic. Slick footing like newspaper can cause spaddle-leg, a deformity in which the chick's legs spread apart and the bones can fuse into positions that make it difficult or even impossible for the bird to walk later in life. The best bedding is soft wood shavings like pine or aspen. Some of these wooden beddings can cause respiratory problems if your bird is sensitive. In these cases, ground paper products like Carefresh can be used. If you are concerned about the chicks eating the bedding in the first few days, you can place a layer or two of paper towel on top of the shavings until you're sure the bird has learned what the food is/looks like. The paper towel also makes it easy to clean the brooder for the first few days. Bedding should be changed out as often as needed.

    With Mom Chicks
    The above is mainly a guide for if you are caring for the young peachicks yourself. If you are allowing them to free range with the mother, she will do most of the work. If you can, it is best to separate the brooding mom from your other peas- sometimes other adults will step on the eggs while investigating or pick on the young after hatch, even killing them. You should be prepared to lose some chicks to nature if the mother is allowed to rear them, because they are on natural ground. As stated above, natural ground presents a host of disease or parasite related problems, and free-ranging with 'mom' adds in potential predators and weather problems. Medicated chick starter should still be provided (it won't hurt the mom). Waterers that they cannot drown in should still be provided. This, of course, may a problem (but not always) if your adult cannot get enough water from such a waterer. Providing a second waterer too high for the chicks to initially reach may solve this. In addition to water hazards, you must ensure that your enclosure has adequate fencing, to prevent a chick from sticking its head through too large a hole and getting stuck- panic in this situation can cause them to break their necks.

    Concerning Mortality
    Peachicks face a high rate of mortality between the ages of 0-8 weeks. One of the biggest things you can do to prevent your peachicks from dying (aside from buying from a reputable source unlikely to sell you already sick peachicks or bad eggs) is to provide the proper housing, food, and water. This includes making sure each of those is fresh and clean as often as you can afford to make them so. However, even with everything done right, there are some cases where a chick just dies for no discernible reason. These birds have a 20 year lifespan, so they can afford to lose some kids in the processes; don't let nature make you feel bad.


    Chicks: 2-5 weeks
    At around 2 weeks, the chicks can be moved to a brooder where they have a little more room to get away from the heat lamp if they choose. My 'bigger' brooder is a modified cardboard box fitted with parrot cage feeder and water dishes. It is roughly the size of a 30 gallon (long) fish tank. Again, it is protected from drafts. By the end of week two the temp in your brooder should be around 90 degrees still, with 5 degree decreases every week until they are feathered out. By the end of 5 weeks, they should have enough feathers that they can (mostly) do without the heat lamp in the summer. The heat lamp should still be provided for them if the temperature drops below 70 after week 5. If you are keeping them in a wire-bottom cage, just make sure they can stay warm enough, perhaps give them a solid bottom piece (like a piece of wood or a shallow pan) under the heat lamp so they can bask easier). By the end of week 3 or 4, I had moved my peachicks into a wire rabbit hutch. This gave them some more room, as their wings start to look enormous (please note that chicks will sometimes droop their wings as they grow.. it's normal. Wings are heavy to keep pulled up all the time when you are that small!).

    If you do not have a wire bottom cage, the bedding should be the same as in weeks 0-2, and changed as regularly as you are able to prevent anything from molding. Clean, fresh bedding also helps to prevent insects, mites, or lice from making their home in the bedding. Of course they will be very interested in spilling their food and water all over the floor as much as possible, and changing the bedding can prevent this from becoming a problem. In this respect, a wire-bottom cage that you can sweep underneath is a much better choice if you are pressed for time.

    Many pet stores sell wire-bottom rabbit hutches, but one can also be built to suit your peachicks for fairly cheap. If you are planning on building one, make sure that the wire on the bottom of the cage has holes small enough that they will not fall through it (1/4 inch, no bigger) or get a leg stuck in it, as you don't want to deal with broken legs or severed toes. One of the reasons some people choose solid bottoms over wire bottoms is due to toes getting stuck in the wire bottom, so you would also have to make sure the wire is such that toes won't get caught and nails ripped out. Instead of using bare wire, it might be prudent to get coated wire mesh. A good idea when dealing with making a hutch is to provide an area of the hutch with a solid bottom- this gives them a choice of where to stand. When doing this, remember to be mindful of where the heat source is and make sure that it can be reached whether they are standing on the wire bottom or the solid bottom area.

    Waterers
    Additionally, switching to nipple waterers if you haven't already is a golden way to save time for cleaning, as the bedding won't get soaked as fast. I will advise- if you use a nipple waterer, mount it fairly high and put a dish underneath it to catch dripping water. If you still want to use the bigger waterers like this one, I suggest putting it up on a block so that they kick less bedding into it and have less of a chance of knocking it over by stepping on the rim's edge. If your brooder has a wall that you can wire the waterer to (mount it solid on one side, wrap around the waterer top, hook into the other side so you can remove the waterer to refill and clean), you may decide to do that.

    Feeders
    Medicated chick starter should always available in their cage in a feeder or bowl they can't dump. You can do this by wiring it to a wall or giving them a food bowl that is very heavy (ceramic ones work well, but you'll be cleaning bedding out of it if you have a solid bottom brooder). I had to move the feeder up onto a block as well, and place the block into a pan to keep the food from spreading all over the cage in the bedding. They spill it out of the feeder as they eat it and then they pick at it in the pan afterward. Treats can be offered by hand but should not be left in the housing, especially ones that can spoil or mold quickly.

    Accessories
    It was in this age range that I added some toys to their cage. I will discuss toys in the accessories section towards the end, but you can provide them with objects that are small enough for them to move around, but not small enough to eat. If you have the space, you can add low perches for them to figure out.



    Chicks: 5-12 weeks (3 months)
    At the beginning of this time span they can still be housed in a large hutch or a small pen, as long as you are mindful of keeping them off natural ground until the end of this time span. This helps give them time to develop their bodies and immune systems to be ready to fight disease. One of the biggest killers of peafowl is worms, and they can easily pick up an infestation from the ground (even if you have no other fowl, wild birds and their droppings can transmit eggs).

    If the temperature at any time drops below 70 degrees (or will drop), a heat lamp should still be provided. Once they have their full compliment of feathers (meaning you can't see any down), you can probably take the heat lamp away from them, but this will be toward the end of their second or third month. Still check and make sure that they are not huddling or shivering, as this would indicate a need to continue using a heat source.

    Waterers and Feeders
    As above, their food and water should be kept fresh and clean, but you may want to provide them in larger containers or change the containers to more closely resemble those you will eventually give them as adults. The white-topped, red-bottomed feeders work well if you intend to buy the large copies of them for the adults. Milk jugs will work if you are planning on using 5 gallon buckets (see accessories) instead.



    Peafowl 3 months to 2 years
    Most people choose to house their young birds in smaller pens than they house the full grown birds. Often this is due to people who obtain their first birds young and are building as they go. When they are still young, 3-6 months or so, a 10x10 area will suffice for their space requirements, but after that you're going to want to start building something that will be large enough to house them fully grown. By the end of two years, an adult trio will use/need a 10'x30' pen with shelter.

    Waterers and Feeders
    You will have to provide food and water in containers that the birds cannot knock over, and provide it in an area that can be cleaned easily to prevent food from molding after they spill it. We have found that a 5 gallon bucket with a screw-in top and a hole drilled in the side works great- they have to stick their heads in to eat, which minimizes the spill and mess, and when it is kept full of food they find it difficult to knock over. We used the same design for a waterer, but a heavy bucket can be used, a trough, or any made-for-fowl waterer with a wide lip will do. Natural water sources (like ponds) or kiddie pools work pretty well too, and provide a place for you to put fun treats.

    Until they are about a year old, the males can usually be kept together without fighting. After that, however, you may see stand offs, some males will pick on other males, and there may be all out fighting. That is when you will have to separate your males or find new homes for the ones you don't like best. You can also choose to try free ranging the ones you don't like best or don't want to breed specifically; with enough space to range in, males will get along better. The females don't typically fight (and especially not at an early age).


    Peafowl 2+ years
    At two years, they will begin to need -space-. A trio of adults will take up a pen that is 10'x30' or similar. They will also need vertical space in their pen. Consider the male's train (and they can get several feet long) and his need to keep it off the ground while roosting. This requires a high enough perch, usually between 5 and 6 feet off the ground (at least) but the birds will perch as high as you can give them a perch. Remember when providing perches that they need head space as well.

    Again, the feeder and waterer have to be sturdy enough to withstand them and able to be changed often, as well as the area the food is in be cleaned easily to prevent molding.

    Most people give their peas natural ground, and many people actually grow things in the pen that are safe for the birds to eat. Others provide wood shavings/chips or straw for the birds to walk on because they can be raked out to clean the pen. If you choose to lay down substrate, keep in mind that you WILL have to clean it so that it doesn't rot or mold and make your birds sick.

    When housing peafowl, keep in mind that males need to be housed separately from other males, but can be penned with many females. See breeding pens for more information.

    Designs used for pens vary immensely and there is no "right way" to do it. Some people build their pens off of existing structures (like a barn), giving the birds access to indoors through there and removing the need for the construction of one of the four walls. Others build theirs free standing and place shelter inside the pen (for example, someone used a shade canopy made for raising trees and converted it into an aviary, and had friends construct a lean-to coop from old aluminum siding). Others use the entire barn as the pen. Some use garden sheds or chicken-coop style coops and build flight pens at the entrance/exit. Some use solid roofs, some use netted roofs. Whatever design you decide upon, you should be sure your birds have the floor space they need, the clearance above their heads that they need, that they have shelter from rain and cold, and that the structure is safe from predators.

    Materials for pens are even more varied than the pen designs. Most flight pens are made from some sort of metal or wire fencing (chain link, cattle fencing, chicken wire, coated fencing, galvanized steel) but construction is not limited to these. Wooden privacy fencing has been used as walls. PVC and netting has been used. Wooden frames with netting and/or wire have been used. Our pen has chain link, chicken wire, the side of a barn, netting, AND cow fencing because that was what we had on hand. Tarps, properly wired to fencing, are good wind and rain breaks. One of the best ways to roof a pen is with Nylon #7 netting. It is strong enough to hold your peas in, but it has give so when they rocket themselves into it (and they will), they don't break their necks or wings. If you're building a roof with no give, make sure it is solid enough they can see it coming and won't fly into it. Whatever you use, make sure that predators can't get through it or around it in any way (or that your peas can't stick body parts out it and get stuck/break something trying to get free).


    Breeding Pens Vs. Communal Housing
    Most people that are keeping their birds penned are doing it for one of two reasons; they want to breed them or they don't want to lose them to the hazards of free ranging. The designs for either pen may be identical or may vary considerably. For instance, if you have no plans for them to be bred, you won't have to necessarily consider nesting boxes/areas. Similarly, a non-breeding pen such as a flight pen for yearlings, would have more food and water access points so that the birds don't get into squabbles about it. Pens where you intend females to hatch their own eggs might have a couple slightly lower perches for the chicks to learn to perch on. Before you build, consider the birds you are penning and what they will need.

    For breeding pens, a trio (one male, two females) can easily be kept in a 10'x30' pen. I could use correctly but I seem to recall it being 80sq/ft for the first male, and 50sq/ft per female after that for a breeding pen. Of course, the more room you can afford them the better.


    Accessories
    Of course you'll want more than just dirt and fencing in your pens. While your birds are very beautiful, they need to eat (hopefully without making too big of a mess) and drink, sleep somewhere, and amuse themselves in your absence. There are also aesthetics to bear in mind, greenery and otherwise, to compliment your peas.

    Perches
    Your perches can be made of various materials, but most people use wood because it is easy to turn into the shape you want, and readily available. It holds heat fairly well when they are resting upon it. You can also use natural wood branches or wood stumps. A wooden stump with a bowl carved in the center at the top also serves as a good place to offer dry treats. Two landscaping posts with a 2x4 secured to the top work just fine as a perch, and is easy to install outside.

    Perches around the enclosure can be any height, but you should provide at least one that is long enough for all of your peas and that rests 5-6' off the ground. This will provide the male a place to get his train off of the floor, meaning it will stay cleaner over all.

    Perches should be wide enough that the birds can lay their feet flat and all of their toes will be covered when they lay down upon the perch. During winter in locations that experience below freezing (or close to) this is especially important, so that your birds do not get frostbite on their extremities. In an enclosure with indoor/outdoor access, perches inside are a good idea for winter months as well.

    Feeders
    Feeders can be made from a variety of items, or can be purchased from a variety of stores. Tractor Supply Company sells the red-and-white feeders that are most easily recognizable and the metal hanging feeders. In my own experience, neither of these work well for peacocks... they just like to fling food around too much. If you are intent on using one of these, consider making your own out of a five gallon bucket. It will be much cheaper and if you don't like how it works for your birds, you are out $4 instead of $30.

    We use 5 gallon buckets as well, but we drill holes in the side so that the birds have to stick their whole head in to get food. This way when they start "sorting" their food it stays more contained. I have seen some people use trough feeders or cut PVC pipes to be "automatic" feeders. If you want to get really elaborate, you could build a covered feeder like one of the members here did (thread HERE). Another member built a heavy duty feeder that peafowl would be hard pressed to knock over while trying to perch upon (Thread HERE).

    Waterers
    As you can imagine, waterers are just nearly as diverse as feeders. Of course you can buy a bucket and they will drink out of it. Natural sources of water like ponds or streams work if your peafowl are free-range (they may even spend time hunting frogs and insects and small crustaceans along the shores/shallows). Your standard red-and-white classic waterer will also work fine. We use a 5 gallon with holes drilled in the sides for water inside the shelter, and a kiddie pool turned into a small pond for water outside the shelter.

    Remember that in the winter, the water will freeze and you will need a way to keep it liquid for them. The best method is probably a heated water bucket. If your shelter is heated above freezing, the water should stay liquid, but that is often more expensive unless you have to do it anyway (for instance, if you are keeping Java greens).

    One of the cleanest sources of water you can give your peas is water from a nipple waterer or ball-tube waterer. These have the water in a jug or container of some sort above a spout that releases water when the bird pecks at it. The water is enclosed so debris cannot get into it, so the water stays cleaner, and the birds are not able to splash it around nearly as much, so the area stays cleaner. Here is an online source for nipple waterers.

    Decor
    Of course you birds will be just fine with dirt on the floor and roosts to perch upon at night. However, there are things which you can add to increase the attractiveness of your pens and give your peafowl something to do.

    Some cheap ideas would be things you can find easily and probably for free. Stumps, short and tall, for them to hop around on work great and can serve as treat stations if you dig out a shallow bowl on the top for treats to rest in. Natural perches made from tree branches, if they are thick enough, can be more attractive than 2x4s. If you have a natural bottom pen, you could attempt to plant bushes inside of the pen but be aware that anything living in their pen, they will do their level best to consume.

    If you have a large enough pen, a sitting station for yourself is not a bad idea. This can consist of a chair that you can easily wipe clean and a clear area for you to give your birds treats. You can choose to take a chair in and out, but it may allow them to be more used to the item and area if you leave it in. This would also be a nice little place to relax and read a book, watch your penned peas go about their business and get used to you.

    What to avoid as decor
    What you don't want to do when decorating your pens is obscure the view or provide a place for predators to take up residence. Climbing vines on the sides of pens can obscure your view of the pen and allow predators to get in close without the birds making a fuss. Thick enough bushes or plants on the outsides of pens will give a perfect hiding place for raccoons.

    Taking further suggestions for decor around pens.

    Natural Treats
    This is a difficult section I will have to expand upon later. I am attempting to compile a list of edible or durable plants to put into pens, or ways people have found to raise live treats for their birds. If you know of any or have methods, please share in comments and I'll add them here. Additionally, I'd like to compile a list of plants NOT to put near your birds (poisonous to them, bad for them, etc).

    Toys
    Your peas are curious creatures, and will play with things in their pens if you give them a change. A small water feature, even so small as a kiddie pen, will give them something to do. Our pen has a kiddie pool pond with silt on the bottom, duckweed on top (that gets eaten the same day we add it), and I bring out rosies (small orange-red minnow like fish) once a week. They are fascinated to watch the fish, to drag the duckweed clumps out and eat them, and walk around in the water on hot days.

    You might try adding small brightly colored balls to the cage that they can move around but large enough they can't eat. You can fix a small mirror somewhere inside where they can't knock it off the wall- just a small one they can investigate, not large enough for them to see their whole body. When you bring in treats, you might try hanging them at or just above eye level on the ground so that they have to work to get them, or at least have fun pecking them.


    Environmental Hazards
    There are many things which could injure your peafowl, but thankfully a lot of them are avoidable if your peas are penned. However, penning them also makes them more susceptible to some hazards, so you will have weight the pros and cons yourself.

    Their Peafowl Pen-mates
    Peafowl generally get along in small groups of 1 male and a few females. At young ages (under 2 years) they can be penned together in even larger groups, before the testosterone of the males sets in during breeding season. That being said, there are rare occasions where you may find that certain birds just don't get along with others. Watch for plucked feathers or other bird-inflicted injuries. You may notice the crown of feathers that "floats" above their heads is getting pecked off. Sometimes this is aggression, sometimes it's over-curiosity.

    Their Non-Peafowl Pen-Mates
    The vast majority of peafowl will get along just fine with other birds. You can house them with turkeys and guineas and chickens, and I've never had a problem with them and ducks or pheasants. I had a friend who kept hers with bobwhite quail, and she chose to sleep on the ground where they could sleep under her every night. The biggest concern most people have in housing peafowl with chickens is the host of diseases chickens can carry without symptom, diseases which will kill your peafowl fairly swiftly. Blackhead, a sort of worm, is the worst offender. With appropriate worming and monitoring, however, they will get along and be healthy beside most pen mates.

    The Perches
    Perches should, to the best of your ability, be free of protrusions that your peafowl could injure themselves by stepping upon or walking over. They should be high enough to keep the males' trains off the ground at night, and far enough away from the edge of the pen to keep predators from grabbing at them at night. Perches should be wide enough for their feet to lay flat upon, so that if it gets cold their feet are covered completely to prevent frostbite. Perches should be situated so that no one can poop on anyone else from above.

    The Walls
    The walls of your pen should be constructed of something which prevents your peafowl from sticking their heads through at ground level. A lot of people use sight barriers between pens, so older males don't see other males and try to stick their heads through to get pecked, but it's equally important to make sure they can't stick their heads out to the outside either. The pen walls should not have protrusions upon which your peafowl can scratch/cut themselves.

    The Roof
    The roof of your pen could be constructed of various materials. A lot of people use netting because their peafowl occasionally "flush"- meaning they shoot straight up into the air intending to fly away, and instead they hit the roof. This is particularly a hazard at night if you enter their pen or they are startled by something else on your property. A peafowl flushing into a solid roof runs the risk of injuring themselves. Netting will give if they hit it, most other roofing will not. For this reason, your pen should be as tall as you can reasonably make it if you are not using netting.

    The Ground/Plants
    The ground in their pen should not be soggy. There is always going to be a risk of them eating bugs which carry diseases or more often parasites. Birds will fly over and can drop these same things in their waste. There are many plants which peafowl will happily munch upon- including plants which can upset their stomachs or kill them. I used to have a link to a page with a giiiiant list of plants that are poisonous to peafowl... I can't find it, but I will add it when I do or if someone knows of one currently out there.


    Predator Protection
    Let's face it, there are a lot of things that would love to make a meal of your peafowl. Your neighbor's dog, that fox in the field, the bird of prey in the sky, the coyote that comes in the night, the raccoon trundling along the edge of the pen trying to find a way in... Of course you want to prevent any of these from getting at your birds.

    One of the biggest concerns where I'm at is raccoons. They have tiny little hands and they are patient and intelligent when it comes to getting something that they want. If they don't get it the first night, they will be back again and again trying. They can lift latches. They can dig. They can climb. They can squeeze into impossibly small spaces, and they have the patience to wait outside of the pen for your curious bird to stick its head through the fencing so the coon can grab it and chomp.

    So what can you do? Make certain that there are no holes in the lower part of your fencing (lower being the height your peafowl can reach standing straight up, which is as high as they could stick their heads out) big enough to stick their heads out of, or raccoon hands through. Chicken wiring around the bottom does well for this. Don't place any of your perches close enough to the walls of the pen that little raccoon hands could reach inside and grab birds from perches in the night. Make certain that your roof is attached all the way around at small intervals or completely, and that it cannot be moved. Check the roof and walls regularly for holes, especially if you have netting that might get chewed. Secure the bottom of your pen into the ground if possible, or install landscaping lumer, cement, or addition fencing along the bottom or underground so that nothing can dig in. Raccoons, coyotes, and dogs will all dig to get at your birds if they think they can.

    LOCK YOUR DOORS. You lock the doors to your own house, give your birds the same protection. If you have a latch, there should be some way to lock it that cannot be undone without opposable thumbs. So far, carabeners have been a great foil to raccoons- none have ever figured out how to undo one that's been put in a fence gate latch. Actually combination locks work perfectly against animals and more importantly can foil humans that may decide they want your birds (or that they don't like you).

    Any good roof will keep out birds of prey. Some have also used red plastic jewels mounted in their grass around the pen- this resembles glinting eyes and can ward off aerial predators.

    Peas are, on their own, pretty good at calling out about predators. If you hear them causing a fuss about something, even if you've been out three times already that day because of them causing a fuss, don't ignore it. Even if you didn't find anything the first three times, it might not have been because there was nothing to find. They will also take care of most anything small that gets into their pen (including snakes and rodents).

    Links for predator deterrants


    Quarantine Area
    Before you build your pen, bear in mind that at some point in time, some day, one of your birds will get sick or injured. If you're the world's luckiest person, and your birds all have everlasting health and grace, there may still be a time when you want to bring in new stock. In this case, you will want to know ahead of time where you are going to quarantine your sick/injured/new birds. If you have the space, the quarantine pen should be a good distance physically from your other birds (20-30yards is ideal). If you don't have the space, someplace where they do not have access to the same ground, food, or water sources will do. When you dump water from sick birds, it should go down a drain your other birds have no access to. The same with food. Any waste from sick birds should not be brought near your healthy birds. The quarantine area should be cleaned once it is emptied.


    Free Ranging
    -Space
    -Risks
    -Hazards
    --Predators, poisons
    -Natural 'treats'
    -Staying power

    A guide to choosing penning or free-ranging.

    Overwintering Peafowl
    If you need to overwinter peafowl in an area that drops below freezing, then you must first consider the sort of peafowl you have. If you have Muticus birds, they cannot overwinter outdoors and will need a heated indoor pen. India blues, on the other hand, and most spaldings, can overwinter partially outdoors. They should still be provided shelter indoors away from wind and snow and cold. You will need to provide a water container that doesn't freeze, be that either because it is in a place indoors that doesn't get cold enough (under a heat lamp, for instance) or because it is a heated water bucket. Their food should be kept dry and out of the weather as well.


    Product Purchasing
    If there are products you find you need and cannot buy near you, ship to you, or make, please contact me and we can try to work out a way to get you the items you need or find you an alternative.

    Useful Links
    A thread on BYC about sight barrier materials.
    A thread on BYC cataloging the building of their new pen.
    Brad Leggs' page on building pens.
    Amy Miller's Tips for Building Peacock Pens page.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  2. Kedreeva

    Kedreeva Longfeather Lane

    2,219
    81
    226
    Jun 10, 2010
    Michigan
    Now taking edits and most importantly PHOTOS if anyone has them! Photos of your pen, of construction, of the items in your pen. Your feeders, waterers, toys, perches, shelters. Predator deterrents, treat dispensers, natural vegetation, links to products that have been useful or problems you have found with products in the past. Extra information you think should be included in this is welcome! I will edit the last section (Free ranging) and work on adding in anything you guys want to see added!
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  3. featherhead

    featherhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    231
    7
    121
    Feb 1, 2008
    Kentucky, USA
    [​IMG]
     
  4. featherhead

    featherhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    231
    7
    121
    Feb 1, 2008
    Kentucky, USA
    [​IMG]
     
  5. featherhead

    featherhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    231
    7
    121
    Feb 1, 2008
    Kentucky, USA
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. featherhead

    featherhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    231
    7
    121
    Feb 1, 2008
    Kentucky, USA
    Lessons learned:
    * If you build with wood, use 2x6 instead of 2x4. Thinner boards warp much more easily and need to be replaced to maintain structural integrity.
    * Stain all lumber to keep those pesky carpenter bees out.
    * If your hens hatch chicks, you'll need chicken wire on the inside of your pen, 6' high, to keep the wee ones from getting separated.
    * Tall grasses/bushes keep the ground much cooler for the birds, plus add more housing for crickets, spiders and other tasty treats.
    * A tarp on top of the pen will drop the temp about 10 degrees underneath it.
    * 2x4 welded wire doesn't keep squirrels out. We have the fattest squirrels in the county.
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Kedreeva

    Kedreeva Longfeather Lane

    2,219
    81
    226
    Jun 10, 2010
    Michigan
    Thanks for the pics! I will be getting some from my own pen up to post as well, and I'll add those to the original post, along with your learning points :) Great!
     
  8. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady Premium Member

    10,060
    201
    361
    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    Thank you for all the wonderful info from a newbie. I was given 3 pairs of adult peas, 2 silver pied pairs and a Oaten pair and am starting construction on their pens. Your info is very valuable!
     
  9. OK, For a 2 month + chicks can I use 1/2" Vinyl Coated Hardware cloth ordo I still need to use the 1/4" un-coated stuff? They are do here around the 1st of September.
     
  10. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

    61
    2
    91
    Sep 28, 2011
    West Lnn, Oregon
    My neighbors live in a fancy housing project with rules. I live in the county and can have any farm animals I want. So, they are trying to catch the Peahen that showed up in their yard and will bring it to me! She is beautiful: Blue and healthy looking. They have checked thoroughly with everyone for a couple of miles and no one has lost a pea hen! She has lived with them for about a month, and they have put her on many websites with no one claiming her.

    I have a bunch of chickens and roosters and quail and 3 goats and some bunnies. I want to keep her here, but I am not concerned if she moves around. I will try to feed her enough and with enough variety that she chooses not to fly away.

    I do not know of any big predators in the area due to build up by people. There is an osprey on the river running past my place, but the osprey never bothers my hens: too busy fishing. There is a heron, a red tailed hawk and I have heard owls, but not seen them. About a mile away there is a barn owl in their barn. My neighbors say she lives on the roof of their expensive house. I predict she will live on mine or on the top of our 6 foot tall barn and our chicken coop or maybe up in a tree above the barn and coop or somewhere else. We had a rooster that refused to go into the coop, and he would go about 40 feet up at night into a Western Red Cedar tree. He was a beautiful sight up there! A white rooster with a big plumy tail! -- Maybe our peahen will do that. We do not mind manure falling -- Ours is a new little farm, and a farm is not supposed to be totally sanitary!

    I am thinking of feeding her in a bowl on the roof of the barn. A couple hens do fly up (most don't because they think they can't fly), but I doubt a little extra protein will hurt them. They won't stay up there since the ground is more fun for them. I plan to feed her chicken food mixed with dry dog or cat dry food and to add in various treats such as you put on this list. We give our goats and hens lots of treats, and I believe the pea hen can join the fun!

    Where we live it tends to rain a lot and be in the 40s and 50s most of the time in winter (N.W. Oregon). Occasionally it goes below freezing but it usually comes right back up. I figure the hen could go into the little 10 by 10 barn and sleep in the parapet wall (A wall between where the goats sleep and humans can stand to observe the goats in their barn.) The wall is around 3 1/2 feet tall and 6 inches wide and flat at the top. Chickens often roost up there, when it is cool our or very sunny. I am thinking the peahen could stand on that surface to stay dry and warm at night if she is so inclined. She could just share the goat's barn.

    We do have a piece of plywood to put across the barn opening where it meets the little pasture, but goats are hardy and do not need warmth. Wind does not blow that way (from the South). I have never seen wind from that side. We can also put a piece of tarp over the opening, but, again, goats never have needed that. I have gone into the little barn at night in the winter and found it pleasantly warm due to the warm goat bodies and the lack of wind. I am guessing it gets up to the 50s in there when below 30 outside. There is hay on the ground which is rotting due to the mix of goat manure and the composting helps it stay warm.

    We do not plan to get a male or to do anything else. I just want this beautiful bird as a pet, out of joy and appreciation of her beauty. She has such dignity!

    What do you think? Will what I have in mind work?

    Also, any tips for how to capture her so she can be brought here? So far, my neighbors are failing to get her! I gave them my dog crate, they put in water melon, but she is wily like a fox! They are bringing in someone who says he can do it!Once she is here, how can I be sure she won't immediately leave? I am thinking I could put her into a big dog crate or maybe a rabbit hutch for a few days and feed her well before letting her out?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by