Peafowl Aviary

Jayzor

Hatching
7 Years
May 18, 2012
5
0
7
Helena, AL
I've been browsing this site for quite a while now. This is my first post. I love the site there are some great ideas out there. It can be pretty confusing at times though because so many people have conflicting opinions on what is best.

I have no birds, yet. I'm in love with the idea of peas especially whites. I have an idea for a large aviary (about 1000 sq ft) and the wife is game. But, I have a few concerns, chiefly predators. I have seen racoons, hawks, eagles, fox, coyotes, opossum, and even beaver and turkeys nearby but never on my property. I hear but have never spotted at least a pair of owls hooting at each other. I have seen plenty of mice, squirrels, deer and snakes. I'm sure a few captive birds will attract everything I have and haven't seen. I know I need to provide great predator protection.

My biggest concern is the top. I am considering flight netting but I don't want to learn the hard way that it would be a huge squirrel chew toy. I wouldn't mind them using it as a play pen. I do love to watch their antics but I don't want it eaten up. Does anyone know if squirrels will be a problem with flight netting?

Additionally, I have to wonder why standard hex shaped woven poultry wire is insufficient. I have heard reports that predators get through it but I have a hard time believing that to be true if it were properly installed. I suspect that the biggest problem with it is rust and longevity. Any thoughts, because the much cheaper price just might justify it's use?

My plan entails a flight pen about 32x32, no less than 8 foot and mostly 12 foot tall with an adjacent shelter. I know this will be plenty of space for quite a few peas but I will probably limit it to only a few. I doubt that I will free range them because I don't want to loose them and certainly don't want complaints from the neighbors. Let's hear it.
 

bdfive

Songster
10 Years
Jul 11, 2010
847
106
211
South of Blanco, TX
I'll be interested in what others have to say because I am concerned about some of the same issues. We've built an enclosure 30' deep with 10' on the back side walled and roofed (metal). It's 42' wide and petitioned into 4 pens but gates can be opened between them so I can let them all range together or they can be separated. It's 9' tall all wrapped in 1" by 2" welded wire with the wire coming out 2 feet on the ground around the pen to keep predators from digging in. NOTHING except maybe a snake can penetrate. I want to add about 1,200 sq ft of courtyard, all open except for a small catching pen at the farthest end away from the present structure. Reason for that is when I need to net one I could move it to this pen and hopefully not frighten the other peas into crashing into the pen and perhaps breaking a neck. This is important especially regarding the Green (Java). I don't want it to look like more "PEN" so my thought was to build a 6' fence and use netting for the top hoisted to about 12' in the center. We don't only have squirrels but have rock squirrels. They are a little larger and have chewed through the chicken wire of another pen to reach food inside. Any predator that can climb could access the netted top by the large Live Oak trees adjacent to the pen and courtyard. My thoughts are being able to open the exterior doors to the existing pen and let the peas mingle. Also where I can have a nice open area with chairs for friends and myself to enjoy the birds maybe with some nice plants and a small pond. We're in a subdivision with restrictions so concerned about this addition looking so permanent. A netted top would more temporary.

Note: We've seen deer bounce off chicken wire twice before finally breaking through it here on our property. Have seen peafowl break through rusty aged chicken wire when frightened while being caught at a ranch. Our 4 year old pen wrapped in chicken wire does have rust in some places. I wonder if there is a high quality product that will last longer.

Jayzor, what do you mean about "properly installing poultry/chicken wire? Regardless of being loose or tight I can easily see the rock squirrels chewing through it. My neighbor with 50 acres next door raising Longhorn cattle bought some sort of leather contraptions what he kept oiled for the cattle to rub against to help with flies. The rock squirrels chewed them to pieces. I'm not sure about regular squirrels......maybe they wouldn't chew through. Also want to add that predators become many times more motivated when they hear chicks calling. I know this from experience.

If you get this figured out I'll pay you to come build mine, LOL!!!! OH, and one last thought. I could wrap my enclosure with hot wire but that won't solve the problem of predators accessing the netted top from the trees. I'm sure beyond any doubt a raccoon with tear through it if it wants on the other side. Ugh! I'm typed out, haha!!!!
 

featherhead

Songster
11 Years
Feb 1, 2008
231
17
121
Kentucky, USA
Hi Jayzor & Darlene
This is an interesting thread, and covers the types of tops that most people use. I can tell you that 10 years ago, we built aviaries with 2x4 welded wire tops and they are still structurally sound. It was worth biting the bullet on expense. (Although I now wish we would have gone to 1x2 wire because the squirrels eat us out of house & home!) No predator has been able to break into the aviaries, but we have evidence that a few have tried and failed.

I've never heard of a snake killing an adult peafowl, but snakes will certainly want to eat those eggs and chicks. Even 1x2 wire will allow a snake in; you just need to be vigilant when your hen is on her nest.

When we had peachicks, I ran chicken wire along the inside bottom of the pen. After about 3 years, it was rusted trash. That's another reason I'd go with 1x2 or even 1" square cage wire if we were able to go back and do it again. We're currently building a pheasant pen with 1" welded cage wire and that should keep out everything except those sneaky snakes. Smaller prey often draws more predators.

Looking forward to hearing/seeing your decision. Pen photos, please!
Thanks
sherri
 

Kedreeva

Longfeather Lane
10 Years
Jun 10, 2010
2,356
431
286
Michigan
Hey there. I use the 2" flight netting as a top and so far no squirrel or any other predator has showed any interest in it. It's been about a year since I installed it and even a really big branch falling on it (like, a 12 foot tree branch with lots of branches attached to it) didn't break even one square of it. My pen is about 30x30 foot, so it's about the same dimensions as you're thinking.

We had to rig a center line to hold up the netting- we secured one end to the side of the barn, and then ran a braided, plastic coated cable from the barn's roof to the pen's exterior, held up in the middle by a spool and a length of PVC pipe. Here's a pic during construction:



The netting is not up yet in the pic, but it's white so you actually can't even really see it. I had, a few days after we let everyone into the pen, a hawk dive straight down at them- it hit the netting and was not able to get through no matter what thrashing and screaming it did. It perched on the roof of the small pen you can see in the picture for the rest of the day, but it never figured out how to get in. Boy did it want to though...

As for the snakes, our peas kill anything that gets into the pen with them, including snakes. We have other pests that show up sometimes, like raccoons, but we shoot them on sight if we can. Not just for the peafowl, although I would if it was just them, but since the day we saw one raccoon walking in circles coming up to the house, we don't take chances with the dogs/cats we have getting sick.
 

ranit

Songster
9 Years
Apr 14, 2010
344
7
111
Illinois
We used flight netting on the tops of all our peafowl and pheasant pens. We have lots of squirrels come into our yard from the woods next to us but they seem content with all the hickory and walnut trees at the back of our property. Have never had them show any interest in getting into the pens. I like the fact that the flight netting really gives if they get startled for some reason and fly up into it. I also like that you can easily push the netting up in the middle to increase the height. We used pvc pipe arched from one side to the other in our new pens we built to support the netting.
 

frenchblackcopper

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 14, 2009
2,787
210
261
East central Illinois
I would recommend adding a metal roof over their perch,,just under the top netting,,I'm going to do this to Pea Palace next,as the birds will sit on the perch even in the worst rain-thunderstorm,,and any aerial predators will attack birds closest to the top netting,,if you have a roof over the perch,they won't see them,and if they do,they won't be able to do a dive bomb attack from the top,just be sure roof is at least 3 feet above the perch for room for the peas to fly up and land on the perch,as well as jump down.
 

MinxFox

Crowing
9 Years
Sep 16, 2010
4,117
330
326
Pensacola, FL
The squirrels can fit through the fencing of my pen so they don't mess up the netting, but I did have two boar raccoons climb up a corner post to the pen, chew through the netting, enter the pen and they killed my only pied peacock and a week or so later they came back and killed one of my peahens in the same pen. We tried to catch them because we set up traps all around the outside of the pen but we couldn't get them. We set up trail cameras and that is how we found out it was two huge raccoons. They were really big. I still dread another visit from raccoons. We grease the posts of the bird's roosts so that a raccoon can't climb up the post to get the peafowl off of the bar, but we still worry because the peacock's train is very long and is closer to the ground.

We think what attracked the raccoons was corn. We had to go on a short trip and we set up an automatic feeder in our peafowl pen to feed them. The food we were putting in the feeder wasn't heavy enough to work so we had to put a lot of corn in there. The problem was my peafowl don't really like to eat much corn and the feeder was putting out a LOT of corn. We think all that corn attracked the raccoons that then realized they could also eat my peafowl.

We are planning on putting a hot wire up on the outside of the pen around the edges to keep predators out. Also the netting I have keeps breaking where it is attached to the fencing or the roosts so I would say make sure if you do go for netting get some good sturdy netting. I like my netting but I don't think it is the best there is.
 

Kedreeva

Longfeather Lane
10 Years
Jun 10, 2010
2,356
431
286
Michigan
Also the netting I have keeps breaking where it is attached to the fencing or the roosts so I would say make sure if you do go for netting get some good sturdy netting. I like my netting but I don't think it is the best there is.

We got some good thick nylon netting for ours, and it hasn't broken anywhere yet. The guy I ordered it from made a custom size bit for me too, since I needed a weird dimension to go around a tree and drape down the side of a building on one side. I'm actually very surprised at the things the netting has stood up to in the past year and a half....
 

Jayzor

Hatching
7 Years
May 18, 2012
5
0
7
Helena, AL
Thanks everyone. I'm still in the research phase. I have plenty of time before I start to build. I would love to build something soon but I think it will have to wait until before next season. I just have too many other projects that need my attention first.

I just can't see a net holding off a coon or opossum. Then again I have to wonder if they are that big of a threat. Something seems to keep them away, maybe the dogs. I think I would rather feed the squirrels than let them eat a net, but I don't want an opossum dropping through the top either. Another thought I had is that it is always very humid here and I doubt that a net would endure. We grow mold anywhere that doesn't get direct sunlight for a good share of the day. A good portion of where I intend to build will be shaded by trees for long periods. With that in mind I may just have to go with welded wire. From what I am seeing the price of wire is about the same as a quality net. Most of the breeder pens I have seen via internet sites have wire topped cages. I'm considering putting arches over 6-8 foot walls for aesthetics and additional height.

I would suppose that the taller the better for peas. I like the idea of 12, 14 or even better 16 foot high. Will taller just provide more room to build up speed and increase the chance of injury? Is there an optimal height to reduce the risk of injury? I would think that placing roosts at both ends would provide escapements should they become spooked at either end. That alone may prevent injury? It makes sense to me but then I haven't yet had peafowl.

When I do start I will take and post pics. There is nothing to see yet...some weedy grass surrounded by trees.
 

Kedreeva

Longfeather Lane
10 Years
Jun 10, 2010
2,356
431
286
Michigan
Another thought I had is that it is always very humid here and I doubt that a net would endure. We grow mold anywhere that doesn't get direct sunlight for a good share of the day. A good portion of where I intend to build will be shaded by trees for long periods.

I would suppose that the taller the better for peas. I like the idea of 12, 14 or even better 16 foot high. Will taller just provide more room to build up speed and increase the chance of injury? Is there an optimal height to reduce the risk of injury? I would think that placing roosts at both ends would provide escapements should they become spooked at either end. That alone may prevent injury?

Well, two important things here. Nylon netting (or other synthetic fibers, which is what most of the recommended netting is comprised of) does not rot and is not susceptible to mildew or mold as it is, essentially, plastic. So if the thought of it rotting deters you, it shouldn't. The netting over my pen is also shaded by a very large tree most of the day- the netting actually goes around the trunk of the tree. The tree on the left side of this photo:


So the shade and such won't affect it. As for things "falling through" it, we've had some very large branches fall on it without breaking any portion of the net. Animals might chew through it (I believe this happened to Minxfox here on BYC), but the percentage of times that happens I think is very small. It is decreased even more if you already have dogs deterring pests like raccoons from your property.

If you do decide to go with wire, the taller the better is a good start. The times I have seen my birds "flush" upward, the top of their initial jump seems to be around 8-10 feet before they start using their wings for flight rather than height. I would guess a roof taller than that would lessen the chance of injury from the ground level- but consider also that you want tall perches for them, higher than 5 feet in the air. So if their starting "flush" height is, let's say, from a comfortable 6 foot tall roost...

If you're very worried about predators in your area, you can always run an electrified wire (or two, if you can), around the perimeter of the pen, attached to the posts or whatever you are using as uprights.

This can/will/does deter just about everything. Has even worked for some against black bears.

Another climbing deterrent for raccoons and such are metal/plastic spikes like the ones some people use to keep birds from nesting on their store signs.


Also bear in mind that predators like coyotes and racoons dig really well and will just as readily go under rather than over a fence.
 

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