Unusual Pets: Peafowl

These are remarkable birds often kept by people who live in rural locations. They add beauty to a farm, and are gaining popularity as unusual pets.

You might call them peacocks, but that name only refers to the male birds, collectively they are peafowl, and males start life as plain little birds, but by their second year they are colorful, and by their third, they have lovely long tails. They can live to thirty years of age, and make terrific show pieces in your yard. Peafowl come in a variety of colors so there is something to please everyone. The India Blue is the most common, and there are several sub-species. The other peafowl is the Java Green, who are less tolerant of cold weather than the blue. White peafowl are an albino form of the India Blue,and require more care, especially when young.


A Blue India peacock

Selection and Purchase

If you are new to birds, I would suggest starting with the India Blue. You can start with mature birds, young birds, peachicks, or even eggs that you must incubate. I would not suggest starting with eggs or chicks unless you have had experience with chickens or other birds. You would require a proper incubator, heat lamp, etc., for which I will not cover more here. Losses in young birds can be high.

If you do not know where to buy peafowl, ask at your local livestock feed store, they with either sell them through special order, or know who does. In my area we also have livestock auctions for birds such as ducks and chickens, peafowl are often sold at these events too. Additionally, the feed store might know of breeders and can put you in touch.

Buying direct from a seller or the store is sometimes better than at an auction, because you never know why a bird is at an auction, is it a surplus animal, or a cull? A cull is an inferior animal. They should not be selling sick animals, but it does happen. All that said, auctions are great fun, look for one affiliated with a bird club. If sellers put their names on the crates the bird is likely to be healthy and in good condition.

Housing and Care

With the exception of winter in cold climates, they do not require too much for housing. They should have shelter from the wind, sun, and rain, but this can be a place in a pine tree. In the winter if temperatures drop below freezing, you will require some sort of proper shelter. This can be a place in a barn or a proper coop.

If your climate is one that sees temperatures much below freezing, this shelter will require a heat source. The mature peacocks have blood vessels in their tails and are therefore very susceptible to cold weather.

You can keep your peafowl loose or enclosed in a pen. When new to your place, it is advised to keep them penned for a few weeks until they familiarize themselves that this is home. Do not let your peafowl loose if you have close neighbors who will object to them wandering over.

Typically though they will stay within a large yard. By this I am assuming you live in the country, on an acreage. If not you should check your local zoning to see if you are allowed these kinds of birds.

Other than that they do not need much care, they will preen themselves to remove loose feathers, you should never pull out their tail feathers, and do not allow children to do this either. It is very painful to the birds and will teach them to fear people, as well it teaches children it is okay to disrespect animals.

Feeding

They are omnivores, who should be fed gamebird mix food, if you can find it, if not they do well on chicken feed. I would suggest a laying ration, with chicken scratch as a treat. They also like to eat bugs and will do so when given the chance. This is not to say you need to buy them insects, they can live well on the ones they find.
Peafowl also need grit and fresh water.


A Java Green Peacock

Other Information

Peafowl will often start breeding at two or three years of age, some hens are great natural mothers, others are not. If your hen does not sit on the eggs, they will not survive and should be raised in an incubator. A good mother will build a nest on the ground out if sticks, make sure you provide these for her.

Peafowl are at risk from predators, especially when young. Chances are your farm cat will not bother a mature peafowl, but will target their young. As well, raccoons and skunks will be on the look out for their eggs, make sure your birds are in a secure pen at night. A full grown peacock will use his tail to make himself look bigger to scare any predators away, he may or may not be successful. Make sure they have some place high they can escape to if you are not penning them for the nights.

All photos were from Wikimedia.

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  1. Bozsi Rose

    On September 14, 2008 at 7:09 am

    One word: Beautiful

  2. Karen N

    On September 14, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Good job,Mark.
    They are beautiful birds but very noisy at times. Their mating call sounds like a woman screaming for help. I have a neighbor who raises them;)

  3. evon ornelas

    On May 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    hi i am having a hard time trying to get a white female peahen for my male , do you know of any one in the san bernardino,
    area in california , that might be selling white and the blue, or green, black back peahens i need to female for my males

    thank you evon

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