Peafowl are one of nature's most majestic creatures, and what better way to add color and interest to your acreage than to bring a pair home. These birds are surprisingly low maintenance and naturally hardy. With a little effort, they can be trained not to stray from your property. A close relative to pheasants, peafowl come in an assortment of colors and breeds, and most have an average lifespan of around 20 years - so you'd better be sure you're ready for a long-term commitment.
Ron Jungers of Park Hollow Exotics in Dubuque, Iowa, says if you plan to raise a bird or two, you should find a reliable source as your first step. "Auctions are usually bad, because people are just trying to unload things they don't want. Walk-on sales are fine, because you talk to people and see how they take care of their critters."
When you arrive at the breeder's home or other purchasing location, inspect the facilities and the poultry closely. "Look for good, healthy birds that are active all the time," Jungers says. "Check the birds out to make sure they don't have any bugs or mites." Indications of a healthy bird include clear eyes, straight legs, and feathers of a good appearance and quality.
Jungers also recommends buying unrelated birds that are between 6 months old and 1 year.
Housing and feed
Before bringing your birds home, you may want to build a shelter for them. "Housing isn't too important except in wintertime," Jungers says. "An 8x8-foot building would be more than adequate - just enough to get them out of the elements."
But remember, the tail trains on the males (called peacocks) can be 6 feet tall and long, so shelters and flight pens should be built to accommodate that fact.
As far as feed is concerned, keep in mind that peafowl are similar in nature to pheasants, not chickens. They will eat anything ranging from shelled or cracked corn to dog food, insects, and trout chow, but a game bird maintenance feed will work well as a primary feed source.
Eggs and feathers
Peafowl typically reach breeding age at around 2 years old, at which point your peahens (females) are capable of producing eggs and your peacocks will start to grow that recognizable tail train. Peafowl eggs are comparable to a chicken's in palatability and are about the size of a turkey's egg. Peacocks will molt their tail train as summer comes to a close, leaving you with a bounty of beautiful feathers for friends and family.
Despite the hardiness of peafowl, you should still take a few steps to ensure their health. "I use a poultry dust on them under the wings, and I worm them four times a year," Jungers says. The small bit of maintenance is worth it, he says. "A farm or small acreage is really missing something if it doesn't have a pair of peacocks."
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