Raising Peafowl

 

raising peafowl

For more than a dozen years every animal on the farm had a practical purpose for being here. For example, goats give milk and barn cats kill rodents. Many animals are multi-purpose. Heritage chickens give us meat and eggs. Shetland sheep gave us wool and meat. So, many people are surprised that we have peafowl. People often ask with a smile, “Why do you have peacocks?” (because they don’t know that only the males are peacocks).

Why raise peafowl?

After 13 years of being super practical, two years ago I bought a trio of peafowl (a peacock and two peahens). It was not an entirely frivolous addition though. Being omnivores, peafowl eat all sorts of insects, which would include undesirable bugs like ticks, as well as snakes. One source I read said that they’ll eat anything they can swallow. They are excellent foragers, and because they almost never go into the chicken coop, the only grain they consume is whatever is left in the wake of the chicken tractors after they’ve moved to a new location every day. So, they haven’t cost us anything since we let them start free ranging. If we ever find ourselves with too many, we can sell the offspring or eat them. In the meantime, they add a special beauty to the farm.

Getting started with raising peafowl

I did actually try raising peafowl the first year we moved out here, but we let them outside too soon, and they left. At dusk they flew up into a tree, and we never saw them again. So, I was never going to try raising peafowl again because they are kind of pricey to buy, starting at around $50 each from a hatchery. But two years ago, someone nearby had three chicks available for $20, so it didn’t seem like such a big risk. I really did my homework though, to be sure we didn’t lose them again.

Peafowl require a high protein starter feed. We used game bird starter from the feed store for several months. Otherwise, they are raised in a brooder and are very similar to raising chicks or poults. They need to be kept at 95 degrees the first week and can be five degrees cooler each week.

The most important thing is to keep them locked up for a few months. Once they were old enough to be outside the brooder, we put them in one of our chicken tractors, so they were moved around the yard until they were four or five months old. Their range is a lot larger than chickens or turkeys. While chickens don’t usually go more than about 100 yards away from the coop, the peafowl go all over our 32 acres and beyond. We once got a phone call from someone half a mile away, saying that our peacock was in her yard. We knew that trying to catch him would be futile because he’d just fly up into a tree, so we hoped for the best. I was relieved to see him in our yard again the next morning.

Breeding and raising peafowl

If you start with peafowl that are all the same age, they probably won’t hatch any eggs for two years. The females ignore the males until they have a full tail, or train. It was pretty funny to watch the peacock strutting around in front of the peahens the first year. He’d scream as if someone was attacking him, and he’d shake his cute little tail, and the hens were oblivious to it. One of the hens did disappear for a few weeks last year. We assumed she was setting, but the eggs didn’t hatch because they were not fertile. The other hen never laid any eggs in her first year.

This year, however, the remaining hen (one was hit by a car last year) made a beautiful nest in a stall in the barn and sat on five eggs. Three of them hatched. You can see why no one eats peafowl eggs — and why you don’t see peafowl on the menu of even the fanciest restaurants. They don’t reproduce very fast!

Because we didn’t want to risk losing any of the three peachicks, we put mama and babies in their own private chicken tractor. Since one mama and babies don’t put much pressure on the grass, it only needs to be moved every couple of weeks. We do this with all poultry hens that hatch babies. If we don’t do it, the hens usually lose most of the babies, sometimes all of them within a couple of weeks. But if we lock them up, then 100 percent make it to adulthood. And seeing how slowly peafowl reproduce, you can understand why we don’t want to lose any of these three.

Raising peafowl may not be the most practical thing I’ve ever done on the homestead, but they do provide great entertainment value, and they’re quite beautiful.

For more information

If you have already raised chickens, it is not that different from raising peafowl, so most of the information below will also apply to raising peafowl.

 

Raising Peafowl

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36 thoughts on “Raising Peafowl”

    • I have been raising peafowl for 13 years. You might get 6 a season
      . I started out with 4. I now have 22. I lost 2 over the years and it has cost me money at St the vet if they get sick. I am very good at what I do. I won’t sell a chick to just anyone. I now have 4 hens sitting on eggs. I have Indian blue, purple,white,and midnight. My birds know me and trust me. One of my white chicks follow me around like dog. They are really sweet animals. But you must know how to raise them

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  1. Is it safe to have peafowl with chickens? What about blackhead? Also, is there any way to keep peafowl nearer to home? We only have 7 acres and a busy hwy 1/4 mile away.

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  2. Our peacocks were the most excellent guard dogs! They were very good at attacking any chickens that wandered into our yard from a neighbor’s house. When our hens would hatch babies, we had to introduce them to our peacock pair, because they would also try to run away any chicks they didn’t recognize. Many times I would shake my finger in their faces and tell them “NO!”, so they wouldn’t harm the chicks! We finally sold them, because they make a dreadful noise, and their poop is incredibly large and juicy.

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  3. When I was 12, I found a peacock in our backyard ( we had about 4 acres). I tried to feed him crackers and chased him around for 2 hours. He stayed! Became a pet. Sometimes I fed him ground round, but mostly he ate bugs. At night, he would roost in a tree and scream just once. My father named him LeeRoy! Birds are interesting creatures and sometimes you just connect!

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  4. i thought of rearing peafowls for commercial purposes more so to sell to recreation places and also help multiply their numbers in my country , thanks for the write up it is a good beginning for me as i research more in regards.

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    • The males are the only ones with the big beautiful trains. The females look more like female turkeys in terms of body shape and feather arrangement, as in the photo with the peachicks. Other than that, they are pretty similar. Males are more likely to get aggressive if there are females around, although you will sometimes see two males fighting even without females.

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  5. I’m interested in getting 1 or 2 just to have on our property. We have 5 acres – each of our neighbors’ properties are the same size so lots of area to roam. My only concern is them becoming prey possibly to fox or coyotes. Any ideas on protecting them from other wildlife? Our property has a farm fence with wire around it to keep big animals out but I couldn’t keep the birds from flying over it.

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    • Since they like to roost up high in trees or barn rafters, they tend to be pretty good at avoiding predators. We have lost peafowl to cars rather than predators.

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  6. I love this post, as I have wanted peafowl since we moved onto our homestead. I have resisted because I have heard they are hard to keep from wandering off. We have 19 acres so I’m not sure it would be enough room. Question: would the chicken tractor method work with duck moms? We have a couple that went broody this year and they lost so many ducklings until we locked them up in the barn.

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    • Chicken tractors work great with mama ducks and ducklings. That is the only way we ever have ducklings survive to adulthood.

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  7. I am looking at purchasing 17 acres that are completely wooded and I hear have many ticks some years. I am considering peafowl or guinea fowl to knock down the numbers. How much noise do peafowl make? Someone told me they are not that loud and someone else said they are the noisiest fowl ever.

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    • I’ve had guineas and peafowl, and guineas are far louder than peafowl. However, chickens and turkeys eat ticks too. There is no need to get guineas or peafowl just for tick control.

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  8. Can I raise turkey, peafowl and chicks together? I have Chickens but I am wanting to start raising a couple of turkeys and about 3 peafowl.

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  9. 1st mating season I’ve had my pair. They are supposedly 3 years old. Peahen nested on at least 2eggs then disappeared on hatch day. The two egg shells looked hatched, there was no disturbance and didn’t look like anything got into them. Day 2, and no sign of them. I’m getting incredibly anxious and worried about them. Should I go searching for them (they have several hundred acres with not many roads around) and try to catch them?

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    • I’d probably have gone looking for them as soon as I knew they were hatched, but with an area that large, it’s going to be challenging.

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  10. I have a question, please. We are adopting a 2 1/2 year old peacock. The owner no longer wants him. He is currently living in a 10 x 10 cage with no perch. He lets him out once a day to eat, then the peacock goes back in the cage by himself. We have 3 acres with a 6′ fence, 2 big puppy dogs, and a confusion of 25 quinea fowl at present. We have a 20′ x 16′ x 9′ high barn for the guineas, a child’s play house for the puppies. We want to free range the peacock. My question is, should we buy a cage to keep him in until everyone gets used to each other? Or will he be all right if we give him a perch in the play house, (the puppies no longer go inside their house, it could be the peacock’s. We just want to make sure everyone gets along. I’m afraid if we put him in the barn with the guineas the males will gang up on him. Sorry to be so lengthy but this is very important to us. Thanks for any help.

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    • Sorry for the delay! If you already got him, I hope you locked him for awhile. Peafowl are not as territorial as chickens or turkeys so they need to be locked up for a few months in most cases before let out to free range. If you let them out too soon, they’ll wander off. We learned this the hard way!

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  11. I am looking for at least two peahens, we have a mature free tanager peacock and he is lonely. What is the best way to find hens that are available? I have searched the internet, with little luck. What are your suggestions?

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  12. I am looking for at least two peahens, we have a mature free tanager peacock and he is lonely. What is the best way to find hens that are available? I have searched the internet, with little luck. What are your suggestions?

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    • Hatcheries sell peafowl, but I’m not sure which ones sell peahens (rather than just peachicks). If you can’t find any locally, they will probably be quite expensive, especially once you add in shipping.

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    • I have not heard of them doing that before, but when chickens eat their own eggs, people sometimes say it is a calcium deficiency. Egg shells are pure calcium.

      Reply

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