Peafowl Stories

Keeping peafowl can be bring a great deal of pleasure to your lives,
but it also brings times when you just think your not ment to have
peacocks and it’s only much later that you get to look back and even
raise a smile about the times things weren’t quite going to plan.

 

This is a quick email Peter from Southampton sent me.

Hi Martin, Just wanted to share with you how we caught our lost peacock in case it helps anyone else. We just have one hen and one cock since last September. Our peahen was on eggs and the peacock disappeared, we thought dead and spent a couple of days searching the surrounding area. We were notified after two weeks he turned up in a built up area 4 miles away and I spent two days unsuccessfully trying to catch him with cat biscuits, a net etc going from house to house meeting lots of new people! I was recommended to get some giant mealworms from the reptile shop and that did the trick. I just had a large dog crate which wasn’t really big enough but he found the mealworms irresistable and went inside after about 40 minutes. I just had to stuff his tail in and close the door. Now back with the missus he seems quite happy to hang around eating and watching his new offspring.
I was looking at web sites related to buying Peafowl and came across your’s. I thought I’ld share how I became aquainted with Peafowl. A couple of summers ago my wife and I were at the Denver Colorado Zoo and had seen some Peacocks roaming around the grounds like you do in most zoos. My wife commented on how cool it would be to have a peacock around our house. We had purchased a house on the outshirts of Cheyenne a year or two earlier with a barn and about 5 acres of land. I said I knew that there was a family out east of town that had some Peafowl for years. I hadn’t thought much about it after that, until the following October. I was returning home from work one afternoon and as in pulled up infront of our house I noticed something in our driveway looking at the garage door. I couldn’t belive it. I called my wife who I knew was already home and said “you won’t believe what’s in our driveway”. Her first responce was “is it a moose. Like I said,! we live in Wyoming so this would not have been that much of a stretch. When she finally came out and saw a young peacock standing there she just said “How cool”. It only took me about 5 minutes to corner him and pick him up. I put him in our garage and set about trying to find out if anyone had lost him. On the second or third day I was checking him out a little closer and found that he had an open wound under his left wing. Probably from a fox, we have several living in the area. After a trip to a vet that specializes in birds and a few stiches he was fine. No one every came forward to claim him so I made up a stall in the barn for him. his name is Oberon. When the weather is nice I bring him out into the yard to roam, I’m the only one he will let pick him up. He would prefer to walk on his own but he doesn’t fuss to much when I hold him. Our 3 dogs have learned to give him his space but I don’t leave them alone with him. I also know there isn’t a fox, bobcat or any other! preditor that’s going to step foot on our property. Happy Dog! is a German Shepard mix, Little Orphan Annie is a Great Dane, and Baby Girl is a 170 pound Saint Barnard mix. I pitty the critter that tangles with them. Oberon is only a couple of years old at my best guess. He hasn’t gotton his full train yet. He’s been with us about a year and a half now. One thing I have found odd is he doesn’t call like any Peacock I’ve ever heard. When he does call he sounds more like a goose then a Peacock. It sounds like a honk. He has seamed to have formed a pretty good bond with me. I have even gotten him to perch on my should like a parrot more then a few times. He likes that better then being tucked under my arm when I bring him out to the yard. At this point I’m thinking about finding him a hen, but I’m not having much luck in these parts. Well just thought I’ld share my story with someone other then my co-workers. Thanks, I have found some interesting information on your site.

Name: Ron Oglesbee
Town: Cheyenne Wyoming USA

Pam Jack comes from
Australa I’ve chatted many times with her her using email and we have
swapped many things that each of us know from what we’ve done and more
so the mistakes we’ve made while having peafowl as part of our lives.

This is an article wrote
for “Australasian Poultry”

LIVING WTH PEAFOWL

Our adventure started
in February 2005 when we bought our first two peacocks, the year old
“Blues Brothers,” Jake and Elwood.

Luckily we had been advised
to lock them up for months rather than weeks. I later met a girl who
had kept a young pair in for a week and they both flew towards their
opposite directional homes when let out. The body of the male was found
but the hen was never seen again.

Lesson 1: Keep new peafowl
in for as long as possible.

Some months later we
let the boys out and they stayed. We then bought quite a few at an auction.
Andrew sickened instantly and $300 later we euthanized him. Then they
all came down with a cold and Bob couldn’t clear his sinuses.
Hubby caught him to take him to the vet and he twisted in Al’s
hands and broke his own leg. Another sad euthanasia.

Lesson 2: Probably don’t
buy at an auction unless you know the history, as they may be weakened
from travel. Catch with blanket or net, not by grabbing the leg. They
are very strong, and will do anything to get out of your grasp.

After a few months we
let them out. The Blues Brothers harassed them all. Dusk arrived and
everybody was missing!!!

Lesson 3: Let them out
when you have plenty of daylight left and watch every move!!!

A torchlight search found
Napoleon lying exhausted in the grass 400m from home. We shepherded
him back and in the meantime saw Elwood sneaking back. Napoleon was
so tired he could only hop up to a low branch for the night so we hoped
there weren’t any opportunistic foxes around. Jake arrived the
next day, with his legband sticking into his leg. I lured him into the
cage and managed to catch him and get it off. The neighbours 600m away
rang to say they had one girl in their garden and the other girl wandered
in a few days later. How lucky were we! When this lot had settled we
purchased four more girls, two pied and two white.

Lesson 4: Try and keep
them in a high cage where they have to fly up to perch or their flying
muscles weaken.

The first breeding season
caught us unaware. We knew Napoleon was ready to breed but all our girls
were only a year old. Josephine was missing and after days we finally
saw her and followed her. She was nesting in the woolshed in a sheep
pen in a carton of gravel. A foxproof cubicle was built around her with
poly tarps. She hatched out four chicks. Incubation time is 28 days
but this varies. Three just disappeared and we now know that it was
a very clever hawk who had been dining on our chooks too. We had been
blaming a fox but it kept happening during the day while we were there.
One day I caught her in the act of dismembering a freshly killed Pekin
bantam.

Lesson 5: If you want
to retain your progeny, lock them up.

Hubby then built a fabulous
aviary right outside our back door. The birds were moving freely in
and out of the open aviary and our idea was that we would lock some
up before next breeding season and hope they nested in there. A lady
on the internet was desperate for some females so we decided to sell
two. I had a few locked up in the chook pen and a few in the aviary
so she could choose. Moments before she arrived to pick them up I discovered
a freshly laid egg in the chook pen!! I went up to the woolshed and
discovered Josephine sitting on a pile! Our buyer took her two girls
home and then I discovered Blanche sitting under the tank stand near
our kitchen.

Lesson 6: It never rains
but it pours!!

I picked up all Blanche’s
eggs and shepherded her in to our fabulous aviary, along with the other
pairs. All very well. She went on laying eggs and so did the other hens
in the aviary, but no-one was going to sit on them were they??? After
weeks we just gave up and let them out. Then there was action!

Lesson 7: They may lay
eggs but seemingly they will only sit where they want to sit. I believe
they need perceived privacy too.

I had collected some
of the eggs and placed them under broody chooks, hoping at least to
get a few. Josephine hatched out about seven chicks, quite a few of
whom died. We had to be away at the time so a friend was looking after
the property. Josephine flew out of the cubicle with them much more
quickly than we expected and our friendly hawk took the lot. Meanwhile
we discovered that Bianca, who was only one year old, had taken over
the tank stand nest place and was sitting on six eggs. Al managed to
build a wire and tarpaulin cubby around her, and then we found Blanche
sitting under the woolshed, so long-suffering hubby built another cubicle.
Then Josephine decided to lay another clutch in a sheep pen next to
her previous place! Al built yet another shelter and Susan decided it
was such a good one that she might share so she laid and they both sat
together. Nobody seemed to know what to do about different incubation
times etc so we just left them to it. We had found two eggs on a bed
in the woolshed so we slipped them under too. Everything was going well
there but 2006 had the worst plague of foxes we had ever seen. The fox
bounty had been lifted. There were cubs everywhere, and because of the
drought they were all starving. We would walk out into the backyard
and find four foxes at the back door. One jumped up against the louvre
window in the woolshed and broke it and scared Susan and Josephine off
their clutch, so we never got to see what happened. We had had radios
playing all night and solar lights, to no avail.

Blanche and Bianca hatched
out nine chicks. We managed to get them all into the aviary and breathed
a sigh of relief. Safe!!! Having to go away again, we left friend to
manage. Luckily he is on the ball because he noticed a chick was missing.
A patrol of the aviary found a hole dug by a fox, so he filled it with
rocks and logs. When we returned, Al placed logs on the wire overlap.
Safe again. Not quite. I found a brown snake doing its damnedest to
get through the small gauge wire. One consolation was that every time
a hawk or eagle flew over the mums would shepherd the babies under the
roof but they were safe anyway!!

Lesson 8: Every predator
is out to get your little babies.

Meanwhile Paris had gone
missing and sadly we found her feathers down by the river, another fox
victim. Some of the eggs under the chooks hatched out but we had no
luck with the chooks mothering them properly. It is done though.

2007 carried big hopes.
Our neighbour had brought in shooters and they had shot a dozen foxes,
we had trapped two and the bounty was back on. Our biggest blow was
to return from a trip and find our darling, in full tail, pied alpha
male, Napoleon, missing with no trace. We were devastated. It is like
losing a dog. So the Blues Bros were now the alphas. We reckoned apart
from that blow, we would be pretty right this year, lots of prepared
cubicles, the aviary ready, etc. We had bought another pied male sight
unseen, who was supposed to be mature. Disappointingly he turned out
to be only a juvenile. We had our own dramas with him as the Blues Bros
chased him away, and he spent the night on the other side of the flooded
river, but thank goodness he returned next day and they have sorted
it out. Only Josephine nested in her old box. Bianca nested under the
woolshed next to Blanche’s old possie: another cubicle built.
Susan nested under a patio rose in the garden so we placed a wire cylinder
over her with bird nets over the top. Blanche nested out in the middle
of the paddock in long grass, so a cubicle went over her. We have 12
chicks altogether this year and they are all in the aviary with the
Mums. With all our vigilance we still found two eggs on the bed in the
woolshed …. whose????…. and recently we found 5 eggs in the
vegie garden.

All this might put you
off contemplating getting into peafowl, but I have to say, although
it has been a steep learning curve for us, they more than make up for
the trouble in every way. They are just so entertaining and fun to have
around. They all have personalities and their antics “joy up your
day.” The males are quite hilarious and their sociability is so
interesting. When the hens are sitting they seem to have a “keeping
her company” roster. They also regularly visit the aviary and
communicate through the wire to the chicks. Noise… yes, in breeding
season, but not as bad and as frequent as a rooster can be. Poo…
yes, occasionally on your paths, but a convenient and satisfactory size,
shape and consistency to brush up and flick on the garden. Food….
We feed them maize, chook layers, sunflower seeds and dry cat food.
They also have free access to our vegie garden where they create lacy
silver beet, but we have very few pests. We worm them with “Big
L.”

If you would like to
get involved I reckon I can save you from a lot of disasters and grief.
I believe you have to have some acres: they travel about a fifty metre
radius from their feeding base but ours will go up to 500m away. We
have twenty acres. Away from a busy road is a good idea as you don’t
want to be sued for your pets causing an accident. Of course you need
a roofed pen, which can be used later to house the hens and chicks if
you breed . The higher the better, with a high perch, to keep them in
when you get them, but we initially kept them in a chook pen. Tall trees,
especially European ones, to roost in at night mean they rarely get
on your roof or cars. Feed them near your house so they like to hang
around there. I would start with two males as we did and get the feel
of keeping them first. The following year start to build up your breeders
if you want to go that way. Just start with two girls, so you get the
hang of their breeding habits as girls can breed the first year if the
males are mature. It also means less stress as you will need to keep
an eye on them when breeding season starts, and put temporary cubicles
around them. One of ours is an outdoor plastic table with holes drilled
around the circumference and poly tarp tied on half of it. The front
half has wire which can be folded back during the day and tied up at
night. If we go away for a weekend we close it up and leave food and
water in there. We place logs around the base to hold the tarp and the
wire down and stop foxes from burrowing. After the chicks have hatched
we either catch them and the mother or shepherd them into the aviary.
We feed turkey starters exclusively for a few weeks then add the adult
food to the starters. Poultry starters do not have enough protein. A
friend feeds mince steak but her hubby is a butcher! We place a ladder
up to the high perch so the little ones find it a bit easier when they
first go up. If you live in a cold place it is a good idea to have a
night lamp they can huddle under in case they fall off the perch.

If you want to do the
peafowl thing we would be happy to help and we think we could save you
a lot of tears. Email us at pamajack@bigpond.com

 

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