Peafowl: From Hatching to Adulthood
There are 3 subspecies of peafowl: the blue from the Indian subcontinent, the green of Southeast Asia, and the African Congo peafowl. This article will focus on the most common type, the India Blue.
Young peafowl are called peachicks, while adult females are peahens and males are peacocks.
Did you know there were more than one species of peafowl?
Peafowl are known for their spectacular plumage featuring iridescent blue and green feathers. Peacocks have iridescent feathers on their head and neck, a barred pattern on their wings, and a long train of tail feathers called coverts. Peahens also have some iridescent feathering on their necks, but overall are a drab color and do not have the long train.
The peacocks covert feathers start growing around age 2, reaching full length around age 4. They molt the feathers each year, growing a new train by the next mating season. Peacocks display their plumage to attract peahens for mating. Peahens will display their plumage to warn her offspring as well as to ward off competition.
The peafowl is an omnivore that forages for a variety of seeds, nuts, insects, fruits, small mammals and even snakes. Peafowl in domestic habitats will also eat cracked grains such as corn or oats and vegetables including tomatoes. I know some peafowl owners that give cat or dog food as treats. Commercial wild bird seed containing black oil sunflower seeds are heartily consumed in my pens.
Peafowl nest on the ground but roost in trees. In domesticated situations, peafowl can free-range, or live in enclosures. Peafowl can fly short distances, so many people choose to have covered pens to ensure that they don't wander. This also prevents predators from entering their habitat from above.
They need a minimum of 6 feet of clearance to allow for flight and for the males to extend their trains unencumbered. Around 80 square feet per bird is sufficient for their needs. The area should be dry so muddy conditions do not encourage disease or damage their feathers. They need shelter from harsh weather and somewhere to roost.
Peacocks display their plumage to attract peahens during mating season. I have observed my males fan out their train and shake them in a vibrating motion towards the hens. It sounds eerily like a rattlesnake, which has caught me off guard a few times until I realized what it was! They will turn away from the hen and back up towards her, shaking their feathers as the hen seemingly ignores their efforts. I have seen a lot of this behavior, but the actual mating has been done privately.
Once mating has occurred, the peahens lay 4-8 eggs in a nest. They hatch in about 28 days. Hens set the nest with no assistance from the cocks.
Due to predation concerns, our eggs are removed from the nest and the offspring raised with our baby chicks until they are big enough to return to our peafowl enclosures with the adults.
If you want to try raising peachicks, I definitely recommend using Silkie hens to set your eggs. They are very broody and attentive. This method has been very effective for us. I do not personally recommend using an incubator to hatch peachicks as this method has not proven successful in my experience.
In the wild, peafowl live for an average of 15 years. Captive peafowl have been known to live into their 20's.
When I purchased my first peafowl, I really had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully, Google helped me educate myself rather quickly. Here are several sites that I found immensely helpful when learning how to provide for my peafowl:
While this article just covers some basic information about peafowl, there is much more to these majestic beauties. There are many variations in color and pattern that were not discussed in this article (it would take much longer to read!). Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions, or let me know if I didn't cover something that you think I should have! I have included several websites that I found essential when learning how to care for my flock.