Many people apply the name peacock to the males, females and babies. However, the correct term is Peafowl; the males are called peacocks, the females are called peahens and the babies are called peachicks. A group of peafowl is called a muster.
There are three types of peafowl: the Indian Peafowl (also known as Indian Blue), the Green Peafowl, and the Congo Peafowl. The Indian Peafowl from eastern Asia and are the ones you see in the zoos, they are the most common in the United States. The Green Peafowl hails from Indonesia. Their color pattern is similar to the Indian Peafowl except that it is primarily green instead of blue. The Congo Peafowl comes from the Congo as the name suggests. While all peafowl are related to the pheasant family the Congo Peafowl most closely resembles them.
The peafowl on Rivers Critters Ranch are the Indian Blue variety. I should also note that the white peafowl is a genetic variation of the Indian Blue. Many people believe that the white peafowl are albinos; however, albinos have red eyes. The white peafowl have blue eyes. These birds can be stark white or have traces of brown in their feathers.
You should not keep peafowl in small spaces. They are large birds and like to roost high off the ground. When our peachicks first came to live with us we kept them confined. As they grew we let them roam the farm. In the summer they prefer to be outside but they do return to the barn during inclement weather. The peahens will nest and hatch their chicks outside, however, we have found that the older peahens will bring them back to the barn, allow us to catch them and then the peahens stay confined with the peachicks for 2 or 3 weeks. In cold weather all return to the barn at night and roost in the top loft.
Our farm is organic and we sell organic feed. This feed is a mix of grains (cracked corn, wheat, oats, barley and nutrients) it is not a pellet. We feed our peacocks a turkey ration with sunflower seeds and whole corn mixed into it. They also love all types of fruit and vegetables. I do not find them destructive to the property except with the basilicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) in the garden; we always have to cover them until they get about a foot high. Otherwise, the Peafowl are pretty good at reducing the insect growth in the garden.
The Indian Blue Peafowl have great personalities. Ours are friendly, mild-mannered, and watchful. They make good guardians by sending up a call if anything changes on the property.
I have heard it recommended that you keep four peahens to one peacock. We have an equal number of peacocks to peahens. When weather permits the peafowl to move outside and the males divide up the property. The oldest each take a barn and the area surrounding it; roosting on top of the barn at night. They all seem to keep to their own areas; however, I have witnessed several walking together. We do not have the fighting that some breeders report. I believe that aggressive behavior might be related to the amount of space and food that is available.
When breeding season begins in the middle of June you will see the male display his train for all the ladies. Of course, the ladies seemly ignore them. Once they have mated the peahen will sit her nest for 28 days. When the peachicks hatch they will grow quite rapidly reaching about a foot tall in just a few weeks. The peahen will teach the chicks how to roost and will often tuck the chick under her wing. It will take a chick two years to fully mature. The males do not get a full train of feathers until year three. Often the chick will keep a close relationship with its mother.
After mating season, the peacocks will lose their trains. Often you will find a pile of feathers; these can be collected and sold for decoration, crafts, jewelry, or cat toys. They will then begin re-growing them for the next season.
By Cindy Rivers