All About Keeping & Breeding Peacock

A male peacock in full plumage is among the most beautiful and spectacular pheasants in the world. The gorgeous Indian Blue Peacock which is shown on the Gazette magazine cover (below), is affordable and very popular to keep and breed. There are also several mutations and many breeds of this species that have been developed and which are also very popular. The gorgeous green peacock is a rarer type of peafowl. The green peacock is larger, higher standing, and a brighter bird with a long, straight crest.

peacock195x263VHBecause of its gorgeous appearance, the peacock has long been famous outside of its native countries of Southern Asia and Malaysia, and was kept for centuries by people first in China and then in Europe and America. The Phoenicians brought the peacock to Egypt more than three thousand years ago. Historical records indicate that Solomon kept several peacock species, among other pheasants, with the India Blue being his favorite peacock. Peafowl were extensively raised by the Romans for the table as well as for ornamental purposes, and medieval Europe carried on this practice as well. It is only after the XVI Century, when turkeys were imported from Mexico, that the peacock was discarded as a table bird for the more fleshy American birds.

Today, thousands of people all over the world keep and breed peafowl as a hobby or business around their homes or on game bird farms. Many people keep their birds in their backyards while others provide them with more spacious surroundings. Many peafowl live at freedom and breed on farms or in the countryside.

Peafowl were also considered a delicacy in these cultures for centuries. Fortunately, few of peacock species are used for food today, except in some of the more remote and less civilized places where they are found in nature.

There are but two naturally occurring peacock species, the Indian peafowl Pavo cristatus from India, often called Blue peafowl, and the Green peafowl Pavo muticus which lives farther east in Burma, Thailand, Indo China, Malaya and Java. It is curiously absent from Sumatra and Borneo. The latter peafowl has three subspecies: Spicifer in Western Burma, a duller, bluer race; Imperator in Eastern Burma, Thailand and Indo China, much brighter wid greener: and muticus in Java, which is still more brilliant. The last two are usually kept in America at present, and probably mixed, but for practical purposes they are just the same, the differences being noticeable only on close examination.

There are many mutations and breeds of peacocks that have been developed and are commonly available from peacock breeders. The India Blue Peacock is commonly kept and bred in captivity by people across America and around the world. They are not expensive and thousands of them are bought and sold each year (see classified ad section of the Game Bird Gazette magazine). They are hearty and easy to keep, even in cold districts. The Green species is not bred as often as the India Blue and is therefore more expensive. You can see that the tail of the green peacock is exceptionally beautiful! The Green is more susceptible to cold and needs to receive adequate protection from the cold.

Peafowl can be quite sociable and often display their feathers right in front of you in the springtime. The male peacock in the spring displays his gorgeous tail feathers and also utters an awakening call which is loud yet quite delight to hear!

Peacock feathers are popularly used in unique crafts and decorations.

You can feed a peacock the same as any other pheasant. The diet provided by many people includes mixed grains, game bird crumbles (such as Mazuri available at many feed stores), and a variety of greens. The birds hardly ever become sick and we have a record of one peacock that lived to be 40 years old!

When raised on the game farm and are well settled, many people find that peafowl don’t stray far from home. They can, of course, also be kept in covered pens if you want to make sure they don’t wander away, and they live and breed well in pens. There is some terrific information from one of the nation’s leading peacock producers in the next issue of the GAZETTE on how house and general care for the peacock.

Peahens are excellent mothers, but peachicks can be reared just as well in a brooder. They are among the easiest birds to raise. One thing to be careful about is to give them good shelters in the autumn and winter following their birth, as they are not fully grown before eight or ten months.

The Indian Blue Peacock has produced several mutations in captivity. These include the Black-shouldered, in which the male has the wings blue, green and black, the female being very pale; the White; and the Pied, in which the normal plumage of the Indian Blue is irregularly marked with white. The so-called ‘Spalding’ variety is a hybrid between the Indian and the Green species (one of the green peacock races shown in picture at left). It is very beautiful bird, intermediate between the two parents in colors, in hardiness and in temperament.

Read more on peacocks at Game Bird.


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