Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Heckle, Jeckle and the Peafowl Crew

I have always been in awe of Peacocks.  They are simply some of the most gorgeous birds on the planet.  From the start, I wanted to have Peafowl here at the Singleton Roost.  Early in our "chicken" adventure, I was gifted three Peafowl eggs.  We incubated them immediately and managed to hatch two of the three eggs.  I was thrilled beyond words to be the proud owner of peachicks.  They do not look anything like they do when they mature.  They are homely looking little critters at first.  I grew very fond of these two chicks and spent time with them daily feeding them meal worms from my hand to be sure they'd be tame.  They reminded me very much of Heckle & Jeckle.  I realize some of you are too young to know who that is, but if you Google them you'll see what my peachicks looked like.

Heckle & Jeckle
I knew we would need more peafowl so there would be varying bloodlines.  We soon found two that were a little older than Heckle & Jeckle.  One of them was a pied Spalding.  The four range in age now from 14 month to 18 months.  As they grew I waited on eggs only to find that Peahens do not mature until around 2 years of age.  There would be no eggs until then.  I shared pictures of my four beauties in a Peacock group to see if they thought I had Peahens and Peacocks.  Unanimously they said I have four Peahens.  What are the odds that I would hatch and buy only Peahens.  In my chicken world I hatch a large percentage of roosters and expected such from my Peafowl.  I now needed a Peacock for the flock.  We found our Peacock.  He now has four lovely ladies!  The more I research the Peafowl, the more I realize that a large amount of patience is required to raise these birds.

The Peacock does not mature until he is around 3 years old.  This is when his train (tail) becomes long and full. The train or tail can reach 6 feet in length and make up about 60% of it's body length, and is made of more than 200 feathers.  His wings will be a streaked brown and white design.  He will use his train in an effort to impress the girls!  However, they remain mostly uninterested with the exception of a short period of time in which they are ready to breed.  This happens at around 2 years of age for the girls.  It's best to only have around four Peahens to each Peacock.  The breeding season typically lasts from around April until late summer (August -September), at which time the male will molt and lose his tail and the fertility rate drops.  This ends the breeding for that season.  He then slowly begins to grow a new train and by the next March - April it is full and pretty again.  Each year the tail grows longer and fuller.

After breeding, the hens will lay an egg a day for around a week to ten days and then they will sit on the eggs to hatch them.  If the eggs are gathered daily, hens may continue to lay for up to a month.  Peafowl eggs are much too scarce and valuable to be eaten.  Incubation is an option for the gathered eggs.  They need to be kept at a temperature of 99.9 degrees for 28 days.  The chicks must then be kept in a brooder at a temperature of 95 degrees for the first week and dropped by 5 degrees per week until they are at room temperature. Most peachicks can fly within days of birth.  If bred in captivity and allowed to raise the chicks, peahens might raise three clutches per year.  Clutches vary in size and range from four to 10 eggs with 8 being the average.  It is said that chicks raised naturally by the hen are smarter and healthier, but chicks incubated and handled a lot are much tamer and friendlier.

Peafowl are long lived with wild peafowl living up to 20 years and domesticated peafowl having been known to live for 40 to 50 years.  There are two popular species of Peafowl, the India Blue, and the Greens.  There are 15 known colors of peafowl.  As a side note, I thought one of my early ones might be a peacock because at a young age it would fan it's tail.  In researching, I found that the females also fan their tails.  Their tails are just not a pretty as the males.

Heckle will still come to me to eat meal worms from my hands.  She will jump in my lap if I allow it.  Jeckle will come to me but wants her worms on the ground.  She is a bit more shy.  My other two girls still prefer that I throw them their worms a little distance from my feet.  Of course non of them can reach me for Heckle.  I still go in daily to feed them meal worms and work on keeping them tame.  We are currently planning a large aviary outside their pen for them to be able to get out and enjoy the sun and for others to be able to enjoy their beauty when they pass our farm.

No comments:

Post a Comment