Raising Peafowl in a Northern Climate – February/March 2019 Photo Essay
By Larry Fiske
Chapel View Farm and Stable, West Bend, Wisconsin
Photos by Alex DeFleron and Reinhold Bauer
For many years after, I only raised traditional blue and white peafowl, and they did extremely well. They layed many eggs and brought their babies onto the lawn for all to see. These “common colors” felt safe because they didn’t need special treatment as I had heard the green peafowl required. I knew my limitations and kept the idea on the back burner.
After 35 years, my desire to raise the green variety became a reality. We collected breeding stock from all over the country and work toward producing green peafowl with the pure-bred phenotype but with resilience and hardiness of their blue and white cousins. Wisconsin has weeks of sub-freezing temperatures, and snow and ice are not conducive to birds that like tropical temperatures. I wanted the look, but not necessarily the pedigree.
With the addition of the Spalding peafowl — a cross between a pure green (Pavo muticus) and India blue (Pavo cristatus) — I looked for birds with a phenotype that better matched the pure greens: more length of leg, length of neck, straight, erect elongated crests that differ greatly from the fan-shaped crest of the India blue. I also paid attention to feathers and colors. Pure green peafowl have scallop-shaped neck and body feathers; they look like medallions glistening in the sun. The India blue neck and body feathers are softer and suppler and blend beautifully, giving a single-textured appearance. Keeping these traits in mind, we focused on breeding more hardiness into the green stock to withstand colder temperatures. The percentage of “blue blood” in the green stock must be done carefully to maintain the pure green peacock phenotype. Pedigree, parents, and other ancestors are important in knowing what ingredients you have moving forward. Our husbandry practices tell us we are moving in the right direction.
Our birds have secure housing with heated perches, radiant heat shields, and inches of fresh shavings on the floor. Keeping them dry is essential. Wide perches allow feet to flatten out so their body heat covers their extremities. On good weather days, we open the doors and allow them into their aviaries.
High protein is key, and we offer the best game bird pellet available along with black oil sunflower seeds, Calf Manna, and a mixture of high protein dog kibble/cat food/floating fish food. Occasionally, they receive scratch feed or crack corn in their outside aviary. We supplement with fresh greens, tumeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper to help circulatory systems as well as the birds’ feather-color production and skin pigmentation.
We have decided to bring in 100% pure green peafowl to start another line and will keep these birds separate with DNA profiles and microchips so there is never a question on which are the import birds and which are project greens.
This spring we will have six different groups in our breeding program. In 2018, we hatched nearly 30 chicks from two pairs of adults. This spring we will be artificially incubating and encouraging the girls to set their own eggs as well.
We love photos and videos of the birds we have collected from across the country and moving forward into breeding season it should be quite the “green show.” With all of these boys displaying for their girls they keep us and the many visitors on the farm continually entertained!