Peacocks are among the most beautiful of birds. Originally from India and southeast Asia, they’re relatives of the pheasant. Of the three basic varieties of peacocks, the India Blue is the one most of us think of when we think of peacocks.
Only males grow those spectacular tail feathers, and they are called peacocks. Females are peahens, and babies are peachicks. Altogether, they are peafowl.
Peahens mature and start laying eggs at one to two years of age, but they won’t be fertile eggs until three years, when males are fully mature and able to fertilize the eggs. Mating season is springtime, when the males’ feathers are their most glorious. When mating season ends, the long, colorful feathers are shed, but a new batch grows in time for the next mating season.
Peacocks are generally calm birds, but females can be aggressive when defending their eggs or chicks. Male birds can be aggressive when defending their territory. A peacock’s life span is 15 to 20 years.
The peacock’s voice is as awful as they are beautiful. Some have compared the sound to cats fighting but a lot louder. It’s shrill and can carry for up to five miles.
While you might consider your peacocks as pets, they are not likely to want to cuddle with you. You may be able to get them to tolerate being handled if you start picking them up at a young age. They will follow you around and eventually eat out of your hand if you have food, particularly mealworms.
Peacocks do fly. It’s quite a sight to see these big birds with their long tail feathers in the air. They only fly intermittently, usually when they feel threatened. They might roost in a tree for a while, but for the most part, they’re ground dwellers.
Although peacocks originate from hot, humid climates, they can handle cooler ones if they have a place to shelter in winter. If you live in an area that has long, harsh winters, their housing must be heated.
Keeping peacocks free range on your property all day is the surest way to have happy and healthy birds. However, if you’re going to cage them 24/7, they must have room to comfortably spread those dazzling feathers.
A minimum of 80 to 100 square feet per adult bird is recommended but the more the better. Enclosures should be at least 8 feet high. You will have to separate the males, or they’re likely to fight. Even if they don’t, the alpha will grow big, long and plentiful feathers, but the others will not.
Apart from having plenty of space for peacock farming, you’ll need rural property with a lot of distance between you and your nearest neighbors, as their cry is loud and unpleasant.
If you’re looking for property where you can have peacocks, check out places where horses were kept. An existing horse setup can easily and economically be adapted for peacocks with some chicken wire, 2 x 2s and a pair of wire cutters.
If you’re free-ranging your birds, it’s a good idea to feed them something they love (like mealworms) in the late afternoon so they develop the habit of meandering back to their pens at dusk.
Peacocks are omnivorous; that is, they eat both plant- and animal-based foods. Since those magnificent feathers are 90% protein, their diet must be very high in protein. Purina makes a variety of foods that are great for peacocks. It’s not “peacock chow” per se, but there are three different formulas for growing birds and during and after mating season.
Peacocks are happiest when they can forage. They like to scour the ground in search of seeds, insects and small reptiles like lizards. They also eat parts of some flowers. Some peacock owners make their own food by mixing grains, berries and protein like mealworms or cat food — yes, cat food.
Your peacocks should always have access to fresh water. Clipping their wings so that they don’t fly away is strongly ill advised. It takes away their ability to fly away from danger.
Peahens are plain looking. They come in a small variety of brown hues and don’t grow showy tail feathers. They start laying eggs when they’re about a year old and then lay five to nine eggs a year. They will lay eggs whether or not the eggs were fertilized by a male peacock.
Peahens sit on their eggs practically around the clock for four weeks before they hatch. You’ll want to bring them food and water periodically to make sure they don’t get too weak. They raise their chicks by themselves. Even with mom’s attentive care, the survival rate for peachicks is two for every six eggs.
Chicks are able to forage from the moment they hatch, but they still look to mom for comfort and protection. It will take a good two weeks before they can flap their wings well enough to avoid danger.
While peacock meat is sold in some parts of the world, most people who raise peacocks in the United States do so to sell them as pets and to sell their feathers. The male’s extra-long feathers that make up the “train” are called covert feathers. Covert feathers are of two types: eye and flue.
Eye feathers have the distinct indigo, turquoise and brown round markings on their tips. They are naturally fringed above each “eye.” Flue feathers (sometimes called sword feathers) can be equally long, but they don’t have eyes. Instead, their tips are the shape of a wide open "V." Not surprisingly, eye feathers are sold at higher prices than flue feathers.
Peacock feathers are used to make jewelry and adorn clothing. One wedding dress that featured more than 2,000 peacock feathers was valued at $1.5 million.
Fashions come and go quicker than peacocks grow and shed their feathers. So, although it could happen, you can’t count on some couture designer buying your entire stock of feathers each year.
Peacock feathers are also used in crafting, and nothing makes an interior decor statement like a huge vase full of peacock feathers.
Money can be made from peacocks by selling their feathers, eggs and the birds themselves. The longest eye feathers sell for $5 to $10 each with discounts for volume purchases. Flue feathers only fetch around $2 each, with discounts for bulk purchases. Shorter eye feathers are referred to as “mini feathers” and are usually priced around $6 per 10 feathers.
Fertile eggs that have a good chance of hatching into a live peacock sell for about $40 each. Most suppliers offer volume discounts.
Depending on the demand in your area, immature male birds can each be sold for $100 and up. Females are in less demand and have to be priced lower. Fully mature birds are often sold in pairs because a lone peacock is not a happy peacock. Mature pairs usually sell for $500 and up.
Making a profit from peacocks is tricky. In the U.S., their eggs are not in demand, although you can certainly eat them. They’re similar in size to extra-large chicken eggs and taste a little richer. The birds themselves can also be eaten, but you’ll rarely find them on any menu.
Most zoos already have peacocks, and there isn’t a big demand for them as pets. Like geese, they make great watchbirds, but they’re impossible to keep anywhere but in a rural setting because of the noise they make. So, their primary market value lies in the male’s feathers and the birds themselves.
With an average sellable feather output of 175 per male per year, you’re looking at $875 to $1,750 a year maximum income from each male peacock you own. This assumes you're selling each eye feather individually at top price and that none are damaged, but damage inevitably happens. One way of increasing your peacock income is to make your own arts and crafts from their feathers and sell those products too.
Owning peacocks is a big commitment. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make enough profit from them to quit your day job, you should be able to make enough to cover their costs and then some. In the meantime, you’ll be able to enjoy their breathtaking beauty. To get started, search “peafowl for sale”.