Breeding and rearing
Breeding by hen
For successful breeding you need a strong pair or triple from unrelated bloodlines. Normally the cock and the hen mature in the second year, some hens mature in the third year.
In the wild the clutch has about 3-5 eggs and if the first clutch fails they will do a second one. In captivity 3 to 4 clutches are possible.
Natural breeding is the best. To encourage the hen to set up a clutch, you should provide different places for hiding by putting reeds in the corners of the aviary, even in the shelter. Breeding inside could be much better because of weather instability. Incubation lasts 28 days. I feed the chicks with chicken crumbs, after two weeks I add some small seeds. In the 6th to 8th week we change slowly to adult food. We feed them pellets mixed with turtledove seeds. Every day the chicks get some mealworms powdered with minerals and fresh fruits. Green peafowl need a big aviary with grass and herbs. The hen starts perching after three to five days. Therefore, the offspring needs help to climb the perch otherwise they will not be kept warm and the risk to loose them is high. Maybe you could put an infrared lamp in the shelter if some are not able to follow the hen. The offspring are born with feathers on their wings and after about seven days they may be able to fly up to two meters high. Young hens are sometimes a little careless with their chicks, but usually the hens take care on their young and fight for them. Some could get aggressive, if you come to close to the chicks. Once we had a hen, maybe born in the wild, it was very careless, but after some years it became a good breeding hen. Usually you do not have to separate the flock from the cock, because it goes it´s own way. Young males have to be separated after nine to ten months because the old males will start to chase the male offspring and they may kill the young ones.
Natural breeding is the best for the offspring. The chicks learn social behavior, they grow better and there are no problems with bended toes and feather picking. This makes it more comfortable for the breeder. These offspring are much more useful for reindroduction into the wild. Only the number of young ones will be less. But the quality bred by the mother hen is much better.
Breeding by broody hens
If the hen lays the eggs all around the pen and doesn´t start to breed a solution may be to breed with broody hens. Many breeders are complaining about the risk of diseases spread by chicken hens. In my opinion it’s a low risk if you keep the hens as clean as you keep the peafowl. You can use almost all hens. Depending upon their size you can put two or three eggs under the hen. After incubation we put the hen with the chicks in a box 1,20m by 0,60m by 0,60 m for the first days. After six days, put the hen and the young ones in an aviary with grass. There we have a perch but only in a height of 0,80cm.Higher perches are removed until the chicks are 30 days old. After three months the hen starts laying eggs and doesn´t care about the offspring anymore. Now we bring the juvenile birds together with other offspring in a big aviary and the hen goes back to the other chickens. After being separated the young peafowl are upset for a few days. In the wild the hen cares about the young ones for up to 10 months, then the dominant cock starts chasing away the family flock, so that the peafowl hen can start a new clutch. It is possible to use an Indian peafowl as a broody hen. They can be successful breeders and the offspring could learn the typical peafowl behavior.
Last option- breeding by incubator
Many breeders rely solely on incubator-breeding. We use an incubator as well. Therefore I will describe the way we do it. We use a “still air” incubator with automatic egg turning. We collect the eggs from different hens and mark them so that they can be identified later. Usually, the hens lay one egg every two days. Eggs can be stored for up to twelve days. We warm the collected eggs in the incubator to a temperature of 38,4°C, (measured on the eggs top) and a humidity of around 50 %. After the 26th day we stop turning the eggs. After hatching we leave the chicks in the incubator for half a day or put them into a moving-air incubator for half a day, to dry the chicks. Then we put the chicks to a hatching box with the measurements 0,60 cm – 80 cm x 0,40 cm and 0,50 cm high. After the second day we put the chicks into an artificial brooder box. That box has infrared bulbs or a heater, branches for perching and a flat flowerpot filled with sand. The sand is used for sand bathing and collecting stones. The branches for perching are very important for the development of muscles, joint and sinew. The chicks jump on them and use the branches for resting. The bottom of the brooder box is made out of wire, which allows the chicks to graze and catch insects. In the night we bring them inside. If the chicks don´t eat by themselves you can use a small paintbrush, dip it in water and then in crumbs and hold it in front of the birds. They will start to peck. These can be done until the birds start eating themselves, or you bring them together with chicken or pheasant chicks, they will learn to peck from them. Big problems caused by artificial breeding methods, are bended toes and joints. This may be due to a lack of exercise. Try to exercise with the chicks in your garden by bringing them to run around, for no less than one hour a day.
Fresh air, sun and movement are important for the breeding of Green Peafowl. In the wild the hen and her chicks walk up to twelve hours a day and there are no abnormalities on legs and toes. During the night there should be no water or food for the birds, so as not to fatten them. This I learned by watching them in the wild. After three weeks we bring the young peafowl in an aviary 2m x 6m with a hut 2m x 2m and 2,2o m high. The perch is in 0,80m high. The building has an infrared bulb or a heater. From the second to third month we put the birds together in a bigger aviary until they are 10 months old. Small fights happen between the hens and cocks everyday, but if they get more severe, especially with the males, you have to separate them. This could be the best time to bring new breeding pairs together. After three months it is easy to see the difference between male and female birds. The female secondaries have black edges and the wingcoverts on their back have a wider, whitish-grey barring than the males´ wingcoverts.
Handreared peafowl, which are fed by hand and reared by the owner will become a lifetime companion.
You have to be alert for diseases at anytime. Coccidiosis and gapeworms are the biggest problem in the first month, blackhead disease could be a problem as well but it is more seldom at this age. I have had some experience, but in these cases you better contact a vet. Hygiene is the best to avoid such problems, the aviary should be cleaned once a week and the rearing box daily. Bended toes are typical problems when breeding with an incubator, but it is simple to correct. You could do it from the first day on. You take a electrician´s tape 2-5 cm wide and 10 cm long. Lay the strip of tape lengthwise on the table with the sticky side up. Place the foot on the right side of the tape and correct the position of the bended toes. Lastly, fold the left side of the tape on the entire foot and press out the air between the toes. The overlap should be removed. The peafowl might walk like a duck, after four to six days you should remove the tape. In more than 90 % of the cases the problem should be resolved; if it failed you could retry after 2 – 3 days.
These are my peafowl breeding experiences, which I made as a breeder and observer in the wild. It is my way I do it, there might be many other ways to breed. I hope it will be a help to one or another.
Thank you Gerd L. for the translation