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Peacock Experts Say “Be Careful” When Buying Birds
Dennis Fett is a long-time peacock breeder and promoter. He tells people to be very particular when picking out birds to buy.

    “Peacock” actually just refers to the male “peafowl”. Males have the eye-catching spread tails with the eye design on every feather. Fett and his wife Debra J. Buck are co-owners and co-founders of the Peacock Information Center. He has written books about their care and handling and appeared on TV shows. He points out the hazards of paying big bucks for pretty birds.

    “Some people claim there are as many as 186 color types of peafowl,” says Fett. “However, in my first book, the chapter on genetics was written by a leading poultry geneticist, who said there were really only 2 common types, the India Blue and the Green peafowl.”

    Look at any peafowl website and you quickly find a wide range of novel color types. Fett explains that they’re derived from crossing the 2 common types. The problem is that they don’t breed true. Other problems can also occur.

    “The Cameo Silver Dun or chocolate peacocks went through a long breeding process, but they have a lethal gene,” says Fett. “Half of the offspring turn white and go blind when reaching sexual maturity. Trying to breed that out produces different colors with some unable to reproduce.”

    If purchasing a specialty color type with the intention of breeding, he recommends asking for a breeding record and referrals from past buyers. While color types can be stabilized, it takes 10 years or more to establish a line.

    Fett suggests people interested in breeding peafowl start with several pair of India Blue. They are hardy in most climates and less expensive than the fancy colored types.

    Regardless of color, he warns that peafowl need to be kept in an enclosure. Natural wanderers, they can be a problem for owners and for neighbors.

    “They will roam and eat flowers and cause other problems,” says Fett. “Also, predators can take them.”

    Much of what he and his wife have learned over nearly 30 years of breeding peacocks can be found in his 2 books on the subject and a bimonthly publication. They have also produced a variety of DVDs about peafowl.

    Fett notes that prices for peafowl have fallen dramatically. For all of his warnings and critiques, he remains positive.

    “If you want to breed peafowl, even fancy stuff, keep it simple and have fun with them,” he says. “Sit and watch and enjoy them. If you lose a few birds, get some more eggs and keep on trying. Don’t give up.”

    Fett notes that while peacock prices can vary substantially, he suggests an India Blue with full tail feathers can go from $85 up to $200. White peacocks can sell for $250, and Cameos can sell for $300. Chicks and eggs are substantially less with Fett pricing his by the number ordered. He takes preorders for a single egg for $21. A minimum order of 100 eggs is priced at $9 each. Most breeders also sell feathers. Prices often vary by color and condition.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Peacock Information Center, 24783 330 St., Minden, Iowa 51553 (ph 712 483-2473; www.peafowl.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #3