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Business Is Booming For Peacock Farmers
'We've got customers in all 50 states and we're going to more than double our business this year," says Dennis Fett, a teacher from Minden, Iowa, who's developed a booming sideline business raising and selling peacocks and peacock-related books and products.
Fett, and his wife Debra Buck, started their peacock business in 1981 almost by accident when they were looking around for unusual pets for their "hobby" farm. They bought a batch of eggs in Nebraska, out of which only one bird hatched, but that was enough to get them started.
Today they have a flock of four different peacock varieties and they plan to sell 500 fertile eggs and hundreds of chicks and full-grown breeding birds this year. Fett has also authored a book on raising and handling peacocks and the couple sells jewelry and Christmas ornaments made out of peacock feathers.
"Many farmers buy peacocks as conversation pieces but we've proved it can also be a good business to get into," says Dennis, whose wife Debra also raises parakeets and other exotic birds. "Peacocks are easy to raise and don't require any special care. They can withstand temperatures down to 20? below zero so they don't require much in the way of special housing. They feed on the same grains as turkeys or chickens. During summer months they'll feed on bugs if allowed to roam. Free-running birds always seem to look healthier and prettier than penned birds, perhaps because of the way they supplement their diet with insect treats. Each mature peahen will lay between 15 and 20 eggs a year. The birds live about 25 years and produce eggs till death. Their highest production years are ages 2 to 10."
Fett notes that there's an active market for peacock feathers from craft people as well as commercial manufacturers. "The male begins to grow his colorful feather train in its second year. At first there are only a few round spots, or eyes. The third year the cock will reach full color. They drop their feathers, or molt, each year in late July or August. Soon after he loses his train, the cock begins to grow new feathers and by February or early March you can see the eyes on the new feathers. By the time the males are in full color, the females are ready to mate."
Full-grown peacocks range in price from $20 to $150, depending on variety and age. Unhatched eggs sell for $4 to $8, depending on variety, with a minimum purchase of four eggs. The eggs can be dormant for up to 15 days before incubating so Fett ships them out under first class mail but doesn't guarantee hatchability. "The sooner you start incubation, the better. Our on-farm hatchability rate is about 95% but it may be 50% or less when shipped." Fen's book on peacocks, which details all aspects of running a peacock operation, sells for $15.95, including postage.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dennis Fett, Iowa Peacock Farmers, Rt. 1, Minden, Iowa 51553 (ph 712 483-2473).

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #2