Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Average Day

I often hear people remark, 'You work full time, have 4 kids and a farm....I don't know HOW you do it!?'  I always kind of chuckle and say I have no clue myself!  I thought I'd give you a glimpse into just how busy I really am.  First off, I've been trying to type out this post since last Friday and tonight I've had to stop about a dozen times to tend to one of the kids...if that gives you any clue!
Let's take a look at an average day shall we?
Day starts around 6 with Savannah waking for her breakfast.  I lay back down to catch a few more winks until the alarm clock goes off at 7:00, i usually snooze until about 7:30 since the kiddos are out of school now.  We are fortunate to have a nanny (I'll refer to her as L) at the house over the summer so she takes care of everyone as they wake up (for which I am VERY grateful).  By 7:30, I'm up, I go brew coffee (my lifeblood) and turn on my pc for work.  I wake up hubby (J) and turn the shower on for him.  By this time coffee is done and I grab my first cup of the day...ahhhh.  While I'm enjoying my coffee, I'm checking work emails and then I log on to my mac to check farm emails and the FB page.  J gets himself ready and then makes a quick trip down to make sure all the animals have food and water.  I check eggs in the incubators and take care of any newly hatched babies.  We try to spend a few minutes in the morning discussing what the day will bring and he leaves for work around 9.  By this time, the kids are all starting to wake up.  Most of the time they come in my office to say good morning and I often go downstairs for a few minutes with them to help with breakfast.  Usually Savannah is awake again and ready for her second breakfast.  I feed Savannah while checking emails again and trying to get a few work tasks done.  After Savannah has her second breakfast I bring her back down to L who watches her until she is ready to eat again.  I'm nursing Savannah and it's more of a pain (and more time consuming) to pump than just feed her when she is hungry.
Once Savannah is settled I head down to the barn to check for eggs and check food/water again (usually around 10-10:30).  If it is a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday my next task is packing eggs for orders.  I try to get those all ready to go before lunch so I can stop at the PO at lunchtime to drop them off.  After I wrap eggs, I usually have meetings for work or other work related things to do so I continue with that until around noon or 12:30.  I try to break around this time for lunch.  First lunch task is feeding baby again and then I pack her up with me and we head out for afternoon errands.  Sometimes I meet J for lunch to make my PO drops easier (I can leave baby in the van and just run the packages in this way).  If I meet him we try to take a few minutes for 'us' and chat, it's a very nice break.  :) After errands it's back home and back to work.  I try to do a lot of my data work (reports, emails, etc) in the afternoon as I often have meetings most of the morning.  I make another check of the incubators (we hand turn the peahen eggs in addition to using the turner).
Savannah usually naps until about 3pm and is then ready for another snack, I'll feed her, bring her back down to L and the big kids and head back to work for a few more hours.  L usually stays until at least 5, sometimes 6 which is nice because I can finish out my work day and take a minute to catch my breath before the evening fun begins!
I usually finish working around 5 or 5:30 and head down to make another pass at all the animals.  J is usually back home around 6 or 6:30.  Lately we've had to make a few trips out to our rental house (our old house) because we are looking for new tenants.  Luckily I think we've finally found someone so that should be ending this week (finally).  If we aren't running out for something, when hubby gets home the horses, donkey and goats go out to the other pasture to graze for a bit.  I get dinner going while J makes another check of everyone in the barn and pens.  I usually have at least one helper making dinner and J gets at least one farm hand for his chores too.  The kids all love helping on the farm!  While I am getting dinner ready I usually need to break a few times to feed Savannah again, she has been teething lately and either wants to nurse or be held almost all the time.  I try to get dinner ready by 7:30 and make sure all the kids eat.  I usually sit with them and have a little something but wait until when Jay is finished with chores outside to really eat dinner.  After dinner I get everyone baths and now that it is summer, they can watch TV for a little while before bed.  I aim for 9pm for bedtime but we often miss that and if the kids are all being good, I usually don't mind too much.
While I am tending to all the inside work, Jay takes care of all the animals.  He makes sure everyone is fed and watered, collects eggs and then gets the horses, donkey and goats back in for the night.  It usually takes him about an hour or so to finish up so I'm usually just about done with dinner and baths by the time he is done.
Once we get the kids in bed, we spend some time cleaning up from the destruction of the evening, I do a load or two of laundry and then we try to eat dinner ourselves in between answering farm emails, uploading the daily (St)Eve picture and feeding Savannah almost constantly from 9pm to 11pm (well, I'm solo on that particular task, lol).  After I am finally able to get her down for the night, J and I try to spend a little time together catching up on TV or just sitting and chatting.  Mostly TV (lol)...it's a guilty pleasure for us both. ;)  During the evening I do have my mac within arms reach and can often be found IMing, texting, web browsing, etc while watching TV.  By the time we wind down it's usually after midnight and often closer to 1am before we finally fall into bed, exhausted and ready to start all over the next day!

Whew!  makes me tired just typing that all out and I still have no clue how I do it! ;)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Peafowl 101

It's breeding season for our peafowl! It is both the most exciting and busiest time of the year for our farm.  With about 60 adult breeding age and around 20 yearlings, when the peacocks start calling and the peahens start laying, things get super-duper busy around here!

Because so many folks are interested in these lovely birds and so little information on their care is available, we often include a short 'Peafowl 101' in our boxes of hatching eggs.  We thought it might be helpful to share some of that information here on our blog too.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask us in comments or you can always email us directly.  

Without further delay, a little primer on peafowl...

Peafowl come in two basic varieties, the most commonly known India Blue variety and lesser known  Java Green variety.   These varieties can inter mate and the result is called spalding peafowl.  The Blue variety will be described here.

Peafowl colors and patterns

Every Peafowl has a color and a pattern, they can also express multiple patterns.  The UPA (United Peafowl Association) recognizes or has pending recognition of Purple, Cameo, Charcoal, Bronze, Jade, Opal, India Blue, Peach, White, Midnight, Taupe and Sonya’s Violeta.  Patterns include the barred pattern (wild), black shoulder, pied, silver pied, and white eyed.  The males are colorful and comparably the females are more muted and less colorful.
(Barred) India Blue Male
Barred: The basic color of the India Blue is as it says, “Blue”, with a wild wing barring pattern.  Other colors have mutated from the blue variety.  

India Blue Black Shoulder peacock
Black Shoulder:  The natural iridescent color of the peafowl will generally be expressed throughout the wing, showing an absence of barring.  There is variation in wing color and expression within each color, but the barring will not be evident.  It may take up to two years for the color in the wing to become fully evident in these birds.
Pied India Blue Male
Pied:  This is a mix of white and color within the bird and the pattern will express itself differently within each bird.  The train of the bird may also be intermixed with white.
Silver Pied India Blue Male
Silver Pied:  Silver Pied is a combination of the genes for white, white eye, and pied.  The silver pied birds will have significantly less color than a pied and tend to be 80%+ white in color.

Opal White Eye
White Eye:  This is a gene which is co dominant and will express itself by turning the “eyes” of the train white to varying degrees (each birds expression is different). *Note all Silver pied birds are white eyed.

With all of these combinations, you can see that many variations can exist within the India Blue variety (a full list can be found here).  No color mutations have been seen to date with the Green Peafowl. 

Some Examples of color/patterns available:
Bronze Black Shoulder Silver Pied
Purple Black Shoulder Pied White Eyed
Opal Pied
Peach Black Shoulder
Taupe Pied
Sonya's Violeta Silver Pied


Peafowl have some, but not many special needs for feeding.  Peafowl will need a slightly higher protein feed than chickens.  20% or better protein feed is recommended to be available.  This may be picked up at any Tractor Supply or local feed store.  If feeding less than this % then supplement with dry cat food to boost protein.  The birds will love treats also: wet or dry cat food, bread, mixed grains, and yogurt are some of the things we’ve seen our birds enjoy.  As with all animals, having fresh water available at all times is necessary.

Housing and Weather

Roosting in the snow

Peafowl are very hardy in cold and hot weather.  Peafowl can survive on hot 100 degree or cold 0 degree or worse days given a few key elements.  Peafowl will need a shelter if not free ranged.  This shelter should allow for removal from severe elements such as driving rain, sleet, wind chill, hot sun etc.  This shelter need not be completely enclosed, but should allow for cover from above and from the wind.  The shelter should also contain some sort of roost, a 2x4 or 2x6 will work well.  The birds will shelter themselves on the roost given extreme cold or heat.  If confined in a fenced and covered run, the peafowl will also enjoy an outdoor roost. 
Peahens in the snow

To Pen or Free Range

Free Ranging Peafowl carries some risk.  As with any animal in the wild, they have potential predators.  Generally they are limited, but the friendlier the bird, the more likely it is to not be wary of potential predators.  Predators could include coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and dogs.  These birds have no problem flying, so this really helps as a defense.  Many people free range their birds with no problems, but to do so please follow the steps below.

Confine your birds for the first two months minimum.  Give them food, water, and treats regularly.  This will allow them to get the idea that easy food is available here.  When ready to be set free, allow them out for short periods of time and then re pen them.  Wait to feed them until ready to re-pen, it will make it easier than feeding and then letting them out.  Gradually allow more time out, but re-pen each night.  After a while they will generally come back at night.

With the above steps being followed, sometimes even the most trained peafowl may end up at the neighbors or off in the woods.  Most of the time they come back, but if the neighbor is offering food or the hen is nesting and laying away from the home, it may be some time before their return.  These are the risks, but many people do free range peafowl.

Confinement of peafowl is generally the safest way to keep your pet.  The pen should be 10-12 feet wide minimum (12 ft for a full train male) and at least 15 feet long.  Eight to ten feet high is perfect with flight netting on top.  Do not go lower than 6 ½ feet as this may interfere with a full train in display. 


One Year Old Peach Peacock

Peafowl take a minimum of two years to reach breeding age.  During the winter after their first year, male peacocks will begin to develop their first train.  This train will be smaller than subsequent trains in future years.  A peacock is fertile when he has his first eye feathers in his train.  
Yearling Peach peahen

Peahens are very similar, no train, but breeding at two years of age.  Peacocks will be able to mate with up to 6 females.  Peafowl will generally remain fertile until they reach lifespan, which can be up to 20 years of more given ideal conditions.

Egg Laying and Incubation

Peahen Egg

Peafowl are seasonal breeders, with the season (here in the states) lasting from Mid-April through July.  Peahens lay up to 30 eggs (typically though more in the 10-20 egg range) if collected daily and not allowed to sit on a nest.  Eggs take 27-28 days to hatch.  If the peahen is left with her eggs, she will lay her clutch of eggs over several days and then sit on them.  Peahens lay an egg every other day and will often lay their eggs in the evening and frequently at the same time daily.  Most begin to lay in their second year but it is possible (although not likely) for a year old hen to lay.

If you choose to collect eggs you should keep them in a cool place, with temps around 60 degrees.  You should keep eggs on their sides and rotate at least twice a day.  Eggs should be incubated at 99.5 degrees in a forced air incubator.  Eggs should be left on their sides and turned three times a day for the first 24 days.  Humidity should be 60-65% for the first 24 days.  On day 24, raise the humidity to 65-70% and stop turning eggs.  Chicks will begin to pip as early as day 25 and often hatch on day 26-27.  Peachicks can take up to 36 hours to hatch and they will often take several hours to rest after pipping. 
India Blue Peachick

Once hatched, peachicks will need medicated starter with 20% protein, a heat light (same temps as for chicks) and they should be raised on wire mesh.  Peachicks are very susceptible to worms and other disease so it is very important they be kept off ground until at least 3 months old.  Beginning at three months and approx every three-four months thereafter, they should be wormed. 


Bronze Peacock in the snow
Peafowl are in danger of contracting many different types of parasite worms from the soil.  Some of these will just be a hindrance to their best health, while others may be fatal.  The first worming of your peafowl should be a few months after they are put on the ground, around 6 months.  After that they should be wormed regularly, at minimum in the spring and fall but for most effectiveness every 2-3 months.  Worming should be done using fendbendazole, (i.e-Safegaurd Goat Dewormer).  Use 3cc per gallon for 5 days.  Repeat two weeks after last application to kill any hatched parasite eggs.  

Additional Links

We are, of course, happy to answer any peafowl questions you have or chat about the birds that have become our passion.  We are very active members of the United Peafowl Association (UPA) and Jay sits on the board of directors.  We encourage anyone interested in peafowl to join the UPA; for a $30 yearly membership you have access to the members only section of the forum (filled with tons of knowledge and information), you will also receive a subscription to Peafowl Today which is a bi-monthly magazine chocked full of peafowl pictures and articles and your membership also gives you discounts on the yearly convention (2012 convention will be in Cincinnati, Ohio) as well as other peafowl friendly businesses.   Just the magazine subscription alone is worth the cost of membership!  To find out more about the UPA, membership or just peafowl in general visit the UPA at their homepage or on Facebook.

Stay tuned for our next installment of Peafowl information with Peafowl 102--Peafowl Genetics.  Coming soon!

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