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INCUBATING EGGS
 
There are several methods of hatching peafowl eggs. The first method is artificial incubation. I incubate the eggs at 99-100 degrees F. The eggs will hatch after 28 to 30 days of incubation. The eggs should be candled after 10 days of incubation to check for fertility. If an egg is not fertile, it will appear clear and should be removed from the incubator so that it doesn't spoil and possibly contaminate other eggs in the incubator. (Warning:  Be sure the egg is not viable as I have made the mistake of opening an egg too early in the past.  Now, I wait 29 days for all the eggs before making that determination unless I am sure they are clear only after 2 weeks)  Eggs should be placed in the incubator as soon as possible after they are laid and no eggs should be held more than 10 days before incubation begins. This rule also applies to the alternative incubation methods that will be covered next.
 
 Be sure not to handle the eggs with dirty hands and if the eggs are dirty simply wipe them off with a paper towel.  Do not wet them since they have a protective coating.  You can also mark the date on the top of the eggs but not with a lead pencil or marker which could penetrate the egg.   I use a fine point ball point pen.  


    Natural incubation of peafowl eggs can be done in several ways. The first is to allow the peahen to set on her own eggs and hatch them herself. (This is the recommended method for a healthy happy ostentation.)  Peahens do a good job of incubation but if you are breeding, this method limits the number of eggs that a peahen will produce for the year. Once she has set on a clutch of eggs, she won't lay any more eggs for that season. Most often, if a nest is destroyed during incubation, a peahen will lay a second clutch of eggs and set on them. A second method of natural incubation, which allows for maximum egg production, is the use of broody chickens or ducks. The peafowl eggs are collected as they are laid and then set as a clutch under a chicken or duck. The size of the clutch is determined by the size of chicken or duck to be used for incubation. The eggs are left under the foster parent until two days before the normal hatch date. The eggs are removed from the nest and put in a hatcher. A new clutch of eggs is put under the hen and the process is repeated. If the eggs are allowed to hatch under the foster hen, the risk of disease in the chicks is much greater, and many times the hen won' t stay broody to allow for more eggs to be set under her.
    The rule of thumb in brooding peafowl chicks is to start the chicks out with a brooder temperature of 95 degrees F and decrease this temperature by 5 degrees for every week of age. Brooders can be made at home (see the 2 picture above at left) or can be bought commercially. The brooder should provide a consistent heat source so that the chicks don't become chilled or overheated. The heating area should be large enough so that the chicks don't have to pile on top of one another to stay warm. The brooder should have a wire bottom floor ( I use newspaper and paper towels the first month and change daily) so that droppings and wasted feed fall through.  After a month, the chicks begin to eat the paper towels so I switch to paper bags that I cut and lay on the bottom.  Brooders with feed and water troughs attached to the outside help keep the chicks healthy because the chicks can't get into them and make a mess out of the feed and water. The last thing that a brooder must have is a lid. (You can use screen mesh and place your heat lamp directly on it)  Chicks that are only a few weeks old are surprisingly good flyers. The chicks are usually left in the hatcher for a day after they hatch. This gives them plenty of time to completely dry off and to gain enough strength to stand. The chicks are then placed in a small brooder using a heat lamp for warmth. Chicks under a week old should be kept in small groups so that they learn to eat and drink without having to compete with one another.
 

FEEDING YOUR CHICKS
    Chicks sometimes have to be taught to eat and drink. This can be done by placing a teacher chick, which is 3 to 4 days old and has learned to eat and drink, in with the new chicks.  If no teacher chick is available, I read that you can place a shiny marble in the feed and water container for the chicks to pick at. (Only used when they are little and there is no chance of swallowing.  While picking at the marble, they will learn to eat and drink at the same time. I also provide the chicks with string beans, lettuce and berries (put through a food processor),  along with their starter feed after they are about 2 weeks old. The green color of these seems to attract the chicks' attention and provides a natural food source for the chicks.  Chicks are fed a medicated starter feed or antibiotic in their water for the first three months and then are switched to a game bird grower feed until they are a year old. After they are a year old, the birds are fed the maintenance feed until they reach breeding age.

 
       


Home made brooder:  Simple plastic clear container with wire mesh inserted onto the top (heat lamp rests on top).   *Chicks are put in a larger cage with a heat lamp @ 1 month