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Farming for Dummies
Farming for Dummies
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Commenced:
01/06/2012
Submitted:
15/06/2012
Last updated:
07/10/2015
Location:
Parkes, NSW, AU
Climate zone:
Mediterranean





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Parkes, AU


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Peafowl

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Posted by Alexandra Berendt over 10 years ago

There are some new critters now calling this place their home ;)

Last year I encountered several snakes around the place, both King Browns as well as Red Belly Blacks.

Red Belly Black snake

Having been born in Germany, I never knew what it was like to grow up with a whole bunch of small, highly poisonous creatures right on your doorstep, ready to kill you should you accidentally step on them in the tall grass or squish them whilst picking up something of the ground or reaching underneath a chair or barbecue...

I realize it is part of permaculture to accept these things and to attempt to share our space with them in harmony and all that, but honestly, I still do not feel comfortable with the idea that my partner, me, our potential future children or even my lifestock and pets might die a horrible, painful death by snake- or spiderbite.

In early summer last year, Zena, my German Coolie cross died while I was in town doing shopping and other chores. By the time I returned home, she was stiff and plenty dead. She was a healthy, young dog and she was curled up and looked like she was only sleeping. We have some strong suspicions and snakes are right on top of that list since she was a sheep dog and always eager to explore and play with things that move. She was also chained under the water tank where it was cool, as it was a hot summer day and water supposedly attracks some snakes, not to mention the rodents that we are having difficulty controlling in our old, dilapidated farm house.

So, I have been thinking about ways of keeping some of these critters away from the house and other high traffic areas and figured poultry and fowl are really the best way, unless I want to start using chemicals and poison. My chooks were making a good start, eating all spiders they came across as far as I can tell, including Redbacks. Some people say chickens will eat small snakes as well but I have not seen this myself, and I don't know if my chickens have ever even come across a small snake. The ones I saw around here were pretty big actually.

Red Belly Black

Peacocks soon emerged as suitable snake-eaters or at least deterrents and I have always loved their brilliant colours and even enjoyed listening to their calls when visiting the zoo Hellabrunn in Munich, my home town.
Of course I never thoguth that I might ever have the space to be able to keep these beautiful birds but seeing as I am now in a position to keep them if I like, I have been doing some research and finally went and picked up my first pair yesterday.

Pair of Peafowl

They will need to be penned for a long time to settle in before being allowed to free range as these are adult birds who would otherwise attempt to return to their old home. Even though peacocks are fairly large birds, they can fly and will cover a fair bit of distance in a short amount of time, making it nearly impossible to catch them once they decide to leave, especially if they are basically unhandled like these two.

In about 6 months, I plan on clipping one wing on each bird so that they cannot get too far into the air and allowing them out during the day. I will still pen them over night if possible. Hopefully, they will breed whilst still penned, so their offspring will grow up here and know no other home. Those young birds will then be allowed out before their parents, to try and create a social reason for the two older birds to stay.
I will probably attempt to get another couple of hens as well, as this pair came from an unchecked breeding population and might be related so a couple of new hens should add some fresh genes to the pool. 

Peahen

Figuring out what to feed them was not that easy either, as my local feed stores do not have a specific food for peacocks. As a matter of fact, I have no idea if there is such a thing. In any case, the almighty internet says that they should get a diet with about 28% protein. That is a lot of protein, our dog kibble only has about 24%!

Peafowl will apparently eat small animals such as baby chicks and even mice if they can catch them. They also eat lizards and, of course, snakes. Bugs also add some protein to their diet I imagine.
My birds will be able to forage for animal protein once they are allowed to free range, but until then, I will be feeding them a diet of chicken scratch mix, layer pellets and lucerne chaff, with some cat kibble as an occasional treat to try and make them a little less feral and easier to handle. My goal is to be able to hand feed them and hopefully catch them without the use of a wire hook, nets or any kind of chaff bag as this highly stressful for them and me as well. 

Peacock Train

Hopefully this will be adequate, as these are adult birds and mostly done growing. My peacock is rising two and the peahen is older, about four years old. If they should breed whilst still penned I will likely offer them some higher protein feed, although I am not quite sure what yet and might need to contact a more experienced breeder.

Comments (7)

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Ute Bohnsack
Ute Bohnsack : Wow! Beautiful birds! I have no experience with peafowl, or snakes for that matter but it sounds like you have a really good and well-researched plan there. What a pity about your little dog. :(
Posted over 10 years ago

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Alexandra Berendt
Alexandra Berendt : Thank You Ute. I really do hope the peafowl will make a difference, I do not wnat to experience this kind of loss again if I can help it.

I have to admit, I do kind of miss being completely unconcerned about bugs and snakes in my backyard, like I was in Germany. But I still like living here better so I will find ways of dealing with it I suppose :)
Posted over 10 years ago

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Nadia Wong
Nadia Wong : thats a MASSIVE
Posted over 10 years ago

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Nadia Wong
Nadia Wong : massive red belly black. i wouldnt worry to much about bugs comparing to snakes though. I shared my room with 4 red backs and they tend to keep to their own business as long as they got a hide out. its hard to die even if you get bitten. Sydney funnel webs are more deadly..but hey they are in "sydney", far far away.
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Alexandra Berendt
Alexandra Berendt : Yep, I sure was glad I was in the ute and the dog had already passed the snake and must not have seen it. Lucky! This was just down the back, maybe 100 meters from the house. I'm more worried about the snakes than the spiders a well, but would definately feel more comfortable if the Redbacks did not love living in the spaces between my feed bags so much! Always have to wear gloves when I handle them. Someone told me they were bitten on the butt when using their old longjohn and apparently they didn't even go to the hopital. I've been terrified of potential spiders under my toilet seat ever since and always check now haha
Posted over 10 years ago

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