Susan's Tips for a Healthy Peacock Winter

I don't know about you, but we had a short extremely arctic blast of winter that came out of Alaska, a dropped our temperatures to about zero from 50o so in a matter of hours. Households in our community had pipes freeze, then burst a few days later when it all calmed down. Fortunately we have enough leaky faucets that they kept running, but it was darn cold.

We worry about our birds- peacocks and chickens, who must live in these unusually frigid conditions (last year it wasn't colder than 20o) and try to keep them comfortable, and alive. As I was outside in the cold, caring for them, I thought I should write a few of the tips that seemed to work for us and ours.

We have peacocks in cages and uncaged. The free roamers seem to handle the cold just fine, even roosting high in the icy trees at night, flying down later in the morning than usual, trying not to land on snowy patches. I watch for them and bring out food. So, here are some ideas:

1. Bring the food indoors and serve it the next day at house room temperature. If is 60 degrees or warmer inside, the food will seem practically hot to those outside, and it will take less time to digest and burn up. I keep the bag of cat food inside, and bring cracked corn and game and chicken crumbles and wild bird food inside in coffee cans or buckets.

2. Serve warm foods. I heated up some rice and cooked cereal for the birds and it seemed to be very much enjoyed by all. Then, of course, egg supply permitting, I cooked up my famous "Peachick Deelight"- which brought them a'runnin,' and Super Deelight, recipe soon to be posted. I also had sprouts at room temperature for greens which they liked.

3. Make sure water has Vitamins and Electrolytes, which helps the birds stand the temperature extremes. And, we bring the water containers in at night and fill them and take them out in the morning, warming them up with warm water poured on the containers during the day. They must have water, even more than food. You get the powder at the feed store and mix like lemonade in the water; it really helps, at all times in the year.

4. Insulate the ground with straw or sawdust, or if you can think of anything better, use it to keep their poor feet from having to walk on the ice. This is especially true of caged birds.

5. Light 'em up! Some heat lamps, of the red variety, with clamps, put far enough away not to burn them, makes a world of difference. Or hang a light with a reflector. Our caged birds were just basking in the warmth, and seemed ever so much happier. I put them on a timer and left the lights on until 11 pm or so- worked well for us.

We were lucky that the power stayed on the whole time. I would have had to do much more work and maybe lost some then.

I guess, if I had a barn or suitable enclosure, and if the freeze lasted longer than it did, I would bring them indoors, where there is more warmth in numbers.

As always, helpful hints from members are appreciated.

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