What do Peacocks Eat? Diet & Feeding Guide
Peacocks are one of the most colorful, heavy-bodied birds of the avian world. But their plumage is not the only colorful thing about them. Peacocks also have a diverse diet. As an omnivorous bird species, they’ll feed on most foods available to them.
In this article, I’ll examine the types of foods peacocks eat in the wild, as well as the foods they can be fed in captivity.
Let’s see just how varied a peacock diet actually is.
What do Peacocks Eat in the Wild?
Peacocks are ground-living birds that forage and scavenge for food. As opportunistic feeders, they’ll feed on any of the following sources of food: grasses, seeds, berries, insects, small lizards, frogs, rodents, arthropods and even snakes.
In terms of insects, peacocks will feed on ants, flying insects, grubs, and various other bugs. They’ll also scrape the ground for worms. They’ll also eat spiders.
Arthropods such as centipedes, millipedes and scorpions are also enjoyed by peacocks.
Although they have a short beak, the beak is sharp and strong, allowing these birds to hunt for rodents, frogs, salamanders, toads, newts, and even snakes.
Peacocks seem to abhor the presence of snakes on their territories, so they’ll make an effort to exterminate them as much as possible for their grounds.
By now, you might have noticed that peacocks have a diet that’s high in protein. Maintaining the colorful plumage and long train feathers requires lots of energy, so peacocks require a high-protein diet that they get mainly from feeding on insects.
Peacocks also enjoy various types of berries like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other berries, especially ones around which insects like to gather.
So these are most of the foods peacocks will feed on in the wild. Let’s see what peacocks eat in captivity.
Feeding Pet Peacocks
When peacocks are raised in captivity, their diet still needs to be as varied as their diet in the wild, even though you can replace many of the foods they consume in the wild with commercially available game bird feeds or feed mixes.
There are plenty of things you can feed your pet peacock, regardless of the season. Whenever possible, you should favor fresh foods over dried ones or pellets.
In summer, peacocks have more fresh food options available, including insects, grasses, and various seeds or berries. In winter, pellets or feed mixes can supplement the lack of fresh foods.
Here’s an overview of the foods you can feed your pet peacock:
Grains are a common source of food for various types of poultry, including peacocks. Peacocks can eat a variety of grains including corn, wheat, and various other types of grains that poultry normally consume. Grains are also used in the preparation of commercial bird or poultry feeds.
– Veggies and Fruits
Peafowls also consume lots of vegetable matter in the wild. Whether those are in the form of grasses, roots, or flower petals. Fruits and vegetables are also great options when it comes to maintaining a varied diet for your peacocks.
In captivity, you can feed peafowls a variety of legumes such as peas, beans, and peanuts. In terms of fruits, peafowls seem to enjoy berries the most.
From raspberries to gall-berries, they enjoy various types of berries. They also eat grapes, which they tend to consume whole.
Other fruits peacocks can eat include watermelon, papaya, pineapple core, and bananas.
As for vegetables, peacocks enjoy cabbages, celery, leafy greens, carrot tops, and many others.
Apart from leafy greens like spinach, peafowls, eat lucerne, and various other grasses and grass seeds.
– Pelleted Food
Pelleted foods commercialized for game birds and pheasants are suitable for peacocks as well. These are offered to them especially during winter time, when insects, fresh fruits, veggies, and other plant matter isn’t readily available.
During winter, they need a higher intake of protein, so make sure that the pellet foods you offer them include protein as well.
Turkey starter and breeder pellets are some of the best foods you can feed your peacocks during the winter.
When fresh sources of protein are not available, commercially available protein supplementation may be needed.
Peacocks that are raised in captivity should be kept on a diet with at least a 25% protein content.
– Pet Food
Not your typical choice for bird food, but cat and dog foods can also be fed to peacocks. These are naturally high in protein and contain lots of other supplements too.
I’m not suggesting you should feed peacocks with pet foods instead of commercially available game bird feeds, just that whenever you run out of pellets for peacocks, cat or dog food can be an acceptable substitute.
Just make sure to choose pet foods that aren’t high in fats and don’t contain salt.
What do Baby Peacocks Eat?
Baby peacocks will start feeding as soon as they’re able to leave the nest. The peahen takes good care in teaching the peachicks what types of foods they can consume.
They soon take their mother’s example, and start foraging and scraping the ground for seeds, grasses, worms and other insects themselves.
At first, they’ll choose smaller insects and softer ones such as ants, larvae, worms, and other small insects. Once they grow bigger and their beaks grow larger and stronger, they can eat larger insects, small lizards, frogs, and other sources of protein that adult peacocks can eat.
In captivity, baby peacocks can be fed game bird mixes. Peachicks develop rapidly; however, they’ll only reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age.
It’s important to note that peachicks are omnivorous from the start, so protein as well as vegetable matter both need to be included in their diet as soon as they are able to feed.
Also, the parental instincts of peahens are different in captivity than in the wild. The parental instinct in the wild is stronger and the peahen takes a more hands-on approach to raising its peachicks.
In the wild, peachicks will stay with their mothers until they’re six months of age. When raised in captivity, the parental instincts are weaker, and you’ll need to get involved in their rearing.
Peachicks may need to be kept warm, usually in a draft-free brooder for at least 8 weeks. During this time, they’ll need access to turkey or game bird starter feed and fresh water.
Can Peacocks Eat Meat?
Yes, peacocks thrive on a protein-rich diet that includes various sources of meat such as insects, bugs, and their larvae, worms, small rodents, lizards, frogs, and so on.
They can even be fed dried mealworms, but also meat kitchen scraps.
The protein from these is needed to keep the plumage of peacocks strong, healthy and colorful.
While insects are the most consumed meat by peacocks, they’ll not shy away from other sources of protein either, such as snakes, mice, or lizards.
So, not only can peacocks eat meat, it’s a crucial part of their diets. Peacocks need 25%-30% of crude protein in their diets.
Peacocks that have protein deficiency may have stunted growth and can lose the vibrancy of their feathers.
Can Peacocks Eat Bread?
You may often see people in the park feeding ducks or pigeons with bread. While that’s common practice in some areas, in others, feeding bread to birds may be prohibited.
Bread itself isn’t harmful to any birds. The problem is that bread has low nutritional value to birds. And if they’re fed on a diet that predominantly consists of bread, some birds will develop serious nutritional deficiencies and can even starve, even if they fill up on bread.
Since they’re not picky, peacocks will eat almost anything you’ll offer them including bread. Whether bread is good for them or not, is another matter.
Obviously, it’s not a good idea to allow your peacocks to consume large quantities of bread. If they do so, they’ll get stuffed with bread and become less likely to feed on the more nutritious foods they need.
Likewise, bread isn’t a natural source of food for peacocks, nor does it provide them with the variety and nutritional value they need to develop in a healthy way.
So, if your peacocks occasionally get a bite of bread, it’s not a problem, just make sure they don’t consume large quantities of bread.
One important thing you should watch out for is to never feed your peacocks moldy or spoiled bread because it can make them sick.
Can Peacocks Eat Chicken Feed?
If you’re raising peacocks in the same enclosure with chickens, this question is something you should give some attention to, especially when it comes to feeding time.
Because these are birds with different nutritional requirements, it may be difficult to correctly manage their needs.
Chicken feed is not unsafe or harmful for peacocks, so they can safely eat chicken feed as well. The problem with chicken feed is that it doesn’t pack the nutritional punch peacocks need. Especially when it comes to the protein content of chicken feed.
Both chickens and peacocks are omnivorous bird species. So technically, a peacock can eat everything a chicken can.
It’s just that chicken feed is formulated for the nutritional needs of chicken, and the nutritional needs of peacocks are different.
What may be enough for a chicken, may prove deficient for a peacock. Therefore, it’s best to stick to formulated feeds for peacocks when feeding peacocks.
There’s also the problem that some chicken feeds are medicated, which might be ok for chicken, but the same medication may prove harmful to peacocks.
So, what should you do?
You should probably go with non-formulated feeds that both chicken and peacocks can eat. Other than this, you should diversify the diet of peacocks as much as possible with the types of foods peacocks normally eat.
Peacocks have a diverse diet that’s rich in protein to sustain their growth, healthy plumage, and vibrant colors.
From insects to fruits and veggies, peacocks can enjoy a variety of foods. And variety is key to make sure they’re developing well.
Peacocks can also be fed game bird feeds and formulated peacock feeds, especially during winter when the availability of fresh meat and fresh vegetable matter plummets.
Baby peacocks are usually taught by their mothers what foods they can consume, but the parental instinct of peahens raised in captivity may be too weak. So, peacocks need to be fed game bird starter feed to develop into healthy adults.