MARKETING YOUR PEAFOWL
By Mike Beahm
If you are like me, you got into the peafowl business because you thought they were beautiful birds. After a few years and lots of mishaps, you finally learned how to actually raise the birds. Because you couldn’t stand not to have at least a pair of each variety, you ended up with a lot of birds and a feed bill that looked more like a car payment. I can’t make the feed bill go away, but I know that the only way to make raising peafowl pay for itself is to sell some. What I am going to cover in this article is marketing your birds.
There are 4 ways to sell your birds that I am aware of: (1) exotic animal auctions, (2) animal and bird swaps, (3) through the mail and (4) straight off the farm. There are, I am sure, other ways to sell, but someone else will have to tell you about them.
One thing has to be said about taking your birds to an auction: You won’t be bringing them back home. Actually, auctions can be a good place to sell some birds, but you never know what kind of price you might get for them, and most of us are too embarrassed to call out no sale if the price the birds goes for is less that you wanted. Actually, I would encourage all of you to say no sale more often. Allowing someone to buy an expensive bird at a bargain basement price once in a while just makes those who are not really involved think that all birds should be selling for that price. If someone hears that a peacock went for $10 at a sale, it is going to be hard to sell them one of yours for much more. Yes, peafowl are worth more than that.
Another problem with selling at auction is that the cage generally goes with the bird. What’s inconvenient about this is that if the cage is not fairly nice, people will be suspicious about how the bird was raised and may pay less for it. Of course, if you spend a lot on the cage you may be just wasting your money, but you never really know until it’s too late.
If you do sell at auction, be proud of your birds. I put my name, address, and phone number on each cage I sell. I know that I am much more likely to buy a bird at auction if it comes from one of the breeders with a good reputation. If a bird sells anonymously, I always wonder if it is sick or something.
Never cage breeder males in such a way that their train is going to be damaged. A lot of people buying at a sale are actually looking for a living lawn ornament, and they will not be interested at all if the train is damaged. I don’t think the bird will be as good a breeder that year, either.
If you want something to bring a good price, find a way to draw a little extra attention to it when it comes on the block. One time I had 2 ducks I wanted to sell at an auction. One was a Pekin drake and the other was a Khaki Campbell hen. Even though they were different breeds, I put them in the same cage (usually not a good thing to do). The sale was right before Easter, and I happened to have a purple plastic Easter egg in my pocket, so I put it in the cage as a joke, the auctioneer said and it looks like this one lays purple eggs! He laughed and I called out she lays gold ones sometimes too. That got a big laugh and the two unmatched ducks sold for $9 each. I would have been thrilled to get $4 each for them. The point is, something that gets the crowds attention is going to sell a little higher because the people that have been asleep may wake up and bid a little too.
A swap is another way to sell your birds. The disadvantage of this is that most everyone there has the same things you do so everyone wants to sell but few want to buy. However, this is an opportunity to show your good stock and consequently, your reputation as a breeder will increase as a result. My experience is that those who saw you and your good stock together will remember you in the future when they are looking for birds.
Express mail shipping of birds is another way to buy and sell. About all I will say about that is that to me, the shipping costs are prohibitive. I think I would do anything to find birds closer that I could pick up myself.
I have found that the best way to sell birds is right off the farm. Your ability to do this may depend on where you live and how much local demand is there, but you’ll never know until you try and you may be very surprised. You can generally advertise very economically in the local thrifty nickel type papers that are everywhere and also in most rural weekly newspapers.
Put up signs in the feed stores near you. Most poultry owners have thought about buying peafowl even if they’ve never had the opportunity to do so. Of course, you can also check with your local pet stores and even the free radio swap-shop programs featured by many local radio stations. Yes, people listen to these programs religiously every day.
You can generate a good bit of publicity for yourself by donating a pair of peafowl to a local park and getting you picture and a short article in the local paper. If the peafowl become popular, the park personnel will come back to you for more. This would also be generally educational to the public. Many local people here in Missouri consider peafowl to be some type of frail, tropical birds that must be kept in heated aviaries to survive. The reason I own peafowl today is because the park in the town I went to college in (Bolivar, Missouri) had a flock of peafowl there that I always enjoyed watching. I learned by observation that the birds could live here year-round, and I vowed to someday own some.
There are also, of course, the national publications you can advertise in to sell your birds, but you had better be prepared to ship the birds. You are here dealing with a national market, and people will pretty much expect you to ship. This is now real problem for many. An area I have not even begun to cover is the sale of peafowl products. You can find ways to market the feathers of your peafowl that will make breeder-age males profitable to keep even if you never sell he birds themselves.
Maybe your feed bill is getting as big as your car payment. However, I hope that some of these suggestions will make your peafowl self-supporting. They are, truly, some of the most beautiful pets in the world. When they can support themselves and the other animal on your farm, they become even more beautiful.
Reproduction of this article elsewhere in any form without prior consent from the UPA is strictly prohibited. © 1999 The United Peafowl Association. All rights reserved.