Peahens do lay eggs without a mate, yes. You need a peacock (male peafowl) in your ostentation of peafowl if you want fertilized eggs, and ultimately peachicks. But peahens will lay unfertilized eggs without a peacock present.
When Do Peahens Start Laying Eggs?
Peahens mature and start laying eggs a lot later than other birds, like chickens for example. Peahens reach maturity at around 2 years old.
The time of year also plays a big role in when a peahen will lay her first egg. Their breeding season, which is when they lay eggs, is typically between March and August.
This depends on the climate where you are, of course. It needs to be spring going into summer with plenty of sunlight and warmer weather for peahens to lay eggs at their best.
Peahens then lay eggs across two or three cycles. Typically laying an egg every other day for a week or so, then taking a week off, then getting back to laying eggs.
In a complete breeding season from March to August, a peahen lays on average 20-30 eggs.
How Do Peahens Get Pregnant?
Something that often confused people is that peafowl, chickens, and other birds lay eggs whether or not they’ve been fertilized by a male of the species.
Also, peahens do not get pregnant in the same sense as a human does. They do not carry their chicks inside them, and they do not get impregnated by peacocks.
When a peacock mates with a peahen, an organ called the ‘cloaca’ touches on both the hen and peacock, and sperm is transferred from the peacock to the peahen.
The sperm is then held in the peahen’s oviduct. As an egg is produced and leaves the ovary and enters the oviduct, the sperm joins with the egg and it becomes fertilized.
When the egg is laid, it then needs to meet certain conditions being cared for by the peahen to be incubated and eventually hatch into a peachick.
Related - How Often Do Peacocks Lay Eggs? (Hint Peacocks dont lay eggs! Peahens do)
How Long Will a Peahen Sit on Unfertilized Eggs?
I couldn’t find out a reliable account of how long a peahen will sit on unfertilized eggs, but it’s going to be similar as with chickens I’m sure.
A chicken hen will spend around 6-7 weeks sitting on unfertilized eggs before giving up. This can put a serious toll on a hen’s health though, as they only step off their eggs for a quick drink and something to eat each day.
Ideally, you should collect peahens’ eggs within a few hours of them being laid. The quicker the better.
If you allow them to build up a clutch containing 4-8 eggs, there is a high likelihood of a peahen going broody and sitting on them.
If you’re after peachicks and this is exactly what you want, then great. But if not, and if the eggs are unfertilized, you don’t want a broody peahen on your hands.
How Do You Know if a Peahen Egg Is Fertile?
The way to tell if an egg is fertile is to use a process called ‘candling’. This process involves shining a light into the egg to see if a chick is developing inside the egg.
You will not be able to see anything for at least the first 7 days while the egg is being incubated. After 7 days, you will start to see a pocket of air forming at one end of the egg.
By 20 days or so in, it will be very easy to see that there is a pocket of air at one end of the egg, and you’ll see a darker shade covering most of the egg.
It takes around 30 days for a peafowl egg to hatch. Typically, around day 27 you’ll start to see a ‘pip’ in the shell appearing. This is the chick tapping at the shell with its egg tooth to break out.
What to Do With Peahen Eggs?
If you have peahens, you’re going to find peahen eggs in their nesting areas throughout the spring and summer months.
So, what do you do with these large eggs?
First of all, it depends on whether or not they’re fertilized. If the eggs are fertilized, you have the option of trying to sell them.
Peafowl eggs sell for anywhere between $10-40 for Indian Peafowls, which are the most common species. For other species, you can usually ask for a little more.
If the eggs are not fertilized, you can still sell them of course. But you need to make it clear that they are unfertilized and the most likely reason someone will buy them is to eat them.
That leads me on to the most tasty option of the bunch - you can always eat your peafowl eggs.
What Do Peafowl Eggs Taste Like?
I’ve been fortunate enough to taste peafowl eggs on more than one occasion, and I have to say that they don’t really taste any different from chicken eggs.
They are more than twice the size, so you get a lot more egg - which means a lot more of all the good stuff, like protein and all the good vitamins.
What I will say is, just like comparing eggs from commercially kept chickens and free range ones, this is where the difference in taste is.
You can’t compare a free range peafowl egg to a commercial chicken egg, for example. But if both birds are being raised on the same quality nutrition and excellent living conditions, there really isn’t a lot of difference in the taste.
I’ve heard from a number of people that peafowl eggs taste more ‘gamey’. I think this is more so because peafowl are game birds, and knowing what you’re eating, you have a little bias.
But who am I to say what other people taste! Maybe peacock eggs are more gamey to some.
One thing I do know, if you ever get the chance to try a peahen’s egg, you absolutely should!
Now you know, peafowl will lay eggs without a mate. Peacocks are magnificent-looking animals, and it’s great to have one around, but if you don’t or can’t have a peacock in your group, then don’t worry - you’ll still get eggs.
The eggs will not be fertilized though. So, they’re fine for eating, giving away, selling, or whatever else you want to do with them. But you will not be seeing little peachicks hatching out, whatever you do.
Image credits - Image by Taylor McGlamery from Pixabay