Peacocks bring plenty of colour at Holme farm

An East Yorkshire farmer has opened up on life inside a peacock farm where the birds are bred for luxury estates.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 2:00 pm
Holme on Spalding Moor farmer John Newsome describes peacocks as having personalities as unique and colourful as their intricate displays.
Holme on Spalding Moor farmer John Newsome describes peacocks as having personalities as unique and colourful as their intricate displays.

Few animals on this planet dazzle and draw attention quite in the same way as a male peacock.

Often the star attraction of a farmyard and heard before they are seen, the stunning pigments and iridescence of an Indian peacock’s splayed plumage is frequently the magnum opus of any bird in Britain.

But one farmer is not simply the proud owner of one of the birds at his smallholding in the East Riding of Yorkshire – John Newsome, in fact, has 300 of them.

Having bred peacocks for over a decade, Mr Newsome knows all there is to know about the birds and rears them to sell on to other farmers and even to stately home owners and golf clubs overseas.

Far from just a pretty tail, male peacocks he insists are unlike any other bird to rear, as he describes them as having personalities as unique and colourful as their intricate colours.

“I think it was the sheer physical beauty of them that attracted me to them,” he says.

“But they can be curious creatures as well. They have their own personalities – you can have one bird that’s quite docile and others that are a bit more boisterous and feisty.”

“They’re not all a standard cookie-cutter type creature. They are unique.“Some will come right up to you quite aggressively showing off, and other birds just run off and hide away.”

Mr Newsome, 36, a father of two, rears the birds at Newholme Farm, situated near Holme at Spalding Moor, near Market Weighton.

Having always been interested in peafowl, he has been professionally breeding them since 2010 after a friend in Norfolk who bred them took retirement, and now is one of the largest specialist breeders in the country with Java Green and rarer Indian Blue breeds to his name.

Although only males display the bright, lustrous coloured feathers typically associated with the birds as a trait believed to be to attract females, both male and female peafowl are after referred to colloquially as peacocks.

Often depicted culturally as a symbol of luxury and opulence, some of Mr Newsome’s peacocks are sold to private estates as a non-breeding bird, although most are sold on to other breeders and farmers while eggs are also sold to other farmers.

“I currently have about 300 adults and at the moment, we are still hatching,” he said.

“But breeding will usually go on until September.

“I have previously exported the birds into Europe but a lot get sold in the UK as well. A lot of them get sold into larger estates or stately homes and even golf courses.”

“They’ve got to be one of the prettiest birds there are,” he added.

“It’s the colours of the birds that makes them so endearing. They’re just absolutely beautiful. If it wasn’t for the fact that they’re relatively common, if you bumped into a peacock for the first time with its tail splayed, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere with a much more tropical climate.”

As well as peacocks, Mr Newsome also owns birds such as cranes and other poultry, but insists the teal-coloured fowl remain the star of the show down at the farm.