There’s a boom in folks in the suburbs raising chickens in their backyard if the local zoning laws allow, but some people are taking their interest in poultry further and looking into getting guinea fowl.
Many people think guinea fowl are related to chickens but they are in fact relatives of the pheasant. They originated in Africa, and though the bird has a naked head topped by a bony casque and naked neck, its feathers are singularly pretty. They are dark gray with tiny white spots and are often used to embellish men’s hats. The bird itself is shaped rather like a football, and it weighs one and a half to three and a half pounds. Males are a bit larger than females. He has a larger wattle, and his voice is more shrill.
There are both benefits and drawbacks to owning these fascinating birds. Read on to find out more!
If you want to keep down the bad bugs without resorting to pesticides, guinea fowl are for you. They’ll take care of snails, slugs, scorpions, and spiders, but where they really shine is tick control.
Because guineas like to roam and find their own food, they are fairly inexpensive to keep. They’ll even gang up on fairly large predators. They do need to be fed more during the cold months, however, and do well with a high protein game bird crumble. They also love millet and mealworms.
Guinea fowl make amazing watchdogs. They will chase away snakes, mice, rats and any birds that they dislike. They are the guardians if they’re in a mixed flock of barnyard birds, and will often warn chickens that a predator is afoot.
Guinea fowl are tougher than other types of poultry and are basically disease-free. If kept with other birds, they can be affected by respiratory diseases, coryza and leukosis, but this is not common.
Watching them do their thing around a yard is an endless source of amusement. Guinea fowl are quite stupid birds, and it shows, but their stupidity is endearing and they can be hilarious to watch.
Guinea fowl meat is delicious and can be found on tables all over the world. The meat is slightly darker and drier than chicken, slightly gamey and somewhat reminiscent of their cousin, the pheasant. It’s also leaner and has a bit more protein than chicken. Guinea fowl eggs are also sought after. They are slightly smaller than chicken eggs, and taste very rich.
There’s no way around it, guinea fowl can be loud. People who believe geese, ducks and even chickens are noisy will not enjoy keeping or living next door to guinea fowl. Their boisterousness is something to consider if you have close neighbors and/or really can’t stand screaming, clucking and screeching all day long.
They are set off by anything different and aren’t the smartest birds in the world, so if you show up carrying or wearing something they aren’t used to, they may even sound the alarm at you!
Another thing that may annoy the neighbors is the fact that guinea fowl will wander onto their property in search of grub. Some neighbors may appreciate this, as guinea fowl do eat harmful insects and weed seeds, however some may not.
Guinea hens do not lay eggs year round as chickens do. They only lay them in the spring and summer. On top of this, they hide their eggs and seem to resent being expected to lay them in a nest box like a chicken.
If you have a yearning for guinea fowl eggs, you’re going to have to search for them. Some owners put these eggs under a broody hen if they’ve been fertilized, or place them in an incubator. They hatch in 26 to 28 days. Make sure that you leave a few eggs in the nest to encourage the hen to lay more if you want her to. Some farmers suggest that you pick up the eggs in a spoon so not to get a human scent on the nest, as they believe a hen will abandon a nest that smells of a human.
Motherhood does not stop a guinea hen’s wanderlust. Baby guinea fowl are called keets. They are fragile, and if they can’t keep up with mama, she’ll leave them behind. The survival rate for naturally hatched guinea keets is very low. They are much better off hatched in an incubator, or taken from the mother and put in a brooder upon hatching.
Guinea fowl do not like to be penned up. This is a concern if there are foxes, hawks or other predators in the area, as they are very vulnerable at night. They love to be outside so much that even young ones have to be coaxed back into their shelter at night.
Guinea fowl are not cuddly, and they are hard to catch. If you raise them by hand and train them with copius amounts of millet and mealworms, you can certainly gain their trust, but they will never be as tame as your favorite chicken. For most guinea fowl, the purpose of a human being is to bring food.
So, there you have it, the pros and cons of raising guinea fowl. As you can see, there are more advantages to owning guinea fowl than drawbacks, so don’t be put off by the cons, but do know what you’re getting into before you bring your new birds home!
Just a bird nerd sharing what I’ve learned by keeping guinea fowl. I love keeping guinea fowl and have an interest in online marketing so I started this site to share my knowledge with others and see if I could create a successful website.