What’s the Buzz About Guinea Fowl

Guinea What?

Its a game bird… that’s been domesticated. So its not as wild as say Quail or Partridges, but it has more wild instincts thanks chickens and turkeys. Originally from Africa, the Guinea Fowl was brought to Europe by Portuguese traders.

Guinea Fowl can be purchased in three forms. You can buy hatching eggs and try your hand at incubating, order day-old keets or even find adults if you look hard enough. The easiest option is ordering day-old keets, less time consuming than hatching your own and easier to acclimate to you and your property than adults.

guinea fowl
Guineas are a gregarious bird with a very social flock mentality.

Why Guinea Fowl instead of Turkeys or Chickens?

  • Predator Resistant

They may not be as tame as chickens and turkeys, but this can be a good thing. Guineas are constantly alert for predators and once one is spotted they erupt into a raucous alarm that can send a hawk on its way. Guineas will still need a coop and pen to return to at night, this takes some encouragement and training at a young age. Placing a light in the coop helps as Guineas don’t like going into dark buildings.

  • Pest and Weed Eating Machines

Guinea Fowl are excellent free rangers, perhaps one of the best in domesticated fowl. The Guinea flock will march through a property wiping out a whole slew of pests including but not limited to: snakes, rodents, ticks, scorpions, grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, beetles, ants, June bugs, spiders, weevils, grubs, bees, hornets, and wasps.

These high protein eating habits also can cut back significantly on feed requirements, that is if you have enough pests for them to eat. (Side note: if you raise bees on your property, make sure to keep them at least 1/4 mile away from your guineas). Not only to Guineas love insects, but they love weed seeds, particularly grass, preventing the spread of said weeds into your crops or garden. They are also excellent defenders of fruit trees as they can fly up and take out pests up high.

Color Varieties of Guinea Fowl

The most popular Guinea in the United States is the Helmeted Guinea. It comes in several color varieties including Pearl, Lavender, White, Purple and many more.

guinea fowl
Purple Guinea Fowl and their Keets. Illustration by Diane Jacky 2013

 

Getting Started with Guineas:

  1. You will need all of the same brooding equipment that is required for chickens. Guinea Keets will begin jumping very high at a young age, so it will be necessary to cover the brooder or they will start jumping right out.
  2. Guineas need a coop larger than chickens, about 3-4 sq. ft. per Guinea. They will also need a covered run if you live in an area with snow, Guineas will not trudge through snow.
  3. The best option for feeding Guinea Keets is Turkey Starter Feed, or a specific high protein game bird feed if you can find it. Later on adult guineas will prefer whole or cracked grains to corn.
guinea fowl
Guinea Keets will nap with their feet sprawled out backwards, don’t worry they arent dead just sound asleep!

 

3 thoughts on “What’s the Buzz About Guinea Fowl

  1. Marilyn Williams says:

    Hey Harry, I enjoyed your write up on guinea fowl. I raised some of my own and agree with everything you’ve said. Got a question for you though… how do you put up with the constant squarking of the females? The two syllable sound they make endlessly. I’ve heard that not all females do this so relentlessly… is this true?

  2. Homestead says:

    Raising guinea can be an adventure. Watching them interact and do their bird stuff is quite a riot. Their eggs are pretty good but I really enjoy their pest removal the most. I had an entire flock of guineas a couple years ago and they were doing really well until a pair of great horned owls found their roosting spot. Wiped them all out in less than a week… ? I couldnt believe it. P.S. I found a really neat new website that helps local farmers and homesteaders sell their products to the community. Anyone heard of FIFY? (Farm It For You)

  3. Samnjoeysgrama says:

    I’ve raised a number of Guineas and they all eventually went wild after a few years. I still love them. The best luck I had with them was from my first 8 that had been hatched by a broody hen. They thought they were chickens and were much more tame than the keets I bought that were a little older. I did read that if you have them in a brooder, it seems to work much better if it is elevated to waist high. They have such a natural aversion to hawks, etc. that when you approach and hover over them, they totally freak out. Mine free ranged and I never had a bug in the garden. Their eggs have very strong shells. It is hard to convince them to hatch their own eggs, so if you have a broody bantam it works well. They didn’t lay during the winter, but started again in Spring. Over all, they were great and they really do eat every bug on the place.

    5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.