I DID NOT do ANY research when I bought my two first guinea fowl. All that I knew was that they ate ticks. I have since learned that they eat 1.000 ticks each every day!!
We have an astronomical amount of ticks here on Tillettville Beauty Homestead. So that is the only reason I purchased them. In the thought of getting more later. Knowing what I know now I wish I had purchased at least two more. Ok so let’s get into it.
First things first, guinea fowl are NOT chickens AT ALL. They are related to turkeys, pheasants and other game fowl. Supposedly there is “evidence” that guinea fowl were known as far back as ancient Greece around the 5th century BC.
There are several different types of guinea fowl but the most often seen and ‘domesticated’ is the helmeted guinea fowl.
The types are:
- White breasted – mainly found in West Africa. Due to habitat loss it is considered a vulnerable bird according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Black – confined to central Africa.
- Vulturine – largest of the Guineas. Has a very striking appearance, can become quite tame. Needs large groups to thrive.
- Helmeted – most common ‘domesticated’ type. Has a central knob on the skull leading to the ‘helmet’ appearance.
- Plumed – little is known of this bird which is found mainly in central Africa.
- Crested – the most aggressive type; may chase people including their owners. Has a ‘curly mop’ on the head.
Who knew right? Well now we do. Want more info you say? Good because I have it.
What is a guinea fowl good for? Guineas are vigorous, hardy, and largely disease-free birds. Guineas are better than donkeys at alarming you when “something isn’t right” on the farm. Guineas are also great pest control. They eat mice and small rats. They eat insects including TICKS! (the reason I bought mine).
They can comb through your garden and eat all those destroying insects and NOT your plants.
What? I know! I was shocked, too. Chickens will eat all of it. Garden and insects. Guineas will even eat slugs. Flocks of guineas have been know to ATTACK snakes! Yes!! Sign me up for a dozen more quineas please!! My husband already killed a 6 foot black snack on it’s way to our chicken coop.
There are three types of guineas raised in the United States: Pearl (the breed I have), White and Lavender. The most popular breed is the Pearl and the one most recognized as a guinea fowl.
The most important factor to know here is that guineas are not tamed easily. They retain some of their wild behavior. I’ve read that you can train by giving them special treats at night when you put them to bed and they will come in every night for that I am not holding my breath and betting on it. They will be provided shelter for just them and it will have food, water and nightly treats provided daily. I will leave it up to them whether they roost in the shelter or in the trees.
Which brings me to the next subject in raising guinea fowl. Housing. Most people will buy them and let them fend for themselves. I’m sorry but I am NOT one of those people. They need SOMEWHERE they can get out of inclement weather and predators. Now, the decision is totally up to the fowl keeper but it can be a room in the barn allocated for them or a purpose-built shelter for just them. Just know that they usually do not shelter well with other poultry. Yes, some can but most can’t.
Something else I DID NOT KNOW when I purchased my Pearl Guineas is that if you are raising guineas to control ticks and insects, you are better off to purchase them as adults because they are easier to care for than young guineas (Keets). You should keep them confined for a week or two so that they can see the general area that is their HOME area. If you let them out right away they could run away and find their own “home”. After a couple of weeks you only let one out. After a few days you let the second one out and so on. Guineas are strong flock fowl and HATE to be alone. So generally will stay together.
Keets are guinea fowl that are younger than 12 weeks old. I purchased mine from a BIG farm supply store. I don’t want to give names or free advertising for them. I bought two Pearl Guineas, two Rhode Island Reds, One Silver Laced Wyandotte and a Buff Orpington. I at this moment have them all brooding together but I am moving the Keets out in thier own brooder in two days. All of the chicks were purchased on June 11th and will be two weeks old June 25th. The keets are 4 times the size of the chicks already!!
They constantly make noise. They’ve been known to be call “Chatty Cathy”. The roos make a “Chi chi chi” sound and the hens make a “Come back. Come back.” sound. I believe I have a male and a female. Fingers crossed. They converse absolutely all the time. The ONLY time they are quiet is at night when I cover up the brooder and turn out the light.
Guineas should be eating a high protein feed for wild game and turkeys but can survive just fine on the starter feed with chicks. Make sure their is plenty of it because they eat constantly, too.
Make sure your guineas have access to fresh water as well as all of your fowl and poultry. We have a half acre pond on our homestead but we still keep waterers in the shelters for our chickens and will for the guineas, too.
Keep an eye out for my next blogs. I’m writing on Rhode Island Reds. Very sweet creatures… or are they?