Back Roads Living

Guinea Fowl ~ The Feathered Watch Dogs

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Guinea Fowl ~ Do you need them around?

Lots of folks have never seen a Guinea Fowl! They are very curious when they see them and are full of questions. To those who have never seen a Guinea Fowl they will sometimes ask if they are a type of Turkey. Well, not a turkey but come from the same family of birds! Guinea Fowl are native to Africa and enjoy traveling in groups. If you ever noticed them, they rarely travel alone when there is a group to travel with.

If left alone without other guineas they will take up with the chickens and hang out with them.  Guinea’s like company!

The common helmeted guinea fowl is about the size of a small fat hen. Its head while being naked is topped by a very hard bony ridge. The male Guinea use the bony ridge structure to his head to butt other males when they get too close to their mates! Guineas are slate-gray in color and are dotted with round white spots. There are white and lavender varieties also. If you are going to eat the guinea fowl, its flesh resembles wild game in color but the texture and flavor are some what between a chicken and turkey. Guinea fowl were originally kept by farmers because their noisy cries warn other poultry of approaching danger.

I remember well my neighbor always had guinea fowl around their farm! The guinea would always sound an alarm anytime someone started up that long drive! You could not approach their house without it being announced by those noisy guinea! I grew to dislike them as I did not understand their purpose back in my youth! They warned our neighbors not only of human approach but of predators and snakes as well. Their guineas killed many copper heads on their farm back then! You could always tell when they had a snake spotted! They would form a circle around it and the racket was on! The snake never had a chance!

Guineas are kept for many different reasons. One is as I stated above, to warn of approaching company, whether it be people or predators. Chicken and turkey farmers have the guinea around to warn of and run off chicken and turkey predators. The guinea is a formidable fowl when traveling in a large flock! As stated, they will ward off copperheads and rattlesnakes and even kill them!

Folks who live in the country and have a lot of grass and brush around the property enjoy the tick control that owning guineas give them. Guineas will eat every tick it sees and they have great eyesight! The guinea also is great for the gardens as they are not prone to damage your crop as they go through eating your bugs and beetles! Every now and then they peck a plant but the good by far outweighs the bad!

Free-ranging guineas are like chickens and spend most of their days foraging for food. If you ever noticed they walk side by side often and will clean up an area pretty quick! Snakes and rodents get special attention as they close in on them and form the circle around them to prevent it’s getaway! Now the talking begins as they get very vocal in these situations!

They are the loudest when there are strangers and predators present and they sound off a warning that only a deaf person could not hear! These fowl are popular in many situations and are great to have around. If you live in the country and own guineas you will always know when someone comes around! they are better than any dog I ever owned for keeping watch!

Guinea Fowl Diagram.jpg

Guinea fowl nest on the ground and they are super at hiding their nest! I can remember as a young boy helping my neighbors in trying to find the guineas nest. There were many times we never found them and in a few days a new flock of guinea fowl would be hatched! Most Guinea hens will lay over 100 eggs per year! The eggs weigh around 1.4 oz where a chicken egg is typically around 2 oz. Incubation of the Guinea egg is around 26 – 28 days. They are good to eat and many people do eat them. They can go broody often! Guineas by the way, are not known to be very smart and are not very good parents and many of the young are killed or die before they reach adulthood! They are also very flighty!

If you live in the city or a very populated area you need to check your city and urban statues on owning fowl! Some areas will not allow roosters and I will bet those place will not allow guineas either. Most populated places will not allow them I think!

A guinea is not really a necessity in the city or urban areas as they really do not provide a service needed there! More than anything they would be a nuisance in most cases and your neighbors would become chronic complainers and for good reason!

Guinea Diagram by: UKY.EDU

A good book on Guinea: Gardening with Guineas: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Guinea Fowl on a Small Scale

A good book on hatching Guinea Hatching & Brooding Your Own Chicks: Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, Geese, Guinea Fowl

Another good, short article on Guinea Fowl: Domesticated Guinea

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