Posted by: sugarstonefarm | April 9, 2008

Birds on the farm: Guinea Fowl

The number one bird on the farm is the chicken, of course.  We don’t have any chickens at the moment, but we do have Guinea fowl.  We currently have 8 Guineas: six hens and two roosters.  In the pic above are the two roosters and two of the hens.  You can tell which are the roosters because they have bigger “cheeks.”  I am sure there is a proper name for them, but I call them “cheeks.”  Now, the cheeks are on their faces, not anywhere else!  🙂  Take a close look at the picture, and you can see the one on the right, and the one at the bottom are the roosters.

If you aren’t used to their calls, Guineas are LOUD.  It seems it’s the hens that make all the racket though, rather the opposite of the chickens, where the roosters will crow.  The call sounds like “buck-WHEAT, buck-WHEAT, buck-WHEAT.”

Guineas are good for tick and bug control.  They roam all around the farm eating all kinds of bugs.  If they roost near the driveway, some people find they are good watchdogs, and will make a fuss when anyone drives in.  Many sources say you will have no luck letting your Guineas lay eggs and hatch young, as they will all die from drowning in the dewy wet grass, or from predators.  The opposite has been our experience the last couple of years here on our farm.

Two years ago we had two batches of chicks hatch out, and last year we had even more.  These are large hatches, of 20 or so chicks, and most survive to young adulthood.  We then catch them once they begin roosting, and sell them, or give them away to unsuspecting friends.  🙂

Some people eat Guineas like they do chickens, but we have not eaten any of our own.  G had tried one several years ago and didn’t care for it, they can taste gamey.

My favorite part of having the Guineas on our farm is when they hatch out their young, called keets.  They look so cute, running around the yard on their little legs after their mother hens.  I hope we have more hatching this year.

 

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Responses

  1. The “cheeks” are officially wattles. Hmm. Now I know!

  2. Thank you for this! I recently purchased 5 baby guinea chicks as I have heard that they do make good watch birds! They will even scare snakes away, which is a big plus here in central Texas. Rat snakes are not poisonous, but they do like to get into my chicken coop and delight in my hen’s delicious eggs. I was wondering about how to tell the difference between the male and the female, and you answered my question perfectly. I assume they begin to show their gender around the same age as chickens, 4 – 6 months. I love the sound they make, but here out in the country I delight in all of the sounds, other than the tractors, which are occasional, not too close, and just as necessary as they can be!

    Blessings,
    Carol Willis Simsak

  3. Guineas are great birds. When I first moved here and my husband had the guineas, I didn’t like all the noise they made! Now I don’t even hear it, though visitors do and comment on how loud they are. They do eat LOTS of bugs and will raise the alarm when they are upset by something. Some can be very hardy and take care of themselves, others seem to not last as well. The best ones we’ve had here are ones raised by other guineas as the hand raised ones are too tame and a bit dumb about predators. The ones we have now have taken to roosting in with the chickens and have a nest started in the chicken coop, but they won’t *yet* sit on the eggs. I really hoped to get some wild raised young to increase my flock, but I don’t know if they will ever decide to sit on those eggs! 🙂

  4. hi we just bought 10.7 acres of woods n i would like to get some Guinea. how many would we need to keep the bug count low? thx

  5. It’s hard to say how many would be best… I would suggest starting with a few adults or a dozen babies to raise yourself, and seeing how they do. If you get adults, pen them up for a few weeks before letting them loose or they will run away from home. 🙂 If you start with keets, you will need to keep them penned as well for many weeks until they are adults or they will disappear or get taken by predators. It can take a few years to get a good small flock established.

  6. I would love to get my mother in law some more of these birds, she has them a while back but they have all died off. Do you sell them or where would you suggest that I find them at… I would even take fertilized eggs as she has an incubator.

  7. I don’t have any to sell this year, only have one male and one female right now. I would try putting an ad on craigs list or something similar. You can also order through a hatchery but the minimum is 30 birds, you may have to find someone who’ll buy your extras then too.


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