They may not be the prettiest creatures on the planet, but Guinea Fowl have to be one of the most amusing and noisy species of birds to own. Their eggs are delicious too! The great thing about these birds is they can be kept on their own or alongside other poultry like chickens, ducks, turkeys as well as geese and they do very well, but you may have to introduce them gradually to avoid any conflicts.
Geese make great guard dogs – but so do Guinea Fowl! They are extremely quick to let you know when strangers and other animals are on your property or in the vicinity. This means they are great “fox” alarms too which is priceless if you have a problem with foxes roaming your area during the daylight hours. Guinea Fowl can make quite a racket at the best of times, so when they are unhappy about something, the whole world knows about it.
These strange looking creatures are either “love them or hate them” type of birds. They are very prehistoric looking but they have gorgeous speckled plumage. They are also excelled flyers but can be a little temperamental which is why some smallholders don't like to keep them on their properties, believing they are better suited to wilder habitats than as birds kept in a backyard environment.
Guinea Fowl originally come from West Africa and were first introduced to Western Europe as early as the 16th century mainly as a game birds for the table. Today, they can still be found in large flocks in the wild. The eggs were prized because they are very rich tasting although some people find them to be too much so.
They are gregarious, noisy birds known as being the “guard dogs” of the poultry world. If anything happens around their territory, they soon let their owners know about it, with their loud and sometimes eerie sounding calls. However, if you have neighbours, these noisy creatures may just prove to be considered as a nuisance.
Guinea Fowl have strong characters with some people finding they are not that good to keep with other poultry. There have been instances where existing birds have attacked newly introduced Guinea Fowl or vice versa. However, as long as you take your time and introduce them to existing poultry slowly, and keep the birds apart, there should not be any problems at all.
If handled at an early age, Guinea Fowl interact well with humans too and don't normally show any aggressive behaviour. For this reason, it's best to choose your birds carefully when they are still quite young.
Guinea Fowl can be hatched much the same way as you would chickens. If you have a broody hen – then all the better but you can hatch the chicks in an incubator using the same humidity settings as you would for chickens. However, Guinea Fowl chicks take between 25 to 26 days to hatch out which is slightly longer than chicken eggs do. Once hatched, the chicks need to be kept under a heat lamp for 6 weeks and then slowly integrated into an existing flock, keeping them apart in a separate run to begin with.
These birds can be housed in the same sort of coop as chickens, providing lots of perch space for them. The higher the perches the better. If you don't intend on letting your Guinea Fowl run free range, then you would need to set up much bigger runs than you would do for chickens. Guinea Fowl need a minimum of 2 square metres per bird in a run to allow them enough room to move around. The bonus with Guinea Fowl is they are a lot less destructive than chickens because they don't scratch or dig the dirt like chickens like to constantly do.
Because they are such good flyers, you may need to trim their feathers. Guinea Fowl can clear a six foot fence with no trouble at all so if you want to keep them in a chosen area wing clipping is essential – but only on one side.
Guinea Fowl eat much the same type of food as chickens with the chicks being raised on starter crumbs until they are six weeks old. After this, the birds can be put onto growers pellets until they are four months old after which they can go on to layers mash or mixed corn.
As with other poultry, Guinea Fowl need to be given food ad-lib making sure they always have plenty of fresh drinking water around. Their favourite foods are worms, grubs and they are rather partial to mealy worms. You can buy them in dried form and give them as an occasional treat to your birds. Dried mealy worms are full of goodness and valuable nutrients too.
The great thing about these birds is they carry far fewer diseases than other poultry. However, just like chickens, ducks and geese, they are susceptible to the usual poultry insect menaces, namely red mite, worms, lice and internal worms as well as other nasty parasites that are commonly found in poultry.
You would need to check your birds over on a regular basis just as you would any other poultry to make sure they are not suffering from any parasite infestations. If you find they are, you can get specifically formulated treatments from reputable pet stores, agricultural suppliers or your local vet as well as online. If you do buy any treatments on the Internet, make sure you choose a reputable online supplier.
Below are a few things you may like to get for your Guinea Fowl so they stay in great shape:
Those who wish to commence keeping these birds will do well to procure sittings of egg from one, or still better, two different stocks, so as to lessen the chance of close interbreeding, and to hatch them under common hens; by doing so they will establish a flock with far less trouble than by buying mature birds, whose restless, roving disposition renders it difficult to attach to a new locality."" From The Poultry Book, published 1867