Guinea Fowl are native to Africa but have been imported here as food for over a century. We don’t keep them for food.
We’re not vegetarians but keeping birds is a just hobby to us and neither of us could face eating any of the birds we have reared. From what I have read though, the Guinea is a gamier meat than chicken with a higher protein content than turkey.
GUINEA FOWL EGGS
We have yet to taste their eggs because so far there either hasn’t been any. Actually that may not be true. Like one or two of our hens, they may well be laying them away from the coup – probably in the ditches that surround the top of our garden. We have heard that Guinea fowl eggs are delicious and if we ever find any I’ll let you know.
The Guinea fowl are quite a strange-looking bird. They have a somewhat sombre way about them and with their featherless heads and humped shape they bring to mind country funerals – old men with crooked backs and grey suits walking behind a coffin. They also make some very unusual sounds and you can read about the call of the guinea fowl here.
GARDENER’S DELIGHT – SLUGS AND SNAILS
Although the guinea fowl don’t look happy as they walk around, they do actually seem happy. They spend endless time foraging though every inch of the garden and they eat a great deal of snails, beetles, wasps, slugs, cockroaches ticks, mice and even small rats. They are especially efficient snail and slug catchers and I am starting to see more and more empty snail shells scattered around. They are certainly more efficient than any of the usual remedies for getting rid of slugs and snails.
What I really like about the guinea fowl is that they politely steer clear of my vegetable garden which is more than I can say about our rascal hens who recently reduced my kale plants to leafless stalks.
It is very hard to tell male guinea fowl from the females but males have larger and fluffier wattles. The call of the Guinea fowl is something you will never forget. The males make a two note sound a bit like rack-rack rack-rack (some people say its more like chat-chat) while the males only make one note sounds. Just to make it even more confusing the females can sometimes make one note sounds as well.
They are quite loud though and I can hear their noise above the hens and ducks and they do provide an early warning system if there is an unknown presence in the garden.
They hate being handled and will go into panic mode and practically explode with fear if you touch or catch them. If you have to handle them it is best to do so at night when they are a little bit more placid.
We have a large run with a decent sized hen house but we bought an old dog kennel for the guinea fowl and ducks as we weren’t sure if they would join the hens in the hen house.
As the weather gets warmer the guinea fowl seems to prefer to perch high up on the coup fence and as far I can see often stays up there for the whole night although at other times it spends the night in the old kennel with the ducks.
From watching them around the garden I have noticed that the guinea fowl and the ducks seem to have formed a little group and they forage around together while keeping a short distance from the hens.
FUN, FRIENDSHIP AND FOWL
One of the most interesting things about keeping birds is watching how they behave and how friendships and alliances are forged and broken. The hens seem to stay in groups of four, which consist of two sets of two hens foraging together.
I was surprised though to see the guinea fowl and the ducks form a similar group and marching around in the same way as the hens do. I think that one of the best things about keeping these birds is that they are full of surprises and fun.
Bye for now and good luck with your gardening.
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