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Around 3 years ago we bought 2 guinea keets in addition to 2 barred rock chicks. And at first all 4 were buddies to our preemie chick, Baby Nay. But we ate the male guinea, for reasons I’ll share momentarily. Since then, we’ve expanded our backyard flock to include ducks, and even more chickens. Because this is my first post about guineas, I’ll explain reasons why to have guinea fowl.
Guineas are native to Africa. Even though there are about 6 different types, the one we’ll look at is the helmeted guinea fowl, which has been established most everywhere. Did you know guineas are related to chickens? Although you wouldn’t know it just by looking at them, or by their behavior.
What do Guinea Fowl Look Like
If you’ve never seen any, these birds have a curious appearance. The helmeted guinea fowl have small heads that sport an exotic bony crest on top. And they have featherless faces that can be white, red, or blue skin. Also, their bodies are somewhat large and oval-shaped. Plus, their plumage comes in an array of colors. Further, their beaks are short and curved, but still sizable.
Pros to having Guinea Fowl
Below are some advantages to keeping guineas, such as
- Insect patrol
Probably the number 1 thing you’ve heard about guineas is their pest control abilities. And I confess that we don’t have a problem with bugs in our yard. However that could also be due to the ducks.
- An alarm
Having guineas sometimes feels like you live in a foreign land. And that’s because of the sounds they make. They definitely let you know when something isn’t right, even if it’s just a false alarm. Yet many people believe guineas are good predator control because of their noisiness.
- Their independence
You don’t have to do as much for guineas as for chickens when you have guinea fowl. Since, just like chickens, they forage. Though, if not trained, these birds will forage very far afield.
Plus, like ducks, guinea fowl are mostly healthy birds, which means they aren’t as susceptible to illnesses as chickens. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick.
- They’re romantic
Yes, you read that correctly; guineas can be romantic. Out of all the birds we have (chickens, ducks, and guineas), only guineas will do the impossible for their mate(s). And that is they mate for life. Drakes and roosters have harems which, depending on the species, can be quite large. Hence, they are not monogamous.
Furthermore, some guineas travel many lands till they find their true love. That’s what happened to Leorio 2.0, the male guinea who found himself in our garden of Eden. Seriously, I don’t know where he came from, but he decided to stay. And it wasn’t only due to the bird paradise he saw. He also was enraptured with our lone guinea hen, Kurapika. And once he heard her racket and saw her hideousness, he just had to stay.
You can eat both guinea eggs and guinea meat. However I personally have never tried a solo guinea egg, because my husband said it tasted gamey. So when we have guinea eggs, we scramble them with either chicken or duck eggs.
On the other hand, guinea meat is fantastic! Even though I’ve read others say it tastes like pheasant, (which I’ve never tried) I think guinea meat tastes like actual chicken. Like the chicken you buy in the store.
Cons to Having Guinea Fowl
Just as there are benefits to keeping guineas, there are also some disadvantages to them, which include
- Noise pollution
Guineas make a lot more noise than a rooster. In the same way that their obnoxious sounds can be a benefit, like for predator alerts, they’re also a con.
- Difficulty training
We didn’t have too much trouble training our guineas, (even our original male when we had him) to go in the coop at night. But guineas prefer to sleep out in the open, and up in a tree or similar. That’s what Leorio 2.0 does. Apparently his previous owners gave up on his training, thus he’s with us now.
It doesn’t really matter how many guineas you have, they will bully your other backyard birds, especially the younger ones. If you only have one guinea, it will bully the others. But if you have a male, he’ll terrorize the baby birds. And that’s why our first guinea didn’t live very long. Leorio 2.o is currently not making a very good impression on me by bullying all the baby chicks. He makes the tiny ones cry; no telling what he tells them.
- Intelligence issues
Guineas aren’t known for being smart. For example, the guineas we have, and the one we no longer have, always go in the front yard, or on our side of the backyard. However they can never remember how to get back on their side. Therefore, they will pace and pace and pace the fence line, all while making their plaintive cries for help.
- Terrible mothering
It’s said that guinea hens aren’t good mothers. My guineas haven’t raised their own keets, so I have no experience in this. But just going by their lack of intelligence, I have no doubts.
On the other hand, we’ve had 2 of our broody hens hatch 4 keets. And everyone is doing wonderful. Of course the surrogate parents have no idea there are any children at all.
Best Time to Get Guinea Fowl
The most opportune time to raise guineas is when they’re keets, or babies. And it’s ideal to raise them with some chicks; that way they learn the ropes of staying around home and all about the coop. But once they’re grown that won’t necessarily prevent them from bullying.
So, Why have Guinea Fowl
Assuming you live on acreage, guinea fowl would make a good addition to any backyard flock, even with their cons. And if you raise them when they’re babies with chicks, you should have no problem getting them to stay on your property. Additionally, make sure you have older chickens, or ones with rank, that won’t get bullied. None of our ranking birds are harassed by the guineas; it’s just the young ones. And the males seem to be the worst bullies.
Plus, guineas are fun to watch, especially when they’re together. Furthermore, you would have another type of egg to eat. And if you wanted to, you could try guinea meat, which I think is delicious.
Do you know anyone with guineas? Or do you have any? If not, are you more inclined to get any now that you know more about them? Your comments are appreciated.
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