Tuesday, April 29, 2014

13 Reasons why you should raise Guineas

Guinea Fowl aren't for everyone, that's just the straight truth. They are loud, annoying, funny looking and dumber then you can believe. However they have several redeeming qualities that make farmers and backyard poultry keepers alike big fans of this silly looking bird.  I started raising Guineas a few years back because of our tick problem but since have found a whole bunch of reasons why I think everyone should get a few Guineas.

1) Tick control: Yes, chickens will eat ticks that are in your yard and so will Guineas. Guineas though will forgo personal safety and enter the brush and woods to hunt out these minute creatures which will help keep your kids and pets safer from tick borne illness like Lymes disease.

2) Watchdog: Ever hear a flock of Guineas "go off"? It's like someone tripped the alarm system! It's pretty darn loud but it's a good indication that someone drove down the driveway, the neighbors dog is in the yard, a hawk is overhead etc etc. When the Guineas start to freak out, it's time to look out the window because something is up.

why, Guinea fowl

3) Predator alert. Your chickens will learn pretty fast that when the Guineas see a hawk and freak out, it's time to run for cover. 

4) They hate snakes. Guineas will kill small snakes. They will start hollering and alert you to the presence of larger snakes.

5) Other Bug control. They also like to eat bugs like fire ants, earwigs, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles and stinkbugs. They'll eat pretty much everything but ladybugs and adult tent worms. They are kinder to your garden then chickens are. They don't scratch as deeply and are usually more interested in searching for bugs then snacking on your zinnias. Usually.

6) Eggs. Their tasty little eggs are triangular shaped and very hard shelled. They break like porcelain when you crack them. Backpackers like to pack Guinea eggs since they're so much harder to crack then chicken eggs.

7) They leave those lovely spotted feathers everywhere! 

spotted feathers

8) Amusement value. They are absolutely hilarious! They are like tiny little roadrunners when they get started and the males will chase each other for hours. They'll also run from one side of your yard to the other chasing a moth. Plus they are pretty funny looking. Kinda like miniature little helmet shaped clowns. 

9) Cold hardy. For a bird that is originally from Africa, Guineas are incredibly cold hardy and can tolerate winter better then some chicken breeds.

10) They don't need much feed spring through fall. They would much rather eat the bugs they catch.

11) Dinner! Guinea fowl is very yummy roasted. Guinea tastes exactly like chicken only a bit gamey.

12) Disease hardy. Guineas get sick far less often then chickens. In my 5 years of raising guineas I've never had 1 case of illness other then the occasional mites dropped by a wild bird. (they love dust bathing and DE in their dust tub solves that real quick!) 

13) Guinea keets are about the cutest thing you will ever see! With their bright orange beaks and feet they almost look too cute to be real!

Guineas are about the same amount of work as chickens are. They require the same type of housing and care. They can even eat the same feed. I have to admit that of the 3,000 or so keets I sell every season the most common thing I hear is that they want guineas because either a family member or pet has contracted Lyme's disease. This isn't as big an issue in certain other parts of the country, but here in the mountains of western Pennsylvania it's a pretty big problem. Thankfully, solving that problem is a guineas favorite thing.

 Now that you know why you should raise guineas...I'm going to confuse you even more with 14 Reasons you should not raise guinea fowl. Enjoy!
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