7 things you didn't know about raising guinea fowl

Way back when I first started raising guinea fowl there wasn't too much information available about them, except for exactly 1 book. I had to learn as I went. As I learned more about guinea hens, there were a lot of things that surprised me along the way. People always say that guineas are great watchdogs, their eggs are delicious and they eat ticks like crazy. 


That is all true.

There are a few other things that people don't talk about though, which is weird because they're not all bad! It's just surprising because you assume that other than the noise, guineas would be the same as chickens. They're not!


Uncommon guinea fowl facts

Here are the 7 things that are not exactly common knowledge about guinea fowl. In no particular order...

Guinea fowl get sick less than chickens.

I'm not sure why, but guinea fowl don't get the same diseases chickens do. The keets will get pasty butt, coccidiosis and splay leg but that's about it. It's rare for a guinea to get sick, in fact I've never had it happen and I regularly have a flock of 30-80 guinea fowl. I have dealt with injuries and predator attacks, but no illness.

They are also more parasite resistant than chickens. Guinea fowl do tend to get mites occasionally, but otherwise they do not get internal parasites anywhere near as often as chickens do.

Guinea fowl are cold hardy

Guinea fowl are originally from Africa, so it would make sense if they were not very cold hardy. Weirdly enough, they tolerate the cold just fine. I live in the hills of Pennsylvania where it gets down to way below freezing for weeks in the winter and we've had more than a foot of snow at one time! The guineas are fine.

They are not terribly intelligent however, and need kept away from ponds and such in the beginning of winter because they will stand on the ice all day till it cracks and they fall in! They don't seem to understand water in winter at all and will walk in it getting their legs wet which will cause frostbite or other problems. 

As long as you keep them from getting into water though, they tolerate winters just fine.

Freezing rain does not bother them either as you can see in the pictures in the post Guinea Fowl are cold hardy!

Guinea fowl eat more than just ticks

Guineas are well known for their appetite for ticks, but they will also eat any other bug that walks in front of them. This includes stink bugs, earwigs, moths, Japanese beetles, grubs and worms. They will dig up your flower beds for the latter.

Flock of Guinea fowl

Guinea fowl breeding ratio

You will need a higher male to female ratio than chickens for good breeding. Most people cover 10 chicken hens with 1 rooster, this won't work for guineas.

Guinea fowl tend to form pairs or trios for their breeding groups. For good egg fertility you will need almost as many guinea cocks and you have guinea hens. Too many males and they will fight and chase each other around. 

That might happen anyway, but at least with the appropriate number of males you'll get good fertility rates if you plan on hatching their eggs! 

Guinea fowl eggs are higher in protein

Most people don't realize that ounce for ounce, guinea fowl are much higher in protein than chicken eggs. I did the math in the post Comparing different types of eggs. One guinea hens egg has double the protein as a chicken egg, even though it's smaller. 

Guinea hens are great egg layers in season. Since they are rarely broody they lay almost every day from spring to late fall. They do not lay at all in winter.

Bucket of guinea fowl eggs.

Guinea fowl meat is very tasty

Living here in America is actually kind of strange food wise because our food system has evolved to give us a large supply of very few items. Guinea fowl meat is very popular in other countries but you won't find it easily here because it's considered an exotic meat with prices going up to $50 for 1 processed bird!

Guinea Fowl Meat is moist, very lean, tender and flavorful. Guinea fowl meat is white like chicken but its taste is more reminiscent of pheasant, without excessive gamey flavor.

Guinea fowl does take longer to raise for cooking, which is probably why it's not as available. Whereas cornish cross chickens are ready for butcher at 8-10 weeks, guinea fowl take up to 20 weeks to be ready. This is obviously part of the higher cost, but more than likely it's just the lower demand.

Guinea fowl are a faulty alarm system 

Guineas are often called 'watch dogs' because they will make a lot of noise when something is there that shouldn't be. This is great when it's a snake, predator or even a human visitor. However, they don't really have the mental capacity to differentiate between what actually presents a threat and what is simply out of place.

For instance they lose their minds when my cats go outside.
Or when I leave the lawnmower somewhere in the yard.
If I put a new bird feeder or garden spinner up.
If the sun hits the cars hubcaps at just the right angle.
Squirrels!
Anything being in a weird place, actually. I could leave a shovel by the garden and suddenly the world is ending!

So yes, they will alert you to predators or visitors. They'll also alert you to leaves blowing. As an alarm system they are probably right about half the time. Maybe less.

Related reading: 13 Reasons why you should raise guinea fowl. If you've heard all the 'guinea fowl are great' details and you're wondering what the downsides could possibly be, I have you covered in 14 Reasons you should not raise guinea fowl. These really are complex birds! lol 

I've said all along that you either love them or hate them. I'm one of the ones that love them! How do you feel about guinea fowl?

~L


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2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yes I do. I currently have 2 small flocks of Silkies and Marans.

      Lisa

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