Guinea Fowl

Guinea fowl on the homestead

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Guinea fowl have a reputation for being loud and going where ever they feel like.   Rightly so, they are constantly making noise and refuse to go into the coop at night.  Despite that, guineas are an essential animal to have on your farm or homestead.  If Guineas are kept right by your house, their noise may be a problem.  We have a large property, so our barn is within walking distance from the house, but not right by the house.  We hear their noise in the distance, but it is just another barn yard noise.  Roosters crowing, cows bellowing and guineas calling.  

why guinea fowl should be a part of your homestead:

 

Tick Control

Guineas can eat ticks like no other!  Chickens and ducks will eat some ticks, but guineas are serious about their tick eating.  We have a  large tick population here in southern Missouri.  We moved here over the summer of 2014, and that summer we realized just how many ticks were out there in the tall grass.  The following spring we bought some guineas to help lower the tick population.  They did not disappoint.  They immediately went to work and took care of nearly all of the ticks in the areas that they roamed.  Yes, there were still some ticks, but drastically reduced.  Instead of getting 20+ ticks on you in an outing, there may be only 5.  In one summer that was a very nice change! The tick population has continued to dwindle since then.  Guineas are worth their weight in gold for this reason alone.

Our property has a gravel road running through it, our house and barn on one side of the road, pastureland on the other.  The guineas do no cross the road, they make a circle around the barn that does not include crossing the road.  I point this out is because when we are working across the road we will  find many more ticks on us than if we are by the barn or the house.  Go guineas!  This makes me want flocks of guineas stationed all over our property!  The goal was to keep the ticks down where we walk, where the kids play, etc and we accomplished that quickly with guineas.

 

Easy To Care For

Guinea fowl are very low maintenance.  They will roam your property and find their own food.  Our guineas like to share the grain that we give to our pigs, but other than that we don’t really feed them.  Not that we don’t try too feed them, they much prefer looking for their own meal.  There is water available to them, and the leftover grain that the pigs always leave behind is what they seem to prefer over what we leave out for them. 

Guineas will not go into a barn or coop at night.  They just won’t.  Our guineas also don’t go down to the neighbor’s house to bother them either.  We were able to keep them at home by doing a couple of things.

  1. By buying guinea keets, not full grown guineas.  We raised the keets in a room inside our barn, because we wanted them to know where their home was from the start.  The keets can fly at a very early age, so keep that in mind when preparing a spot for them.  We enclosed an old stall with chicken wire so the keets wouldn’t fly out before they were ready for the great outdoors.
  2. When the guineas were ready to go outside, we let only 2 guineas out at a time.  The ones that were let out to free range would stay close to the others still in the barn.  We slowly let the guineas out, 2 at a time every other night until they were all out.  We had read that this would help them come into the barn at night to roost.  It didn’t exactly work like that, but they did know that the barn was home.  Instead of going back into the barn at night, they chose to roost in a large oak tree near the barn.  They are safe from predators and roost there nightly.  Guineas have a mind of their own.

 

Danger Warning

Guinea fowl will alert you if someone is down by the barn, or if anything out of the ordinary is going on.  Definitely don’t rely on guineas to be your sole watch animal as they tend to alert you to everything that they think might be off.  Which might be a slamming door or a pig grunting.  But generally, if you listen to their call (song?  can you even call it that?) it will change when they feel that there is danger near. 

Guineas are very good at alerting you that a snake is nearby. This, they are reliable about.  They will circle around the snake and try to peck at it.  Some say that guineas will even eat snakes.  They may if it’s a small snake, much like a chicken would.  I haven’t seen them take on a large snake, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.  At the very least, they get the snake to keep moving and find another place to hang out.

 

Comical

Guineas are the funniest looking birds and are hilarious to watch.  Little dinosaurs scurrying around, calling to each other.   They probably aren’t the brightest, but they do find a safe place to roost at night and know where to find food, even if it wasn’t exactly how I had planned it.  We enjoy having the guineas around and love the entertainment value that they add. 

 

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, tick eating animal, you really should give guinea fowl a try.  What do you say?

Guinea fowl on the homestead

 

2 responses to “Guinea Fowl

  1. Just wondering, do you live where you have snow and cold in the winter.
    Is winter safe for them outside with cold temperatures and finding food

    • We do get cold and some snow in the winter. They do their own thing in the winter, but they do roost in an old barn where they get some protection from the wind and snow. They still won’t go into the coop where we would like them to go. Our guineas find left over grain from our pigs, winter and summer. Once it warms up, they spend more time foraging for bugs. If we didn’t have the pigs, we would definitely set out some food for them in the winter. Our guineas prefer to dine with the pigs. lol

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