Monday, 18 August 2014

Keeping Guinea Fowl

After a well earned holiday in the Cognac region, where I bored many members of my family by tediously pointing out the many different breeds of hens that the French keep in their gardens.

"Le Poulet et Mille Fleur!"

Somehow my pronunciation of chicken breeds in an awful french accent combined with linguistic skills to be found wanting, were not warmly received. I was certainly happy to return to Flyte so Fancy and commence talking about Gallic hens for as long as possible.

Keeping Guinea Fowl
FSF Guinea Fowl Chicks
In my absence from FSF HQ however, we had a rather unexpected arrival in the chicken field. Out of nowhere, Guinea Fowl chicks had hatched. Our flock of Guinea Fowl had originally come to live with us a few years ago, one because their gorgeous feathers are lovely to look at. But secondly, they make great fox alerts. Guinea Fowl form a tight watchful flock, making great guard birds, because as soon as they see a fox (or any other sort of danger) they make an awful lot of noise, often scaring the fox into thinking that it has been seen. Guinea Fowl are originally from West Africa and were introduced into Europe in the 16th Century as a game bird for the table. Guinea Fowl also come in a lovely range of colours, at Flyte so Fancy we have a flock of Pearl Grey and one lovely Pearl white bird. Guinea Fowl are very hardy birds and expert foragers, making them very easy to keep, but if you're considering keeping some Guinea Fowl here are some of the key points.

What Do Guinea Fowl Eat?

As mentioned, Guinea Fowl are expert foragers and given a large enough area to range in, during Summer can find nearly everything they need themselves. That being said, many people feed Guinea Fowl on a standard chicken layers pellets, or at least provide additions for the Guinea Fowl to eat.

Raising Guinea Fowl
Guinea Fowl Flock
Do Guinea Fowl need a House?

Guinea Fowl housing does not have to be elaborate. They will often find the highest point to roost and can be found up in trees. They are of course safer if they are put into a house at night and it is fine for them to be put in with your hens. You might find that there is some hassling of hens by your Guinea Fowl, as they are mischievous, but usually they will co-habit peacefully. If left to free-range constantly however, Guinea Fowl can become harder to catch should you need to, as they are incredibly good fliers and can take to the wing quickly if spooked. Guinea Fowl can be trained to use a coop if done from a young enough age (to help bring them back to their coop, feed them by it each evening at dusk to help bring them back each to evening to their house).

Keeping Guinea Fowl with Chickens
White Guinea Fowl
Can I Eat Guinea Fowl Eggs?

Yes, you can eat Guinea Fowl eggs. On average a Guinea Fowl will lay around 50-60 eggs per year, although it can be as many as one hundred. They are not particularly fussy where they lay their eggs either and if they construct a nest, they tend to be very well hidden in tall grass or in a difficult to access place. They are light brown and usually roughly half the size of a larger hens egg. They are usually a little more rounded on the top. Guinea Fowl will sit on and incubate their own eggs, as we discovered last weekend here at FSF HQ. Whilst the Guinea Fowl at Flyte so Fancy live to be a roving team of sentries, many people also keep them as meat birds.

Guinea Fowl Chicks - Keets
Guinea Fowl and Keets

The Guinea Fowl at Flyte so Fancy have been part of our flock for a few years now and it's not uncommon, when they are in good voice, to hear them chattering away in the field from my office chair. We will be keeping a steady eye on our Guinea Fowl chicks, although their excellent camouflage makes them hard to see, as they grow up to join our larger flock of chickens, ducks and geese.

Thanks For Reading

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