Don’t let these plump pheasants fool you into thinking they can’t serve you—guineafowl are actually your farmstead friend!
Guineafowl, originally from Africa, can serve in several roles on your farm:
- They are “watchbirds,” sounding the alarm when something unusual is happening on the farm.
- They are pest control, gobbling up ticks, other irritating insects, and even mice and small snakes!
- They are weed killers, snacking on weeds while (generally) avoiding your garden.
- They are fertilizer, producing droppings that are great for your compost pile.
- They are meal providers, with their eggs and meat being great additions to your dining room table.
Ready to reap the guinea benefits on your own farm?
A Farm Alarm
In order to protect the flock, guineas sound the alarm when a threat is posed, like a predator lurking nearby. Their natural alarm can help alert you to anything unusual happening on your property!
Keep in mind: Because of their “watchbird” status, people consider guineafowl to be particularly noisy. Take this into consideration if your farm is closely bordered by neighbors. These birds also wander if you let them roam free, making it likely that they will consider nearby properties as free game for exploration.
Natural Pest Control
No chemicals necessary when guineafowl are your own personal pest guys! When you allow your guineas to free roam, they will forage for the majority of their diet, which includes mosquitos, ticks, beetles, and even mice and small snakes. This also means that they are cheaper to feed!
Keep in mind: In the winter, your guineas’ diet may need to be supplemented with poultry feed (mash or crumbles, not pellets) if they cannot forage for their primary diet staples, like pests and vegetation. Whether your guineas forage or you provide your own feed for them, you will need to provide fresh water at all times. Read more about guinea nutrition needs here.
Chemical Free Weed Killer
Reduce the need to manually uproot those weeds that seem to reappear in your yard every other day when you have guineas roaming the premises. In addition to foraging on proteins like insects and other pests, they supplement their diet with vegetation like grass, dandelions, and weeds. Unlike chickens that tend to make a mess of your garden, guineas will generally stay away from your garden.
Keep in mind: Because guineas’ diets include vegetation, be sure to provide grit to aid in digestion. They also enjoy snacking on wheat, sorghum, or millet.
A Rich Fertilizer
Because their diets are protein-heavy (when you let them roam to eat insects and other critters), their droppings are rich in nutrients and serve as a great fertilizer. You can collect these around your guineas’ shelter area and add them to your garden or compost pile.
Eggs and Meat
Guinea eggs and meat are great additions to your palette! Guinea eggs may be smaller in size than chicken eggs, but they are richer in flavor. The meat, however, is drier than most other poultry, so it’s best to cook it with other moisturizing ingredients.
Keep in mind: If you are raising guineas for eggs, you will need to have a space for hens to lay eggs, otherwise they will lay them in hidden spots across your property. Nest boxes designed for chickens are good options for guinea hen boxes.
If you’re ready to bring in these new farmstead friends, here are a few final notes to consider:
Guineas need to be raised together. If you try to raise only one, it will usually die without companions. In choosing to raise guineas, you are choosing to raise a guinea flock.
While these birds are your farmstead friend in many ways, they prefer to remain an aloof companion. They are more active than chickens, and not easily tamed. No guinea cuddles around here.
Guineas get along with most livestock, but keep roosters separate during mating season. In Africa, a guinea’s role is to hang out with rhinos and pick insects off their hides. In return, the rhinos protect guineas from predators. Their evolution as rhino companions means that they generally get along well with other farm animals. The exception to this is roosters—keep these apart, primarily during mating season.
Though they prefer to free-range, you will still need to provide them with a shelter, like a coop or space in a barn. If you choose to keep your guineas in a pen, you’ll need to provide plenty of space and keep it covered—though guineas prefer to move on foot, they are strong flyers, too! Make sure your shelter is dry; too much moisture can create risks for respiratory problems.
Guineas can be purchased as adults or young (“keets” as they’re referred to when under 12 weeks old). Adult guineas are easier to care for, but they will take time to acclimate to their new home. This article recommends keeping new adult guineas penned for a couple of weeks, then slowly allowing them—one at a time—free to explore their new home. Since guineas don’t like to go far without their companions, the first guinea likely will not travel far from their friends initially. After a couple days, you can let a second adult guinea out to join the first. If you notice that they are not traveling far from their new home, it is likely safe to let out the remainder of your flock to roam.
Like chickens, guineas can be purchased from your local feed store or ordered online from a reputable breeder.
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