Guinea Fowl

 

Guinea fowl are a popular and purpose serving fowl, these birds are used extensively throughout the Wine and cropping Industries, with a growing level of interest from the Cattle and Stock farmers groups. As a domestically kept fowl they are great for keeping down pests like Ticks, Fleas, Grasshoppers beetles, ECT... and won’t hesitate to attack and kill any type of small Snake. There are 3 Species of Guinea Fowl, Helmeted, Crested, Vulturine, but to our knowledge only the helmeted is kept in Australia. Helmeted Guinea Fowl come in a wide variety of colours including Pearl, Silver, Lavender, Cinnamon, Cream, Pied & White. If you live on acreage then we recommend this Species, as not only are they a great domestic fowl but will earn their own keep.

Buying Guinea Fowl:

If you are going to buy Guineas then it is recommended to buy Keets (young/chicks) as these will bond far better to your property than Adults. If possible try to buy pairs or at least a 60/40 ratio (hens being the lesser) this should help keep them happy and at home.

Quarantine:

You should always isolate any new birds that buy regardless of where you buy them from, even if it’s a good friend as you don’t want the terrible surprise of a sudden out break of disease.

After Quarantine:  

They should remain “Locked-up” as they must acclimatize to there new surroundings, with Keets this should be at least a few weeks. If you buy Adults then you should “lock them up” for at least 3 months or longer if you are on smaller acreage, please don’t release them straight away as you not only risk a disease outbreak but there is a strong possibility they will disappear.

Free Roaming:

When the day arrives to release them, you should just simply open the pen door and walk away, don’t chase them out, if they don’t want to come out that’s ok try again tomorrow. After they begin exploring your property you should continue to feed the guineas in the pen, this is very important as it continues the bonding process with you and your property. Buy far the most important point we can make is YOU MUST FEED & WATER THEM EVERY DAY many people make the mistake of not feeding them once they are free roaming and then complain when they end up 3 km down the road. Wild Guinea Fowl are a rising Problem and some Government department like the D.P.I & Parks & Wildlife are aware of this and have destroyed some wild colonies, if the problem keep growing then it is possible they may introduce restrictions or even ban them. So if you are going to keep Guinea Fowl and have them free roaming then please be a responsible owner and feed & water them this will help to keep them where they belong.

Housing if you don’t want free roaming: 

Guinea Fowl are not the best Pen or Aviary bird so we recommend free roaming for the common varieties, such as Normal, Silver ECT... we don’t recommend this for Cinnamon, Cream or White simply due to the rarity and cost. If you are going to Pen them it is recommended you try to supply as much room as possible no pen is too big for Guineas. We would not recommend a pen under 15 x 15 Meters for 3 -5 pairs and it MUST be roofed.

Feeding:

 Guinea Fowl can be fed the same diet as other poultry, Grain mix, Shell grit, Greens, Fruit, Bread, and should be offered some live food such as worms or Grasshoppers (can be purchased through pet shops) as these are a normal part of their dietary needs.

Breeding:

Guinea Fowl breed from late September to February/March or latter depending on the season. They are usually very secretive and will hide the nest in tall grass or dense bush. They lay approx 8 -12 eggs and usually hatch 90-95%, however in the case of free roaming Guineas usually only 40-50% of Keets will survive due to predators.

Summary:

Guinea Fowl make a great addition to any collection, and offer a worth while service of pest control, but at times can be a little noisy and aggressive to other birds, particularly Chickens, so if you have Chicken out foraging keep an eye on them when the Guineas are around. It is quite often said that Guinea Fowl are stupid and cannot be taut to stay on the property, this is simply not true, if offered a good environment with Food & Water they will show there loyalty by staying at home.

 

Peacocks Australia

 

Article written September 2001