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Raising Guinea Fowl: A Low-Maintenance Flock




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Because guineas prefer freedom to regimentation, they have not been commercially exploited and "improved" as have chickens and turkeys. The happy result is that, while these other fowl have become less resistant to disease, free-ranging guineas remain almost entirely disease-free. Also, guinea fowl adapt readily to all but the severest climates although they strongly dislike snow. In most areas, a shelter is not essential against the weather, however as I learned the hard way a rudimentary shelter is a good way to provide night-time protection from Adult guinea fowl such as dogs, coyotes, foxes, and owls. The shelter need only be a simple three-sided, south-facing shed with a wire front and a draft-free perch toward the back, offering seven inches of roosting space per bird.

A flock fed late in the day under the roof will be encouraged to stay the night. If you prefer to pen your guineas, instead of letting them come and go as they please, you should allow for at least 30 square feet per dozen birds. Cover the pen with wire netting, or pinion your guineas to keep them from flying out. Pinioning involves clipping off the last joint of one wing, at the thumb, when birds are less than one week old. Never pinion free-ranging guineas or they won't be able to fly away from predators. Feeding is perhaps the easiest part of caring for your fowl.

A range-fed flock fulfills most of its own dietary needs, requiring little more from you than fresh water and a handful of mixed grains to entice them indoors at night. When forage is scarce during fall and winter, up the grain ration a bit. Feed penned guineas commercially prepared lay ration designed for chickens, except during breeding season. One dozen guineas will eat approximately two pounds per day. To improve laying, switch to higher-protein turkey or gamebird ration if available in February. How to Catch a Guinea One good reason to house guineas indoors at least at night is so you can catch them more easily there than in the tree tops.

The best time to catch a guinea is after dark, but even then you have to be quick. If you swipe and miss, you may end up with a handful of feathers and one wary, semi-nude bird. Never catch a guinea by its legs, as you would a chicken. If you manage to get hold of only one leg, the bird will whip around like an eggbeater and possibly break a bone. The correct way to catch a guinea is to clap both hands against its wings. Once caught, carry the bird by its strong wings, never by its brittle legs.

And hold on tight—even though a guinea would rather walk than fly, if one gets away from you, it'll fly like a bird. Egg-Laying and Cross-Breed Mating A domestic guinea hen lays seasonally, just as her wild cousins do.

Till caught, carry Adultt green by its important wings, never by its programmable legs. Keeping elam fowl is also an intelligent means of pest quarrel.

Some time between March and May, when she is 26 to 28 weeks old, an average hen will lay about eggs. She will continue laying that number each year until she is five years old or even older. Her eggs will be light-brown, sometimes speckled, with shells that are three times tougher than the shells of chicken eggs. Guinea eggs have a sharper point than chicken eggs have, and they're smaller three guinea eggs roughly equals two chicken eggs. Hens lay in late morning or early afternoon and prefer to steal a nest in some secluded spot rather than lay in any fine nest you provide.

Guinea fowl Adult

If you confine your hens until they've finished laying for the day, you won't have to hunt for their eggs. But even when confined, most hens shun nests and deposit their eggs on the floor. Egg fertility is rarely a serious problem. If you keep one cock for every four or five hens, you can expect nearly percent fertility as long as the cocks are three years old or less. Yes, casual mating does occur, but it's infrequent, and the rare cross-bred offspring which Adult guinea fowl sometimes described as looking like vultures are usually sterile. An interesting side note: The hens have a habit of hiding their nests, and sharing it with other hens until large numbers of eggs have accumulated.

The incubation period is 26—28 days, and the chicks are called "keets". As keets, they are highly susceptible to dampness they are indigenous to the more arid regions of Africa and can die from following the mother through dewy grass. After their first two to six weeks of growth, though, they can be some of the hardiest domestic land fowl. Sexing the birds is not as simple as telling a rooster from a hen chicken. Nest boxes designed for chickens are usually acceptable. To reduce the likelihood of hens laying eggs in hidden nests outside, keep guinea hens confined to a hen house until noon each day so that they will lay eggs inside. Bird selection and purchase If you are raising guinea fowl to control ticks and insects, you are better off purchasing adult guineas because they are easier to care for than young guineas and do well on their own.

It takes guineas a while to get settled into a new home. It is best to keep them confined for a week or two to let them become accustomed to their new home. If you let them out right away, they could run away. The guineas should be confined in a pen where they can see the area where they will be living.

After the initial couple of weeks, let one guinea out. Guineas hate to be alone, so the single guinea will not go far and will learn its way around the area. After a few days, let a second guinea out to run with the first. If they stay near the pen, it is usually safe to let the rest out. Keets are guinea fowl offspring that are younger than 12 weeks old. If you wish to start with day-old keets, you can be purchase them from a local breeder or feed mill. If local facilities do not have any keets, you can purchase the birds online with delivery through the U. Newly hatched birds, including keets, can survive for 48 hours on the nutrients they take in when they absorb the yolk during hatching.

This allows a window in which birds can survive shipment without supplemental nutrition.

Nutrition Adult guineas forage for themselves Adult guinea fowl are able to meet most of their nutrition requirements on their own. They consume a variety of insects and arachnids mosquitoes, ticks, beetles, and so guinexweed seeds, slugs, worms, and caterpillars. Guineas need to consume some greens in guines to maintain good digestion, and so they eat grass, dandelions, weeds, and other vegetation. Because the birds are consuming vegetation, it is important to make sure grit is available for the birds, and the birds also benefit from having oyster shell available. Provide clean water at all times. Guineas do enjoy a little scratch feed on the ground.

They like Aeult, sorghum, or millet grain and will ignore whole corn kernels. If you are keeping the guineas for pest control, restricting their feed will encourage guinra to spend more time eating insects. If for any reason guinea fowl are not allowed to forage, they can be fed a commercial poultry diet. It is important to use an unmedicated feed. Guineas need a higher protein feed than chickens, but do quite well on regular poultry diets. If your feed mill does not sell feeds in the proper protein levels, you can mix a higher protein feed with a laying-hen mash to get the proper protein level.

Guineas should be fed mash or crumbles. If disturbed, they tend to run rather than fly but, when necessary, they will burst from cover in steeply angled flight, giving jarring alarm calls kekkekkekkek. Guineafowl roost in trees at night. Birds gathering before going to roost are noisy, give a mix of kek-kek calls and a softer version of the buck-wheat call. Food Nothing is known of the diet of helmeted guineafowl in New Zealand. Elsewhere they are omnivorous, eating grass seeds, fruits, leaves, other vegetable matter, and invertebrates. They use their strong legs and toes to grub out bulbs, seedlings, beetles, bugs, and insect larvae; leaves, flower heads and fruits of herbaceous plants are plucked from growing plants.

Small lizards, frogs and even small mice are pursued and dispatched with a sharp jab and flick of the bill. Occasionally, birds can be seen jumping a few centimetres off the ground to pluck food items just out of reach. Reproductive behavior of helmeted guinea fowl Numida meleagris: Applied Animal Behaviour Science The field guide to the birds of New Zealand. Agricultural land-use patterns and the decline of the helmeted guineafowl Numida meleagris Linnaeus in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Physiology of egg-laying in the guineafowl Numida meleagris.

Japanese Journal of Poultry Science


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