Free range guinea fowl!

by Farmer Liz
We bought the guinea fowl as day-old chicks in December last year.  The idea was to raise them to eat the ticks that were affecting our Braford cattle at Cheslyn Rise.  I may have over-estimated how easy it would be to get them established on our property.  Now that they are 7 months old we can see that they are very different to chickens and we are starting to learn how to manage them.

.... and when we first got them as chicks
I know everyone said that guinea fowl are noisy, but I didn't imagine they would be THIS bad!  They are currently living close to the house and they squawk nearly constantly, it really amazes me just how loud they are.  See the video below for an example of some guinea fowl noise.  We are gradually moving them away from the house.

We recently decided to let them free-range.  The first night we were able to herd them back home.  The second night was the same.  The third night they all decided to fly up into the trees when we got too close.  When Pete shook one of the trees they flew up again and one even ended up on the roof of the house!  We had to give up and leave them out there.  They were all still ok in the morning, and after work we came home to find them all back in their cage!  They are very strange birds!  Ever since that night out, they have walked straight into their cage, so I wonder what happened to them up there in the trees.  They certainly learnt their lesson anyway.  

Now we just open the door of their cage each afternoon and they walk around the house yard making that noise.  They seem reluctant to fly, and actually forget that they can fly when they do accidentally get stuck on the other side of the fence (just pace up and down until we herd them through the gate).  They haven't got into my garden yet.  They have walked into the neighbour's property once, but they seem to prefer to hang around near their cage now.  In the evening, one person can herd them into the cage with Cheryl (the dog)'s help.  We make Cheryl sit on one side of the door, and then herd the guineas around the cage, when they get to Cheryl they stop and turn into the door of the cage.  Cheryl then takes all the credit for putting them to bed.

So we are successfully free-ranging the guinea fowl so far.  I'm not sure how they will cope with moving to Cheslyn Rise when we're ready (I'm not sure how I'm going to catch them either!).  I just wish they would go further away from the house sometimes, because that noise is incredible.

Do you keep guinea fowl?  Do you let them free-range?  Any tips or funny guinea stories?
From The Farm Blog Hop    Homegrown on the Hill  Small Footprint Fridays - A sustainable living link-up

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