As usual, its not until we get a new animal at Eight Acres until I really do some research to find out more about it. I knew I wanted to get guinea fowl to help us with tick control, so I had been looking for some to buy in our local area, but I had not yet read much about them. Then I was told about keets for sale and I contacted the seller and bought 10 day-old keets. The seller mentioned that they were “pied” in colouring, that’s when I realised that I might have a bit to learn about guinea fowl. So here is what I’ve found out.
the keets when they first came home....
Guinea fowl were originally from Africa. There are several species, and the domesticated guinea fowl is descended from the Helmeted guinea fowl. It seems that guinea fowl have been domesticated for thousands of years, with records of them in Roman and Egyptian literature. More recently, in the 20thcentury, they have become popular with poultry “fanciers” and various different colours have been developed. Ours are "pied" (meaning two or more colours), so they will be white and grey, but there are many other colours, including pure white, lavender and chocolate. Really I didn't care what colour they were though, I didn't buy them for their odd looks!
Guinea fowl can be eaten and lay eggs than can be collected, however, their main value is as “guard birds” and tick eating machines. Apparently they are only eat insects and seeds, and do not destroy gardens like chickens (who scratch at mulch and eat the leaves of plants, especially lettuce and sliverbeet in my experience). Some people find their loud alarm noises annoying, but this is one way to help protect chickens from flying and crawling predators, some people also keep them for snake alarms.
As you know, we had a bit of trouble with paralysis ticks at Cheslyn Rise in spring, and although this hot dry summer seems to have reduced the problem, a permanent solution is needed. We don't seem to have a tick problem at Eight Acres, even though the vet told us that some nearby properties do have ticks, so I think that the chickens must eat them for us. We can't leave chickens at Cheslyn Rise by themselves, but guinea fowl (apparently) live quite happily in forest land around our area and roost high in trees away from predators, so they have a better chance of living there by themselves.
I’m quite excited about keeping them. Although they will have work to do on the farm, they will be one animal that we aren’t breeding just for eating, so they are more like a pet than the others. We are hoping that among the 10 keets we will have more than one male, so we can split the group. We plan to keep a few at Eight Acres so that we can collect eggs and breed more. And take the rest of them to live and breed at Cheslyn Rise and eat all the ticks there!
a plain grey guinea fowl
Any experience with guinea fowl yourself? Aren't they cute?!