One of our lovely neighbours provided us with some guinea fowl eggs this Spring and we now have five Guinea fowl living at Booyong! They have a lovely polka dot design and I think they’re really cute.
So, what are they good for you ask? Guinea fowl are famous for aiding in the natural removal of bugs (including ticks), pests, insects and even snakes in the garden. They are popular because, unlike chickens, they prey upon insects that live close to the surface and are less likely to burrow beneath the grass and underneath the soil and make a mess. They will predominantly eat bugs in preference to leafed plants. Although having said that they may make a mess of young seedlings so be sure to protect them just in case.
They tend to remain where they are raised, especially if they are cared for well. Bob kept the baby Guinea fowl (keets) in a temporary hutch for the first couple of months and they seem to have assimilated well with the chickens since being set free. They are quite low maintenance and require regular clean and fresh water, and their diet should be around 80% insects and 20% plants and seeds. They require additional grains in winter when there is not much feed about.
Each Guinea fowl will lay seasonally (Spring and Summer) and have the capacity to lay approximately 100 rich eggs per year. They are also well known as a game bird and for their dark and lean meat. We were recently surprised to find one of our clucky chickens sitting on a pile of Guinea fowl eggs in the long grass. They will generally take 26-28 days to hatch. We didn’t expect them due to the cold weather, but we now have an additional three keets. They think the chicken is their mother and we’ve placed them in the bunny hutch temporarily for protection.
Guinea fowls are native to Africa. They spend their days foraging for insects and bugs and work together, moving together as one. Guinea Fowl are larger and fiercer than chickens and their loud calls will alarm you should danger be present. If they discover a snake or rat, they will close ranks and work together to catch their prey. They can be quite noisy, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem at Booyong, there is space for them to roam about freely and they like their independence. Guinea fowl are not suitable for urban environments for this reason.
At Booyong as the sun begins to go down, they will fly up to a specific branch in a tree near Bob’s shack. Every day, like clockwork! They seem not to require a shelter and are safe in the tree with Dixie (our kelpie) there to protect them from foxes and owls. They can also fly away from predators and we expect them to move to higher branches as they mature.
In the garden guinea fowl manure is good for compost and as it is high in nitrogen should be used sparingly. They’re a great addition to the property and we like having them roam about.