Scientific name: Guttera pucherani, Guttera edouardi, Guttera verreauxi
Other common names: Crested Guineafowl, Kenya Crested Guineafowl, Eastern Crested Guineafowl, Southern Crested Guineafowl
There are five subspecies or species of the highly successful Crested Guinea Fowl distributed across much of the wetter parts of the African continent. However, these striking birds are not seen as frequently in aviculture as the Helmeted and Vulturine Guinea Fowl, and since their care is similar to the Vulturine's, it might be advisable to get experience with the more available species first. Also, you may want an expert's advice to make sure you are pairing your birds properly.
In 2014, some authorities split the former Crested Guinea Fowl into three species-- Guttera edouardi (Southern Crested Guineafowl), Guttera pucherani (Eastern Crested Guineafowl), and Guttera verreauxi (Western Crested Guineafowl). Whether this split becomes widely accepted remains to be seen, but G. pucherani is easily recognized and has long been available in U.S. aviculture under the name Kenya Crested Guineafowl. A few Southern or Edward's Crested Guinea Fowl, G. edouardi, may remain in the U.S., but they are reportedly close to vanishing. If you obtain any of these rare birds, you are taking on a responsibility to help them recover for the enjoyment of future generations.
The elegant body feathers of the Crested Guinea Fowl feature pale (white or very light baby blue) pin dots on a rich black background. All subspecies possess a curly black crest, but there are sufficient differences in the face and neck among the five forms that you should be able to correctly identify and pair your birds. For instance, the Kenya Crested Guinea Fowl has a blue nape and a mostly red face. The South African form, Edwards Crested Guinea Fowl, (G. edouardi), has a white nape, gray face, and scarlet eyes. The sexes are much alike.
1.6 - 1.8 kilograms (3.5 - 4 lbs.)
10 - 15 years
Crested Guinea Fowl, like any other poultry that ranges over the ground, may be susceptible to worm infections. A good veterinarian is your best advisor at how to de-worm your birds. Coccidiosis should be battled by providing a scrupulously clean coop and probably also by consulting with your avian veterinarian about preventive treatments. Be aware that these insect-eaters have a very high need for protein. If you are raising the youngsters, known as keets, you must be careful to supply crumbles with the right amount of protein to prevent sudden death. Some breeders advise providing live mealworms.
Behavior / temperament:
There are mixed reports on the personality of the Crested Guinea Fowl. They are monogamous birds with a strong pair bond, and the male can be very solicitous of his mate and chicks. They have also been sometimes kept successfully in large, mixed-species aviaries with unrelated ornamental birds like the pheasants, although you must avoid housing them with other Guinea species or subspecies because they don't know better than to hybridize. Despite such successes, they may be capable of aggression toward perceived rivals or even their human keepers. One breeder said that they required the use of protective clothing, because the males attacked him so often. Another breeder has countered that his birds are indeed bold, but their confident nature simply made them easier to tame. It's worth bearing in mind that the Crested Guinea Fowl is likely to be happier in a large pen with plenty of cover than in a small pen where the birds may fear being trapped.
Because of their exotic appearance, Crested Guinea Fowl have been kept in pairs in large well-planted mixed species aviaries as well as free-ranging on estates. Aviaries should have plenty of cover, to protect the female from her mate when he's feeling too aggressive. Train free-ranging birds to return to a secure roost or enclosure at night, so that they won't be a victim of night-time predators. It is important to start from an early age, so that the birds will follow you pretty much without question. Experts suggest having a light on a timer in the coop that goes on automatically before sunset, since guineas are chary of entering a dark place. And, considering their rarity in aviculture, you may want to think twice before you free-range them at all. They are from a hot climate, so you need to be able to provide heat to the shelter when the temperature falls below 45 degrees F.
Crested Guinea Fowl may be considered omnivorous birds who aren't afraid to eat almost anything that doesn't run away fast enough, be it seeds, insects, ticks, small frogs, snakes, lizards, and even rodents. However, they have a huge appetite for insects and similar “bugs” like ticks, which is one reason they are so highly regarded on lawns, in gardens, and around the farmyard. Obviously, for many people, these birds prove most useful (and most beautiful) when allowed to free range around the property for their own food. However, be prepared to supplement the diet with a high quality game bird or laying crumble, as well as plenty of greens and grains. Adult females generally require a calcium supplement. Clean water should always be available, and it's worth noting that wild Cresteds prefer a much wetter habitat than Vulturine's, so you might expect them to drink more water.
Written by Elaine Radford
My parents started raising fowls with chicks . They raised them all together.
It is easier to start with keets. Older guinea fowl will often leave to find their way "home" just as soon as you turn them loose. When young, the keet can be handled easily. You can even teach a keet to sit on your finger! Of course, this is only if you handle them often. While it is not necessary to make keets so tame that they will allow being handled, some enjoy this accomplishment. If not handled at all, the keets and adults will be rather jumpy and wild, never allowing you to touch them willingly.
Personally, I grew a personnal relationship with only one of them, knowing we would probably eat the rest of the fowls at one time or another.
Keets must be kept warm until they are fully feathered. For that purpose you need a brooder with room enough to get away from the heat until they are fully feathered (6 weeks). You can put them together along with your chicks, to reduce the costs.
As keets, feed them preferably with turkey grower ( richer in protein). You also need to buy some medicated food to prevent any outbreak of coccidiosis.
In most of cases, especially if you buy an important number of keets, you will loose some of them, the most fragile ones.
Raising keets is therefore both expensive ( more than for chickens) and time-consuming, but as they grow adults the costs decrease considerably.
As adults, they all were on pasture in the daytime, and put up in a coop at night with chickens, and later the turkeys we had. By raising and training the chickens and guineas together, our guineas easily came up to roost in coop along with the chickens. The female guinea fowl didn't necessarily lay in the nest box, but they would lay in the coop and then go back out and free range. Some of them also laid outdoor, on the ground. Guinea Hens will often share nests, which explains finding the addition of 2 or more eggs to a nest in a day.
Once there is a clutch of 20-30 eggs, a guinea hen might decide to go broody, then she will stay on the nest. If she is determined, she will safely hatch those eggs, and take care of her keets. Nevertheless guinea hens are not the best mothers ever, sometimes taking their keets out into wet grass or leaving them in the rain, which is the keets worst enemy. In all the years we have raised guineas, we never brought any keets home alive on her own. Either a predator or the wet grass got to them first.
Our hen's yard had a 6 foot fence around it, mainly to keep the hens protected from the fox ( we were located close to a forest). But, the fowls sometimes fled over it to roam. In order to protect them, we trimmed their wings.
Guineas eat whatever I feed the chickens. Their diet consisted of 90% bugs and weed seeds. One of the biggest advantage of having guinea fowls at home is that they will eat the nasty bugs that destroys your flowers.
Nevertheless ( and even if their meat tastes extremelyyyy good) there are several important disadvantages of having guinea fowls.
First of all they are extremely loud, they like screaming and screeching, not only clucking. Most of people will tell you they're as good as a watchdog and this is true to a certain extent. Indeed, guineas will alert you to strange dogs, people and cars coming on to your property. BUT they will also alert you to the fact that a door just slammed, the wind blew, or a car drove by a mile down the road or if one of them gets axay from the group… which can be really annoying, espacially if they are located close to your house.
Then they can also be aggressive to one another. This is one of the main reason if you want to breed both chickens and guineas, better to do it from the beginning. Whenever we added the young birds- both guinea and chicken- to our adults flock the usual fight for top bird began. All of this ended up with chickens missing their tail and back feathers. This is even worst if you have chickens and guineas roosters ( guineas can be real bullies!). Better buying strong and tough breed of chickens, with big roosters, if you insist on having both guinea and chicken roosters..
From HHennion Jul 17 2015 5:47AM
My family was given six guineas to deal with an insect problem. The birds were very good at keeping the insect population under control, but weren't aggressive towards humans at all.
However, the birds were very unintelligent. We built a pen to keep them safe from predators and initially tried to put them there at night, but they hated being in it. They did everything in their power to get out of the cage, and eventually we gave up trying to keep them inside. In addition, they weren't afraid of vehicles, and wouldn't move when a truck approached. As a result, we lost every bird in about six months.
I found the guineas frustrating, all told. It's hard to appreciate fewer insects when you have to chase birds for an hour every evening just to make them safe for the night..
From trishadee Feb 17 2015 2:38AM