Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder),
Bred animal myself
Moodys, Oklahoma, United States
Posted Feb 21, 2014
As I sit here and type this I am hearing the obnoxiously loud calls of the very birds I am writing about. Something has set them off and so on one side of the ranch I hear a group of about 10 of them sounding off and on the other I hear another guinea gang squawking about something. Personally, I like the sounds of the guinea hens, although many folks do not like them. It is hard to describe what they sound like but they can be noisy, chattering, screeching, screaming and more. They are excellent "watch dogs" and will alert you to anything that is different, even when you want to be napping or sleeping still.
The original reason we got them was for bug and pest control. And boy, are they champs at that. If you live where there are ticks or other pesty little bugs, then guineas are the bird to consider getting. Talk about A1 scavengers, that is what guinea fowl are tops at. They will free range around and just plane survive on their own, that is once they get to a little older age. As keets (that's what a guinea chick is called), they tend to be a little hard to raise. We have lost several as keets for reasons that I am not sure why. Last year, we incubated some of the eggs that we were able to raise fairly well and even had a few hens sit and have successful hatches. The keets have got to be tough if they are going to be raised by the mom and dad - from the minute the eggs hatch, the parents are on the move with those little keets running hard to try to stay up with the daily foraging.
Eggs - yes, they lay eggs. They are a clutch layer, meaning they will lay anywhere from 20 to 40 eggs in a nest and then begin the sit. If you ever come across a guinea sitting, be prepared to be chased, attacked and yelled at. They will guard their nests like you wouldn't believe. If you want, you can collect the eggs and go ahead and eat them just like chicken eggs. They are a little bit smaller and the shells tend to be quite a bit thicker. We usually don't eat ours because we like to hatch them out.
These birds are some of the funnest ones to watch on our ranch. I so enjoy watching the different groups of guineas we have. They are very territorial and will often pick a "gang fight" with a rival gang when they cross paths. Usually there will be lots of loud screeching and other bird calls and then they will separate and go about their business of bug eating and searching for goodies. Our birds will wander within the perimeter of our ranch but then make their way to the fenceline and end up on the neighbors property looking for bugs as well.
The other thing about guineas is that they prefer to sleep up high somewhere. They will pick a high location, like a tree, a 6 foot high fence or even the top of the swamp cooler. This is okay on our ranch but others may not like the mess that will be found below the birds as they roost in sometimes unwanted high locations. They can be shut up in chicken yards and do coexist with other birds quite well. We have even raised a few of them with baby chickens to see if we could "trick" them in to thinking they are a chicken and not a crazy, wild guinea. A few have been tricked but most of them eventually team up with their own kind and begin the loud, squawking routine of the group.
So, if you're looking for a bird that is an easy keeper, will eat ticks and other bugs, then guinea fowl are the bird to consider. But, be prepared for the loud and sometimes out of control noises that come with guineas.