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    All-Purpose Poultry | Spring 2014 Out Here Magazine

    Guinea fowl do much more than make a good meal

    guinea fowl
    Out Here

    Article Courtesy of the
    University of Kentucky Extension Service

    Photography by iStock

    If you're thinking of expanding your poultry flock, consider guinea fowl, a game bird that is increasing in popularity.

    Guineas are mistakenly thought to be a breed of chicken, but they are not. Guineas are more active, range further, and fly higher than chickens.

    The meat of a young guinea is tender, resembling that of wild game, and has many nutritional qualities that make it a valuable addition to the diet. Guinea meat has 134 calories per 100 grams, which is second only to turkeys, which have 109 calories in the same quantity of meat. Guinea fowl meat is leaner and drier than chicken meat, and the birds are ready to eat at 14 to 16 weeks of age.

    They're prolific layers and can lay more than 100 eggs per year, so an egg a day is common during the laying season. Guinea eggs are smaller than chicken eggs — about 1.4 ounces, as compared to 2 ounces for a chicken egg.

    Guinea eggs can be eaten just as chicken eggs and should be collected daily if they're not used for hatching purposes.

    Besides meat nutrition and egg production, there are other reasons to raise these rough, vigorous, hardy, and basically disease-free birds.

    FARMYARD 'WATCH DOG'

    Guinea fowl will sound an alarm whenever anything unusual occurs on the farm. Some find this noise a nuisance, but for others the guinea is an effective tool for protecting the farm livestock. Guineas have been proven as "watch dogs" in non-farm locations as well, such as junkyards.

    When dogs are used as guard animals, lawsuits are a possibility if an intruder gets injured. In a junkyard with trees, guineas roost in the trees at night and will make a ruckus if disturbed, alerting the owner of the intruder. Losses to theft can be reduced with no lawsuits.

    Guinea fowl will also alert other poultry on the farm of danger. The warning call of guineas notifies others when raptors are in the area, giving them time to dash under shelter.

    INSECT CONTROL

    The main food for wild guineas is insects. Guineas will consume large amounts of insects, typically leaving vegetable and flower gardens alone. Unlike chickens, guineas do not scratch the dirt much and therefore do very little damage to gardens. Once established on a farm, guineas are able to pretty much fend for themselves consuming insects, seeds, and grasses.

    They have been used to control deer ticks, wood ticks, grasshoppers, flies, crickets, and other insects. They also will eat slugs. Guineas are used in some areas to reduce the threat of Lyme disease, which is carried by the deer tick population.

    Guinea fowl will also eat honeybees, so you must be careful if you also have apiaries. Guinea fowl have been known to stand by a hive and eat the bees as they come out.

    RODENT CONTROL

    The loud call of the guineas has been shown to discourage rodents from invading the area.

    Flocks of guineas also will kill and eat mice and small rats.

    SNAKE CONTROL

    Some snakes are known to eat eggs and baby chicks. In areas where snakes are a problem, groups of guineas have even been known to locate and kill snakes before they can cause harm.

     

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