Keeping guinea fowl?

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brooksidepoultry
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Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by brooksidepoultry » 05 May 2014, 09:03

How easy are they to rear, hatch & breed? & do they have a habit of dying easily like turkeys? I like unusual birds & would love to try the meat but have heard their buggers for not going in at night - the noise doesn't bother me as we have geese & have had turkeys, wings would be clipped. So has anyone kept any & had many probs? & whats the hen to cock ratio? x
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subruss
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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by subruss » 05 May 2014, 11:15

I kept a few a couple of years ago yes they are noisy especially when strangers turn up, they can be kept penned up but they really need plenty of room, They love to free range and I mean free range and are very good flyers some of mine ended up all over the village with people ringing the RSPB reporting a strange bird had flown in from some foreign land :lol: . They will also hide there nest and go broody and they love to roost very high up so unless you have a nice barn with beams for them to roost they will be up the highest tree they can find. GOOD LUCK :thumbright: :lol:

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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Lindsay » 05 May 2014, 11:38

I kept them also, and then gave up. French guinea fowl (bred for meat) can't fly, but they can, and do, kill themselves in a variety of bizarre ways. I won't get them again - they are noisy, incredibly stupid, and the eggs aren't up to much. I do think they need to free range as they haven't been domesticated as long as most poultry - or at least have a large pen to roam in. I grew a large patch of weeds/grass so they could have somewhere to hide in, and they appreciated it. They ate my hen/duck food and thrived on it, but, beware, a leaf being blown past in the wind, or a stray butterfly can send the entire flock into hysterics. I also found that one male in particular was aggressive towards the hens.

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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Henwife » 05 May 2014, 12:30

Subruss has the nub of it. I've kept a flock for years, they're easy to hatch (26 days) easy to rear, mad as hatters and incredibly noisy. They'll all lay in the same nest - I once found a nest of around 40 eggs that the fox had missed - but if they see you collect eggs they'll lay somewhere else. They are best reared by a feisty bantam who will fly up with them from 6 weeks on. Those reared under heat went out in a covered run under the apple tree where they roost and as soon as they were released, slept out. If reared under a bantam, they need to be kept very closely confined for a few days until they learn what hen talk means and come when she tells them too. Mine are registered as a wild flock, share the chicken food, act as excellent watchdogs at night from their vantage point in the tree, and give me a lot of pleasure. I'm down to 4 cocks and 2 hens through natural wastage (age). In all the years I've kept them I've lost only one (sitting) to a fox, one to a speeding car, and one to an uncontrolled dog (the owners were friends of mine, and absolutely mortified, but the GF was on public access land so taking her chances).
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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by brooksidepoultry » 05 May 2014, 23:00

Well we've got the large barn with beams & hay bales & also the plenty of trees & area with long grass & plenty of grazing - bear in mind we run approx 90 head of cattle & 200-300 sheep :lol: but where the poultry are they have 2 fields that are a large cider orchard & a river that runs through the farm where the ducks & geese go to. At present we've got 11 ducks, approx 40 chooks & 4 geese 1 gosling & 3 ducklings & 3 ewes left to lamb grazing it down so it doesn't really get grazed enough at present.

So in theory will they go into the shed at night if used to it? & will they lay in it? & subruss are they as hard as turkeys to keep? :lol: xx
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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Henwife » 06 May 2014, 06:46

Any theory about guinea fowl being trainable might as well be forgotton now. My OH believes that only one GF in a flock has a brain; the strange head gear is simply a radio receiver to get instructions from the one with the brain. I suspect he could be right. Keep some for pleasure and amusement, if you find the eggs it's a bonus as they are delicious. If I want to eat GF, I buy one from Waitrose.
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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by subruss » 06 May 2014, 09:18

They are easy to keep unlike turkeys. the routine is you buy them or bring them up, let them go then spend the rest of your life trying to find them and their eggs or chicks if you are unsuccessful and with the room and trees you have got that is going to be fun :thumbright:

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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Gilly C » 06 May 2014, 14:59

mine went in at night with the silkies even using an automatic door they waited until they heard it closing though and made a dash for it lol I only had females and disagree about the eggs they were lovely similar in size to a silkie(bantam) but thicker shells they only lay in summer months though lay well only occasionally did they lay away and sleep out and go broody, we lived next to a sheep farm found them good for insect control (Ticks) and they did not eat much hen food though always available when I first got them I ringed them with different colour rings allowing only one out each day at first as they are flock birds, the male have heavier legs and a different call I chose all my birds and got all female so it can be done lol go for it if they breed eat the males they taste good

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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Gallina Blanca » 11 May 2014, 00:29

I've got some as well, they are incredibly thick, but do learn eventually. I'm down to 2 cocks and 2 hens, they like to be in pairs, and if there are more cocks than hens they'll fight and the losers will leave until they're down to equal numbers. You can have more hens than cocks, though. You would have to keep the chicks shut in the barn for at least 6 weeks so they learn where to come back to, and then you have to make sure you don't change any of the entrances, anything new and they get stuck and they are vulnerable to attack by dogs, foxes, you name it . See through fences are a disaster, if they can see where they want to get to they just pace up and down for hours thinking the barrier will dissolve or something. Very good, as Gilly says, for insect control; not as bad as chickens for the veggie patch but they do like their lettuce. I've found eggs up trees, on top of prickly pear plants stuck between two pads(2m high!?)washed down in the irrigation channel.....you name it. They prefer to lay eggs in long grass, not in nest boxes. I've got 3 eggs under a broody at the moment, I found them dotted around the land in various spots, hopefully they'll hatch, because here the natural wastage is high with tree climbing nocturnal predators. These 4 have survived because they liked to sleep in the lime tree inside the electric fence, instead of the willow tree outside where the others were. I always talk to them when I'm close and they now recognise my voice and are completely tranquil when I'm around, they don't even run away any more. My spare males have been found in chicken runs up to 2km away, they have to leave, but are accustomed to the company of chickens( and presumably their food). They love millet and you can always get them to come with a handful of millet once they've learnt what it is.

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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Henwife » 11 May 2014, 06:43

Obviously I've been lucky with my mismatch of sexes, though it could be that they're peaceful due to age! I do remember the days when persuit around the garden by the boss cock became half marathons. Perhaps is just that they have always lived as a flock and find safety in numbers.
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Re: Keeping guinea fowl?

Post by Gallina Blanca » 11 May 2014, 10:56

If you wanted to keep them commercially You would have to keep them in an enclosure with a roof of some sort, netting would do. I would make some sort of open bus shelterlike structure with high perches in it and a plank half way up for them to take off to and from. Although if they survive in the open in Monmouthshire perhaps it wouldn't even have to be covered. Might be more inviting, though. Here in Spain they do something to their wings when they're small so they can't fly, perhaps they take the end joint off or something - I'm not sure whether clipping would do the trick for long - and then you have to catch them again for the clipping operation and they wouldn't be able to get up high, they do really like to be high up. I know I'm contradicting myself, but I'm trying to think of the most humane way of keeping them commercially.........While I had a female like this, they slept with the hens on perches about 75cm high, (they chose that house as the most open, they don't like being shut in) as soon as they could all fly (ie. the fox got her)they were off up the trees. You would collect the eggs (I think they're delicious) from wherever they happened to drop them all over the enclosure. They are definitely not as delicate as turkeys or chickens, I've never had one die of illness, though the risks of disease will always be greater if they they are enclosed. Droppings are small and dry, presumably they had to conserve water in the savannah. I think they'd need some green stuff to keep them healthy if enclosed, I caught mine eating the flowers off the mock orange the other day which is a new departure, but they also love lettuce and cabbage leaves.
Henwife wrote:Obviously I've been lucky with my mismatch of sexes, though it could be that they're peaceful due to age! I do remember the days when persuit around the garden by the boss cock became half marathons. Perhaps is just that they have always lived as a flock and find safety in numbers.
Oh yes, and the agility and stamina involved, our land is almost vertical in places but they chase each other up and down, over fences, up trees for hours at a time -it's like some sort of guinea cop movie.

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