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Guinea fowl keets

As usual, its not until we get a new animal at Eight Acres until I really do some research to find out more about it.  I knew I wanted to get guinea fowl to help us with tick control, so I had been looking for some to buy in our local area, but I had not yet read much about them.  Then I was told about keets for sale and I contacted the seller and bought 10 day-old keets.  The seller mentioned that they were “pied” in colouring, that’s when I realised that I might have a bit to learn about guinea fowl.  So here is what I’ve found out.

the keets when they first came home....
Guinea fowl were originally from Africa.  There are several species, and the domesticated guinea fowl is descended from the Helmeted guinea fowl.  It seems that guinea fowl have been domesticated for thousands of years, with records of them in Roman and Egyptian literature.  More recently, in the 20th century, they have become popular with poultry “fanciers” and various different colours have been developed.  Ours are "pied" (meaning two or more colours), so they will be white and grey, but there are many other colours, including pure white, lavender and chocolate.  Really I didn't care what colour they were though, I didn't buy them for their odd looks!

week 2

Guinea fowl can be eaten and lay eggs than can be collected, however, their main value is as “guard birds” and tick eating machines.  Apparently they are only eat insects and seeds, and do not destroy gardens like chickens (who scratch at mulch and eat the leaves of plants, especially lettuce and sliverbeet in my experience).  Some people find their loud alarm noises annoying, but this is one way to help protect chickens from flying and crawling predators, some people also keep them for snake alarms. 

week 3
As you know, we had a bit of trouble with paralysis ticks at Cheslyn Rise in spring, and although this hot dry summer seems to have reduced the problem, a permanent solution is needed.  We don't seem to have a tick problem at Eight Acres, even though the vet told us that some nearby properties do have ticks, so I think that the chickens must eat them for us.  We can't leave chickens at Cheslyn Rise by themselves, but guinea fowl (apparently) live quite happily in forest land around our area and roost high in trees away from predators, so they have a better chance of living there by themselves.

week 4

I’m quite excited about keeping them.  Although they will have work to do on the farm, they will be one animal that we aren’t breeding just for eating, so they are more like a pet than the others.  We are hoping that among the 10 keets we will have more than one male, so we can split the group.  We plan to keep a few at Eight Acres so that we can collect eggs and breed more.  And take the rest of them to live and breed at Cheslyn Rise and eat all the ticks there!

a plain grey guinea fowl


Any experience with guinea fowl yourself?  Aren't they cute?!

See the full grown guinea fowl 6 months later....




By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


Comments

  1. Well I certainly learnt a thing or two today!

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  2. I love Guinea fowl. My step-daughter has them on her farm in Katherine. They certainly are a noisy bunch but also entertaining. Hers foriage all day and sleep in the trees at night - and no one can sneak in unannounced that's for sure.

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  3. The young ones are cute that's for sure.

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  4. Hi Liz, I have guinea fowl. I keep mine with my chooks, and they come back to the pen each night to roost with the chickens. I keep them locked up for the first 6 weeks when I get them to "home" them to our pens. They are pretty wild birds to keep, they don't tame down like chooks, and they can be pretty silly, ie: walking up and down beside an open gate for ages and not know how to come out, even though they've been through it 100 times before! But they are great to have on a property and I wouldn't be without them now. They can give your chooks a bit of a hard time though, chasing them etc.

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    Replies
    1. yeah they don't seem real smart so far, and very flighty!

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  5. Wow aren't they cute. I hope they help with the tick problem and with any predators.

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  6. I grew up in South Africa and thought we had a monopoly on them! They are so beautiful and now I see they are useful as well.

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    1. they seem to have been imported all around the world at some stage :)

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  7. I have one guinea left, I had 4 males to start. They tend to harass the chickens or any other animal that is in sight, including the dog which wasn't too good a move for 2 of them. I think a hawk got one. they make lots of noise so be prepared for that. I had the lavender ones and sold several paintings of them as they are nice looking birds if slightly a pain at times.

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    1. yes, I've heard about the noise....

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  8. I have to argue with you here Liz. We loved ours very much and no they don't scratch, but they DO eat plants! We had to give ours away for that reason. It wasn't even apparent when things were abundant but when the garden was lean they were eating my kale and any strawberry that had a tinge of pink. So if we were growing well it wasn't a problem but it's worth keeping in mind.

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    1. thanks for the tip Linda, I am just going on what I read so far, its good to hear of some personal experience, it will be interesting to see if they stay out of my garden, I'm sure that chicken wire fence won't stop them flying in!

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  9. Your post is perfect timing Liz. We've moved the first of our pets to our little farm - Guinea pigs (the chickens come next week) and the ants are attacking them. We have loads of ants on our property - and some give a very nasty bite. I did a quick google search and it seems Guinea fowl are great at eating ants. So I was going to research more into them. I had heard about their annoying noise. But I think the ants are likely going to be more annoying.

    Are they going to free range during the day? Will you need to lock them up at night or are they relatively fox resilient due to their nature?

    and your GUinea fowl chicks are so cute.

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    1. Hi Tricia, its worth a try, I'm sure the chickens eat a lot of our bugs too. We're not sure yet how its going to work with free-ranging etc. I was kind of hoping that they would live down in the paddock with the cattle and sleep in the trees, but it remains to be seen whether they will cooperate with my plans...

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  10. They aree very cute. And thanks for the information about them. I am making some decisions about animals on our place and your summary of GFs is very useful. Do they wander far?What's your fox problem like?

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    1. Hi Louise, as they are still small, we haven't let ours out of their cage yet, so I haven't found out if they wander. We haven't had any trouble with foxes, although some dogs took a couple of our chickens recently during the day. I'm hoping that the GF will learn to roost high up in trees, but I don't know if they will cooperate!

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  11. I have to agree with Linda - they will destroy a garden just like chooks! We had some, because they were supposed to be good at insect control and snakes and all the other things you mentioned, but they drove me mad with their constant scratching and the NOISE! They are however VERY good to eat! Good luck with them and if they will be safe from foxes and dingoes at Cheslyn Rise they may not worry you too much! And they are cute!

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    1. Thanks Lucy, its good to know, I will have to keep them out of the garden. We are planning to eat them when we build up an excess, I've heard that they are tasty!

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  12. My yoga teacher keeps about a dozen guinea fowl. They get very indignant when we turn up for class. Even though they never seem to shut up, they make up for it in cuteness. Hope they work out for you!

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  13. I am looking forward to your update on these cuties. We have ticks too, but so long as we have wallabies and bandicoots and koalas, we will have ticks. Apart from using the usual chemical controls, keeping the gardens/paddocks clear of lantana, tall grass etc. has been the only way we can keep ticks to a minimum.

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  14. thanks everyone for all the comments and advice, I will update when the birds are bigger and I know more about how they are going to fit into the farm.

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  15. would love ongoing updates on your GF as thinking of getting some also for snake alerts and ticks. Very keen to hear if you can keep them with chooks, do they need to be penned in with the chooks, do you feed them on top of their foraging, what size group is best, what care did the young ones need and how time consuming this care and for how long, ok with dogs/cats do they harass the dogs/cats or vice versa, and did they get into your gardens (have herb garden and soon to have veggie gardens and really dont want to lose this hard work to the GF but dont want ticks and snakes around kids and pets.
    Thanks for the info and keen to hear more

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  16. I have 2 week old chicks I am raising together with some Americana chicks. So far so good. The are already fighting over any bugs I drop into their box. I'm thinking that if I feed them scraps from the garden, they will develop a taste for such.

    I brought a day old chick back to life. He was certain to die, all the others were trampling over him and he was gasping and seizing, probably 20 min of life left. I gave him drops of straight wheat grass juice after a peaceful sleep he was up eating and has been thriving ever since. His name is Wheatie Bird.

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