Sunday, January 2, 2011

Guinea Fowl

I was looking through some of my Holmestead pictures and found this shot of one of our guinea hens and some of her brood from last June 24. These babies are four days old. (Baby guinea fowl are called keets, not chicks.) Guinea fowl are loud birds (which is a positive in my book) whose primary function is eating ticks and sticker seeds. Supposedly they also kill small snakes and rodents although I've never seen them do it. At any rate, they definitely reduced our tick population last spring and summer. They will lay small eggs for you in the spring until they get broody and wander off into the grass to make a nest.
From Holmestead Pictures (public)
She hatched 16 out of 17 eggs on June 20. She made her nest in some tall grass not too far from the house. It rained really hard in early June when she was sitting on the nest but she stuck it out like a trooper. Once I finally located her nest I would leave her a little corn every day. It's amazing that a bird can nest out in the grass for three weeks and no critters found her. Of her 16 babies 9 are alive today. We started with six guineas originally, made it up to around 34 once two pairs hatched out eggs and are now at 10 after attrition, mostly to foxes and one to an owl.

One other interesting trait is that guineas form monogamous pairs so you can have multiple males. Also, they are better foragers than chickens so they don't require a lot of feed.


  1. That is an interesting bird. I wonder how they would do here in Virginia with all our racoons, opossums, and gray foxes running around.

  2. Do you eat them? Or do you have them solely for tick/weed control?

  3. Steve--I don't think they'd last too long unless you clipped their wings regularly to keep them from wandering too far afield. They do come in at night so they avoid a lot of the trouble.

    Aaron--I may eat some if my flock gets really big, but mostly they are tick/weed seed eaters. I figure since I lose enough to the predators I can't afford to start eating them myself.