Raising Guinea Fowl

For poultry keepers looking beyond the chicken, raising guinea fowl is a more exotic alternative with definite meat-producing possibilities.

| October 2014

While producing and selling chickens and eggs may remain the most common American poultry venture, Kelly Klober invites readers to explore the possibilities of other poultry varieties in Beyond the Chicken (Acres U.S.A., 2014). Practical advice interspersed with humorous personal anecdotes guides poultry producers through the process of creating or expanding an alternative poultry venture, raising and caring for each type of bird discussed and building a customer base in local markets. The following excerpt is from Chapter 5, “The Guinea: Poultry to Ponder.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Beyond the Chicken.

A Domesticated Game Bird

The guinea is an option for those seeking an exotic poultry variety. It is a bird virtually unchanged from its wild forebears still found on the plains of Africa. Many will tell you that they really don’t own guineas; they just provide them with some room to roam and a bit of feed and shelter when the snow flies.

The guinea is the bird that Hemingway shot for the camp table when on safari in Africa. Fried young guinea is a regional favorite of the Midwest, seen in late summer and fall when the keets of the year have reached pan size. Guinea is all dark meat of a very rich flavor, and it’s seen on the table very rarely and then only in high-end restaurants. It is a culinary favorite in France, where poultry in great variety is one of the pillars of classic French cuisine.

A few years ago a daytime TV celebrity with an estate home in a state with a history of Lyme disease cases spoke several times of using guineas on her large holding as a natural control measure for ticks. They have a long history of eating ticks and in rural Missouri are said to repel snakes and keep even the fearsome chigger at bay. They also have a well-deserved reputation as feathered watchdogs. They raise a true din when anything intrudes into their territory. If kept in large enough numbers they have even been said to deter winged predators such as hawks.

Their near-wild nature and the propensity to roost in trees make them vulnerable to that winged predator of the night, the owl. An owl will alight next to a guinea roosting on a limb, crowd it off its roosting point, and, as it flutters groundward in the dark, will dive and snatch it away. For those of you who have held on to a relic of your disco-era ways and have a strobe light up in the attic or bought one at a yard sale, it can be given a second life positioned in a poultry yard above the pens and coops. It is said that an owl will not fly through a strobe light.

3/20/2016 7:31:14 PM

What does the author mean by...."and are bad to steal out their nests if allowed even half a chance to do so."?

3/20/2016 10:59:34 AM

I was moving and offered my hens to my brother and his wife. They came out at night to get them in the chicken house when they were easy to catch. At that point the 9 Guineas I hatched had dwindled to 1 lone hen, the others had all gone wild and left her. We tried to catch her and it was a circus! My brother got her and she began to fight. It was like a cartoon. It ended with her keeping her freedom and him looking like he had been in a bar room brawl! He's 6'2" and weighs 250. He was no match for that 4 pound hen. I suggest getting keets and raising them with chickens, don't try to move adults. Mine were fine for 3 years, although they never hatched out keets and didn't seem interested. I let my chickens free range in the day, and the Guineas disappeared over time. They are loud, but great watchdogs. And I never had a tick the whole time I had them! They also love bean beatles and I had 100 ft row of beans without one single hole in a leaf. They won't eat squash bugs, but they are fantastic bug eaters for every other pest.

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