Breed Details:
Helmeted Guinefowl are in their own genus Numida, their scientific name being Numida meleagris; however they share their family Numididae with five other species plus two sub-species. In the wild these interesting birds breed naturally in Africa, south of the Sahara in warm, dry, fairly open areas with grasses, shrubs, and small trees. They are common in savanna and farmland. They are a gregarious bird that travels in flocks of 10-25 individuals that roost communally. Males are often highly aggressive towards one another in the wild and bluff and chase one another with wings outstretched and beak agape. Nesting in the wild consists of a scrape in the dirt often heavily concealed by grasses and shrubs where the female hides a clutch of eggs ranging in size from 6-12 eggs which the female incubates for 26–28 days. Plumage in wild birds is a grey-black spangled with white. Like other guinea fowl, this species head is not feathered and in this case adorned with a dull colored knob, ranging through red, orange, and yellow, as well as red, blue, and white patches of skin. Two perky wattles are also present although in juvenile they are a pink-grey until maturation. They have a short tail and rounded wings. Guineas are mostly terrestrial; however, they are capable of short, powerful flight when alarmed. They also have a loud, harsh cry. They have a wide and varied omnivorous diet. In captivity guineas are known as great "watch dogs" alerting owners of approaching danger in the form of hawks, strange dogs, a new vehicle or person, and sometimes to the owners disgust wind, a leaf falling, or some other insignificant change. Hens often lay in large communal nests and occasionally bury their eggs. Eggs are smaller and very round and one end and pointed on the other. Shells are very thick and range in color from creamy whites and pinks to darker beiges, browns, and even purples and blues. Eggs are sometimes speckled. It should be noted that domesticated female guineas do not make the best mothers especially in wet or cool environments. Common reasons for keeping guineas other than as an alarm system include tick and insect control (when free-ranging) and for meat. Guineas are said to have a slightly gamey taste, more flavorful than chicken, but not turkey. French and Italian recipes often call for guinea. Eggs can also be used in cooking. Guineas are known to be stubborn and insist on roosting in trees. My mixed flock of sixty or so birds roosted every night in their house. They were trained as young keets and the habit was enforced every night. If new additions became problematic wings were clipped until roosting in the house was first nature. My guineas were on a gamebird crumble and free-ranged in afternoons and received hen scratch on the days they weren't let out and as an incentive for everyone to come back to the pen for bedtime. Wild birds are said to be mostly monogamous but in domestic situations I find more females than males to be desirable to limit males harassing each other and the hens. Adults can often be sexed by sight as males are generally larger weighing on average 4 lbs. while hens are slightly smaller at 3.5 lbs. Males wattles and helmet are usually larger. Sexing by ear can be easier as females have a two syllable, two toned call often described as "buck-wheat" with the latter word being higher. Males have a one syllable call only similar to "Chi, chi, chi, chi...". Hens can imitate the males call as well. Guineas can be kept with most other domesticated fowl and even some ornamental species. If kept with chickens layer crumble is fine for them.