The Guinea Fowl Boys
(and Girls, too!)
In the summer of 2009, while I was away out of state overnight, two of my chickens were killed by a predator. Not knowing a thing about them beyond their reputation for being ‘watch dogs’, my family invested in a small brood of four Guinea keets. They grew, progressively getting louder and louder, until they were finally able to move out of the brooder and in with the flock. Unfortunately tragedy struck again, and soon after their move, the lavender hen that had been in this set of four Guineas was killed by an opossum.
We learned after that that Guineas are excellent for keeping watch during the day, but that they are as vulnerable at night as the chickens themselves! We also learned that leaving the coop open 24/7 while having a chicken run made only of chicken wire and plastic netting was why we were repeatedly losing birds. This arrangement had worked for a few years because we had a dog that lived in a fenced yard right by the chicken coop, but when he passed away, the predators started coming. Soon, to make room for the birds to be closed in at night for safety, we built a larger coop for the chickens and removed the fence wall in the old coop for the Guineas to take it over.
The next year, 2010, we decided to add to our Guinea flock by hatching some eggs from the three remaining adults. Of the 9 eggs, 7 keets hatched, and they all grew up to be MALES! Fortunately, the 2 Lavender keets we bought to replace the lavender that had been killed the year before turned out to be hens at least!
After some losses, due mostly to Guineas disappearing into the woods and never coming back, we ended up with a total of 10 Guinea fowl; the 2 lavender hens, and 8 males of different varieties. They lived in their little coop for much too long, until we finally decided it was time to rebuild. They now live in an 8x8 coop that they can be locked safely inside of for the night, and their run is (hopefully) soon to be expanded even further for even more space when they can’t free-range.
The Guineas are definitely different than the chickens. They are louder, louder, LOUDER than any chicken out there! They yell when there are threats, but they also yell when the wind changes, when a leaf falls from a tree, when anyone walks past their pen… In other words, if anything changes in their environment, the world must know!
Unlike my beloved chickens, the Guineas are less individualistic. Rather, they seem to behave like a ‘superorganism’; they’re like one large entity made up of individual organisms. They move together in one big group, eat and drink together, mob perceived threats (such as dead moles ), even have mass dust baths or sun baths together! They also are not friendly like the chickens, instead choosing to skirt around me when I’m nearby.
Still, they are interesting, quirky birds that are fascinating to watch. And they’re rather handsome—in their own way, of course!
The Guinea Guys
My first Guinea fowl males were two Pearl Gray boys that could only be told apart by the fact that one of them had a curled wattle and the other had flat wattles. Though I never officially named any of them, the curly-wattled one became known in my mind as Curly. To this day, the other older male is unnamed.
Curly’s curly wattle:
The unnamed guy:
The younger males, hatched from eggs from the above Pearl Gray males and a Pied Pearl Gray female that has since passed away, surprised me with their variety; from those eggs, we ended up with a mix of Pearl Gray, Pied Pearl Gray, Royal Purple, and Pied Royal Purple Guineas. Over the years, they also gained little nicknames like Curly, though none have ever officially been named.
Mama’s Boy, because he looks identical to his Pied Pearl Gray mother, down to the shape of the white patch on his chest!
Handsome, who I just think is the most handsome Guinea boy of the flock! He’s also Pied Pearl Gray:
Handsome's pretty eyelashes:
Short Stuff, who was the runt of the brood and took a long time to catch up in size to the rest of them. He’s a Royal Purple Guinea:
Blind-Eye. As you can probably guess, he has a blind eye.
Crooked Legs, like Blind-Eye, was nicknamed for a physical trait. He is a Pied Royal Purple Guinea:
Low Man, so called because he’s the low man on the pecking order. He’s just a basic Pearl Gray Guinea:
The Guinea Girls
My two Guinea hens are both coincidentally Lavender, but they are fairly easy to tell apart. It wasn’t overly evident when she was a keet, but one of the two has a slightly deformed beak, making her obvious by comparison to the other hen. The hen with the deformed beak also is mostly blind, or at least acts that way, and the way she walks around with her head low as if trying to see any obstacles before her is what gave her her little nickname, Kiwi, after the New Zealand birds. The other hen is normal as far as her eyesight and beak, and so I usually just call her the Normal Hen.
Kiwi doing her kiwi impression:
The Guinea Coop
Here's some pictures of the Guineas' home.
The good old Guinea Box! We'll hopefully be adding windows to two walls soon, too!
A couple shots of the inside. The ladder is from when this structure was a playhouse. The Guineas like hopping up onto the rungs, so we left it there.
Here's Normal Hen giving me looks from outside. "That's it?"
I don't have a current picture of their run, but here are their outside perches. This used to be a separate pen, which is why there are so many random boards on it, but the Guineas enjoy hopping around on them, too, so we left them in as well.
Guinea Fowl Madness!
A few random pictures of these crazy birds!
Curly, Normal Hen, Handsome, and Mama's Boy:
Watermelon is never to be trusted when you're a Guinea:
Curly and Mama's Boy. The look on Curly's face..!
Unnamed (in the back) and Blind-Eye being crazy:
Low Man and Crooked Legs on their outside perches: