Guineafowl, particularly the helmeted variety, have a long history of domestication. It is said they were domesticated in Africa more than four thousand years ago by ancient Egyptians. Ancient Greeks as well as Romans domesticated them as well as featuring them in their beautiful gardens and aviaries. They were later introduced into Europe but with the fall of the Roman Empire they appear to have been lost.
- Breed Colors/Varieties:
- Pearl, Lavender, White, Royal Purple, Coral Blue, Buff, Buff Dundotte, Chocolate, Porcelain, Opaline, Slate, Brown, Powder Blue, Violet, Bronze, Sky Blue, Pewter, Lite Lavender, and Pied (occurs in any color)
- Breed Size:
- Large Fowl
The ancestors of the guinea fowl we are so familiar with today were re-introduced to Europe during the fifteenth century and became popular in Britain and from there was taken by colonists and introduced to other parts of the world.
Flocks of guineas have been widely introduced into the West Indies, Brazil and southern France.
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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 26Â28 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.
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Recent User Reviews
"Great Hawk Deturant"
Pros - Less blood sucking bugs, Great watch "Dogs"
Cons - Tend to be Flighty, and sounding false alarms
I had bought six from a local auction in NC as 2 week old keets, I had never had them, but my husband had while living on his dad's farm. We had a little over 90 acres at the time and my husband kept saying what good watch dogs they were, and I wanted something to protect my silkies and gold star laying hens since they free-ranged everyday while we were at work (only about 8 minutes away). We had gotten a Lavender, Piebald, speckled? (Like the piebald with no white) and three whites. While they were growing and feathering out, we kept them in a brooder with lamp. I tried to handle them everyday to get them used to us, as keets they would eat meal worms out of our hands and flit around like it was something spectacular. As they got older we realized we had four males and two females, so three of the males went back to the auction (2 Whites and the Specked) We then moved up to the main house on the farm and put the now 6 m/o keets in the layer's pen since it was further from the house. One night, we heard a terrible racket coming from the laying coop, both guineas and chickens creating a horrible ruckus, armed with a 9mm pistol on myself and my husband with his newly acquired Henry .45, we went to check on them. What happened was one of our Nubian goat had escaped its pen (in the same barn) and was scratching at the chicken door. Thankfully a false alarm.
Fast forward a few weeks....
Now out of the winter housing situations, the guineas were moved to the smoke house turned silkie grow out and brooder pen, which free ranged everyday now since the freezing rain had subsided. I came home from work one afternoon, watch as all the chickens scattered from my car except the guineas, who where circling around it and challenging the car for invading their turf (they see, sit and poo on this particular car everyday, must be something about the color red...) I get out and they launch an all out attack on it. Kind of amusing to watch, it was just a beater car, so it didn't really care, it was free entertainment, they gave up after about five minutes when the car wouldn't fight back. I go inside, change out of my uniform and hear another bad racket. I walked out onto our back porch and see the lavender guinea flying from in between the corn crib / silkie breeding pens and the husbands Man-cave followed close behind by a red tailed hawk. I ran back inside grabbed the pistol, again, ran back out side fired a warning shot and see the hawk fly off from in front of the well house. I run down there to find my poor lavender guinea, upside down, head tucked under his wing, breathing rapidly, like in shock. I scooped him up and brought him to our picnic table, set him upright, wrapped him in an old towel, to look at him a little better. Just had a puncture mark near his ear with little blood but was alert and squawking while doing my exam. His ruckus had sent the silkies and gold stars running for cover and kept them safe.
I also never found a tick on me or my dogs while out in the yard thanks to those three. I highly recommend these bird if you live off the beaten path with little to no neighbors, because of the noises they make.
"newbie to Guinea"
Pros - very good watchdogs for my chickens
Cons - likes to roam far on free range time
great article a friend of mine give me 3 guinea about two days after i got my first chicks.I didn't know anything about guinea at the time I had focused all my research on chickens.I put them in with chicks since they were same age as the chicks about 4 days old.There is no sexing them until 15 or 16 weeks.Now they are 16 weeks and i have 2 males and 1 female and not exactly on the bottom of the pecking order.They share The Coopdeville with my Silverlaced Wyandottes and know when to come home at night.Maybe because they were in that coop at 8 weeks and i did not let them out for 3 weeks.I do a supervised free-range.I caught them one day 3 yards over and found myself rounding them up and putting them in time out.that works sometimes .I know that without them my chickens are less prone to roam far .My chickens feel secure around the guinea ,well secure enough to roam far with them.While they are in the yard though Can tell the guinea are the alphas.You have to work with them everyday like dogs,but overall they are good fowl.Mine have not laid eggs yet still waiting for that to happen.I'd post a pic but I haven't got a recent one yet
"Love them- they are so cool!!!"
Pros - Let us know when someone comes in the yard, bug control, fun to watch
Cons - loud
Our Guineas are awesome! We have raised them with our chickens so they will roost in the chicken coop at night. Today we checked on them and the female that we have has started laying eggs, in the nest box in the middle of the chicken eggs!!!!! I am so excited. I think we will let them sit on them from now on. I'm not sure how long it would take them to hatch their eggs. Our birds are wonderful at keeping bugs and ticks away, they let us know when someone comes into the yard, they pretty much take care of themselves. We feed them the same food as the chickens. Right now we have 5. We had more but a dog killed some. I cannot wait to get more.