Guineas or pheasants..?

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by sara1226, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2015
    Northern Wisconsin
    I have had chickens since May, and I absolutely love them. I would really like to try having another kind of fowl in the spring, but I don't know much about them or how difficult they are to take care of. We raised all of our chickens to be hand fed treats and we can easily pick them up and hold them. Is that possible with guineas or pheasants, or are they not easily handled? I originally wanted to have some turkeys too, until I read that they can easily get diseases like black head from chickens. Not sure I'd want to worry about that all the time. I already know guineas are noisy, but are there any other issues with them?

    Just curious if anyone would be willing to tell me more about what it takes to care for them or which of these they prefer and why. Thanks everyone!!
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    The one species I cannot speak to is pheasants, I've unfortunately never had the good fortune to own them. I have owned chickens, guineas, turkeys, ducks, geese, peafowl, partridge and pigeons.

    So far, I've enjoyed the pigeons and turkeys the most. The pigeons really are very chickenlike in their own right.

    Turkeys can be kept with chickens, but only if you willing to take the risk of disease the first round off*. Your soil either has blackhead, or it doesn't. Regular worming will also help. Turkeys and chickens can cohabitate quite well, aside from the occasional bite or kick (I've only had one turkey who was regularly this aggressive to my chickens, and he's never seriously injured them). The only drawbacks are how much turkeys eat (a lot) and the fact that introducing a new bird of any species is difficult, as the turkeys will run unknown birds around in circles for many hours the first few days. Turkeys make OK pets - I've only ever had Broad-Breasteds walk up to me (BBs are NOT suitable for pet uses), but if you spend enough time with them as poults they will allow you to catch them in a bear hug and pet them without too much fuss. Be careful around the wings though, especially if you have small kids - it's almost never done on purpose, but a scared turkey might flap it's wings trying to get away, and getting hit by a turkey wing isn't dissimilar to getting punched in the face.

    *Turkeys are not the only species who are at risk when kept with chickens; pheasants, partridge, and peafowl can also contract diseases from chickens. Please note my use of "at risk" and "can". There is no guarantee that your chickens or soil carry these diseases. Keeping them together does take a chance, but can turn out fine.

    Guineas are very loud. If you don't have a house, workspace, garden, etc. near your coop, this is fine. They won't bother you if your house is at least 1/8 mile away from them. Males can be mean to chickens, pulling their tail feathers out. This is fixed pretty easily by applying pinless peepers to the male guineas, and any female guineas which have been taught the behavior. Guineas are good layers of rich eggs, and it's always fun to amaze people by dropping a guinea egg onto a table from 6-8 inches up and then showing them how it hasn't cracked. Guineas are yard art, not pets; they don't want to be touched, handled, picked up, or interacted with in any way.

    Ducks are extremely messy. They are also loud, although not near so loud as guineas. If you are prepared to double-up on water cleanings, and keep a clean baby pool filled for them, they are somewhat good pets. They aren't so curious and friendly as chickens, they don't really enjoy being held, but they will come up to you if they have been socialized as ducklings. Male sucks will sometimes attempt to mate chicken hens; these ones need to be rehomed, as they are a danger to the chickens. Not all males will do this, but some.

    Geese are a bit less messy than ducks, but still messy. The amount of noise varies by breed; some are louder than ducks, about as loud as guineas, but thankfully those ones usually don't make noise more than a couple times a day, or if they see something/someone unusual. Others tend to be quite talkative, but usually mumble; the Chinese breed is a great example of this. They cohabitate with chickens, never had any of my ducks attack, chase, or otherwise disturb my chickens. They are similar pets to ducks.

    Patridge (in this case I am speaking of the common Chukar type) are awful. Anyone who wants to is welcome to try them. Once mine are gone I will never have them again except as dinners I currently have 7 who are on a waiting list for freezer camp. Any time I enter the pen they fly up and hit the ceiling. They've nearly broken my nose once and given me a black eye twice. They don't care if you're in the way of the ceiling, they'll fly up anyways. I've never kept the partridge with my chickens, but I imagine with enough space they could get along.

    Peafowl are beautiful, very beautiful. The peahens are either very sweet or flighty, depending on how they were socialized. I have an imprinted female who regularly attempts to enter the house. Males can be jerks; some are, some aren't. This behavior can range from planting themselves firmly in the path and refusing to let you by, to fully attacking your legs and feet if you get too close. They also scream bloody murder during breeding season. Peas and chickens generally ignore each other.

    Pigeons I am really enjoying. They aren't unlike little flying chickens. My particular breed of choice is Fantails. They can fly but they don't really do it much more than 5-10 feet at a time. They haven't been at all aggressive since I've had them (about 4 months now) and they really make the sweetest little noises. They seem to require not much space and although they eat (maybe waste?) more feed than most birds their size, they still eat a lot less than chickens do. They don't actively approach me but they are easy to catch and don't mind cuddling/petting too much. I haven't had them with my chickens, but I think in a small flock, with plenty of roosts and ledges for the pigeons to rest on, they should be able to live together just fine.

    As for differences in care, most of the difference in care are housing and feed. Some of these species (guineas, turkeys, peafowl) will attempt to roost in trees if given the chance. Peafowl will do this regardless, but in guineas and turkeys the behavior can be curbed by clipping a wing). Partridge and pheasants require a covered pen or they will fly away. Turkeys, peas, and large geese require plenty of space as they are quite large.

    For feed, most of these will do fine on a starter or broiler ration of around 20% protein with oyster shell calcium supplements. This includes chickens, turkeys, guineas, waterfowl, partridge, and peafowl. Pigeons require a pigeon-specific feed mix, but it's not difficult to create an area where the pigeons can access their own feed and the chickens can't.
  3. sara1226

    sara1226 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2015
    Northern Wisconsin
    Thanks so much for the info! I will definetly not be considering partridges lol! I knew guineas were noisy, but I don't know if pheasants are noisy. Maybe someone else will comment.
  4. R2elk

    R2elk Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 24, 2013
    Natrona County, Wyoming
    Pheasants aren't very noisy. Most states require a permit to own pheasants and also require them to kept in a secure area from which they cannot escape. Check with your local G&F Dept. or your local game warden to find out what the regulations are.

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