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Benefits & Drawbacks of Raising Guinea Fowl on the Homestead

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Curious about raising guinea fowl? It takes a special person to enjoy these crazy, obnoxious, hilarious, yet oddly useful homestead birds. Learn about them in this post!

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Benefits & Drawbacks of Raising Guinea Fowl on the Homestead

I get a lot of questions on instagram about guinea fowl. We’ve had these crazy birds for two years now. After starting with several keets, we have now hatched guinea keets in our incubator, watched a duck hatch and raise guinea keets along with a bunch of ducklings, and had adult guineas hatch and raise their own young as well. Primarily people ask though:

What are guineas good for?

Guineas are good for so many things! 

They are fantastic farm alarms. 
Guineas can be eaten and they lay delicious little eggs. 
They eat tons of bugs and devour ticks. 
Finally, they have the most beautiful polka-a-dot feathers!

Here’s what you need to know if you want to add guinea fowl to your homestead or hobby farm! Because there are a few things you do need to be aware of before adding guineas to your homestead…

guinea fowl family

Different Colors of Guineas

Native to Africa, guinea fowl come in a lot of different colors. On our little farm, we have a white male guinea named Avalanche, a lavender guinea hen named Cashew, and a bunch of unnamed pied guineas that were all hatched from guinea eggs laid by Cashew. Here are some of different colors of guineas:

  • Pearl Guinea – traditional black a white guinea with a lovely spotted feather
  • White Guinea – all white guineas like our Avalanche. If you want their spotted feathers, this is not the guinea for you as their feathers are just plain white.
  • Lavender Guinea – they have a lovely soft lavender or grayish spotted feather. I love finding feathers from our lavender guinea hen, Cashew.
  • Pied Guinea – these guys are spotted, with some pearl sections and some white sections. All of our offspring from Avalanche and Cashew are pied. They’re a little strange looking, but their feathers are mostly black and white like the pearl guinea feathers.
  • Royal Purple – the royal purple guineas are a richer color than the lavender guineas with an almost iridescent quality to their feathers.
guinea fowl feathers

Guinea Fowl Feathers

I love speckled guinea fowl feathers! One of my favorite things about raising guinea fowl is finding their pretty spotted feathers are the reason I first became interested in guinea fowl.  If you like collecting feathers, you will love the guinea feathers your birds leave behind.

There are a few things you will want to know about guineas before you get them. Guineas are wild birds – literally. They are not very domesticated. They will roost in trees, lay their eggs hidden in the woods, and basically go wherever they want. 

Guineas do best in a flock, but they can be very hard to keep around your homestead because they are so wild. The best way I have found to get them to go in the coop at night is to raise them with chicks. 

coop training guineas

How to Coop Train Guinea Fowl

One important thing that you must know about raising guinea fowl: you have to train them to stick around. If you just let a flock of guineas out all at the same time without training them first, they will be gone. 

To coop train guineas, let them out of the coop one at a time. Once one guinea comes back to the coop, let another one out. Once they come back, let one more out, and so on. If you want to lock the first one back up once it returns and let them out one at a time, that might be a good idea too. It take consistent effort to coop train guineas, but it can be done. 

guinea keets
Guinea keets snuggling with ducklings.

Guineas Can Get Along Well with Chickens

A lot of people ask: can you keep guineas with chickens? And the answer is Yes! As long as your other birds let the guineas be the boss, they can get along well with other birds including chickens.

We keep our guineas with a varied flock of chickens, ducks, peafowl, turkeys, and geese and with the exception of the jerk dad Avalanche, the rest of them all get along just fine. 

Avalanche, however, does fight with some of the birds. Male guineas can be territorial and nasty barnyard jerks – so be aware!

guineas roost where they want (1)
Pied Guinea

Guineas are Amazing for Natural Pest Control

Did you know that guineas eat ticks? This was another big reason I decided to try my hand at raising guinea fowl. In fact, the University of Maine Extension says guineas may be the solution to insect pest problems!

With ticks going out of control and tick borne illnesses on the rise, guineas are very happy to eat all they find. Bring on the guineas for tick annihilation!

Not only do guineas eat ticks, but they eat lots of other bugs as well. They also have been known to kill small snakes – though they generally do not eat them. 

Supposedly, they are good at cleaning up a garden without destroying plants, but I haven’t experienced this yet.

Guinea Fowl Noise

Guineas are loud and they talk a lot! Like incessantly – they never shut up.  Some people think guineas are loud and obnoxious (they are!), but I think they are funny. They are always chattering about something and it makes me laugh.

If really loud birds bother you or your neighbors – you might want to rethink guineas.

sexing guinea fowl
Cashew, lavender guinea on the left is female. Avalanche, white guinea on right is male.

How to tell Males and Females Apart

It’s easiest to tell the female guineas from the male guineas based on their call. The female guineas say something that sounds like Come Back Come Back and the male guineas make a chi chi chi chi type of sound.

If you look carefully – you will also notice a slight difference in appearance between male and female guineas. Male guineas will also have larger wattles (red jowls) and helmets (the protrusion that sticks out on the top of their heads). I think the guinea helmet looks kind of like a shark fin.

They are very good at free ranging. Guineas are supposed to be able to forage up to 90% or so of their own food. My guineas hang pretty close to the chicken coop so I haven’t personally experienced this yet, but I do like animals that have the potential to find their own food. How about you?

sleeping guinea keets

Guinea Fowl Keets

Guinea keets are very hardy little birds who fly in no time at all. You can raise guineas with chicks if you get them together, and we’ve had a mama duck hatch and raise guinea keets with a bunch of ducklings. But if you get them as chicks and want to raise them from keets, you will need to make sure to cover their brooder box or they will fly away before you realize it.

Guinea keets need the same thing chicks need – safe  brooder box, heating lamps, lots of fresh water. They also need a game starter feed.

guinea eggs

Guinea Fowl Eggs

Guinea hens start laying when they are around 12 months old and each hen will lay approximately 100 small, speckled, brownish oval eggs each year. Two guinea eggs are approximately equal to one chicken egg in recipes.

Learn more about the different types of edible eggs we eat on the homestead here!

The incubation period for guineas is 26 – 28 days, similar to turkeys and ducks. This is why one of our ducks was able to hatch guinea eggs in addition to her own duck eggs. It was pretty cute watching this duck accept young guineas as her own. 

Do you have any questions about raising guinea fowl? I’d love to hear!

If you liked this post on raising guinea fowl, you might like these posts too:

Why we Love Raising Turkeys on the Homestead

Preparing for Chicks

Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chicks

Yes, you can eat that! 5 Delicious Eggs That Aren’t Chicken!

 

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About Michelle

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.

Comments

  1. blankNancy price says

    So I started raising guineas about a year ago bought 8 they lasted me me about 3 or 4 months doing just fine until one jumped in to my dog pen than the one I thought was the female jumped also after them 2 this situation happened a few more times it was like the Guinneas wanted the dogs to kill them then I purchased a few purples beautiful the las couple from my greys didn’t like them one bit so they did everything to get rid of my purples long story short a year and a half later I have my last couple of dumb-dumbs as I call them I love them love the noise I truly love everything about the guinea fowl they got trained extensively easily to go in and out of the chicken cop, they got along fine with my flock of 9 hens and a roster, or so I thought but now I don’t know what to think or do I really don’t want my las 2 dumb-dumbs to die the other day one came back and she looked as if she had gotten on a fight wit something we do have bobcats, coyotes etc than the male went out and now both look like their feet had been burned and they are missing a lot of feathers but they just don’t wanna stay inside the run I don’t know what to do… any suggestions will be gladly appreciate it thanks for your help and time.
    Nancy Price

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