The guinea fowl are poultry birds originating from Africa. Many poultry farmers in Africa are doing Guinea Fowl farming business successfully, mainly for profit. The Guineas are also sometime called as guineas, pintades or gleanies. They were actually wild birds and the modern birds are the domesticated form of the helmeted Guinea Fowl. And they are related to other game birds such as the turkeys, partridges and pheasants. There is evidence that domestic Guinea Fowl were present in Greece by the 5th century BC, although the exact timing of their domestication is unknown.
The guinea fowl are very hardy, vigorous and largely disease-free birds. They are increasingly popular among the keepers of small and backyard flocks. Currently they are available not only in Africa, but also found and popular throughout the world.
People prefer guinea fowl farming for many reasons. The guineas sound an alarm whenever anything unusual occurs on the farm, and the loud sound has also been shown to discourage rodents from invading the area. Some people find this to be a nuisance, but others find it to be an effective tool for protecting the farm. The guineas are also an effective means of pest control. The flocks of guineas generally will kill and eat mice and small rats. They can also be used for controlling insects, without affecting garden vegetables or flowers. They are used for controlling wood ticks and insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and flies.
There are also some downfalls of guinea fowl farming. They are noisy, so your neighbors might not appreciate your new flock. Guineas generally much prefer to roam freely, although they can be kept confined. The more space you have to allow your birds to roam, the happier they will be. In most cases, the guineas are not as tame as the chickens and they are hard to catch if you let them roam. However, read some more information about guinea fowl farming below.
Steps for Starting Guinea Fowl Farming Business
Steps for staring guinea fowl farming business is almost similar to other poultry birds, such as chickens. But before staring a flock, you must check local zoning regulations to make sure that raising gamebird is permitted. Checking this is important specially when starting guinea fowl farming, because they will range and cross the boundaries of a small lot. They are generally pretty quiet, but can be very noisy if disturbed. They are generally more active than the chickens and not tamed easily, and they seem to retain some of their wild behavior. However, read the steps for starting guinea fowl farming business carefully.
The Guineas generally require less housing facilities compared to other common poultry birds. They are often left to fend for themselves. But it is wise to provide a shelter for protecting them from high winds, sun, cold, rain and predators. Their house or shelter can be a room allocated in the barn or a purpose-built facility specifically for guineas. Generally 2-3 square feet space will be good for each bird. It is important to provide the guineas plenty of room, if you confine your birds. The more room they have, the less likely they are to become stressed. Consider good flooring facilities, and the floor of the pen should be covered with an absorbent bedding material such as wood shavings or chopped hay or straw. If the litter is kept dry, it can stay in place for several months. Providing perches is very important, because guinea fowl prefer to roost.
You must keep your guineas in covered pens, if you want to keep your birds from wandering in a specific area. The guineas are excellent flyers, and they are able to fly at a very early age. They are able to fly up to 400-500 feet at a time. They are also very good runners and they prefer to move on foot, including when escaping from predators.
If you have chickens in your farm, then you should not confine the male guineas with chickens especially if there are roosters in the same flock. The guineas will chase the roosters, keeping them from food and water when the male guineas are housed with the roosters full-time. But if your flock is allowed to range freely during the day and is locked up only at night, it is safe to keep the guineas and roosters in the same barn. It also safe to house them together in a short-term emergency such as a blizzard or other bad weather.
Provide your guineas with some nest boxes if you are keeping your birds for egg production (for hatching or human consumption). Nest boxes available in the market which are designed for the chickens are generally acceptable. You can also provide them some homemade nest boxes. Keep the guinea hens confined to the house until noon each day so that they will lay eggs inside. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of hens laying eggs in hidden nests outside.
Select and Purchase Guineas
After setting the house or shelter, consider purchasing high quality birds from local breeders, online sellers or feed stores. You can either buy adult or keets. But it will be much easier to tame the birds if you can raise them from keets. Purchasing healthy and high quality keets is the key to success in guinea fowl farming business.
The guineas are available in a variety of ‘pure-bred’ colors. But many of the birds are cross-bred, resulting in multicolored feathers. Feather color of these birds is the only difference between the different varieties. The guineas are monogamous creatures, purchasing them in pairs is best. Identifying male and and female birds is very difficult, but not impossible. You can identify male and female if you look for these things.
- The males generally have larger wattles than the females.
- The females generally make a two-syllable sound, while the males make a single-syllable sound.
- The males have a narrower opening between their pelvic bones than the females.
- If you hold the guinea under one arm and use your free hand to feel the bones, you should notice a distance of about two fingers on males and three fingers on females.
After purchasing the birds, it is best to keep them confined for a week or two to let them become accustomed to their new home. They could run away, if you let them out right away. It is good to confine them in a pen where they can see the area where they will be living. Let one bird out after the initial couple of weeks. As the guineas hate to be alone, so the single bird will not go far and will learn it’s way around the area. Let a second guinea out after a few days to round with the first. It is generally safe to let the rest out, if they stay near the pen.
The guineas generally love to roam freely, and they forage for themselves and are able to meet most of their nutrition requirements on their own. They generally consume a variety of insects and arachnids, weed seeds, slugs, worms and caterpillars. They need to consume some greens for maintaining good digestion. So they eat grasses, weeds, dandelions and other vegetation. It is important to ensure the availability of grit, because they love to consume vegetation. They also benefit from having oyster shell available. They generally prefer wheat, sorghum or millet grain and they will ignore whole corn kernels. Restricting their feed will encourage them to spend more time eating insects if you are keeping them for pest control.
If you want to keep your birds confined, and if they are not allowed to forage freely then you can feed them commercial poultry feed. Using unmedicated feeds is good for them. Compared to chickens, the guineas require a higher protein enriched feed. But they generally do quite well on regular poultry diet. The keets need extra protein, so keeping between 24 and 26 percent protein will be good. The protein level should be reduced to 18% to 20% for the fifth to eighth weeks. After eight weeks, the keets can be fed a 16% layer mash. You can mix a higher protein feed with a lying-hen mash to get the proper protein level, if you can’t find feeds in the proper protein levels. Pelleted feed is not recommended for the guineas, and they should be fed mash or crumbles.
Providing supplemental greens will be good for the guineas (such as leafy alfalfa), and they will eat the leaves. It is also important to remove any leftovers daily for preventing a mold problem.
The guinea fowl are not too good for taking care of their delicate little keets. They will sometime abandon a nest even after the hen has gotten broody and spent several nights on the eggs. Move the eggs to an incubator right away, if you notice that a nest has been abandoned. You can use a store-bought incubator, following the instructions for incubating turkey or pheasant eggs if no specific instructions are provided for guinea eggs. The incubation period is between 26 and 28 days.
You will need to care for the keets once they have hatched. They need to care until they have fully developed feathers and are strong enough to hold their own with the rest of the flock. Using a broody hen can be helpful for hatching the eggs and raising the keets.
Guinea fowl farming is fun and profitable at the same time if you can manage everything perfectly. The guineas are generally raised as valuable pest controllers, eating many insects. They are especially beneficial in controlling the Lyme disease-carrying deer tick, as well as wasp nests. But they are rarely kept in large numbers. Most of the farmers used to keep a few guineas with other fowl to be used as a security system against birds of prey. They can also be raised for both meat and egg production. Their eggs can be eaten just like chicken eggs. Meat of the young birds is tender and tastes like that of wild game birds. The meat is lean and rich in essential amino acids. The meat can be cooked using any recipe that calls for chicken.
Many color variations of the guineas available within the domesticated species. These color varieties include white, slate, chocolate, purple, bronze, buff dundotte, blonde, coral blue, lavender and various pieds. Three main varieties are raised in the United States which are lavender, pearl and white. But the pearl variety is the most popular and typically the one that people recognize most readily. And the feathers from the pearl variety are often used for ornamental purposes.
Always try to take good care of your birds if you want to gain success in guinea fowl farming. May God bless you!