Guinea Hens: The Ultimate Tick Exterminator
Some people think Guinea Hens are loud and obnoxious. That is true. I wouldn't recommend getting Guinea Hens if you have close neighbors. They can make a horrible racket! I feel that the obnoxious sound is minor compared to the benefit they give to a homestead. They are guardians of a farmstead. They will alert the chickens if there a is flying predator. If a strange dog wanders over to your yard. They will let you know!
Guinea fowl originated from Africa. They are not tame and do not want to be your pet! No matter how much our kids have held the baby Guinea Hens they are just as wild as ever! Nope, not pets.
Guinea Hens come in many different colors. White, Dark gray, light gray, and many variations in between those colors. I like the light colored ones, but they stand out more for predators. If you have predators, I would choose the darker color of Guinea Hens.
The main reason we got Guinea fowl was that we had 2 really bad summers with ticks. Guinea Hen Fowl love to eat ticks! Each Guinea Fowl will eat about 1000 ticks a day. We didn't care how loud or obnoxious they were! After one month of letting the guinea hens out to roam; the population of ticks went down significantly! Sounds almost too good to be true! Now when it is a bad tick year, we don't notice on our property because we have the upper hand on tick control!
I really like it when my farm animals can reproduce on their own. If they can't make their own young, I don't want them, unless they will be going to freezer camp. Male and Female normally does the trick if they are not hybrids. Guinea hens reproducing themselves can be sketchy. Sometimes it works well, sometimes not so much!
Every summer, the female Guinea hens will disappear and make nest's on their own. Sometimes they will lay so many eggs for the nest that they have a poor hatch rate or no babies will hatch.
I have also had it where mama's sitting on nest's have gotten eaten by predators because they won't leave their nest's when threatened. Every now and then, we have had guinea hens strut back into the yard with over a dozen little fluffy balls trying to keep up! That's always an exciting day!
Guinea hens can be negligent mothers. They will lose their babies in the long wet grass. When proud mama Guinea (and sometimes proud papa Guinea) brings babies to show them off, I watch over them and see if they are losing babies. If they are, I take the babies and put them under a heat lamp and brood them myself. I know, I could be tougher and just let nature take it's course but I don't want my farm babies to die if I can prevent it. I also want the next generation of Guinea Hens to survive and don't want to order any when I can get my own free birds.
Last summer we coaxed the parents and babies into an area of the barn where they would be safe. Nope didn't work. The dad freaked and kept landing on keet babies, killing a few of them accidently. Maybe if I had trapped only the mother with the babies it would have worked. Not sure.
One trick to having baby keets is to put fertilized Guinea Hen eggs under a broody chicken. She can hatch them out in 28 days. When a hen is successful at hatching them out, I let her raise them in their own separate area of the barn for a couple weeks before I let them out with the rest of the flock. Less stress on everybody. Maybe I have lost too many little farm babies so I have learned different management techniques. I just want to give each little hatch-ling the best possible chance to survive. Even so, when I think I have good management, they still figure out a way to accidentally kill themselves. Live and learn. I guess.
One very important management trick I have learned is that I don't let the young guinea hens roam the yard the first summer. I will put them in a chicken tractor and they have to wait till the next season to have any freedom. If I let them out in the first season they will fly to the woods and slowly get picked off by predators. They are wild enough; that they don't seem to know that they are safer in the coop at night and if I can't contain them for the winter, they will die. By the next summer they will know where home is. They will happily roam the yard and the fields, greedily eating up ticks and bugs but they will come home to the hen house to roost! Even when a lady guinea hen disappears because she is sitting on a nest full of eggs she normally comes back once a day to get food and water. Then sneakily follow her back to her nest so I can at least see if she is in a good location. I don't want her getting ran over when we are cutting hay or tooling around with a four-wheeler.
It never works for me to move her nest. She will not sit back on the eggs. Been there, done that! If she chose a really bad spot, I will take the eggs when she is off the nest and put them in the incubator.
I hope you have enjoyed my post about what we have learned about managing Guinea Fowl and that you will now want to have a few of your own! I also hope that you will have great success in all your farming endeavours!
Here's a verse for you.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.