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12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Got My First Guinea Fowl

Is that a turkey?

Well, no. It’s a guinea fowl.

That is what many people ask when they first pull into a homestead to see these birds shuffling around.

We took the plunge into guinea fowl about a year ago, and boy was it an eye opening experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I have grown to love our guineas very much, but it has taken some serious getting used to.

This is why I wanted to share with you a list of things I wish someone had told me before bringing them home.

1. A Guinea Is Not A Chicken

You might be thinking, “Well, duh!”

But I mean they are not even remotely the same.

Chickens are very domesticated birds. You can coop them, free range them, or do half and half.

Chickens are fine with both.

Guineas are not the same. Unless you clip their wings extremely short, they are going to get out of the coop. That is actually a good thing if you have them for any reason beyond meat and eggs.

Guineas are also very dominant.

So don’t be surprised if they end up running your coop. Our guineas have completely taken over.

Our chickens were adjusted eventually, but you know the guineas have entered the coop when you look out and even the rooster is in the nesting boxes trying to get out of their way.

Don’t let this deter you from keeping your chickens and guineas together. Guinea fowl become tamer when allowed to interact with chickens.

2. Guineas Know No Boundaries

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but chickens know when they are off of their turf. I’m not sure how, but they do.

Well, guineas are not like that.

Not in the slightest.

Guineas will walk onto a road and think they own it. They will take over the neighbor’s yard if they so desire.

They know no boundaries.

When we first got our guineas, they not only took over our yard and chicken coop but our neighbor’s too. Thankfully, he was a good sport about it.

But most Saturday mornings I’d go out to feed the animals and sure enough my neighbor would go into his coop and find my guinea rooster roosting in his coop.

So in the midst of feeding animals, he’d catch them and pass them over the fence to me. Talk about embarrassing.

But our neighbors have grown to enjoy the benefits of guineas too, so it all worked out.

Plus, all homesteaders know that animals have a mind of their own. So my guineas go up to visit our neighbors and their goats come down to visit us on occasion.

3. They Are ‘Chatty Cathy’

Guinea fowl are ‘Chatty Cathy’.

They talk all of the time.

The hens make a noise that sounds like they are saying, “Come back. Come back,” while the roosters make a “Chi chi chi” sound.

This is the main way you can tell your males and females apart.

Not only do they converse a lot, but they do it loudly.

I can’t emphasize this point enough.

Guineas are loud creatures. It can be annoying at times, but you either choose to embrace it, or guineas aren’t your cup of tea.

I’ve chosen to embrace it.

Guinea fowl

4. Who Needs ADT When You Have Guineas?

This is a great benefit of owning guineas.

I was not prepared for how great of watchdogs these birds were going to be for our homestead.

We don’t have a lot of predators around our homestead, but we did have a stray dog problem.

We raise meat rabbits and unfortunately these stray dogs had figured out we had them. It got to a point where we were going outside every morning to either find a hutch destroyed or a rabbit missing.

We tried everything to catch them in the act but never had any luck. Then the dogs started getting more brazen and showing up in the middle of the day.

They were fast. As soon as we’d come out to find them, they’d be gone.

Then we got guineas.

I heard the guineas going nuts the first few days they were released on the property. I went outside to check out what was going on, and sure enough, there stood one of those stray dogs.

It was so afraid of them that eventually our dog problem ceased.

We had a few stray cats stalking our chickens as well. A cat tried to stalk our guinea rooster one day, and he actually let the cat pounce.

As soon as the cat pounced, the guinea flew over his head and attacked him. We no longer have a stray cat problem either.

They will guard your animals and property from both predators and people that should not be around.

They are great to have for this reason alone.

5. You Don’t Need The Orkin Man—You Need Guineas

Our property was once completely wooded. We have since cleared a lot of it in order to homestead, but we still had a pest problem.

We had ticks everywhere and every year we had to do battle in our garden because of June Bugs.

Our middle son came in one day with a giant tick on him. He had the ring around the bite so off to the doctor we went for antibiotics.

That day is what led us to guineas. My husband made an executive decision and a few days later we were the proud owner of our first guineas.

Since we have had guineas, we don’t have bugs.

They go all throughout the woods, in the different animals’ areas, in the garden, and all over the yard.

Bugs don’t stand a chance.

This is another huge benefit to owning guineas.

6. Guineas Must Be Trained

As mentioned earlier, guineas are not very domesticated birds.

They don’t actually require a coop. They will roost in the trees.

However, if you want them to come home and roost then they’ll need a coop.

If you decide to start with keets, you raise them basically as you would a baby chick or duckling. They require a brooder box and starter feed.

They need to be protected from the wind and kept warm for the first few weeks.

You can also raise guinea fowl from adults.

We have done both.

Our first go round with guineas we raised day old keets. We raised them all the way up until they were ready to start free ranging, and we messed up big time.

We let them all go at once.

Guineas travel in close-knit groups so once they are all out and gone, they are gone if they aren’t trained that this is home.

The next go round we bought all adults.

We cooped them for about six weeks. Then we let them out one at a time. We would release a new guinea about every day or so.

Because they won’t leave each other, they had to keep coming home to roost.

By the time all of our guineas were released, they knew that this was home.

This is what you’ll need to do whether you raise them from keets or not.

Giving them a coop with food, water, and roosts will entice them to come home every day more so than if you just let them roost in the trees.

7. Guineas Are Poor Mothers

Guinea fowl are fast paced, flighty birds.

They are also seasonal layers. They prefer to nest on the ground instead of nesting boxes like chickens do.

It takes guineas about 26-28 days to hatch a full clutch.

A lot of times they will make a nest off in the woods. If you find it, it is a good idea to move the nest back to the coop.

Guineas are usually great setters.

The problem is that once the eggs hatch, the moms are off and running again. They take their babies through wet areas which can cause them to chill and ultimately die.

So what do you do if you want to raise those baby guineas?

You have two options:

  1. Put the guinea eggs under a broody hen. She will raise them as her own and take great care of them.
  2. Incubate the eggs and raise them as you would day old keets that you purchased.

If you leave things in the hand of a guinea hen, sadly, the keets will probably not survive.

Guinea keets

8. Fly Away Little Guinea

Have I told you yet that guineas are nothing like chickens?

Well, they aren’t.

Chickens don’t really fly. They can use their wings to help them slightly hop to high places, but they don’t soar.

Guineas fly.

I’m talking like actually take flight.

It is nothing for our guinea fowl to fly on top of our house. They sit on our fence posts with ease.

If something scares them, they’ll just fly right over it.

I’ve even seen my guineas walking back from my mother in laws house which is across from our house.

They got tired of walking up the driveway, so they just flew from the bottom of our driveway over our house, and into the farthest corner of our backyard with no problem.

I was not aware of this when we got them. I imagined them to fly like a chicken flies.

The first time I saw them soar over our house, it was amazing.

So just be prepared that they will actually soar longer distances than you’d probably think.

9. Guineas Are Excellent Gardeners

I already mentioned that guineas are great at eating bugs. They have saved our garden from being ravaged by the June Bugs.

I am so thankful for that!

What is even more amazing is that they don’t destroy your garden.

Chickens like to eat bugs, but they’ll also eat your plants and scratch the ground all around them.

Ducks are great at eating bugs, like chicken. However, their feet are so big that if the plants are not large enough, they’ll squoosh them in the process of eating the bugs off of them.

And ducks like certain plants too.

Guineas don’t do that.

They eat the bugs, are delicate on the plants, and don’t scratch the ground.

If you are like us and try to grow as much of your own food as possible, then guineas are a great little weapon to unleash on those unwanted garden pests.

10. Guineas Are Crazy Fast

If you need to catch your guineas, you can forget it.

They are fast.

The only way you’ll most likely be able to catch them is if they are cooped at night.

Even then, you get only one shot. If you blow it, you won’t catch them that night.

So how do you catch them?

You first have to wait until they are cooped.

Then you have to grab them by their wings. We actually use a net, so we don’t hurt them.

Guinea fowl have really delicate legs. If you grab them by their leg, they’ll whip around on you and actually break it.

That is why it is best to grab them by their wings or just use a net and catch the whole bird at once.

When you have to catch them be prepared to laugh at yourself. It gets humorous quickly.

11. Guineas Are Free Entertainment

People told me chickens were funny. They were right.

People told me goats were funny. They were right.

But no one ever told me how funny guineas are to watch.

When they shuffle up and down the driveway looking for bugs, it is an adorable sight.

Watching a guinea outsmart a cat and then running it off is a funny sight.

Guineas just add one more funny thing to watch while you are out on a homestead. It is nature’s free entertainment.

12. Guineas Are Low Maintenance Birds

Guineas don’t have to have a coop.

They forage for their food.

Guineas don’t need nesting boxes.

Yes, a coop is a good idea as we discussed previously.

But in all actuality, guineas are super low maintenance. There are no nesting boxes to clean, no large coop to maintain.

They are just happy to fly around your property and eat your bugs.

You don’t get much more low-maintenance than that.

Having these amazing birds as part of your homestead will give it a complete feeling.

Yes, they have their pros and cons, but from my personal experience, I wouldn’t trade my guineas.

They have been much more of a help around our homestead than a hindrance.

Here are some excellent beginner guides on raising guinea fowl, if you decide to get one yourself:

What is your experience with fuinea fowl? Are you interested in raising guineas? We’d love to hear.

Comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this information. I was thinking of getting some Guinea Fowls but after reading this article I need to think about it further. I have 2.5 acres they could roam but my neighbors may not enjoy the noise or them dropping by.

    • Yes, I would definitely speak with your neighbors before getting guineas if your neighbors are close by. Our neighbors have been great, but I had to talk to them after I brought ours home (and thankfully) they were glad to have them around. I am so glad you found this helpful! Thank you for stopping by and for your comments! We love to hear from you!

      • My neighbors bought the 80 acres next to us, then built their house 200ft from our house?!?!? Ugh the guy yelled at my kids the other day to be quiet because they are trying to sleep. (It was only 8:30 :/ )
        We just got 4 guineas to start off with. We have a tick infestation!! And if the guinea sound bothers my neighbor, I honestly dont care!!!! :/ I actually like their sound 🙂

  2. We live in wooded area, plenty of red tailed hawks, owls, coyotes & occasional bob cats. Will the guinea fowls be easy prey ?

    • Our guineas have quite the ‘attitude’ and take on just about anything (besides humans.) So considering how fast they are and how high they fly, I’d say they would be safe from coyotes. Your flying threats, if you give them a safe coop to roost in at night and close them up I’d think they would be okay.

  3. My dad who was born in 1914 said that his mom always kept Guineans with the chickens to protect them from hawks,apparently they are supper vigilant about watching for Hawks and will send out alarm and take cover and the chickens follow suit .

  4. I love mine and glad I got them, if I started again they would definitely be on my list!
    Got 4 day olds to start and they were all friendly, when you have time to sit with them, they come up and groom themselves and you. Have added to them since
    My experience, as keets they are the cutest, fast and have a sing song call. They are easy to bring up, just keep out of the wet.
    Mine went from a brooder to a cage outside during the day, to getting supervised time running about, then into their own coop and free ranging during the day, they come back every evening, useful to have a shaky bucket with wheat which mine love and come running for.
    They have great eyesight and are fearless and have helped me to know when foxes and buzzards are about. They tend to be disease free, be careful of their legs. Only problem I have had is two have prolapsed and needed to put put down.
    They are non stop noise, but most of the time you tune it out, my neighbours love them, the first 4 used to regularly cross the lane and call at the back door of my neighbour.
    When you can’t hear them that’s the time to be worried, in my case it means they are up to no good and are probably to be found on the main road outside trying to stop traffic or on the verges having a small snack!
    They are a talking point, we have a walk way next to the field and people often stop and chat and ask about them. I’d have them everytime

  5. I’m having a peculiar problem with my guinnes. We have around ten to twelve guinea chicks. They are a bit bigger now, so we had to move them to an enclosed wire cage. Just this morning my daughter noticed some were missing toes and one missing an entire leg. The enclosure wire is far to small for them to have slipped legs thru it, so I am at a loss on what to do. Also, I think I really need to kill the badly hurt few since they won’t survive to forage and are hurting pretty bad. Any thoughta on what might me going on?

    • TJ, I wonder if you have a rat problem? I’ve heard of rats chewing on the feet of chickens while they roost. Maybe you could install fine metal screening around the wire cage? Good luck, I hope you find the problem…poor little things.

  6. Guineas (as well as most birds) love WHITE millet seed. I start feeding a small amount to keets at about two weeks. White millet is like candy to guineas, and I put it in a 2 /1/2 gallon plastic jug (like what cat litter comes in). athe birds quickly learn that when I show up with the jug that a treat is in store. I feed young guineas millet nightly in the coop or just outside and they are much more willing to go in (guineas will not enter a dark coop so do this just as or before sunset. The guineas will soon come running and even act like they are begging for it. It is also useful if you find an infestation of bugs. You can lead the birds there by bribing them with the millet. If you keep bees, be aware that guineas will park themselves near a hive and eat your bees ! Since having guineas for several years, I haven’t encountered a yellow jacket nest in the ground either. How they can eat them without harm is beyond me, but they act like they are a gourmet meal when they locate a nest. They certainly can be dumb about the road though. I have lost more guineas to being hit on the road than any other way. It is especially bad when it is breeding season, Males will stand in the road and challenge vehicles in the mistaken belief that they can intimidate them. Guinea always loses !

  7. Hello this is my first time raising guinea fowls I enjoy having them my question would be the male guiena has turn aggressive towards my chickens and my rooste, I bought keeps pullets and ducks and silverwyodotes were raise in the coup with the chickens and rooster how can I resolve this problem

  8. My grandpa had hundreds of guineas on his farm when I was growing up and I loved to watch their antics. Their calls bring me right back to childhood days. My grandparents lived along the Mississsippi river valley where there are LOTS of rattlesnakes and they kept the guineas because guinea fowl will chase off or kill snakes along with tons of other pests and protect the livestock. He could be confident letting us kids walk around knowing the guineas were on patrol. We were always told that if we ventured up into the hills to watch every step, keep to the cow paths, and listen for the rattle, and carry a stick, and always walk with a buddy.

  9. A friend of mine has had guineas and she let all of hers out at once and they were fine …they came back to the coop at night. We did that on my property and they did not come back. We have been searching for them, to no avail…They were large at 7 weeks old.
    They were are roaming happily together, we released them in the afternoon, but as it got dark they had no interest in coming back so we were told they would be fine and roost in the trees. It is a very wooded area, is it possible that they are OK ? We haven’t seen them in almost 24 hrs.

  10. You forgot #13 – Guineas taste great. The meat is very dark, very tender, and grills up like you would not believe. I know this because that is what happened to my first..and last batch of guineas. Why you might ask? Well as you stated in your post, guineas are loud, but I don’t feel like you really hit home how LOUD they really are, they are really really really LOUD. I have a fairly large area but I do have neighbors close enough I can see their houses and I our chickens and even our rooster I never worry about bothering them. The guineas on the other hand I was seriously worried our neighbors might riot. They never actually complained but I did not want to press my luck. So no more guineas for us which is a shame because they are a lot of fun to have around and I really did not have an issue with them and our chickens but of course we introduced them as chicks and our hens basically raised them to full size so that might be why. I think if we ever move somewhere not closer then a mile to the next neighbor we would do guineas again for sure, but trust me if you are considering it..remember they are very very loud but they also taste really really good.
    Thanks for the great post,
    The Broke Dad

  11. We raised chickens , ducks, geese, peacocks and guineas. The guineas and peacocks were very funny. We raised keets with Banti hens and they came in every night when I rang the bell. About ten were out in a harvested field being stalked by a coyote. We shot the coyote and within a minute every guinea was running to the coyote. We figure at least 40 birds converged on the anime, climbed all over it and proceeded to holler for five or six hours. Very reluctantly they came home at the bell. Four days later they had torn the carcass apart a eaten most of it. For weeks we would see groups on the carcass spot loudly proclaiming the victory to all.

  12. we have been raising these energetic birds from last year, and they have helped in keeping snakes at bay. I mean there was this rat snake which used to devour eggs laid by our hens. Somebody advised us to raise guineas and we got a pair of keets .Even our neighbours are happy to hear their chatter since snakes have decided to keep off our neighbourhood after their arrival. But we have not been able to locate eggs laid by them. It has been 10 months since we got the keets. when do they start laying eggs?

  13. Our guineas squak at everything, even me. They are humongous and they can be quite nice when you raise them. When they first grew up, I was the leader and they would go everywhere I went. We have to take the dogs in at certain times becuz the male will run up and try to attack them. We had 4 birds get eaten by them.

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