Native to Africa, the Guineafowl are a family of birds in the same order as the pheasants, turkeys and other game. They eat insects and seeds and resemble partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled grey plumage.
Guineafowl have a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guineafowl. The young, called "keets" are very small at birth. They eat lice, worms, ants, spiders, weedseeds, and ticks while on range or they can also eat chicken layer crumbles while housed in a coop.
Guineafowl come in an extremely large amount of colors however, the most common is the Pearl being all black with white dots on the feathers, white faces, naked necks and the helmet on the top of the head.
These normally docile but alert birds have a surprisingly acute awareness of predators within their habitats, and will alert to any intrusion, day or night. A distinct and rather operatic call will be sounded upon any strange intrusion. Many Guinea Fowl breeders will attest to their “watchdog” ability of being able to distinguish between family members and unfamiliar faces.
Guinea Fowl have been used for both pest control and as farm ‘watchdogs’ for decades. One of their relatively newer uses has been to the gardener and small crop grower. Guineafowl have proven most successful in organically controlling pests by eating most bugs in the garden, while leaving the green foliage virtually untouched.
Breeding season is normally April through October. If free ranged, hens will build nests in hard to find places. They usually lay between 7 to 20 eggs, which incubate for 27 days. It is not uncommon for several hens to use the same nest then let one hen raise the keets. If left to free range, wet grass can cause a large percentage of keets to die.
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