Raising Guineafowl In Urban Backyards
Raising Guineas: Introduction
Backyard poultry hobbyists may wish to expand their poultry flock beyond the typical chicken, goose and duck species and experiment with raising gamebirds. One popular gamebird species is the guineafowl. Guineas are fun to raise, both for fun or for commercial meat production. Every year, over a million guineas are raised in North America.
The top two reasons for raising guineas is for ornamental purposes (due to their interesting body shape and unique feathering and plumage) and practical. For practical purposes, many hobbyists and poultry farmers raise guineas as a sort of watchdog over their other poultry. Guineas have a very loud "call" and will quickly alert anyone within hearing distance about an intruder such as a dog or similar predator. The call will both scare away intruders, and alert the farmer that something isn't right. Some guineas are also raised for meat, though guinea eggs are not typically consumed nor sold as a commodity.
Before You Start Raising Guineas at Home
Raising guineas is fun and easy. However, like raising any sort of poultry, individuals should do their research before attempting to raise this bird species. Backyard urban chicken hobbyists should consider the unique needs required for raising guineas before they embark on their guineafowl adventures. Guineas need adequate space, shelter and food. Contrary to popular opinion, while guineas are self sufficient you cannot just let them roam and expect them to do well.
Another consideration to take into account is that guineas can be mildly destructive (though not as much as other poultry species, such as waterfowl or chickens). Additionally, guinea fowl like to roam far and wide. Individuals who live near busy roads or areas with lots of predators may wish to constrain their guinea fowl to an enclosed, fenced pasture. Due to their tendency to wander about, you should not clip the wings of your guineas because they will thus not be able to flee if attacked by a dog, hawk or other type of poultry predator.
Also, poultry hobbyists living in geographic regions with cold winters may find it difficult to raise guineas. Guineas do not do well in snow and you will need to snowplow, shovel and clear areas for your guineas to walk in. If you are in northern climates where the winter temperature drops to the 30s or colder, you will need to bring your guineas indoors and provide them with a heat light.
Getting Started: Your First Guineas
Obtain guineas, whether they are adult guineafowl or baby guineas (colloquially known as "keets"). You may also wish to incubate fertile guinea eggs. If hatching eggs, set a standard incubator at 95 degrees F and incubate for 28 days (seven days longer than the incubation period of a fertile chicken egg).
Guineas can be raised in as little as two or three birds, to as many as several hundred. The number of guineas you care for is up to you, though backyard hobbyists will typically wish to restrain their purchase to just a few birds due to the species' tendency to roam far and wide.
If confining your guinea fowl to a poultry coop, you need to give them much more space than chickens (three square feet of room or more).
Feeding Guineas: Feed guineas chicken layer mash and always provide lots of clean, fresh water. To keep your guineas close to your coop or home, only feed guinea fowl near the coop to get them used to hanging around your property. If raising baby keets (the scientific or colloquial name for the baby birds), feed them a 25% protein poultry starter ration (e.g. turkey starter feed). Do not feed medicated feed. When they are older, transition to standard poultry feed.
Recommended Guinea Fowl Sites
- Raising Guinea Fowl | Free Guide to Raising Guineas in Your Backyard
A How-To guide to raising guineas, including feeding guineas; brooding keets; hatching fertile guinea eggs; and a description of the types of guinea fowl species.
- Guineafowl Message Board for Gamebirds
Gamebird forum for answering any questions you may have regarding raising guinea fowl in your backyard.
- Raising Backyard Chickens and Poultry
An online guide to raising poultry and raising chickens in your backyard. Free poultry articles and tips, chicken photos, breed reviews, and poultry forum community.
Raising Guinea Fowl in a Coop
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