With a spheroidic ‘teardrop’ shaped torso and short stubby legs and six or eight toes, the guinea fowl is a delight.
Imagine an 'electric' blue bald head with a strawberry on top, bright red and white dangling wattles and spotty feathers in shades of blue or pearl grey and you are seeing one of the oddest and most amusing birds of the poultry world.
Most birds are melodious, but guineas have a screech that will greet any strange movement or predator with a furious clamour.
This is a family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds that resemble partridges, but with featherless heads, they are very gregarious and will run in a flock. Guinea fowl have a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guinea fowl in Britain, where they were usually known as "Gleanies".
The young (called "keets") are very small at birth. The keets are not easy to raise and need to be kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure.
Guineas will not harm flowers or flower beds and do not destructively scratch, but will walk right through flowerbeds and pick off bugs without harming a single leaf. They eat lice, worms, ants, spiders, weed seeds and ticks while on range. Birds kept in the backyard can also eat chicken layer crumbles while housed in a coop.
And if thier fantastic skill of gleaning bugs and vermin from the garden isn't enough to entice you-the flavour of them will! The cooked flesh of guineafowl resembles pigeon in texture. The breast meat is very fine with an excellent palate and light flavour, while the marylands are a richer, darker flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey.
Caring for Guinea Fowl
Caring for guinea fowl chicks , called keets, is complex- they need careful feed rations and warmth indoors for at least six weeks.
This is why they are expensive birds to buy.
Guinea Fowl Feathers
The feathers of the Guinea fowl are sought after by keen fly anglers, especially trout fishermen, and fashion houses.
Sexing Guinea Fowl
It is very difficult to determine the sex of guinea fowl. Although guinea keets (babies) are naturally loud from birth, the distinctive call that most easily determines the gender isn't full developed until they are well over two months of age.