Guinea Fowl Care
Good question! The short answer is: none. The long answer: Guinea fowl are popular in France as a source of meat. So the French have done to the guinea what the Americans have done with the chicken: Refine and produce bloodlines of large guinea fowl specifically for meat production. Jumbo guineas and French guineas are, for all purposes, the same thing. The bloodlines may be different but weights and characteristics are nearly identical. In fact, the terms “French” and “Jumbo” are used interchangeably. There is an understandable tendency to equate the French Guinea with the Jumbo Cornish Cross – which is a fast growing, hybrid meat chicken with a reputation for being a freak of nature. After all, both breeds were bred to dominate their market with a faster growing bird. But the difference is the the French Guinea has retained it’s natural foraging instincts a
nd ability to reproduce. It’s just a bigger strain of guinea fowl.
There are many myths surrounding French Guineas, one of which is that they cannot reproduce naturally. This IS NOT true.
If kept in captivity, French Guineas may not reproduce well but if allowed to free range, French Guineas can thrive and reproduce naturally just as any other strain of guinea fowl.
There is another myth that French Guineas cannot fly because of their weight. Again, WRONG.
Below I have a video that a customer (thanks Robert for your great feedback) posted on our Facebook page of a flock of French Guineas roosting rather high in a tree. These are the exact same breed you will get if you purchase day old French guinea fowl keets from us.
In fact, French Guineas prefer the highest roosts they can find. You’ll find them on top of your barn or high in trees. They can begin flying as soon as 3 weeks of age! The myth that French Guineas cannot fly may come from the fact that many heavy ducks bred for meat cannot fly because of their weight. People assume since the French Guinea has been bred to produce meat it’s some sort of genetically modified freak that can’t function normally. However, this is faulty logic and isn’t true. French Guineas can absolutely fly. They are fantastic foragers and will reproduce if allowed to free range. They will produce “true” offspring.
I’ve had several customers ask me if guinea fowl actually digest ticks. They claim that they heard from their neighbors nephews cousin’s mother (which is where all reliable information comes from) that guinea fowl eat ticks but that the ticks pass right through the digestive system of the guineas since the tick’s hard shell prevents it from being digested.
This is untrue. Here’s why:
- Many customers report buying French Guineas and soon thereafter noticing a huge decrease in tick sightings. If the ticks pass right through the digestive system without being harmed, why would there be a decrease in the tick population? Also, I’ve had several customers who were looking for French Guineas because they had a flock, got rid of them, and then got overwhelmed with ticks. This leads me to assume that the guineas had a direct impact on the tick population.
- Guinea fowl are excellent foragers that eat bugs and insects. So much so that during the summer you barely have to feed them (some folks feed them a little in the evening to lure them back into coops). Many insects have hard shells – called exoskeletons – on them (such as grasshoppers and crickets) and if guineas couldn’t digest such insects, you would have to supplement their diets much more heavily since they wouldn’t get any nutritious benefit from eating insects.
- Humans have teeth but birds don’t. A bird will either tear food apart in large chunks or swallow it whole. Then the food goes to the crop where it is stored for up to 12 hours. The food eventually gets to the gizzard. The gizzard is a muscular pouch where food gets ground up by small pebbles and grit that the guinea picked up while pecking food off of the ground. If the insect is still intact at this point it won’t be able to hold up to the muscular grinding actions of the gizzard and will be ground into a digestible paste. Goodbye ticks!
In summary, guinea fowl are great natural pest control. They devastate tick populations and do pretty well with gardens. We do have baby guinea fowl for sale on our website here. I hope you take a few minutes to check them out! We can ship them to your local post office and you’ll have a crew of tick control experts roaming your property on patrol 24/7 within a few months.