The guinea fowl is a native of Africa and is more or less of a game bird. Although they are commonly kept on farms, these birds have never become thoroughly domesticated. They may roost with the chickens at night and eat with them, but they prefer to roam in the fields by themselves during the day where they obtain a large portion of their food. The young, if left to themselves for the first few weeks, live almost entirely on insects.
Guineas are said to drive away hawks and are kept on many farms for this purpose. They become very much excited at the approach of a hawk and announce it by shrill cries. There are three varieties of guinea fowls: Pearl, White, and Lavender. The Pearl is the most commonly kept.
Spotting or identifying male and female guinea fowl birds is very difficult. In the picture below, the male guinea fowl (cock) is on the left while the female guinea fowl (hen) is on the right.
To identify a cock from the hen, you have to know the differences between the male guinea fowl and the female guinea fowls (physical body difference). They include:
|Male Guinea Fowl (Cock)||Female Guinea Fowl (Hen)|
|Have upright body structure||Body hangs lower to the ground|
|Have longer and larger wattles||Have smaller wattles|
|Makes one syllable call||Makes two to three syllable calls|
|Helmet is large||Helmet is small|
Incubation and brooding
It is customary to incubate guinea fowl eggs under hens, but guinea hens, turkey hens, or incubators can be used. Fourteen eggs are usually placed under a guinea hen, eighteen under a hen, and twenty-four under a turkey hen. The period of incubation is twenty-eight days.
Guinea fowls are inclined to mate in pairs, although one male may be mated with three or four hens. They often produce twenty to thirty eggs before they go broody. Given their freedom, they generally hide their nests.
Usually, it is not practical to brood guineas artificially because they require free ranges to grow thriftily. Common hens make very good mothers for young guinea chicks. The hen should be confined on rainy days or when there is a heavy dew, to prevent the chicks from getting wet or chilled by running after the hen through the wet grass. Guineas may be fed the same feed as chickens.
In preparing guineas for market, the birds are bled but the feathers are usually left unplucked. They are sold in the market by the pair, and vary in size from 0.5 to 1.4 kg each. They are often considered a great delicacy and are sometimes used as a substitute for partridges.