Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guileless Guineas

This is our first year raising  guinea fowl, and I am becoming quite fond of them.  They are both goofy looking and  beautiful.  They make a wide range of jungle-like sounds.  They can be noisy, but they only really seem to create a an annoying racket when they first wake up, just before sunrise, and when they gather to roost, just after sunset.
For their own safety, I have been encouraging them to roost inside the  loafing shed at night. We started with 15 chicks and are down to 10 guineas - one chick didn't make it past its first day, and four guineas have fallen victims to the great-horned owl.  It is impossible to really "herd" them anywhere so they go pretty much wherever they want.

Last night after dark I took the garbage out and heard a hackle-raising noise - the sound of fingernails scraping down a blackboard times 50.  The guineas had decided to  roost  on the sloping metal barn roof, and were slipping down, their toenails screeching as they slid. I didn't think this was a very wise place to roost, noisy and in full view of the owl, (plus I didn't like the idea of all those bird droppings on the barn if they decided to make it their regular roost) so I decided to discourage them by spraying them with the hose. My plan worked, causing them to  slide and tumble off the roof --almost landing on top of me!  However, they flew back up. I don't know if they ever got a grip and stayed up there all night or if they found a more secure roost, but this morning we still had ten birds.
We got these birds for two reasons: one of our market customers indicated she would like to purchase some for eating, and they are famous for insect control, especially ticks. They sweep across the lawn in a line, devouring every bug in their swath.  Unlike the geese, chickens and ducks, they don't harm the flowers and bushes. We plan to keep a few  of the guineas over the winter to tackle tick control next spring, and the rest will become exotic gourmet dinners this fall.  


katiegirl said...

Your guineas are lovely. I'm thinking of selling mine. I have 5, and 4 of them are young (hatched this year). Two of those young ones are so darn loud, and they've taken up terrorizing the other poultry.

If you eat one of your birds this fall, I'd love to hear a review!

Mama Pea said...

Our daughter did raise a few guineas a couple of years ago and found the noise level objectionable.

Not that I know much about them, but learning that they devour ticks would make it worthwhile raising them! We never had a tick problem way up here in NE Minnesota but with the warming climate, they have moved in with a vengeance.