Guinea Fowl Farming
JC Moreki, PhD
Poultry and Rabbits Section, Division of Non-Ruminants, Department of Animal
Production, Private Bag 0032, Gaborone, Botswana. Tel. +267 3950519.
Guinea Fowl - Nature's Watch Dogs and Pest Control
The term “guinea” fowl is the common name of the seven species of gallinaceous birds of the family Numididae, which is indigenous to Africa. It is well adapted to the realities of life on African continent. The strains are descended from the helmeted guinea fowl,
Numida meleagris. In many parts of the world, guinea fowls are raised mainly for their
gamey flesh and eggs. Guinea fowl has a taste similar to other game birds and has many nutritional qualities that make it a worthwhile addition to the diet. The meat of a young guinea is tender and of especially fine flavour, resembling that of wild game. The meat is lean and rich in essential fatty acids. Guinea fowls have a high yield of 80% after processing with excellent meat to bone ratio.
Of the three domestic varieties (the pearl, the white and the lavender), the purplish coloured pearl is the most common.
Nine different subspecies of helmeted guinea fowl
Species Common name Distribution
N.m. meleagris Bristle nosed guinea fowl Lake Chad and Sudan
N.m. sabyi Filoplume-necked guinea fowl Morocco
N.m. galeata Grey breasted guinea fowl Cameroon, Senegal and Nigeria
N.m. marungensis Marunga helmeted guinea fowl DRC and Zambia
N.m. damarensis Namibian guinea fowl Namibia and Western Botswana
N.m. coronata Helmeted guinea fowl RSA and Southern Botswana
N.m. mitrata Mitred guinea fowl Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia
N.m. reichnowi Reichnowi’s guinea fowl Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania
In this type of rearing birds do not have access to an outdoor enclosure and has replaced semi-rearing because it can give better performance. Light and dark houses may be used. Guinea fowls are raised for breeding on soil or in batteries. For rearing on soil, densities are from 3 to 5 birds per square metre, and the houses are usually equipped with perches. In modern breeding units guinea fowls are usually reared in batteries and artificially inseminated.
DISTINGUISHING GUINEA COCKS FROM HENS
Next to quietening guineas, the hardest problem can be to sex them. Male and female guinea fowls differ so little in appearance that many find it difficult to distinguish them from each other. Usually, sex may be distinguished by the cry of the birds after they are about 2 months old and by larger helmet and wattles and coarser head of the male. In young male guineas aged 12 to 15 weeks, the wattles are larger, curve out more and have thicker edges than the females. By 15-16 weeks the females wattles are also thickening. The adult male has a slightly larger helmet and wattles and coarser head than females. The cry of the female sounds like a “buckwheat, buck-wheat” or put-rock, putrock,” and is quite different from the one-syllable shriek of the male. When excited, both the male and female emit one-syllable cries, but at no time does male’s cry sound like “buckwheat, buckwheat”.
MANAGEMENT OF BREEDING STOCK
Guinea hens start to lay in the spring (with increasing daylight) and continue laying for about 6-9 months. The egg laying period can be extended and early fertility improved by using artificial lighting. Domesticated guinea breeding birds are usually allowed free range. However, on some farms the breeders are kept confined during laying period in houses equipped with wire-floored run porches. They are difficult to confine in open yards unless their wings are pinioned or one wing is clipped. In their wild state, guinea fowls mate in pairs. This tendency prevails also among domesticated guineas if males and females in the flock are equal in number. A hen that is of a good stock and is carefully managed may lay 100 or more eggs a year. Generally, breeders produce well for 2 to 3 years; sometimes they are kept as long as 4 to 5 years in small flocks.
Guinea chicks are known as keets.
Adult guinea fowl weighs 1.5 kg and that the young stock is ready for table at 12 to 16 weeks.
Guinea fowls are almost always ready at 15 weeks and usually 16 to 18 weeks of age when they are sold. At this age their live weight is 1.25 to 1.47 kg with dressed weight of 1.02 and 1.25 kg.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GUINEA FOWL
The characteristics of a guinea fowl include:
_ The head and neck are bare, but there may be some wattles. The wattles on a male guinea are much larger than on the female.
_ It is timid, with a more gregarious behaviour than that of the chicken; fits of panic with crowding together of birds, capable of causing heavy losses, are feared.
Darkness and presence of perches reduce the bird’s timidity where it likes to hide and to remain motionless when afraid. As a result, darkened buildings with reduced light intensity allow large numbers of guinea fowls to be raised.
_ The guinea fowl is extremely noisy and cannot be reared nearer to residential
_ In the wild state, plants play an important role in guinea nutrition. Guinea fowls can cause damage to crops, especially to young plants. While feeding it does not scratch with its claws, but uses its beak for tearing with abrupt head movements, a form of behaviour that leads to tremendous feed wastage from the feeders, especially when mash is used.
_ The guinea fowl is more resistant to heat than the chicken, and raising it requires a higher temperature. It withstands transportation better than the chicken.
Some special features of guinea fowls include:
Suitable to many agro-climatic condition
Resistant to many common diseases
No requirement of elaborate and expensive housing
Excellent foraging capabilities
Consumes all non-conventional feeds not used in chicken feeding
More tolerant to mycotoxin and aflatoxin
Hard shell provides minimum breakage and low keeping quality
Guinea fowl meat is rich in vitamin and low in cholesterol
Guineas are native to Africa,
and are proudly known as nature's watch dogs and pest control. They control
ticks, grasshoppers and the dreaded army worm that wreaks havoc on coastal
pastures. We originally chose to raise guineas to naturally eliminate our yearly
plague of army worms and the need to use liquid seven on the grass our cattle
graze on. Guineas are also alarm sounders and chase away hawks, rats, snakes,
and even coyotes! If you have a large enough group of guineas they will confront
and surround a coyote, driving it away with their piercing alarm scream. The
lead guineas will continue to chase the coyote until they are sure it has left
There is a wide assortment of guineas
1. Violet 5. Royal Purple 9. Pied
2. Lavender 6. Slate
3. Porcelain 7. White African
4. Pearl Gray 8. Coral Blue
Of course there are guineas that are a blend of two or more of the above varieties as below:
o 1-Purchase six keets (chicks). These are available from poultry suppliers, and buying six of the birds will ensure that you have at least one male to fertilize the eggs. You will want to start with healthy keets if you are planning to breed guineas.
o 2-Dip the keets' beaks in water when they arrive. This will help them learn how to drink. Keep their waterer full of clean warm water, as this will keep their body temperatures high.
Read more: How to Breed Guinea Fowl | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2096341_breed-guinea-fowl.html#ixzz25aNvD3ak
They are farmed mainly for their eggs and meat. The common guinea fowls weigh about 2kg and the male weigh less than the females. The guinea fowl will start laying eggs as early as 16-17 weeks. The shell of the egg is really hard so it difficult for the artificial incubation. The period of incubation is 26 to 28 days. The guinea fowls eat weed seeds, fruits, berries, insects, spiders, grass, worms, frogs and mollusks.
The guinea fowl lay up to 100 eggs per year depends on the breeding and management. The size of the egg is smaller than that of the hen and weighs about 40gms. Guinea fowl meat is rich with vitamins and low in cholesterol.
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