5 Reasons NOT to Own Guinea Fowl

5 reasons not to own guinea fowl

When I shared my Guinea Feather Wreath, I mentioned that we no longer have our guineas. Shortly after I received an email asking me why. I answered the email, but I thought I would go into more detail here, to help those still in the research phase of deciding to add guinea fowl to their homes.

Guinea fowl can be sort of an exotic addition to a homestead. You will hear many glamorous things about them such as the fact that guinea fowl will eat ticks and snake and rats. You might hear that they are easier on the yard than chickens, that they don’t scratch as much or won’t go after your garden as much. And, yes, all of that is true. Guinea fowl do eat ticks and snakes. They are somewhat easier on your land. But in the interest of full disclosure you really should know the things that they do that aren’t so glamorous.

5 Reasons Not to Own Guinea Fowl

guinea fowl

1. They are loud. Let me say that again. Guineas are LOUD!!! No cute little clucking noises from these guys, it’s full out screaming and screeching. Sometimes this is spun as a positive. I don’t know how many times I read that guinea fowl make great alarm systems. And to an extent that is true. Guineas will alert you to strange dogs, people and cars coming on to your property. But they will also alert you to the fact that a door just slammed, the wind blew, or a car drove by a mile down the road. They also have a habit of moving as one solitary unit. Where one goes, the others go. It is actually sort of fascinating to watch, but when one guinea gets separated from the flock? You’d better cover your ears until they find each other again!

2. They can be bullies. All birds have a pecking order. When you have new additions there will always be a period adjustment while they figure out the new order. And if you thought this was a tough process to watch with chickens, you will be amazed with guineas- these guys are mean! The guinea fowl figured out their own pecking order eventually but be prepared for a longer adjustment if you have other birds as well. Our guineas were raised from keets with chicks. They were together from the beginning. When we added the young birds- both guinea and chicken- to our mature flock the usual fight for top bird began. 6 months later- half our chickens were missing their tail and back feathers. They were afraid to go into the coop at night once the guineas were in there. Half the time we let the guineas roost in the trees just to give the chickens a break. Which leads me into my next point…

3. They love to roam. I recently shared my thoughts on free range chickens, but I assume if you want to purchase guinea fowl it is mostly for their tick-eating tendencies. I’ll tell you now that they won’t eat many ticks in a covered run. They are free range birds and they take it to the extreme. If you’ve done your research about raising guinea fowl you will know that you should raise them in their final home, or keep them locked in their new home for quite a few weeks before allowing them outdoors so that they know where home is. I am here to warn you, even if you do that, they will still have trouble coming home at night. Guineas can fly pretty well and jump pretty high which means fencing isn’t really going to do much. Once they are comfortable with being outdoors they will start pushing the limits. They will cross roads, bother your neighbors, terrorize the horses down the street- all while screaming and squawking. They might come home and night, they might not. They might go into their coop or they might find the tallest tree imaginable and fly and jump their way to the tiny top branches.

guinea fowl4. They will brood and breed. So if you have survived the first few months with guinea fowl and you make it to laying season, you will begin to notice small speckled eggs in your nest boxes. Either that or you will notice some of your guinea hens are all of a sudden missing. You might wait a few days for them to come home and then assume that they were nabbed by a fox or neighborhood dog and move on with your life. Until the day your guinea fowl flock all of sudden grows exponentially. Guineas nest on the ground, and they usually do it under cover  somewhere. If you have a well-concealed nest of eggs you might wake up to find mama guinea with her newly hatched brood ready to join the rest of the flock. Guinea hens are a little different than broody chickens in that they will sit on eggs and raise young together. You could be potentially looking at a nest of 40 or more eggs!

5. They are stupid. Okay, I don’t like the word stupid. I try not to use it often, but unintelligent just doesn’t get the point across. I am pretty sure that guinea fowl are one of the stupidest animals I have ever met. They have no sense of self preservation and when they get scared or separated it’s like their brains fly out the window. This will get them in all sorts of trouble. It will cause them to get eaten by predators. It will cause you to give up on getting them in the house at night even though a hurricane is blowing through.¬† It will cause them to squawk and screech incessantly until somehow their brains return.

Now, I don’t want to turn anyone off of getting guineas if they really want them. Like any addition to your homestead, this is a personal decision. We had them here for about a year, and I could live with all but one of the things I just listed. I have 5 kids- I can tone out loud noises! We live pretty far out in the country with lots of other farms around and neighbors didn’t seem to mind the roaming. I am willing to let them multiply and allow their stupidity to reduce their numbers. But, I can’t live with the bullying. Chickens are important around here- both as a productive member of the farm and a beloved pet to my children. And, ultimately, we let the guineas go because of how mean they were to our chickens. For more information on raising guinea fowl you can visit the Guinea Fowl International website.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Are you considering guineas? Do you already own them?

 

This post is linked to the following: From the Farm, Tuesdays with a Twist, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, The Homestead Barn Hop, Homemade Monday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Modern Homesteaders Hop, Creative Home and Garden Hop, Simple Saturdays, Natural Living Monday, The Backyard Farming Connection, The HomeAcre Hop,

 

© 2013 – 2014, Sarah Toney. All rights reserved.

52 comments on “5 Reasons NOT to Own Guinea Fowl

  1. Nancy Wolff says:

    We tried guineas this year and had all the same experiences! When they peaked one of my favorite chickens until she was almost scalped I decided enough was enough and they went to live elsewhere! It was a failed experiment!

  2. k. Watson says:

    Oh my that is so funny. I love your way of writing! I had 2 guineas and they were enough to instill in me that guineas are purely evil birds. They seemed to know which side of my head my eyes were on because they would attack me from behind while I was trying to use the push mower. A pain the back of my legs will never forget, lol!

  3. Linda Stanage says:

    what do you think about turkeys, and how do you clip chicken wings.

  4. Susie says:

    I COMPLETELY agree! We raised some from babies once (and I did say once!) and when they grew into adults-we GAVE them back to the people we bought them from! The noise was ear splitting! I know some people-even my own dad- love the sounds they make-but I can’t handle it. I’ll take my hens and rooster any day!

    • My father, who also has a home on our land, couldn’t stand the noise. I got to where I didn’t even hear it anymore. But ear-splitting is a good way to describe it!

  5. Susan says:

    I agree, ours were very loud and if they got out would fly onto the garage roof. Even though I raised them from babies they were not friendly like the chickens.

  6. Ha ha, good thing we do not own any! Great list, made me smile!

  7. Meredith says:

    Hahahah this is too funny! They sound like characters out of a cartoon! I don’t think I could ever get them just because of the noise, and the fact that they look like demon spawn.

  8. My grandma had guinea fowl when I was growing up and I was absolutely terrified of them. They would always chase us. Now I would know how to deal with them and hear they are great to have on the homestead.

    • I think they are great additions to most homesteads, but I don’t think a lot of people are fully prepared to deal with their ranging, noise, etc. If they had gotten along with our chickens we would still have them.

  9. angi says:

    oh, good, I can now cross guineas off my wish list! Thanks!

  10. thanks so much – I’m crossing them off my list too! I have a friend who was going to give me babies in the spring – I am definitely going to pass!

  11. Thx for sharing on Thank Goodness it’s Monday! I had read they are loud, but I did not realize they are THAT loud. Good to know. I also did not realize they would bully chickens. One question for you: What are the males like? Are they similar to roosters? Can they be aggressive towards people? Is it better to have a single male with a harem of several hens, or can a mix for half hens and half males happily coexist? Would love your feedback. thx again! Will share this on FB.

    • We never had any show aggression toward us, I believe others did. We had bought unsexed keets and ended up with about half males and half females. We didn’t have any aggression between the males. I am not sure if that is because they were raised together or because guineas are like that though.

  12. LOL!! So funny! I might want them now just to see how stupid they are! Great post!

  13. Kathi says:

    I’m told they will also roost on your car, though they didn’t try that here. Mine would usually go into the guinea coop at night; I’d lure them in with some scratch. I didn’t mind the roaming, I didn’t mind the noise, our chickens are cooped so they didn’t co-mingle. But they are definitely not bright! Ours were picked off one by one, by predators, and eventually I had only 4 left, so I took them to the sale barn. A friend has a great saying: all the guineas in the world share one brain, and today isn’t your birds’ day to have it.

  14. Jessica S says:

    We have about 20 guineas and I agree they are loud. However, ours aren’t agressive to our chickens. They all share a coop and they are the first ones in at dusk. During the summer they would roam through the yard, pastures and field around our house but since there are fewer bugs to eat this time of year (in NC) they started going farther and we lost 2 to the road. We have been training them to come by ringing a bell and giving them scratch grain. I wouldn’t say they are stupid. But they do not move for traffic and will run in front of a car or tractor. It has helped to keep them out of the road by spreading small amounts of scratch grain around the yard. It gives them something to do during the day and they have been staying close to home. We are happy having guineas.

    • Thanks for sharing! I was hoping we would avoid bullying by housing them together from the get-go. Sometimes they would come in at night and sometimes they would have nothing to do with it…

  15. Pam says:

    In middle Tennessee we have ticks, fleas, and chiggers all over, in the yard, in the weeds, in the woods….guineas are the BEST chemical free tick, flea, and chigger control you can find! In addition to insect control, guineas are excellent watch animals, all that noise should serve to warn you that a hawk, fox, opossum, or visitor has arrived!
    Our guineas roost in the trees near the chicken coop at night and roam the yard, garden, and goat pasture during the day; they don’t stray too far from the house. We have had several chicks hatch, but unless we catch them and protect them from predators, the small ones rarely survive to adulthood.
    On the other hand, our roosters make more noise than guineas, peck the hens more than the guineas, and chase me when I’m trying to feed…..I’ll vote to keep the guineas and ditch the roosters!!

    • Thanks for sharing your story! I was worried we would have an explosion of ticks this year since the guineas were gone, but we still had next to none, so the chickens must be getting most of them. Ours must have just been a mean bunch :) They tormented the rooster as much as the chickens.

  16. I had a flock of 30 and loved them. I raised them from the times they hatched by hand..and they were great. But over the years they were taken by fox of some other creatures from the swamp and woods. We have 18 acres and they never wandered off the property. Yes, they were loud, but more like watch birds..we liked the sound.

    We never had ticks on the cats of dogs while we had them… we do not have them any more. And I mi9ss them. We have chickens now, and they are enough to care for. But if you have the space and time to hand raise guineas..I would ..

  17. Thelma Murphy says:

    I’ve had them for about 20 years I guess it’s been. At one point in the first could of years- I wanted them GONE but they are like wild things I didn’t own them they were just here. No-one wanted to come catch them even if I gave them away, so they stayed. Finally all the hens died off now I only have two OLD-OLD males. They all make noise but the males not as much so I don’t even notice them, they never mess with my chickens but maybe it’s because they never stay with them. At one time we had 20+ and still I had no problem with the chickens ,probably because they were so busy chasing each other they had not time for anything else-LOL Their pecking order is Fun to watch They would line out chasing one ,until the chased decided it wanted to be one of the chasers and would just drop to the end of the line. I will probably never get more but I didn’t mind them…….wait-wait I do hate the poop under trees mainly because the two old guys LOVE my back yard, I think because maybe they feel safer.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! I think the noise is one I could get used to and not even hear anymore. It was eerily quiet when they first left! They are more wild than chickens, I had a friend who had neighborhood guineas…their numbers would rise and fall but they just hung around the neighborhood even though no one actually owned them.

  18. Cris says:

    I found your post at the HomeAcre Hop. I am planning on getting guinea fowl when we purchase land, if anything else, just for their usefulness at eating ticks. But thanks for the reminder of some of the negatives about them too! I love your blog!

  19. Issa Waters says:

    This post is hilarious! It kind of makes me wonder what guineas have in the pro column. I guess the bug eating is a big one! My place isn’t too run over with bugs – maybe the chickens are keeping it down. I have a neighbor who keeps guineas, and they do raise a ruckus but I like the sounds of animals around. I won’t complain about my neighbor’s guineas, and I hope he isn’t too bothered by my sheep. THEY are spoiled, obnoxious sheep who baaa up a storm anytime they see a person they think they can convince to provide some corn.

    • Bugs are a big pro for the guineas, but I have found the chickens do a pretty good job on their own. Our goats are the same way- if they see a human it must be time to eat :)

  20. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist. Yes, they are loud, like alarms, our neighbors had some and whenever we went for a walk they would let everyone know we were there. We didn’t have chickens, but I have read if they are raised with the chickens they won’t bother them. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

  21. It took me 31 years of marriage to convince my husband that we really needed them….yes, they are noisy and somewhat mentally challenged…but I love them…we started out with a dozen and raised them from tiny babies…we live on an eighty one acre ranch in south Arkansas and yes, we have ticks, fleas, snakes and all the things guineas love….and I love them for their work ethics…they are very entertaining chasing one another for miles it seems…I have one black hen that runs with them after she was rejected from the coop…we have only four left and are planning to get some more this spring.

  22. Sandra says:

    I have heard that Guineas are very loud. Never been interested in raising them.
    Thanks for sharing with the HomeAcre Hop!

  23. Ha ha. We always had them around wild where I grew up in Africa. They were as common as chickens and we’d go hunt them. Never had them as pets, but their sound brings back wonderful memories. I love it!! Course, they never stayed by our house for long ;-)
    http://simplelifemom.com.

  24. peggy says:

    We have guinea fowl, about 20, primarily to rid us of ticks. My husband got STARI lyme disease from our local ticks and we need them controlled. The guineas are successful in bug control.

  25. I am glad I read this! I have always considered getting guinea hens as tick eaters but not any longer. Thanks for the info!

  26. Babette Ward says:

    Its an honest list for sure.Around here we refer to them as a gang of thugs..lol.. I do still love my guineas.They eat from my hand.I appreciate the hawk warning sounds.Between the guineas and the roosters my hens usually know when danger is near. My guineas dont roam.We have a few acres and they have been content here. They have been over the fence where they wear a bald spot in the grass because the stupidity factor wont allow them the knowledge of how to return from whence they came.Ours dont bother the chickens but I am having a TERRIBLE time introducing new guineas to the flock :( .They keep chasing the new ones into the woods. A friend told me to enclose them all together and let them sort it out but they are so brutal and they gang up.I don’t feel comfortable doing that but I cant keep the new ones hogging up a chicken pen forever either…Feeling frustrated.

  27. Mya says:

    I remember growing up with guineas. Ugh, they were terrible. We had a problem with wild dogs, and we got the guineas to be an alarm- to keep our rabbits safe. We also set traps for the dog, and a guinea ended up getting out and into the trap- it ended up with only one leg, but if you can believe it, that damned bird hopped around for an entire summer. I remember I couldn’t ever sleep in, and they were a pain to get in at night. The only thing I remember liking about them were the feathers they dropped. LoL! As an adult there isn’t any reason I can think to have them. Your article is spot on, and I feel that you used the term “stupid” in the most appropriate way possible :)

  28. Sheryl says:

    Loved your article! I agree completely with your take on guinea fowl. They have been a proverbial pain in the butt. I do not agree with the author of Gardening With Guineas whose book convinced me that they would be a wonderful bird to add to our new life on the land. She touted how gentle they were in her garden. They have practically uprooted saplings, grapevines, rose bushes and more by digging their dusting pits in the easiest soil they could find on my property. And bullying was the latest eye opener for me. I had wondered for months why so many of my poor hens were losing feathers. I figured they were doing this to themselves overnight or fighting in the hen-house overnight. I finally saw the dark-side of Guineas in the hen-yard over this winter. I only have two left out of the original 15 and would not be sorry to see them go. Thanks for the entertaining and insightful read!

  29. Beth & Bruce says:

    We are house-sitters in Australia. We were looking after a property that had ducks, chickens and a dog.
    When the neighbours’ 20 odd guinea fowl first came onto the property, at first we had no idea what they were. They were never any trouble and as the dog was getting fairly deaf, it was great to have the guinea fowl alert us of visitors or predators. We found a dead poisonous snake near the residence, which we think the guinea fowl disposed of, as it had numerous little holes in it, which appeared to have been caused by their beaks. Not that we would normally be happy for a snake to be killed unnecessarily, but being so close to the house, which has folding doors and no screens, the doors were open all day and we wouldn’t have liked any nasty little surprises when we closed up at night. The water dragons did that from time to time. Those guinea fowl roosted in the trees at night. Later we were looking after another property that was infested with ticks. We couldn’t go outside without getting them on us and not just a few, dozens of them. How we dealt with them, is another story! There had been bad flooding the year before. As we regularly look after the property, we suggested to the owners that guinea fowl may help. They have guinea fowl now as well as chickens and the tick problem is almost non existent. We also saw a fox slinking off one day, which we attribute to the guinea fowl creating a ruckus. The guinea fowl are never locked up they roost on a perch, that runs along the top of the chicken yard and never show any aggression toward the chickens. It’s not unusual to find one or two of them in the chicken yard of a morning happily pecking away. The guinea fowl came with rings around their legs, which occasionally they got their claws caught in, causing them to limp badly. We eventually caught them all with the help of a fishing net and removed the rings. A couple of them dropped a lot of tail feathers, so are ‘bob tail’ now. Not sure, but suspect that is caused by stress.

  30. lisa M says:

    Love this! They are definitely a ‘love em or hate em’ type of bird. I happen to love them…but I’m a bit odd! lol

    ~L

  31. Ashley says:

    We have 9 acres of land and the guineas have chosen my bedroom window sill as their fav place to roost, leaving me wide awake until I get fed up enough of the squealing to go outside And flush them off. Any suggestions on how to prevent them from roosting there and in one of the thousands of trees instead?????

  32. marian says:

    We have a bunch of guineas but i can deal with there screeching

  33. Kim says:

    How do you tell the male from female guineas apart?

    • The males have longer and larger wattles on the sides of their faces. They also have a little bit different call. The female has a 2-syllable call where as the males have a monosyllabic call, both calls are repeated over and over.

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