Chickens And Guinea Fowl: How To Make This Quirky Dynamic Work
People have been caring for chickens for centuries: they’re cute, loving and lay delicious eggs- why wouldn’t we want them to be a part of our homes? Domesticating and caring for Guinea fowl however is a rather recent phenomenon. In the past people snobbishly dismissed Guinea fowl as a savage and aggressive bush bird that wouldn’t appreciate the comforts of a beautiful coop. Guinea fowl however are definitely trending at the moment. They may not be great layers, though some breeders are looking to change this, but they are first rate protectors of your flock. But can you keep your chickens with Guinea fowl? What are the risks? Will they get along? And, most importantly, can you trust these mysterious and peculiar looking birds?
The Hunt Is On
All Guinea fowl are exceptional hunters when it comes to bugs, small mice and even snakes. Though chickens are fantastic exterminators of bugs as well, the Guinea fowl are really in a league of their own. They’ll eat bugs that other poultry wouldn’t dare to touch. Their senses are so well honed that they can clear a yard filled with bugs and insects in no time. This is especially beneficial if you are a green thumb, as you’re Guinea fowl will eradicate any bugs that my torment your garden. Be careful though, Guinea fowl also enjoy pecking a poking their beaks into the garden on occasion as well. When it comes to small mice, Guinea fowl won’t hesitate to prey upon them, however larger mice and rats might give them a bit more trouble. This being said, the noisy and sometimes fearsome presence of the Guinea fowl actually deters many predators away from your yard. Therefore, the presence of Guinea fowl has huge benefits for your chickens and other poultry, simply because they are expert protectors of all those that belong in your garden.
Don’t Let The Boys Play Together
Male Guinea fowl are as butch as birds come. They can be very domineering, bossy and sometimes they are just downright bullies. This kind of macho behaviour is normally only a problem when they come in contact with other male birds, like roosters. Spring is the mating season for Guinea fowl and it will send the males into an absolute frenzy. If you are keeping male Guinea fowl it is best that you monitor or better yet isolate them from other poultry, otherwise your chicken coop may end up looking like a scene from a Tarantino film.
The Guineas Need To Rule The Roost
The unpleasant reality of keeping Guineas with chickens is that if there is any dispute within the coop, the Guinea fowl are going to win, every time, hands down. Most of the time the chickens will quite willing surrender authority over to the Guinea fowl. In the event you have a chicken revolutionary within your coop, they may be in grave danger of being harassed by the Guinea fowl. As I mentioned previously, around the onset of spring, as the male Guinea fowl prepare themselves for the breeding season ahead, they will become bothered, anxious and aggressive to all manner of life around them. During this time it may not be ideal to keep your Guinea fowl with your chickens, unless they have been raised together from an early age. As is often the case, it is of the utmost importance that you keeps tabs on what’s going down in the coop. Many people have reported having no issues keeping their Guinea fowl with chickens however some people have had more challenging experiences.
Will the chickens rub off on the Guinea fowl?
Many people have reported that Guinea fowl keets who are raised with chickens tend to be gentler and less aggressive. To this point, Guinea fowl who are used to the company of chickens are easier to train to go into their hutch or coop at the end of the night. The trick is to integrate your Guinea fowl and the chickens from an early age.
What precautions can I take?
One idea is to have an extra coop for your Guinea fowl, like a Taj Mahal or Cluck House, for the times you feel as though you need to give the tougher birds some space to chill out. Another option is to move your chickens into a larger enclosure, like a Mansion Run, so that they everyone can keep their distance from each other, if need be. This being said, it takes a lot of time for Guinea fowl to adjust to a new coop, which you can read about here, so only consider relocating them if the situation is becoming unmanageable. So long as you monitor the situation and take action if things don’t seem to be going well, you should be able to keep all of your precious little feathered friends safe.
Guinea fowl are awesome protectors and are an excellent defense against pests like bugs, insects, mice and snakes. The important thing to note is that they can sometimes turn this macho energy against your peace loving chooks and it’s in those moments you need to be ready to make some tough decisions. Regardless though, Guinea fowl will be able to make peace with your girls, from ISA Browns to Silkies, most of the time they will be able to resolve their differences. If you are eager to get yourself some Guinea fowl it’s important that you prepare yourself in the event something goes wrong. An extra smaller coop, like the Taj Mahal or Cluck House, is a fantastic way to separate your birds, in the event things turn a little testy.
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