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Cottage Smallholder & Farming friends Interblog Guinea Fowl breeding event update, nearly six months of fun

Mrs Boss and guinea fowlI am growing fonder of my 19 week old Guinea Fowl by the day. They are the progeny from the Farming Friends & Cottage Smallholder Interblog Guinea Fowl Breeding Event. This event was started six months ago when Sara, from Farming Friends, sent us an egg box of six guinea fowl eggs in the post (next day delivery) to put under a unhappy and bullied broody hen. This hen has now become an international superstar and even though she is unaware of her fame, Mrs Boss is finally a happy and contented bantam.

Nurtured by Mrs Boss, five out of the six eggs hatched out and have delighted us for months. We have four healthy Guinea fowl (one died). Headstrong and determined, they throw Carol into the shade when it comes to strength of personality.

They are driven by one overwhelming delight. Food. Whether it is the wild bird seed treat in the morning or the green leaves plucked from their very own row of Swiss Chard, they are the first to grab what’s on offer.

It must be all their early training – when they were tiny keets and they fought over shredded lettuce. Do you remember the movie?

Now they will snatch vegetables out of each others beaks so there is a lot of scurrying away to enjoy the tastiest morsels in a secret spot. Sometimes two guineas have the same idea and rush from different directions to the seclusion of the back of the hen house, narrowly avoiding a collision by turning on a pin head in the nick of time. So treat time has the added benefit of a mini work out for the birds.

Mrs Boss’ life has transformed. She loves her brood. And the guinea fowl don’t mind this diminutive bantam tagging along with their gang. Surrounded by four sizeable guineas, she is no longer bullied. In fact, very little bullying seems to be going on at all. I suppose the arrival of the keets added a new dimension to all the chickens’ lives.

I still have not worked out the gender of the guineas. Following Sara’s advice I have studied them carefully. Apparently the male guineas have bigger helmets and wattles. The helmet is that little punky crest on the top of their heads. The wattles hang down either side of the beak.

We thought that Cloud was a male but have discovered recently that she is female. She is smaller than the rest and has started to make the distinctive “Come home” cry that only female guineas voice. There is at least one other female in the group as I have heard the “Come home” cry when they are separated from Cloud. One of this group has larger and more prominent wattles we have named him Thunder. So we think that we have at least two egg layers along with one male and one mystery guinea fowl.

Like the Min Pins, the guineas love a good old shriek. Particularly when I am not following their instructions to feed them their five a day through the fence.

This evening, I banged the greenhouse door a bit too hard and this set them off. Even Cloud, who was already in the hen house dormitory added a few muffled cries to the cacophony going on in the run. They are easily, magically soothed with a few calming words.

Thank you Sara. They are a joy.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi David,

    What a shame about your keets. I haven’t heard of blackhead and have just looked it up on the internet.

    We fed our keets baby chick crumbs which contain anti-coccidiostats (the organic ones often don’t have this) and perhaps this helped.

    The Farming Friends website has loads of useful information on using incubators.

    Best of luck. I’d love to hear how you get on.

  2. I’m so glad that you’ve successfully bred your guinea fowl. We’ve had some for a few years and when it became apparent that they were unlikely to hatch any of the eggs we put some fresh ones under a broody and soon three keets were strutting their stuff. Unfortunately, after about three weeks, all three dropped dead within 48 hours. We have assumed that blackhead was the cause of their demise being susceptable as turkeys are. Domestic hens can carry the disease but appear to be unaffected. Our efforts to hatch out guinea fowl eggs in an incubator subsequently have come to nought and we’ve got to get a move on – another adult (of our, admittedly, rather ancient gaggle) died last night and we’re now down to three.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    The bird flu is scary. We have heavy plastic sheeting that we can tie on the roof of the run if the bird flu spreads. Let’s hope that the outbreak is contained.

    Hi Sara,

    Good to hear that Hatty is boss of 16 guinea fowl and that Mrs Boss will not be eventually be dropped from the group.

    We are looking forward to guinea fowl eggs next year.

  4. farmingfriends

    Glad to see and read that the guinea fowl are all doing well and that they still let Mrs Boss hang out with them. My hen Hatty hangs out with ours and she is the boss of 16 guinea fowl. It’s fun to watch. I am pleased to hear that you have at least a couple of females in the group so you can enjoy the delights of guinea fowl eggs next year. I am thrilled that they bring you so much pleasure.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  5. Aw thanks for the update. They really have grown alot. Nice to know they have a lovely home. I have been thinking of you and your flock with this Bird flu scare. I hope they all stay safe. Is there anything you are having to do differently with them while it is around?

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