Guinea Fowl or pet speckled hens, a vigorous creature, belongs to the birds family called Numididae(class pheasants and turkeys belong to). There are so many species of The wild birds(few of them are now recognized as domestic birds) that are native to the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa and India is now a second home to most species of the guinea fowl.
There are so many types of guinea fowl( Black, White-breasted, crested and helmeted) helmeted ones that are usually kept in the backyards for several reasons we are going to discuss later in this article.
The relationship between Guinea Fowl and snakes
When we talk about guinea fowl we get to hear about snakes as well but some of you may not know, in what sense, these two totally different creatures are being connected.
The reason is they are among the very few species on the earth that can kill and save your cattle and hens from the deadly snake attacks. Centuries ago, this quality became the reason for their domestication and they are still helping the humans in this regard.
They do not give the look that they can kill or alert you about the danger but they actually are capable of that.
So, What are they good and not good for?
They are excellent pest control but a little bad for your neighborhood as they are noisy and get a little disturbing sometimes.
Since this article is about the guinea fowl and snakes encounter so let’s discuss this in detail first.
How do Guinea Fowl know about the arrival of a snake?
You must have been wondering how are they cunning enough to know the arrival of a snake when even you don’t. Well, they have a pretty sharp sixth sense and it signals them that something is happening or about to happen. So, this is how they know a snake is entering the territory.
Why do Guinea Fowl attack snakes?
Their favorites are different from other birds. They live on insects, mosquitoes, and even rats. The snake appears to be very much the same as the worms. So the nature of attacking and eating worms makes them assault the snakes.
How do Guinea Fowl attack or kill a snake?
As these are free-roaming birds so they all are usually roaming in separate places. As the snake arrives they give each other a signal by making some really disturbing noise. They all gather at the place of call in no time and start circling the snake. And they then attack the snake even if they are not successful in killing the snake they are always victorious in alerting the hens and the farmers.
Although they can, they seldom kill the snakes
Not all guinea fowls go out of the way to kill the snakes. As they do not eat snakes so they are of no use to them. But that does not mean they do not kill at all. They do kill bigger beasts but killing the younger ones is more common. Most of the time they just prefer to inform you about the snake’s arrival.
They discuss, inspect, attack, and sometimes kill the snake but they do not eat it.
They get together to kill the snake as soon as they find it but they do not eat it. They just kill it in a very violent way and leave it there as a lesson for upcoming snakes.
The younger snakes are more likely to be attacked and killed.
On the arrival of well-grown snakes, you are more likely to be alerted as a mature snake seldom gets killed mainly for two reasons. One is, they are usually successful in eloping and the other reason is they are a little bigger than their predator.
Guinea fowl as a “Snake Deterrent”
Not all humans can attack, deter, or kill a snake. They are super cunning and are successful in eloping, most of the times. But guinea fowl are an exception and they got this title(snake deterrent) because they are always successful in attacking and sometimes killing the snakes.
Do not get disheartened as they seldom kill the snakes. Just having them on the farm is enough to keep the snakes away. Their loud and annoying singing, crying, and calling is enough to show a red signal. Even if the snakes are still daring enough to enter the farm their weird attack is going to scare them for life. They prefer to scare the snake away than to kill or attack.
For snakes specifically, Guinea Fowls get a yes or no?
They get a yes for some reason and for some they get a no. It depends on you whether you want the snake to be killed or not? If you are more interested in kicking it out of the farm then the guinea fowl gets a yes as they sometimes just don’t kill the snake. But if you are more interested in nipping the evil in the bud guinea fowl gets a no. Only hawks, honey mongoose, and eagles are more likely to kill a snake.
If they seldom kill the deadly snakes then why do we keep them anyway?
Yes, they kill the smaller snakes more often than the larger ones. If raised with the hens they are not going to harm them anytime in the future. You can blindly trust them. Not all such options are safe to be kept along with the flock. And the other reason is you may or may not sense danger but they will inform you. These reasons make you choose them over other options.
They may need some training to serve the purpose
Guinea fowl are not so domestic so they may need some training to become one. They need to be taught the limits and the way to the farm just in case they get lost so they know their way back home. And one thing you are probably going to struggle a lot is bringing them back to their little home(a shed with a high roof) in the night. But once this routine is established they will keep following it. Luckily, you don’t have to train them to alert you about the danger but what I have mentioned above is definitely going to need one hell of a training.
Is Guinea Fowl an ultimate solution?
No, calling it an ultimate solution is total nonsense. They will make the job easy for you but you will still need to keep a sharp eye on your farm. They are just your helpers, you will still need to learn and follow other safety measures as well.
You may have made your mind to keep them at your farm to get rid of deadly snake attacks as the advantages are surpassing their annoyance so giving a half-knowledge will be disappointing. And why disappoint you?
Everything else you need to know about Guinea Fowl:
There are 7 species of wild guinea fowl in the world and one of them( White-Breasted) is called vulnerable because of excessive habitat loss. Vulturine Guinea Fowl are known and adored for their striking appearance.
All these species are different in size, shapes, and color but they tend to share the same traits.
Helmeted Guinea Fowls are mostly kept by the farmers to guard the animals and birds.
Gray black color, small head, round body, reddish bony knob, bare skin with red, black, and blue hues and makes them stand out and easily recognizable.
Where should they be kept?
These are low maintenance birds they do not require any special conditions to live but the recommendation is a farm or rural property with no neighborhood nearby as they may cause some serious disturbance.
What do they roam for?
Guinea fowl are wild free-roaming birds. They are mostly roaming around the garden in search of food as they like to eat bugs.
Having Guinea Fowl in your garden, it’s a win-win situation.
You might not know guinea fowl can be kept in the garden solely to keep the harmful pests away from the plants. These birds are having what they love eating and your plants are being saved at the same time so it’s a win-win situation. Isn’t it?
They dig deep in search of food but they do not uproot the plants.
They are always in search of invertebrates and sometimes this little search goes a long way, making them scratching in the loose soil. You may think they will then be a threat to your plants. Rest assured, they will not harm or uproot your plants as they do not get attracted by them no matter how appealing they look.
Interesting facts about Guinea
They can fly
They belong to the family of birds so they can fly. But mostly they do not go afar so as not to forget the way to their home. They usually fly up to the tree or rooftops as they are wild birds so they are seldom seen having rest.
What should you do to keep them from flying away?
Flying away is rare but that does not mean that this matter needs not to be taken seriously. Clipping their wings is an excellent way to keep their movement restricted to the farm. Bringing a well-grown wild guinea fowl is more likely to fly away than the guinea fowl born or raised at the farm.
They are chatty
They are talking loudly most of the time and it gets annoying sometimes. They are loud by nature so nothing is going to stop them. You have to embrace it.
They are fun to watch
You might have heard someone saying cats, dogs, goats, and even birds are fun to watch; they have never probably seen guinea fowls yet. They are noisy but super entertaining as well.
Raising Guinea Fowl at the farm
Guinea fowls are low maintenance birds and they serve a ton of benefits to the pet Poultry and commercial farmers.
How to raise Guinea Fowl? How to keep a friendly environment on the farm?
There are several complaints about a “not-so-friendly” environment among the hens and Guinea Fowls. This problem arises when they are not raised together. For a friendly environment, you must raise the hens, and the Guinea Fowls all together. Trying to add a fully grown Guinea Fowl to the flock is not a nice idea as they will end up quarreling and you may lose a few of your hens to death.
What are their basic requirements?
They are low maintenance, because of their past they can survive even in the toughest conditions. To your surprise, they do not even need a nesting box but a high roof shed instead. The other basic requirements include freshwater, cracked grains, space (around 2 to 3 square feet per bird), and a not so dark place.
Maintaining Guinea Fowl’s health:
Honestly, you do not have to do much to keep them healthy and active. Their rough past has made their stomach tough already so they seldom get sick. And even if they do get sick they probably require fewer vet visits than any other birds or animals.
Watch out for baby Guinea Fowls.
Baby Guinea is going to start helping you pretty soon so they are of great value. Female Guinea fowl is not a good mother. Baby Guinea Fowls are your responsibility so you have to take care of them until they are grown enough to live on their own.
Benefits of keeping guinea
Guineas as pest control
Guineas are excellent pest control as they live on grasshoppers, flies, crickets, and even rats. The other reason why they are called chemical-free pest control is their habit of eating deer-ticks that are responsible for Lyme disease.
Guineas for meat and eggs
Besides for all the above-mentioned purposes, Guineas are kept for meat and eggs as well. Their meat is moist, tender, and rich in amino acids. And it’s quite flavorful and somewhat similar to pheasant.
Their eggs are edible as well. If you are not using it for hatching you can collect and eat them on a daily basis.
Now you have seen the good part of the picture let’s move on to the other part.
Cons of keeping guineas fowls.
They are aggressive towards chickens sometimes:
Yes, they are a little aggressive but mainly towards chicken if they both are not raised together. Mixing the two different creatures will take a lot of time.
They are not good pets:
They can not be kept as pets as they are wild birds and they find it hard to adjust themselves in a confined place i.e farm
Whether they are suitable for you or not?
You have gotten familiar with the good and bad parts of the picture the doubt “whether they are fulfilling your needs or not” is coming to your mind. Let me help you with that as well.
If you have a small farm where regular snake attacks are less likely to happen and you got all the right equipment to kill the snake yourself then they are pretty much fulfilling your needs as they will not only alert but will find you the snake.
But if you are thinking of expanding your farms and snake attacks are common. Keeping just Guinea Fowl will not help. You have to find another solution.
And if you like having afternoon tea in a peaceful quiet place then guinea fowls are not your solution.
If the neighborhood is crowded, you will get noise complaints in excess.
Other possibilities about the snake encounter
Besides attacking and killing there are some other possibilities too as not all guinea fowls are that violent. They need to be trained to become one. It’s rare but they are also seen playing and following the snakes until it gets out of the farm.
To deter, kill, or attack the snake you may need several helmeted guinea fowls.
Having one guinea fowl is like keeping it for no good as they attack and hunt in the flock. You are going to need five to ten guinea fowls to keep the deadly snake attacks from happening.
Guinea Fowls can deter or attack but they seldom kill the snakes. The younger snakes are most likely to be killed by the guineas. They may or may not kill the snakes but they definitely will inform you about the arrival and there will be no need to dig the whole farm as they are already somewhere circling the snake. They are helpful in saving the hens from frequent snake attacks but can never be taken as an ultimate solution.
Shumaila Ejaz is a passionate farming writer. She has done her basic farming and animal care course from Agriculture university. Shumaila serving as animal care consultant in the area. Relevant to farm desire is research in poultry and livestock. Agriculture and animal farming is a vast field, suggestions should be appreciated.