The Helmeted Guinea Fowl is an unusual bird. This bird is very noisy and has a distinct call. It is very alert, rarely lets a noise slip by without making a sound. For this reason the Guinea Fowl has often been used as protection.
The Helmeted Guinea Fowl loves to eat a wide variety of insects. For this reason, if you are an avid bee collector, or collect any type of insect, you may not want to keep Guinea Fowl. Helmeted Guinea Fowl have been reported to, stand outside beehives, apparently timing their exits and entrances, waiting to eat the bees as they make their moves. Some also claim that the Guinea Fowl helps control the deer ticks, which spread Lyme Disease.
Guinea Fowl do well out on an open range, rather than being housed indoors or in pens. It is not recommended to house male Helmeted Guinea Fowl with male chickens. They don’t generally get along and the Guinea will run the rooster around endlessly preventing the rooster from getting needed food and water. They do, however, get along with other birds fairly well as long as there is plenty of room for all of the birds to have their own space. Female Guineas and are generally fine when housed with others birds. Guinea Fowl are native to dry lands, so it is best to keep them in dry areas. Overall the Guinea Fowl is a very hardy domestic land fowl, and does well in a suitable environment.
The Helmeted Guinea Fowl is relatively small and only weighs three and half pounds. Their bones are also very small. Surprisingly, there is a large amount of meat on their bones, for being so small in stature and weight.
There are several variations in plumage color and pattern for the Guinea Fowl; the three most common patterns are Pearled, Partial and Solid. The Pearled Guinea Fowl’s plumage is covered with small white dots and is the naturally occurring variation. The Solids, as their name would imply, are solid color and lack any spotting or other marking of the plumage.
The Partial pattern seems to be a combination of Pearled and Solid with dots on the back and chest while the rest of the plumage remains solid. In addition to the above three pattern variations there are numerous color variations including, the Buff Dundotte, Royal Purple, Porcelain, Chocolate, Lavender and the Coral Blue Guinea.
Male and female Guinea Fowl are difficult to distinguish on appearance, though one difference does exist. The male will tend to have bigger facial features, (wattles and helmets), than those of the female. Another way to distinguish males from females is to listen to their calls. Both males and females have a single syllable call, but the female also has a two-syllable call and it sounds like they are saying “buckwheat”.
The Guinea Fowl originates in West Africa. Their meat is a delicacy and is served in fine restaurants and hotels. Their eggs are also considered a delicacy, because of their fine flavor.
Though the Helmeted Guinea Fowl does seem to do best living in a free-range environment it is not recommended that newly acquired Guinea Fowl be allowed to roam immediately. They should be housed in a pen initially so that they have time to adjust to their new surroundings. If allowed to wander too soon, they may wander away, not knowing where they are supposed to be.
Once the male and female decide to mate, they are mates for life. The Helmeted Guinea Fowl will usually lay their eggs in the middle of a field in April or May. They can lay from three to five dozen eggs at a time, and the incubation time for the Guinea Fowl eggs is 26 to 28 days. The eggs of the Guinea Fowl are very small and dark in color. After hatching it is important to keep the chicks, or “keets” dry. If they get wet or damp their survival rates are very low. They are generally only susceptible during the first two weeks of their lives. After this point they are one of the heartiest of all domestic fowl.