Thinking about expanding your backyard flock with a different species of bird? Wondering, can you keep Guinea Fowl with chickens in harmony?
It’s an interesting topic because Guinea Fowl, which are also called “original fowl” and “pet speckled hens” are interesting birds.
For a long time, they were passed over for chickens as they don’t lay as many eggs, can fly, and are not thought to be as well domesticated.
While most of this is true, keeping backyard Guinea Fowl has been on the increase in recent years and there are some awesome benefits to keeping these quirky birds.
Here’s everything you need to know about why it might be a good idea for you to get some Guinea Fowl. As well as how to integrate them with chickens, and some of the pros.
What Are Guinea Fowl?
Guineafowl are among the oldest of the gallinaceous birds. They are native to Africa, and can still be seen in the wild doing their part feeding on bugs and ticks on larger animals.
They’ve also been kept domestically in many countries for years, too. Primarily for their meat, although they do also lay a good amount of eggs at certain times of the year.
There are a few different species, each with different colors and markings. The most commonly kept types are:
- White African Guinea
- Pearl Grey Guinea
- Helmeted Guinea
The White African is white, of course, and the pearl grey is also named after its color. Helmeted Guinea, which is probably the most common type, can range in color and markings.
Most commonly they are fully pearled with white spots in their plumage.
Looking at them side-to-side with a chicken, there are some very obvious physical differences:
- Guineas have less plumage around their necks and look like they have much longer necks.
- They have a larger, rounder body with smoother feathers.
- Their wattles are smaller.
- They have smaller heads with shorter beaks
They're interesting looking birds aren't they?
Related - What are baby Guinea fowl called?
Do Guineas Get Along With Chickens?
They can get along just fine, yes.
I say “can” because when you’re introducing any new breeds of species of birds in with an existing flock of chickens, you always have to do so with caution.
If you want to keep a mixed flock of Guinea Fowl and chickens, here are some tips to make it as harmonious as possible:
Rise them together as young as possible - The younger you integrate the two species, the more likely they are to grow up getting along.
Introduce them slowly - If you’re introducing adult Guinea do so in pairs. Keep them nearby at first, then start allowing them time together in intervals.
Have a balance in numbers - If there are more of one species than the other they might start to dominate and bully the others.
Consider separate coops - It’s often a good idea to have separate coops so everything is fine overnight. You can then observe them when they’re roaming during the day.
Guineas are social animals - They love interacting with each other. Never have just one Guinea, make sure you have a few and they can interact with each other.
Will Guinea Fowl Protect Chickens?
Yes, this is one of the benefits of adding Guinea to your flock - predator protection.
Being very adept at surviving in the wild, Guinea are much more aware of potential threats than chickens.
They’re also much louder when they’re raising the alarm!
Roosters are obviously great security guards too, it’s their job. But a flock of Fowl is going to provide better protection than a rooster.
So, it’s worth considering keeping Guineafowl if you live in an area where predators pose a real risk.
Benefits of Keeping Backyard Guinea Fowl
If you aren’t already convinced that some Guinea’s will make a great addition to your flock, here are some of the benefits of keeping these fun and interesting birds:
Let’s not forget that Guinea Fowl also lay eggs. Admittedly, not as many as chickens, but you’re still going to get more eggs.
They have very different egg-laying behavior. Guineas tend to find somewhere quiet and discreet to nest if they can.
It’s their natural instinct to hide their eggs from predators. If you’re lucky, they will lay in a nesting box. But they don’t take to boxes as easily as chickens, that’s for sure.
If you don’t find their nest they’ll lay a clutch and go broody. So, it’s important that you keep an eye out and collect them each day if you can.
This is a big one for me because I’m not a fan of creepy crawlies, ticks, mites, and other pests - who is?
The good news is that Guinea Fowls go out of their way to snack on anything that moves. They are often credited as helping keep ticks and mites under control, a much better natural solution than harsh chemicals.
Don’t worry though, they won’t gobble up all your chicken’s snacks. They tend to eat most of the pests that chickens don’t eat, and don’t dig or scratch around as much.
They’re Fun and Interesting
Personally, I love the general characteristics of Guineas. They have an interesting and curious look about them, and it’s rewarding to watch them going about their business.
They make large dust baths and roll around as chicken’s do. They chat with each other, as well as making some loud noises, and you can see they enjoy the company of other birds.
Guineas are not the most social with humans. They’re actually pretty hard to get a good hold of. But in my experience, they are friendly and develop individual personalities.
Excellent Guard Dogs
As I mentioned above, they will protect chickens and this extends to letting you know when they think something is up.
There’s no mistaking the noise Guineas make. If you have close neighbors, you might want to run it past them first.
The more space you have the better. Not just because of the noise, but they will roam further than chickens and although they choose not to very often, Guineas can fly.
If you want to hear their alarm call for yourself, check out this video from Brookfield Zoo with their flock of Helmeted Guinea:
Related - How far do chickens roam?
In Summary - Can You Keep Guinea Fowl With Chickens?
Yes, you can. If you take the time to integrate them properly chickens and Guinea Fowl can live happily together and be best of friends.
There are also some advantages to keeping Guineafowl as I covered above. If you have space, I recommend looking into adding some of these interesting and curious birds to your backyard flock.
Guineafowl - Wikipedia
Image credits - Header photo by Ulrike Mai, in-body image by zoosnow from Pixabay