Guinea Fowl Feeding Guide
Although they are gamebirds, guinea fowls are becoming popular among poultry farmers. The most significant advantages over chickens and other domestic birds include hardiness and high disease resistance.
Additionally, guineas make noise whenever a stranger intrudes on your yard. While some people find the sounds annoying, others like this because ‘it’s an alarm’ and keeps rodents away.
But, what do these birds eat? Read this comprehensive guinea feeding guide if you intend to add them to your flock.
What Type of Feed Do Guinea Fowl Need?
Although guinea fowls are native to Africa, you can keep them anywhere worldwide. They can quickly adapt to the environment, provided you include the following in their meals.
– Bird Feed
Guinea fowls love commercial bird feed. If you can’t find a product specific to these birds, they can eat chicken, geese, or turkey feed.
Most bird feeds contain animal and plant-sourced ingredients. These have the right carbohydrate, protein, minerals, and vitamins needed to promote healthy development.
If you’re keeping the fowls for egg and meat production, you need to increase the protein content in the feed.
Most birds love cereals, and guinea fowls are no different. Besides, cereals can help train your birds. If you reward the fowls with a cereal treat when they return to the coop, they form a habit of returning home in time.
However, it isn’t advisable to give cereals regularly. Instead, use it as an occasional treat. This ensures that the birds value the feed. If you give it daily, they won’t appreciate it.
Moreover, cereals can help keep your birds warm at night. The body produces heat when processing grains, allowing the birds to survive cold conditions.
– Human Foods
Sometimes, you might prepare so much food that you can’t finish. If you can preserve it in your fridge, it’s wise to give it to your guinea fowls instead of throwing it into the trash bin.
Cooked rice, green vegetables, and fruit are a few examples that your birds will love. However, you shouldn’t give rotten food, caffeine, chocolate, and dairy products to your birds. These have the same adverse effects they have on chickens.
– Fruits and Vegetables
As mentioned above, guinea fowls feast on fruits and vegetables. Besides keeping your birds active, these are excellent sources of minerals and vitamins, which improve health and immunity.
An intelligent way of feeding veggies to your field is by hanging them inside the coop. This trick works well with broccoli and cabbages due to their leafy nature.
How Often Should Guinea Fowl Be Fed?
Guinea fowls are larger than chickens and require more food. Ideally, you should feed them three times daily.
How Much Feed Does a Guinea Fowl Need Per Day?
On average, a mature bird eats 100 to 150 grams of food daily. However, this rate increases in winter since the birds need more energy to keep warm. Likewise, the fowls eat less in summer because of the reduced energy requirements.
What are the Nutritional Needs of Guinea Fowls?
Guinea fowls are omnivorous but slightly prefer vegetation over insects and worms. This particularly applies to free-range guinea fowls.
As a farmer, it’s essential to provide grit to confined birds to aid digestion. Oyster shells are also an excellent source of calcium and other minerals.
Cereals like barley, millet, oats, sorghum, and wheat provide the carbohydrate needed to keep your birds energetic. However, don’t give chicken pellets because fowls don’t like them. If you must provide pellets, mix them with seeds and grains.
If you’re keeping the birds to prevent pest and rodent infestations, it’s best to avoid feeding them during the daytime. Hunger encourages them to roam around the farm, keeping insects, squirrels, and other destructive animals at bay. Roaming also diversifies the birds’ diet, which improves their overall well-being.
Commercial poultry feed will keep your birds healthy for those who keep fowls in coops. As mentioned earlier, the birds will feed on chicken and turkey feeds without problems. You can also provide supplemental vegetables such as lakes and collards.
Whatever you do, ensure that you provide enough water for your birds. Your poultry farm must have several water stations; the ideal ratio is one for every ten birds. More importantly, birds must get at least one meal at night.
Strange Things Eaten by Guinea Fowls
Guinea fowls have odd inclusions in their diet because they are game birds. Some of the strange things they eat include:
Guinea fowls are more voracious than chickens and ducks. They can eliminate your pest problem in little time. Additionally, these birds only target the pests. Chicken can uproot your crops when feeding on pests because they like scratching the ground.
If your backyard is prone to lizards, snakes, and other annoying reptiles, guinea fowls are a proven biological solution to your problem. Starve the birds for a day and direct them to the reptiles’ favorite spots. After a few hours, you’ll no longer have the problem.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein for Guinea Fowl?
Guinea fowls require more protein than chickens. When young, the recommended minimum protein intake is 25%. You can lower the amount to 18% between the fifth and eighth weeks. Adding medicines to starter feeds isn’t mandatory, but it protects young guinea fowls from coccidiosis and other diseases.
The best sources of protein for keets are starter and grower’s mashes. If the feed you purchase doesn’t have enough protein, provide it more than once daily to meet the recommended levels.
You can introduce other protein sources such as worms and insects as the bird matures. Allowing the birds to roam ensures they meet their required protein intake while saving you money.
What Are the Best Sources of Calcium for Guinea Fowl?
Calcium is a vital nutrient that promotes healthy growth, prevents early aging, and improves egg quality. The best sources of calcium include crushed limestone, oyster shells, vegetable scraps, and used eggshells. Giving hard water to your birds is also helpful, although it shouldn’t be a habit.
What Other Nutrients Do Guinea Fowl Need in Their Diet?
If you live in a snowy region or keep your guinea fowls in confinement, it helps to add the following supplements to improve their health.
– Flower Petals
Dandelions, marigolds, and sunflowers have bright colors useful in yolk formation and improving vision. You can either grow the herbs or purchase dry flowers. Growing is cheaper. Dry the petals in the sun to increase their lifetime.
– Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth contains iron, magnesium, silica, sodium, and several other minerals. Mixed with poultry feed improves egg quality by hardening the shells, fighting pests, and strengthening joints.
– Grated Boiled Eggs
Do you know that guinea fowls eat boiled eggs? Feed them grated boiled eggs if you want to give your birds the much-needed protein boost during molting. Molting can take a toll on your flock, leaving them with a few feathers and highly vulnerable to cold weather.
– Grit and Shells
– Powdered Yeast Extract
Although its mainly used in breweries, yeast extract contains a range of B vitamins and essential amino acids crucial to your birds’ health.
B vitamins are helpful in the metabolism of carbs, fats, and proteins. They also help in digestion and blood cell production. On the other hand, amino acids help in building new muscles and promoting growth.
– Safflower and Sunflower Seeds
Safflower and sunflower seeds are rich in calories and proteins. While safflower seeds are ready to consume as bought, you must remove the husk on sunflower seeds before feeding your birds.
Seaweed contains several salts and minerals that are often unavailable in winter. This is because insects, the primary source of these micronutrients, hibernate during the cold season.
You don’t always have to purchase commercial feed if you have an indoor garden. Sprouts and microgreens are excellent sources of protein and minerals for your guinea fowls. They take only three days to grow and are a viable alternative to natural greens unavailable during winters.
Some seeds you can sprout include barley, millet, oats, and mung beans.
The recommended daily dosage is two grams per bird.
Are There Any Special Considerations for Feeding Baby Guinea Fowl?
Like chicks, young guinea fowls need special feed for optimal growth and development. Specifically, the meal must have at least 25% protein content.
Turkey starter feed is the best food for keets. You can get it at your local poultry feed store. If not, use chicken starter feed instead. In the fifth week, introduce the grower’s mash with slightly lower protein content. This is also the best time to medicate the feed as a prophylactic measure against coccidiosis.
It’s advisable to give young fowls warm water. Cold water can hurt the birds’ health. When the keets attain two months, you can start giving them cool water.
Are There Any Special Considerations for Feeding Adult Guinea Fowl?
Mature guinea fowls eat the same food as chickens. However, they require less protein than their offspring (16%) unless it’s winter or during molting.
In addition to giving a commercial feed, allow your birds to roam around for a few hours daily. This saves you money while enabling the fowls to forage for delicacies like natural greens, worms, and insects. Free-ranging also provides grit that aids digestion.
Ensure that you provide clean and fresh water to your guinea fowls. Add electrolytes to the water during summer to replace those lost through heat dissipation. An occasional treatment of hard water prevents calcium deficiency.
What Types of Foods Should Be Avoided When Feeding Guinea Fowl?
Guinea fowls eat just about everything they find when foraging. Although such diversity is suitable for their health, it risks consuming potentially harmful substances.
Here are the foods that can hurt your guinea fowls.
Avocados are tasty to humans but can hurt your guinea fowls. The fruit contains persin, a substance that can kill your bird.
Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. These compounds are harmful to your birds, even in small amounts. Being a stimulant, caffeine increases heart rate. Over time, it causes irregular heart and increases the risk of a heart attack.
On the other hand, theobromine is an alkaloid that disrupts the oxygen supply in the body. This sends your bird into hyperactivity to compensate for inadequate aspiration of the lungs. Heartbeat increases, and in a few minutes, organs start failing.
It’s worth noting that caffeine and theobromine act fast. Your guinea fowl can die within minutes after eating chocolate.
– Dried Lentils and Uncooked Beans
Dried lentils and uncooked beans contain phytohemagglutinin, a substance that can kill you if consumed. This explains why you must cook beans before consumption.
In birds, three-bean seeds are enough to kill. Once eaten, the only result is death. Ensure that you keep your fowls away from beans.
Rhubarbs are mildly poisonous to humans and guinea fowls. They contain oxalic acid, softening egg shells and making your birds uneasy.
Tips for Feeding Guinea Fowl
- Provide protein-rich feeds, especially to young guinea fowls.
- Never give cold water to young birds.
- Please avoid avocados, chocolate, uncooked beans, and other risky foods.
- Provide plenty of clean and fresh water.
- Hard water helps to prevent calcium deficiency.
Keeping a gamebird such as a guinea fowl might seem challenging, but it’s easy and fun if you follow the proper instructions. These birds’ diet is similar to chickens’, except for the amount.
Lastly, don’t mistake their hardiness for immunity. Always maintain high hygiene standards to reduce the risk of infections.