Pied Guinea Fowl – Breed Profile & Facts
The pied Guinea fowl is a unique Guinea fowl species with remarkable, beautiful plumage and appearance. Although the bird is prevalent in Africa, it is also widespread in the Americas and other continents. The pied Guinea fowls have whites in their chests, wings, and back areas. Many people keep this Guinea fowl species for meat or as ornamental birds.
History of Pied Guinea Fowl
The pied Guinea fowl originates from Africa. People worldwide have been hunting and breeding pied Guinea fowls for several centuries. The variety of colors in pied Guinea fowls results from crossbreeding multiple Guinea fowl species over the years.
Today’s domesticated pied Guinea fowl originates from one of the many wild Guinea fowl species in Guinea Coast, West Africa. Pied Guinea fowls were prevalent in Greece and the entire European continent in the 5th century BC. Since then, these birds have become widespread in other continents, including the Americas.
Pied Guinea Fowl Characteristics
Pied Guinea fowls are pretty similar to other Guinea fowl species. However, these Guinea fowls aren’t pure breeds of the original Guinea fowl species. They are instead crossbreeds of different Guinea fowl species. A pied Guinea fowl has white on its chest and wings.
The white is sometimes present on the bird’s back area. Because of the pied Guinea fowl’s unique appearance and beautiful feathers, most people keep these birds as ornamental birds.
Size & Weight
Like other Guinea fowl species, pied Guinea fowls have a larger body than the head ratio. Large pied Guinea fowls measure between 15 inches and 18 inches in length. The average adult pied Guinea fowl weighs around 3lbs. Pied Guinea fowls are larger than chickens. Hens weigh more than their male counterparts. Wild Pied fowls are larger than their domesticated counterparts.
Pied Guinea fowls are sweet-natured birds. These birds are pretty docile and friendly when they are chicks. However, these beautiful birds can be notoriously ill-tempered in their adulthood. Roosters can be pretty aggressive and highly territorial.
They quickly run off other roosters that trespass into their territory. Roosters can bully other smaller pied Guinea fowls in the flock. The pecking order among domesticated and wild pied Guinea fowls can become brutal. Pied Guinea fowls travel in flocks and have excellent watch-bird skills that help them detect threats.
They can be flighty when threatened. Adult pied Guinea fowls usually fight deadly predators, including hawks, to keep the junior flock members, especially keets, safe. Overall, pied Guinea fowls are pretty energetic and active birds.
Pied Guinea fowls have an incredibly long lifespan compared to chickens and most Guinea fowl species. They have an average lifespan of approximately 10 and 15 years. Wild pied Guinea fowls usually have a remarkably shorter lifespan than their domesticated counterparts because of diseases and predation. Domestic pied Guinea fowls can live close to two decades if they get good care from their owners.
Pied Guinea fowls are seasonal layers. Hens lay between 80 and 160 eggs yearly. Pied Guinea fowl hens will lay consistently for about five years, although egg production will decrease significantly after five years. Pied Guinea fowl hens usually go broody after laying between 20 and 30 eggs.
People keep pied Guinea fowls as dual-purpose birds, meaning these birds are suitable for egg and meat production. Pied Guinea fowls are excellent meat producers because they are larger than most Guinea fowl species.
They have a carcass-to-meat ratio of between 70% and 80%. Pied Guinea fowl’s meat tastes similar to a chicken’s. However, meat is much leaner and more tender than chicken meat. It also has plenty of protein and essential amino acids compared to chicken and duck meat.
Pied Guinea fowls are ready for slaughtering when they are between 7 and 8 months old. Hens make the best meat producers because they are larger than cockerels. Pied Guinea fowl’s meat is more flavorful and darker than chicken meat. It also has a pleasant and gamey taste.
Pied Guinea Fowl Care
Pied Guinea fowls are relatively easy to raise. These birds are hardy and have fewer maintenance requirements than chickens and other domesticated birds. Pied Guinea fowls can thrive in both large and small backyards.
Feeding & Nutrition
Pied Guinea fowls can eat a wide range of food items because these birds are omnivorous. Pied Guinea fowls must consume between 3 and 5 ounces of food daily. These birds usually eat more in winter to keep warm during the cold months. They eat less in summer because these birds have plenty of natural food.
Pied Guinea fowl keets or chicks need more protein than adult pied Guinea fowls. Keets require a diet with around 24% to 28% protein in their first weeks. You can provide your weeks-old keets with a quality, protein-rich starter feed. Adult pied Guinea fowls also require protein, especially hens, to keep them laying.
However, adults don’t need plenty of protein, unlike keets. Free-ranging pied Guinea fowls help ensure they get sufficient protein from eating bugs, worms, and insects, which have plenty of protein. If you don’t have a backyard to free-range your pied Guinea fowls, you can try introducing some protein-rich food items to your birds. For example, you can add some fishmeal or mealworms to your birds’ diet to ensure they get enough protein in their diet.
Pied Guinea fowls need greens to get adequate amounts of vitamins in their body. Like chickens, pied Guinea fowls need sufficient vitamin levels to keep them healthy and develop a robust immune system.
Free-range pied Guinea fowls enjoy consuming dandelions, weeds, grass, and other vegetation. Because pied Guinea fowl have plenty of vegetation in their diet, they require grit to help their stomachs break down some rigid plant material these birds consume daily.
Domesticated pied Guinea fowls also enjoy consuming scratch feeds like chickens. Therefore, provide scratch feed to your birds in a trough. The advantage of scratch feed over the regular poultry feed is that it contains a blend of several grains with abundant nutrition. Since pied Guinea fowls are active, they require plenty of carbs to keep them active throughout.
Some great energy-rich food for Guinea fowls include oats, sorghum, millet grain, and barley. Pied Guinea fowls tend to ignore whole corn kernels and chicken pellets. Pied Guinea fowls also need calcium like other domesticated birds. These birds need sufficient calcium in their diet to help them maintain strong bones. However, it’s hard for these birds to get enough calcium from the foods they consume each day.
Calcium supplements are thus essential for pied Guinea fowls. Add some crushed eggs shell to your birds’ foods to provide them with enough calcium if you can’t get some calcium supplements or calcium-rich foods for your birds.
Water is vital for pied Guinea fowls as it is for ducks and chickens. Pied Guinea fowls also experience heat stress like chickens, especially when it gets too hot for these birds. Clean water is therefore essential for pied Guinea fowls to reduce their risk of experiencing heat stroke when temperatures are too high.
Housing Pied Guinea Fowl
Housing is also an essential care and maintenance requirement for pied Guinea fowls. Although pied Guinea fowls thrive in free-range, they need a coop to retreat during the night and keep safe from predators. A good coop protects your pied Guinea fowl flock from rain and heat.
Ideally, the best coop for these birds should be 1 meter long and 2 meters wide. The coop can be wide or shorter depending on the number of pied Guinea fowls in your flock. Therefore, the more birds you have, the larger the coop you need for your birds.
The coop should also have perches because pied Guinea fowls like roosting on perches like chickens. Domesticated and wild pied Guinea fowls love roosting up high because roosting in a high position gives these birds a feeling of security.
They don’t like roosting on the floor since they feel insecure. Therefore, ensure the coop has adequate perches to give every flock member a suitable place for perching.
The coop should also have a good design. It needs proper ventilation, mainly if you keep your pied Guinea fowls indoors. Improper ventilation can make your birds suffocate, particularly during hot months. Besides having adequate ventilation, the coop shouldn’t have holes and spaces that let in predators.
Like chickens and other domesticated birds, pied Guinea fowls also have many predators preying on them. These birds, for instance, are potential prey for raccoons, snakes, stray dogs, and cats.
Pied Guinea Fowl Health Problems
Pied Guinea fowls are some of the hardiest domestic birds. That notwithstanding, these birds are vulnerable to many health problems. Here are many health problems pied Guinea fowls tend to experience.
- Guinea disease-This is the most common health problem in pied Guinea fowls. Birds with this disease have respiratory issues and tend to lose their appetite.
- Fowl Pox– This viral disease affects all birds, including pied Guinea fowls. The virus that causes this disease enters a pied Guinea fowl’s body through the bloodstream, respiratory tract, eyes, and skin wounds. Although there isn’t a cure for Fowl Pox, you can stop the spread of this disease by vaccinating your pied Guinea fowls.
- Infectious Coryza-This is a disease affecting chickens, turkeys, ducks, Guinea fowls, and pied Guinea fowls. This disease’s symptoms are similar to those of the common cold. Pied Guinea fowls with this disease exhibit symptoms such as swollen or watery eyes and respiratory distress. The condition is, however, treatable through antibiotics.
- Fowl Cholera– All domestic birds are susceptible to this highly contagious bacterial disease. Fowl cholera usually affects Guinea fowl keets. Symptoms of fowl cholera include loss of appetite, ruffled feathers, breathing complications, and diarrhea.
How Much does Pied Guinea Fowl Cost?
Pied Guinea fowls cost more than chickens since they are pretty rare. Adult pied Guinea fowls cost between $10 and $25. Keets cost between $5 and $ 10 on average. However, the cost of pied Guinea fowls can vary depending on the location and availability of these birds.
Are Pied Guinea Fowls Good for Beginners?
Yes, pied Guinea fowls are ideal for beginner poultry keepers. These birds are some of the lowest maintenance domestic birds. They thrive on free-range, so you won’t have to spend much money on commercial poultry feed for your pied Guinea fowls. Furthermore, unlike chickens, these birds are pretty hardy and hardly succumb to diseases.
Are Pied Guinea Fowls Hardy?
Yes, pied Guinea fowls are hardy and disease-free birds. They don’t carry diseases like most domestic birds. Even though they are vulnerable to various poultry diseases, these birds rarely fall ill. Moreover, pied Guinea fowls recover pretty fast from illnesses.
Tips on Keeping Pied Guinea Fowls
Keeping pied Guinea fowls can be a brilliant idea for first-time poultry owners. These birds are perfect for eggs and meat. Plus, they are hardy and overly low-maintenance birds. Here are a few tips to help you keep pied Guinea fowls if you are contemplating rearing these incredible birds.
- Start with one-day-old chicks– If you are considering raising pied Guinea fowl, poultry experts recommend you should start with day-old chicks. Having day-old keets will improve your chances of enhancing the chicks’ behavior, noise level, and sociability into adulthood.
- Separate them from chickens-Pied Guinea fowls are pretty aggressive compared to chickens. They will bully your chickens and won’t thrive in an environment where there are chickens all over. Therefore, raise your pied Guinea fowl separately from chickens.
- Give them the best diet– Diet is vital for pied Guinea fowls. Introduce some nutrient and mineral-rich food items to your pied Guinea fowls. An ideal diet for these birds should comprise vitamins, protein, healthy fats, calcium, and carbs.
- Allowing the birds to free-range–Free-ranging pied Guinea fowls will help them consume many food items they don’t get from their usual diets.
- Protect the birds from predators– Although pied Guinea fowls are highly alert to danger, they are vulnerable to predators. Keep your birds safe from predators by proofing your backyard for predators. You can also get a security dog to scare away predators from your backyard.
Pied Guinea fowls are fantastic birds to keep in your backyard. These birds boast a beautiful appearance. Furthermore, they produce quality eggs and meat. Most importantly, pied Guinea fowls are easy to raise and pretty hardy. They are therefore an excellent choice for beginner poultry owners.