Keets at 1 week old. The 3 keets in the foreground are, from the left, silver/lavender, pearl pied, pearl. Egg sizes: large chicken to the left, l guinea fowl to the right
Adult guinea fowl, pied are the ones with white on them, pearl have no white patches, and a silver/lavender one is in the background. lavender are much fewer in number approximately 1 to every 10-11 hatchlings, even putting lavender to lavender is not a guarentee of increaseing the lavender rate.
Guinea Fowl are native to Africa, they are hunted and eaten in the wild there. In other countries their feathers are used in hats, the French love them for cooking at home and in restaurants, they are used by organic farmers all over the World for pest control in orchards, gardens, and livestock parasite control. Guineas can lay claim to around 4000 years of cultivation, some of this predates record keeping especially in Africa, the real history of domestication starts with the ancient Egyptions. One of the earliest known pictorial records is at Wenis Saqqara with a date of 2400 BC. What sold me on these little beauties was that in America, they are using them in the control of limes disease "it's spread by ticks". "Oh and I forgot" YEP! Tastes just like chicken only a little gamier.
WHY GUINEA FOWLS ARE FOR EVERY FARMER :
Guineas are a so called luxury food that can be raised at low cost.
Guineas are featherd watch dogs without equal for protecting other poultry.
Guineas are unparalleled destroyers of insect pests. A customer who purchased 22 Keets in 2009 was back in 2010 to purchase 24 more because he noticed a huge reduction in ticks and of all things leaches, the poor man used to get them on him whenever he worked outside, "and I gather that was often," but now after introduceing the guineas even with this very wet season no leaches. They may also prove useful in elimination of the snails that cause Liver fluke in cattle.
Guineas pick up a large portion of their living forraging and they don't scratch in gardens or crops.
Guinea meat demands exceeds the supply in city markets.
Guinea maturity is about 6 months but usually it is the start of the following breeding season Oct - Nov that full maturity takes place.
They can live for quite a long time, it has been recorded that a male guinea lived till 18 years. If your abode is in suburbia and you are interested in guineas you will need a tree in the back yard, I suggest you get a male and female only as they can be quite noisy when setteling at night, or when something strange is about, also that way there is no fights over who is who's girl friend.
We don't know if introducing these birds has reduced the ticks on our farm, as our Queenslander cattle are internal and external parasite tolerant. In 2007 our numbers of Guinea Fowl were very low (8), we now have about 50 but numbers are in constant flux. When we first introduced the Queenslander cattle, we only had 9 birds. We decided to increase the numbers in (2008) and go into breeding as we have grown to love their antics, and their numbers were dwindeling, also there seemed to be a call for them.They are not very good parents and hadn't managed to raise any keets in 5 years, "we think moisture has a bit to do with it",finding the eggs for incubation can be quite a challenge in it's self.... It's all fun.
INTRODUCEING YOUR NEW GUINEAS When you first get your new guineas home , house them in a an enclosure near where you want them to roost when free ranging, ie under a tree away from your house, keep them locked up for 3 to 5 weeks as juveniles. Make sure they are 3 to 4 months old before letting them out into the big world. If its the garden you want them to keep bug free, then put the pen close by, but make sure there is a tree for future roosting near by. Or if still only a week or so old they will need to be under lights, feed turkey or chicken starter, keep under lights until they have all their feathers ( at 5 to 6 weeks) then they can go into their outside pen for 3 to 5 weeks before letting them out during the day to forrage on bugs exc.
After letting them out, feed them as usual in the same enclosure of an evening and you will have no problem locking them up at night, at this stage they have no street smarts and have much to learn about the outside world, so it is best they are locked up at night untill they decide to roost in a near by tree if this is what you want. They tend to be a bit noisy as juveniles and early spring, but when they sort out who is whose girl friend they seem to get contented with life and will only carry on if something strange is around, goanna, fox, snake, strangers,....that sort of thing. I suggest not having them roost near the house as they also get noisy of an evening while settling, they will still roam about the house exec keeping snakes and bugs away during the day.
.ALARM FOWL if you have a problem with snakes or foxes / dogs getting in the chicken coop, get some Guineas they are on watch 24/7 and will let you know when all is not right, they carry no disease that can harm chickens or turkies, actualley they are as far as I know disease free. Turkey breeders often hatch a few guineas with turkey eggs as they hatch about the same time, the guinea keets tend to teach the turkey chicks where the feed and the water is, and when older once again send out the alarm when all is not right, giving the grower time to do something before too much if any damage is done to the flock, Guineas often drive predditors away with their carry on, they drove a fox away from our chicken pen, I was very impressed, but don't get me wrong given enough time I'm sure the fox would have worked out how to get a guinea fowl feed it's just that they had it so bamboozled, I had stacks of time to go fetch the 22.
Guineas are monogamous when free range, but in captivity ( in an enclosure) you can have one male to five females, eggs may not be as fertile as the free range guinea.
Egg collecting can be fun, ours are free ranging and make nests where ever they like, and when disturbed will find another site, on removing the eggs make sure it is late evening and leave a small clutch so that they go back. As for finding the nest, first off you will need to note their behaviour during the day, the boys tend to just hang around one place instead of their usual roaming about they are there on look out duty, this will be where you need to look. Ours tend to be in groups and it is nothing to have 10 or more females useing the one nest. Goanners will rip the nest appart and scatter the eggs, the guineas won't go back. Crows will also take eggs, they tend to pick them up and drop them on our shed roof, bird brain is no discription of a crow they know the difference between a rifle and a stout stick as well.
The eggs themselves are very tasty with good sized yellow yolks, no doubt because of the Guineas free range natural diet of bugs, grass, seed and whatever grain we feed them, they are very much like a chicken egg in taste, the difference is in size and shape, we have them quite often on the menu, scrambled, hard boiled, curried, or doubled up for replacing hen eggs in recipes.The photo on top right shows a large Hen egg next to a Guinea egg with a tooth pick for size reference.
Keets are pick up only. They can be picked up from the Farm located in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, (Glenview 15 min west of Caloundra). We can arrange a special time and meeting at some well known location if your a bit nervous about driving on dirt roads, ie Ettamoga (Aussie World) just north of the Caloundra turn off, or the BP servo at the Mooloolah turn off, and we can arrange to transfer Keets there.
KEET PRICES Guinea Fowl keets price as of the 10th October 2011 are as follows.
> 1 to 2 week old. $12 ea ....20 or more = 2 extra free keets or $20 off
> 3 to 5 weeks are $18 ea .....20 or more = $20 off.
> 6 to 8 weeks are $24 ea ......20 or more = $20 off.
> 8 to 12 weeks are $30 each.
We don't sell anything once they become fulley free-ranged and roosting in the trees as it is too stressful on the birds, and by then they have usually paired off anyway (3 months) . Also older birds are more likely to roam after beeing delivered to their new home, young keets are by far the best option.
We recommend no less than 5 keets as they work best in a group. We also take orders and can supply up to 50 keets at a time. Please note that we require a 50% deposit if you wish us to grow them out for you.
FERTILE EGGS : if you have access to an auto turn incubator, and are some way away from the Sunshine Coast, we send eggs express post "depending on availability", all over Australia, recently a lass in Tassie recieved her shipment of eggs the following day, it all depends how close you are to a city, it takes from 1 to 3 working days for delivery, so we don't send off eggs after Wed to prevent eggs being held over on the weekend somewhere.
The cost as of Oct 2011 is:
One dozen guinea eggs = $30 +. Postage $20....Two dozen = $60 eggs + $30 for postage.
> 1 dozen = $50 with the postage added on.
> 2 dozen = $90 with the postage added on.
We only hatch and sell very fresh eggs ( up to 1 week old ).
The egg season lasts from October to March.
Our packing processEach egg is individually packed in paper wool ensuring both stability and enough cushioning for the unexpected rough handling. Each egg carton is taped shut to prevent movement. They are then wrapped in bubble wrap and placed in a 310mm x 225mm x 102mm mailing box (A4) and further packed out if need be. This may seem like overkill but this process protects the eggs from breakages ( as much as possible) and thematically guards them from their possible long stays in a hot van. They are then placed in a 5kg express postage bag with more paperwool for your fast delivery, and well cushioned eggs.
Cluckie Chook's can be used successfully, try to get the eggs early on in the nesting period as guineas take up to a week longer than chicks to hatch, = hen 21 days guineas 26-28 days. The other thing I aught to mention is the hen will teach the guineas to scratch, you may have to consider this if you are after pest reduction for your prize winning garden.
Incubation time is 27 to 28 days at 99 3/4 degrees F. Use auto turner set to turn at least 5 times a day, stop turning on the 25th day and place in hatching tray. at this stage I use a little spray pack with tepid water in it to help the keets along. Keep humidity high at all times and increase 4 days before hatching. Remember the four major factors are temperature, humidity, ventilation, and turning. Of these factors temperature is the most critical.
If you have a manual incubator you will need to turn the eggs by hand, ( not recomended ) they will be on there side and need to be rotated 1/2 turn at least 4 times a day, mark the eggs with a pencil. Put an "x" on one side and an "o" on the other, then take note not to have the same side up over the longest rest period ...like your bed time, this prevents the embryo from sticking to the shell membrane.
If you purchase eggs don't forget to let the eggs rest for 24 hours after transport before setting.
At hatching time... Do not help keets or chicks from the shell at hatching time. If it dosn't hatch there is usually a good reason. Also, prematurley helping the keet hatch could cripple or infect it, so use discression. Humidity is critical at hatching, this is your best way of assisting.
Phone 07 54945362 for orders or email email@example.com
GUINEA FOWL WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS
1 Guinea Fowl
5 Table spoons olive oil
2 Garlic cloves
5 artichoke hearts
1 Fresh parsley chopped
25g /1oz butter
5 table spoons dry white wine
1 Fresh Rosemary
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven 200 C / 400 F / gas Mark 6.
Season the cavity of the guinea fowl with salt and pepper. Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil with one of the garlic cloves in a pan, add the artichoke hearts and cook until tender, then sprinkle with the parsley and season lightly with salt and pepper. Leave to cool then place in the cavity of the guinea fowl, sew up the opening and truss with kitchen string so that the fowl keeps its shape. Place in a roasting tin with the remaining oil, butter, remaining garlic and rosemary. Roast until the upper surface is browned, then turn over to brown the other side. Add the wine, lower the oven temperature to 180 C /350 F/ Gas Mark 4 and roast for about 1 hour until tender. Remove the guinea fowl from the roasting tin and untie. Carve the breast into fairly thick slices, pull of the wings and legs and cut the back into 4pices. Place the meat on a warm serving dish and spoon the hot cooking juices over it.
GUINEA FOWL WITH PINEAPPLE
½ pineapple, pealed, cored and sliced
25g /1oz butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 guinea fowl, cut into slices
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
300 ml/ ½ pint chicken stock
250 ml double cream
Salt and pepper
Salt two of the pineapple slices aside and chop the remainder, heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the guinea fowl and cook turning frequently until tender add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and chopped pineapple and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Pour in the stock cover and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour. Remove the pieces of guinea fowl and keep warm stir 2 tablespoons hot water into the pan, scraping up the sediment from the base, then pass the cooking juices through a food mill into a bowl and return to the pan. Stir in the cream and heat gently until slightly thickened. Place the pieces of guinea fowl on a warm serving dish, spoon the sauce over them and garnish with the reserved pineapple slices.