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JennyC
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Will guineafowl tear up a garden?

I've been looking into the possibility of keeping guineafowl for insect control and possibly as a food source. They'd be easier to care for than chickens, and I've heard they do less garden damage than chickens.

But unlike chickens, they can fly, and my garden does have a very good fence, sooo... guineas could get into it, but chickens could not. I'm still thinking of the guineas because they might hold up better against our coyote problem (since they can fly) and I don't really have the space for a coop and run (guineas are happier free range, with nighttime shelter only).

Anyone have any ideas how *much* garden damage they're likely to do?
Jenny C

aqh88
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I seriously wanted guinea fowl for awhile. But my stepdad said no and since I moved into my own house I don't think I can provide the right setup without them getting hit on the nearby road. They do need a coop to return to at night and you have to spend the first few weeks to month training them that that is their safe home. Otherwise they will fly off and be wild possibly not even staying in your yard. So long as you they have a place to return to at night they though won't leave. Your best off hatching your own or getting very young birds and raising them in their new night time coop before slowly releasing them farther and farther out. If you get adults it can take alot of work to get them to settle on a new property without taking for the hills.

They are not real destructive but it depends what you have planted. They will walk on somethings and being large birds sometimes shove their way around. They don't really scratch much unlike chickens so won't tear up the ground and most plants they only nibble here or there. Not enough to do any real damage. They may take a liking to vegetables though and eat a few of those on you. Usually it's not a huge deal and there are ways to keep them out of plants they might have taken an interest in. They will spend most of their time hunting bugs. The only real downside is these guys are noisy. Some, like me, don't mind the constant noise. Others are driven nuts by it.

If you haven't yet pick up "Gardening with Guineas" by Jeannette S. Fergusen. She often goes by fritz online and has her own message board but I haven't been there in years. Best possible book out there on how to keep a small group of guineas for helping in the garden.

opabinia51
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I think that Guineafowl are just chickens are they not? Or something similar. Chicken are great for the garden. I have seen little portable pens built to move them around the garden.

Then scratch up the soil and fertilize it with their droppings and yes they also eat the insects.

Wonderful, go for it.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

MaineDesigner
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Guinea fowl aren't very closely related to chickens. Depending on which taxonomy you subscribe to they are either in the in the same family but a different sub-family and genus or, alternately, a completely different family connected only at the order level.

For aqh88 a question - how cold tolerant are guinea fowl? As a subtropical species I assume they need a heated space in the winter. Do you have any idea how warm it needs to be? Thanks.

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JennyC
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Everything I've been reading suggests a light bulb or heat lamp, depending on how cold it is. Down here, I'd need to keep their water from freezing and maybe give them a little warmth on really cold nights.

Up there (are you in Maine?), I'm sure you'd have more cold issues, though they do generate some heat themselves in a close coop. Oh, and they apparently hate snow!
Jenny C

doccat5
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And your neighbors will be looking for you to hurt you badly, since they screech like crazy. Great watch dogs, but noisy ones. And no they do not harm your plants btw.
doccat5

I'd rather be gardening!

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JennyC
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Have you kept them, DocCat? I'm not worried about neighbors (too far), but I hear they take dust baths, and I can just see them deciding a garden bed would be the perfect spot.
Jenny C

aqh88
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In GA temps would not be an issue. Even here most people don't have heated buildings or lamps. They only suggest a solid 4 sided shelter so long as you have several birds to generate heat. One of the largest guinea fowl breeders is near me and has all giant outdoor runs with mostly unheated buildings.

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