That is the question if you are looking at a Guinea. What is a Guinea?
A Guinea is an evil-clown-faced bird that is similar to a chicken or pheasant and also quite similar to a vulture or small dinosaur. The species is originally from Africa and they are not exactly domesticated. They like to live in flocks, resist captivity, and eat mostly insects. It’s the insect-eating part that makes them popular for farms and is why we have them. They annihilate ticks, as well as eating garden pests. Supposedly they will rid gardens of slugs and detrimental insects without eating or damaging the plants themselves. Guineas also are protective of their flock and territory. They will make a loud shriek when they find a predator, which makes them good guardians for the farm. (We are hoping ours will alert us to anything sneaking around our baby chicks on the porch.) They will also attack and eat small snakes and rodents.
In addition to pest control and farm guarding, Guineas are also a good source of meat and eggs. They don’t lay single eggs frequently the way chickens do – they lay a bunch at a time less frequently. But the eggs are good to eat if you can find them. Guineas do best free-range and will roost in trees and lay their eggs in hidden places on the ground. Guinea meat is like dark meat chicken and considered a delicacy in some places.
The babies are called keets and they are super cute. When we got our 4 Guineas they were about half grown and fully feathered, but still had a chicken-like face and made adorable chick-like sounds. Here they are at about 12 weeks old. We have 2 white and 2 pearl.
We started our 4 Guineas in a chicken tractor, but now they are free-range. I am still giving them a little chicken feed, but am hoping they will soon be foraging their entire diet. We had their tractor right next to the side porch (where our chick brooder is) in hopes they would alert us to any predators snooping around. We luckily have not had any predators yet. As a result of living near the porch for the past few weeks, they have now chosen to roost on the porch railing to sleep each night.
This is super cute:
This is NOT:
I need to figure out something to keep this off the porch and be able to use it for compost. Tonight I put a flattened out box on the porch floor under the railing, so we’ll see in the morning if that worked to catch the mess. I’d be okay with putting a box out each night when the Guineas are there because the side porch is a great place for them to both protect the chicks and keep themselves away from predators. However f they start hanging out on the porch during the day, I’ll definitely be chasing them off. And if at any point they are causing more fuss than they are worth in pest-elimination we can always eat them. In fact, if we do end up with baby Guineas we may keep them around just for the extra meat source or to sell to other farms.