Introduction of Guinea fowl
The term “guinea” fowl is the common name of the seven species of gallinaceous birds of the order Numididae, which is integral to Africa. It is well-aligned with the realities of life in the African region. The strains are settled from the helmeted guinea fowl, Numida meleagris. In various parts of the world, guinea fowls are raised mainly for their gamey flesh and eggs. Guinea fowl has a taste related to other game birds and has many nutritional properties that make it a helpful addition to the diet. The meat of a young guinea is soft and of very fine flavor, following that of wild game.
The meat is lean and rich in vital fatty acids. Guinea fowls have a high yield of 80% after processing with an excellent meat to bone ratio. Other people raise them for their unique enhancing value. Of the three domestic types (the pearl, the white and the lavender), the purplish colored pearl is the most common. The most significant member of the family is the 60 cm vulturine guinea fowl, Acryllium vulture, found in tropic East Africa. These birds are listed in the phylum Chordata subphylum Vertebra class Aves, order Galliformes, and family Numididae. The Greeks and Romans are reported to be the first to domesticate guinea fowls.
Guinea fowl is a likely genetic source for growing a low input-grain keeping poultry choice for production in the developing world. The rearing of guinea fowl is a likely alternative poultry system. Financial guinea fowl production is at its infant stage in Botswana. As a conclusion, the numbers of eggs and meat given by guinea fowls are not known.
Origin and distribution
The guinea fowl is settled from the wild species of Africa. The fowls obtain their name from Guinea, part of the west coast of Africa. As already discussed guinea fowls (Numida meleagris) are domestic to Africa, but they were brought to Europe during the middle ages. In Africa, guineas are hunted as game birds; and in England, they are seldom used to stock game preserves. Guineas have been bred for many centuries; early Greeks and Romans raised them for table birds. To date, guineas are everywhere. It is believed that they might be more popular were it not for their hard and never-ending cry, and their narrow distribution.
Breeds of guinea fowls
There are many breeds of guinea fowl, few breeds are:
- Numida meleagris :
The common or red-wattled guinea fowl, which is a domestic strain of guinea that has acclimatized throughout the world.
- Numida ptilorhyncha:
Which carries a collarette of feathers on the upper part of the neck. It is popular in Madagascar and Reunion, both in the family and the wild state. The average guinea is a bird that weighs about 2 kg while adults. The male is comparatively not as heavy as the female.
Characteristics of a guinea fowl
The features of a guinea fowl cover: The head and neck are bare, but there may be little. The wattles on a guinea male are much higher than on the female guinea.The wattles on a male guinea are much larger than on the female. It is soft, with a more gregarious behavior than that of the chicken; fits of panic with crowding together of birds, capable of producing heavy losses, are feared. Darkness and presence of perches reduce the bird’s calmness where it likes to hide and to remain motionless when afraid. As a result, blackened buildings with reduced light intensity allow large numbers of guinea fowls to be raised.
The guinea fowl is much noisy and cannot be reared nearer to residential houses. Guinea fowls can cause harm to crops, especially to young plants. While feeding it does not scratch with its claws but uses its beak for tearing with abrupt head moves, a form of behavior that leads to tremendous feed wastage from the feeders, especially when the mash is used. The guinea fowl is extra resistant to heat than the chicken, and raising it requires a higher temperature. It withstands shipping better than chicken.
Few specific characteristics of guinea fowls include:
• Hardy birds
• Fitting too many agro-climatic conditions
• Resistant to many traditional diseases
• No necessity of elaborate and expensive housing
• Great foraging capabilities
• Utilizes all non-conventional feeds not used in chicken feeding
• More tolerant to mycotoxin and aflatoxin
• Hardshell gives minimum breakage and low keeping quality
• Guinea fowl meat high in vitamin and cholesterol low.
commonly three methods of rearing guinea fowls are free-range, semi-free range, and intensive system. While administered intensively, low light intensity should be used to reduce possible instability. These rearing methods are discussed briefly in the sections below.
This is the effective rearing method common in Africa. Free-range guinea fowl forms an important resource for resource-poor farmers in some countries, particularly in developing countries. Advances in this type of farming are of economic importance because they involve the entire rural population. These changes include placing drinking water at the disposal of the birds.
Semi free rearing methods
For 1000 keets, a starter house of 24 m2 is needed during the first three weeks of life. This corresponds with the rearing house to which chicks are then transferred and which comprises a 40 m2 shelter, provided with perches into an aviary of 200 m2. Guinea fowls may be reared in a house with perches communicating with more or less spacious enclosure, which is enclosed by a wire fence 1.5 to 2 m high. Pinioning of keets reserved for breeding is essential in these rearing conditions. Pinioning stops the birds from flying by putting them out of balance.
In this type of rearing, birds do not have entrance to an outdoor room and have replaced semi-rearing because it can give better performance. Light and dark houses may be used. , and the houses are usually equipped with perches. In recent breeding systems, guinea fowls are usually raised in batteries and artificially inseminated.
Guinea fowl are usually left to fend for themselves, but it is best to provide a shelter to protect them from high winds, rain, cold, sun, and predators. The shelter can be a purpose-built facility specifically for guineas or a room allotted in the barn.
If you confine your guineas (as you might wish to do for meat and/or egg production), it is essential to provide the birds plenty of room (2 to 3 sq. ft. per guinea). The more room the guineas have, the less likely they are to become stressed. The footing of the pen should be covered with dry bedding material such as wood shavings or cut hay or straw. If the litter is kept dry, it can stay in place for several months. Guineas prefer to roost, so it is necessary to provide perches. If the shelter is unheated, it is best if you do not cover the shelter or space where the guineas are held. Compression serves to keep moisture in more than it keeps cold out, and allowing moisture to expand in a poultry house can lead to respiratory problems with birds.
If you want to keep your guineas from walking in a specific area, you must keep them in closed pens. Guineas can fly at a very early age, and they become strong fliers able to fly 400 to 500 ft. at a time. Guineas are too very great racers and prefer to move on foot, including when escaping from predators.
Under most circumstances, you should not confine male guineas with chickens if there are roosters in the same flock. When male guineas remain housed among roosters full-time, the guineas will chase the roosters, preventing them from food and water. If your flock is permitted to range freely during the day and is locked up only at night, it is safe to keep guineas and roosters in the same barn. It is also secured to house them together in a short-term emergency such as a blizzard or other bad weather.
If you are holding guineas for egg production (for hatching or human consumption), you should provide nest boxes. Nest boxes designed for chickens are usually tolerable. To decrease the possibility of hens laying eggs in covered nests outside, keep guinea hens restricted to a hen house until noon each day so that they will lay eggs inside.
Distinguishing guinea cocks from hens
Next to quietening guineas, the most difficult problem can be to sex them. Male and female guinea fowls differ so little in the face that many find it difficult to distinguish them from each other. Usually, sex may be recognized by the cry of the birds after they are about 2 months old and by larger helmet and wattles and coarser head of the male. In junior male guineas aged 12 to 15 weeks, the wattles are larger, bend out more and have thicker edges than the females. By 15-16 weeks the female's wattles are also thickening.
The adult male has a somewhat larger helmet and wattles and coarser head than females. The voice of the female sounds like a “buckwheat, buckwheat” or put-rock, put rock,” and is quite different from the one-syllable shriek of the male. When hot, both the male and female emit one-syllable cries, but at no time does male’s cry sound like “buckwheat, buckwheat”.
Management of breeding stock
Guinea hens begin to lay in the spring (with increasing daylight) and remain laying for about 6-9 months. This egg-laying time can be increased and early fertility enhanced by using artificial lighting. Tame guinea breeding birds are usually allowed free range. But, on some farms, the breeders are held separated during the laying period in residences equipped with wire-floored run porches. They are hard to confine in open yards except their wings are pinioned or one wing is clipped. In the wild state, guinea fowls mate in pairs. This bearing prevails also among tamed guineas if males and females in the flock are equal in number.
Artificial insemination of farmers is followed in some countries such as Australia. The birds are held in cages with males being alone caged. Because of the small number of semen from guinea males, domestic roosters (Gallus sp.) are often crossed with guinea hens. The crossbred will grow as long as the fowl parent while retaining the gamey flavor. Hatchability leads to varying with the strain of rooster used. The children of the cross called “Guin-hens” are sterile and look like a turkey cross.
The amount of eggs a guinea hen will lay depends on her breeding and management. A hen that is of great stock and is carefully managed may lay 100 or more eggs a year. Usually, breeders produce well for 2 to 3 years; sometimes they are kept as long as 4 to 5 years in small flocks. In so flocks, hens usually lay about 30 eggs and then go broody. The selection of farmers for egg and meat production traits, as practiced with chickens, would likely result in significant improvement.
Guinea fowl can start to lay as early as 16-17 weeks. In tropic Africa, laying only occurs when the rainy season and few weeks that follow. Clutch size of 12 to 15 eggs is common. Guinea fowl egg is less than that of hens, and on average weighs 40 g and has very hard shells that are difficult to test for fertility by candling. The hardness of eggshells may cause difficulties with artificial incubation. The incubation period is 26 to 28 days. The average weight of a keet at one-day-old is 24.62 g while the live weight of 1.48 kg
is completed at 16 weeks of age. In the fair climate laying period for guinea fowls is 40 weeks. Caged guinea hens could lay 170 – 180 eggs by annum, of which 150 are fit to incubate to produce 110 keets. A hen reared on the soil lays 70 to 100 eggs per annum, which can produce 40 to 60 keets
Hatching Egg Collection
Under standard temperature forms hatching eggs should be collected four times a day. However, under extremes of heat (over about 28 oC) or cold (below about 5 oC) more general collection is recommended. High ambient temperature is one obvious cause of eggshell quality problems. During heat stress, feed intake is reduced and egg weight declines. Eggs should be saved in a temperature range of 15.5-18.5 C and relative humidity of 70-80%. If kept for over 7 days before setting, hatchability decreases progressively with increasing storage time. Different factors affecting hatchability are egg size, egg shape, shell quality and variations in incubator temperature as well as excessive shell porosity. Shell class from young breeder flocks is usually good and hatches are high, but as the birds remain through their laying year shell thickness and shell quality deteriorate and hatchability declines. Time egg is laid also influences hatchability. For example, hatching eggs laid early in the morning have poorer hatchability than those laid later in the day.
Eggs can be hatched both naturally or artificially. Egg handling ere incubation is of supreme importance. Eggs should be handled at least twice daily and very dirty eggs discarded. As previously discussed the normal incubation period for guinea eggs is 26 to 28 days and 24 to 25 days for the crossbreeds. The incubation method is the same as for turkey eggs. Common practices of incubation are generally used in small flocks.
For large r herds, incubators are more satisfactory. It is common to use chicken hens for hatching a small number of guinea eggs as they are more adaptable than guinea hens. Guinea hens frequently are too wild to be set anywhere except in nests where they have become broody.
As shortly as some of the guinea keets hatch and begin to move about, the guinea hen is likely to leave the nest, leaving the eggs that are not hatched. Certain eggs may hatch if, while still warm, they are placed under another broody hen or in an incubator. Twelve to 15 eggs may be set under a guinea hen; 20 to 28 may be set under a large chicken hen. It is, though, necessary that hens are treated for lice before they are set. Forced-draft incubators should be done at about 37.5 and 37.2oC and 57 to 58% humidity. While incubation, eggs must be turned regularly (minimum of three times) each day for the first 24 days for pure guineas and 21 days for crossbreds.
Rearing and brooding
Guinea chicks are identified as keets.
Although guinea keets may be raised in the as chicks and baby poults (e.g., in brooder houses and brooders), they are subject to chilling during the first few weeks. Keets need to be brooded for about 4-weeks to elude mortality due to chilling. They should be stocked at about 20 to the meter square at one-day-old, but there should be sufficient space to move away from the brooder if they are too hot. If not raised intensively, keets should be given access to outside pens to the range by 10 weeks of age.
All kinds of poultry brooders may be suitable for keets and should operate between 37 oC and 37.5 oC from day-old being reduced by 4o C each week. Keets can be weaned off the heat at 4 weeks if the weather is fitting. The stocking quantity for guinea fowls in intensive rearing is 10 birds / m2. It is also recommended that if guineas are raised in broiler-style housing up to 14 weeks of age they require about 900 cm2 of floor space per bird. Large shavings are important in brooding if brooding is on the floor. Keets tin also is brooded on the wire, the same as chickens.
Feeding Guinea fowl
In the wild, guinea fowl eat a variety of foods but most notable are weed seeds, and waste grain which falls to the ground after harvesting of crops. Some common guinea fowl diet holds fruits, berries, seeds, grass, spiders, insects, worms, mollusks, and frogs. Since one of the main origins of wild guineas is insects, guineas have gained popularity for use in defeating insect populations in gardens and around the home, especially because unlike chickens, they do not scratch the dirt much and do very little damage to the garden.
Well formulated diets (starter, grower, and finisher) for guinea fowl are available from commercial feed milers (Table 2). The beginner diet should be fed to 4 weeks of age, followed by grower diet 1 to 10 weeks of age, then the second grower diet up to the time that the birds are marketed or until they are selected for breeding. Breeding birds are turned to the breeding diet approximately 2 weeks before eggs are expected. These diets will be provided by range feed.
The starter diet should include 24% protein and should be fed for the first 4 weeks. Raiser ration of 20% protein should then be fed until 8 weeks of age and a finisher diet containing 16% protein fed until market age (14-16 weeks). At this age, they should have given an average live weight of 2 kg. A commercial turkey diet or a high energy chick starter crumbles is a proper diet for tame guinea fowl. A good feeding program utilizes a turkey crumble (0-4 or 0-6 weeks), a turkey grower (6-14 weeks) and a turkey breeder diet from 15 weeks onwards. A good commercial turkey feed breeder mash, which contains 22 or 24% protein, should be fed to laying guinea hens. Turkey's nutrition has the benefit of receiving an anti-blackhead drug.
In its lifetime, the guinea fowl uses an average of 43 kg of feed, which is 12 kg when the growing period and 31 kg during the laying period (Say, 1987). The nutritional qualities of guinea fowl feed are close to those for chicken, but the percentage of lysine and methionine recommended for growth and laying feeds are slightly higher for guinea fowl. In perfect rearing situations, feed conversion ratios (FCR) are between 3.1 and 3.5 for slaughter at 12 to 13 weeks and mean live weight of 1.2 to 1.3 kg.
Breeding Guinea fowl
One of the most common puzzles about poultry of any species is how to tell males from females. It is very hard to sex young guineas (those 12 to 52 weeks of age) because pullets (young females) and cockerels (young males) look the same. When the guineas are more adult, there are two ways to tell them apart:
- Listen to the sounds they produce. The hen makes a two-syllable noise that sounds like she is saying "buckwheat, buckwheat," "put-rock, put-rock," or "qua-track, qua-track." These are the unique sounds that the hen makes that the guinea cock (male at least one year old) does not. When excited, both the hens and cocks emit one-syllable cries, but the cock does not speak sounds similar to the two-syllable noise of the hens. (The young keets begin making one-syllable cries at six to eight weeks, but some females do not start calling until much later.)
- Look at the size of the hat and wattles. The helmet is the projection on the top of the head of a guinea fowl. The wattles are fleshy stalks that hang from the sides of the head. The hat and wattles of the male are much larger than those of the female.
Guinea fowl as Humen Food
Guinea fowl are regularly eaten in parts of Africa (notably Nigeria and Botswana), India and North America (prominently in the state of Georgia). It is utilized at Christmas in some parts of Central and Northern Europe (notably in Belgium and the UK). Guinea fowl meat is drier and more muscular than chicken meat and has a gamey flavor. It has marginally more protein than chicken or turkey, roughly half the fat of chicken and lightly fewer calories per gram. Guinea fowl eggs are considerably richer than chicken eggs.
Common Diseases in Guinea fowl
Domesticated guinea fowl have not yet been fully tamed so they have the hardiness of their wild relatives. Therefore, they do not hurt from many pests and diseases as opposed to fully domesticated species such as chickens and other poultry. For example, guineas are more receptive to the ND virus than chickens. But in common, most diseases of chickens affect guinea fowls.
Under smallholder situations adult birds may be lost due to poisoning, predators (snakes, dogs, wild cats), fighting, theft, and floods, whereas in keets mite infestations, hunger, cold and scorching heat, predation, floods, and physical injuries are the main reason of death. Like in family chickens, the advantage of ethnoveterinary medicine rules under smallholder guinea products.