Wednesday, August 29, 2012
(Ernst Friedrich Seidler, 1846)
Guinea Fowl Management
Michael J. Darre, Ph.D. P.A.S
Extension Poultry Specialist
Department of Animal Science
University of Connecticut
Why raise guinea fowl? There are many reasons. The guinea has been used in protecting the farm flock from intruders because of its loud, harsh, cry and its pugnacious disposition. Since one of the main sources of food for wild guineas is insects, they have gained popularity for use in reducing 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. Recently, guineas have been used to reduce the deer tick population, associated with Lyme disease. Other people raise them for their unique ornamental value.
There are three principle varieties of helmeted guinea fowl reared in the United States at this time, the Pearl, White and Lavender. The head and neck are bare, but there may be some wattles. The wattles on the male guinea are much larger than on the female. The Pearl is the most popular variety and the one most people recognize. The Pearl has purplish-gray plumage regularly dotted or " pearled" with white spots and its feathers are often used for ornamental purposes. The next most common variety is the White Guinea (also called African White). The White Guinea has pure-white feathers and its skin is lighter than the other two varieties. These birds are not albino and are the only solid white bird that hatches solid white and not yellow. Lavender guineas are similar to the Pearl, but with plumage that is light gray or lavender dotted with white.
Basic Management of Guinea Fowl
If you already have other poultry, you will soon discover that guineas are not chickens. They are much more active than chickens and not as easily tamed. They seem to retain some of their wild behavior and will remind you of this whenever they get spooked.
Guineas require a dry environment with plenty of room. Guinea fowls are extremely good runners and use this method, rather than flying, to escape predators. Since most people raise guineas with the intention of letting them run loose after reaching adulthood, space is usually not a problem. If you are confining your birds for any length of time, give them as much room as possible outside and a minimum of 2-3 square feet per bird inside. The more room they have, the less likely they will become overly stressed. Guineas tolerate weather extremes fairly well after they are fully feathered and have reached adult size.
Guineas begin to fly at a very early age and can be confined only in covered pens. It is not unusual to find adults roosting 20-30 feet above the ground complaining about everything they see. They are very strong fliers and the birds will often fly 400-500 feet at a time when moving around the farm, especially if startled.
The laying season will vary depending on your latitude and local weather patterns. The Pearl and Purple usually have the longest laying season and the lighter colors have the shortest.
Monday, August 27, 2012
I reference these statistics because I've now had some experience with ulcers, and based on that experience, I believe that my new filly, Pippa, has ulcers. Some noteable symptoms that can indicate ulcers can be jumpiness/spooky behavior, unwillingness to eat their meal all at once, a preference to hay over grain or grass, a dull look to their coat, inability to put on weight, perpetual ribbiness, discomfort and/or attitude at feeding time, discomfort when cinching the girth, general crankiness, etc. etc. etc.
Continued observation of Pippa leads me to believe that she must have ulcers. She exhibits several symptoms, including ribbiness, spookiness, discomfort/objection to touching her sides in certain ways sometimes, and her coat is quite dull. When she eats, unless you have her tied to her feed bucket, she will grab a bite, wander off and pace a bit, then wander back and grab some more. After she's been eating awhile, she'll finally settle in and stay put more, but I've taken to tying her while she eats so that she will stay focused.
I picked up some ulcer medication from our vet, and Pippa has now been on it for about 4 or 5 days. However, further reading makes me think that perhaps I should add Ranitidine to her medication dosing schedule because she had history of ulcers before after a particularly traumatic weaning experience prior to coming to my farm. I believe that she may have either not completely healed before or she just had them come back more strongly than I thought they did after moving her to my farm. Admittedly, I have been too busy and haven't been paying as close attention because I just finished up a 6 week long stretch of wedding weekend after wedding weekend because of friends and family members getting married back to back. She was getting fed every day, but I was seeing without observing. Now that I'm paying closer attention, she seems to be even more spooky than when she first arrived, and the wandering off from her meal plus the dull coat and objections to me touching her flanks makes me think ulcers for sure.
The jury is still out on Queen having ulcers or not. I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to dose her since she still has some longish looking coat where she shouldn't. On one hand, people are telling me that weanlings sometimes don't shed out to sleek till later, and she's sort of sleek, but there are definite areas on her back and flanks where the hair is longer than on her neck or legs. Probably good to dose them both, but Pippa may need a longer dosing period since she seems to be more stressed out.
Monday, August 20, 2012
But I will post that I am bored at work and browsing Facebook, Etsy, Craigslist, and Pinterest... Pinterest is the biggest time suck, but the photo I'll share is from Facebook :) I'm just waiting around on my TDS test to finish so I can weigh my beakers, so enjoy.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
So much has happened this year. Some of it has been very bad, and some of it has been very good. I still mourn and miss Ivan. My dressage journey has taken a lot of turns. Sebastian, the horse I was leasing since February, has gone back to his old owners. Sadly, he had hock and stifle issues that made him worth a lot less than their original asking price. I just couldn't afford to let emotion overtake reason and part with that much from my wallet for a damaged horse. So instead, I ended up with TWO horses to replace Sebastian. Captain has now come to stay for awhile, and Pippa is my new Connemara/TB yearling who I'm hoping to do great things with eventually. Captain is just a free lease since Pippa and Queen are not old enough to break to ride yet. Once they are broke, I suppose I will reevaluate where I'm at with Captain.