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Friday Favorite: Guineas

June 27th, 2014

I have a small flock of guinea fowl roaming about the garden.  The chickens went behind an electric fence a few weeks ago when they started getting into the main edible garden.  The guineas are allowed to roam free because they aren’t as destructive as chickens.  I especially love them because they eat insects and not the plants themselves. They don’t scratch much at all, unlike chickens which will make giant holes and dig up plants quite easily.
guinea fowl 1 (1)
guinea fowl 1
guinea fowl 2 (1)
guinea fowl 2
guinea fowl 3 (1)
guinea fowl 4
A few weeks ago I noticed potato beetles in the potato patch and asparagus beetles in the asparagus. Then I noticed the guineas making daily rounds through them eating up all the bugs they could find. They’ll even peck through the mulch around the asparagus looking for the beetles that try to hide there. They are also making quick work of any cabbage worms they see. I saw defoliation of my cabbage and broccoli, and then I noticed the guineas lurking nearby. When I checked for worms they were gone – perfect!
asparagus beetle
potato beetle
It’s not all peaches and cream with guineas, they can be loud and obnoxious, especially when you have a large group of them. If you want a few for your garden I’d stick to three. If you want a large group you should make sure you have a large area for them to roam. My guineas roam over about 5-7 acres around the house.  My guineas will also eat the occasional strawberry in the back garden, I could easily throw cheesecloth over it to keep them away, but they only eat a few so I don’t mind.  It’s a small price to pay for fantastic insect control in the garden!
guinea fowl 3
Overall, they are great birds to have around if you have a garden. They are also invaluable watch dogs alerting all the other birds and Tara when there are foxes and hawks nearby.

What’s your favorite pest control method?

14 Comments to “Friday Favorite: Guineas”
  1. Lemongrass on June 27, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Guineas are the best watch-dogs ever. I grew up with lots of them and enjoyed the diversity they brought to farm. Their eggs are delicious. Thank you for taking me down memory lane.

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  2. Laura @ Raise Your Garden on June 27, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Well, I’m using some natural pest control methods this year. The Japanese beetles have been awful! They polish off my basil, so frustrating. But I want organic food, I’m worried about pesticides so I’m not using them anymore like I did a few years ago. A big change but I think it’s for the best.

    Reply to Laura @ Raise Your Garden's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on June 27, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Susy, I’ve mentioned many times about the flock of wild turkeys that wander the neighborhood near Terra Nova Gardens. Since day one with gardening there, bug problems do not exist. They do scratch the mulch a bit and some even pick at the young corn plants but they are far more beneficial than detrimental. Now control of the four legged critters that creep in at night strip my sweet corn patch are greedy little buggers. They are not into sharing.

    This year of gardening is one to go down as having the most challenges ever. It started with a very late frost, then hail and 100 MPH winds, and now it looks like my Urban Ranch backyard raised beds have gotten a whiff of a neighbors weed spray. Both the neighbors behind me have lawn services and June has been a windy month. I suspect one of their services sprayed on a day that caused drift and even though my tomatoes are 20 feet away from the yard they got a dose big enough to make them very sick. I’m not sure if they will make it or not. They are trying but don’t really look too good.

    On the up side, I replanted the corn that washed out from the 7 inches of rain and planted some green beans. I still have a small window to get some squash planted and maybe some pumpkins in the ground. Gardener’s never give up, do we.

    Have a great Guinea garden pest free day.

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  4. Erika on June 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

    How do guineas react to freshly planted seed beds? That has been the biggest thing holding me back on getting guinea fowl.

    Reply to Erika's comment

  5. Lavonne on June 27, 2014 at 11:57 am

    We just recently purchased a small hobby farm with about 10 free range Guinea fowl. The summer is no problem since they fend for themselves but I am anxious to hear what you do to help sustain them over winter. We are in a cold and snowy climate very similar to yours.

    Reply to Lavonne's comment

    • Susy on June 28, 2014 at 8:52 am

      I don’t really do much for them in the winter, they still range as much as they can.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Chris on June 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    As they are free range, do you have to worry about predators with them as much as you do with chickens? Or maybe not at all because of Tara? They sure are pretty birds! I attract as many songbirds as I can and they seem to do a terrific job at pest control…

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on June 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I don’t worry too much about them free ranging, they seem to be very agile at escaping fox attempts and such. Mine range far and wide, much wider than chickens and farther than Tara goes. I lose one every now and again, but it’s rare.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Texan on June 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Do you put your guineas up at night? We are planning to get some for bug control here. But we have predator issues, owls, coyotes? I would love to just let them do their thing and not put them up, but I am afraid it would not be long before we did not have any.

    Reply to Texan's comment

    • Susy on June 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      My guineas coop up at night just like chickens would. Sometimes they roost in trees, but there’s more likelihood of predations by owls if they roost outside. I like to put them in at night.

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  8. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on June 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I really like the photo of your guineas and pigs drinking from the trough at the same time…sharing.

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment

    • Susy on June 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Our pigs were very gentle and loved the birds last year. One of them would let chickens ride around on it’s back.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Jennifer Fisk on June 30, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Did you get your Guineas as keets or adults? How do you encourage them to coop up? I’ve heard millet is like candy for them. I can’t think of a better insect control.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

    • Susy on June 30, 2014 at 8:10 am

      A few of mine I got as adults and a few were hatched out here. Mine coop up most nights without issue, every now and then they want to roost outside. There is feed in the coop for them. My guineas used to live with our chickens but then they decided they liked ducks better and moved into the duck room. I think perhaps guineas would coop up best with their own coop/space.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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