How Many Guinea Should I Get?
Guinea fowl belong to the poultry category of farm animals, just like chickens! They can provide excellent chemical-free pest control as well as hatch tasty, albeit small, eggs. Guinea fowl are extremely social animals, which means you have to have multiple in order to avoid isolation-induced depression. This leads many to ask the question:
How many guinea fowl should I get? The exact number depends on the amount of space you have for the guinea fowl as well as whether or not you’re looking to breed them. Generally speaking, you should buy at least 5-6 birds in order to provide an adequate social community for your guineas. The larger the group, the more the birds will feel secure and protected.
Guinea fowl are social birds due to their status as prey animals. They often fall victim to the attacks of predators like dogs, foxes, cats, and Birds of Prey. Living in a flock provides them with more opportunity to sense danger as it approaches. Keep reading to learn more about how many guinea fowl you should have!
Guidelines for Determining How Many Guinea Fowl to Get
If you’re purchasing guinea fowl to provide low-cost, low-maintenance pest control for your crops and other animals, it’s best to start with a small flock. A small flock can consist of around five to six birds. Note that it’s necessary to always maintain the ratio of one male per four to five females when starting out with your guinea fowl.
This ratio gives you the option to expand your flock through breeding depending on whether you need more pest control or not. Guinea fowl cocks are also stringent protectors of their flocks, helping to keep the guinea hens safe from foxes or other predators, and, thus, increasing the longevity of your flock.
If you are trying to breed your guinea fowl, starting with five to six is still what I would recommend as each guinea hen can lay up to 100 eggs per laying season. Guinea hens typically tend to go broody after they lay around 30 eggs, then both the hens and the guinea cock incubate those eggs for around a month.
Right after they hatch, the keets are very susceptible to moisture and low temperatures, so it is likely that you will experience a few losses during this time. My baseline recommendation for raising guinea fowl with the specific intention of breeding them is to start with a small flock (5-6 birds), and work your way up from there if you have trouble producing enough keets after one laying season.
How Many Guinea Fowl Is My Land Suitable For?
Guinea fowl are social birds who gravitate towards each other when it comes to pretty much anything they do. But, like most animals, they also need their space. When kept in a confined setting, each guinea fowl requires between two to three square feet of space. Any less and they tend to become stressed. Let’s discuss some of the necessary resources that you will need that will determine how many guinea fowl you should purchase.
Guinea Fowl Will Need Shelter
Guinea fowl are usually left to fend for themselves in the wild, so keeping them in a coop or an enclosure is unnatural for them. However, if trained from a young age, guinea fowl can learn to return to a coop at night and even live in an enclosure. A coop can provide your birds will protection during the night. If you are trying to hatch eggs for breeding or consumption, you will need nesting boxes that can be conveniently placed inside of a coop or barn. (Want to learn more about keeping guinea fowl in a coop? Check out my article Do Guinea Fowl Need a Coop? Essential Care Guide.)
Guinea Fowl Can Fly
Guineas, unlike chickens, are very adept flyers who can fly up to 400 or 500 feet at a time. The best way to prevent them from flying away from your farm is to purchase your first flock when they are around one day old (we’ll talk more about this later). This will allow you to shape their behaviors and adequately adapt them to your farm’s individual environment, like keeping them in a covered pen.
While guinea fowl can fly, they are often easily susceptible to predator attacks. For extra protection, it is never a bad idea to create an enclosed, outdoor area for the guinea flock. A large, outdoor enclosure will help you to control the guinea fowls’ airspace without restricting their ability to fly freely.
To reiterate, the guinea fowls need an ample amount of space in order to lead healthy, happy lives, so you should make sure that your farm can handle the size flock you’d like to purchase before you buy. As a good rule of thumb, keep two to three square feet of space for the guinea fowl inside a coop, barn, or shed and about four square feet of space per each guinea in an outdoor enclosure (that’s fenced in overhead as well).
Can I Own Only One Guinea Fowl?
If you’re thinking of owning only one guinea fowl, I would not recommend it. As previously mentioned, guinea fowl are extremely social birds, which means that they thrive in larger flocks. A singular guinea fowl will become lonely, which results in them becoming stressed. A flock of guinea fowl can also provide each bird with peace, security, and comfort. As prey animals, guinea fowl live in a flock to ward of predator attacks.
Guineas are highly communicative birds; remember what I said in the beginning about them acting as “watchdogs” on the farm and alerting you of suspicious activity? Well, they are also extremely effective at communicating their own distress with loud calls. What I’m trying to say here is that if you only buy one guinea fowl, you will never hear the sweet sound of silence again. Without a flock, one guinea will be on high alert all the time, which will lead them to always being noisy.
You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by purchasing a small flock of guinea fowl instead of a singular guinea. You will also have happier guinea fowl living on your farm, so really it’s a win-win for both you and the guineas.
Knowing the specific needs of your guinea fowl can help you take better care of them; to know more, check my article How to Care For Guinea Fowl: Ultimate Guide For Beginners.
Can I Get Only Two Guinea Fowl; A Male and a Female for Breeding?
Yes, you can just get a male and a female guinea fowl if you intend to breed them. However, as I mentioned above, guinea hens can lay up to 100 eggs per laying season. Chickens usually lay about 250 eggs per season, which means that you need more than one guinea hen to equal the amount of eggs an average chicken lays. Add to this the keets’ sensitivity after hatching and you’re definitely working against the odds by getting only two guinea fowl.
As I’ve mentioned before, guinea fowl are social animals, which means that although they would be alright with a partnership of only two, they prefer to travel and live with a flock. Keeping a flock of guinea fowl on your farm more closely replicates their natural environment, and can act as a preventative measure in case something happens to one of the guineas.
In addition to this, if you decide to purchase your guinea fowl as one-day-old keets, you will be saving yourself a lot of trouble rather than buying a whole flock at once. Previously in this post, I talked about how raising one-day-old keets allows you to shape their behavior and adjust them to your farm’s environment. Think of it like this: it’s far easier to instill good table manners in a child than it is to re-teach a grown adult to not eat with his hands. Guinea fowl follow this same logic.
Lastly, identifying the gender of guinea fowl can be a difficult undertaking for even the most professional breeders. It is especially difficult to identify the gender of a guinea keet, as the male and female keets appear almost identical. By only purchasing two guineas, you increase the chance of incorrectly identifying genders , which can (obviously) lead to breeding problems later on.
To wrap up, here are a few key points to take with you from this post:
- You should purchase one guinea cock and four to five guinea hens if you’re looking to start a small farm flock.
- If you have the resources to raise more, go for it! But just continue to use the 1:4-5 ratio in order to ensure proper breeding and social interaction for the flock.
- You should never purchase only one guinea fowl. You, and your ears, will regret it.
- Purchasing only two guinea fowl can be alright in some situations, but as social animals, more guineas in a flock directly correlates to a happier flock.
Why Should You Purchase Guinea Fowl?
There are many reasons someone would choose to purchase guinea fowl for their farm. Not only do they produce rich and tasty eggs, but they are also naturally inclined to eat insects such as ticks, locusts, spiders, beetles, cockroaches, and ants.
In addition to this, guinea fowl are very vocal birds, which means they can provide a real-time farm security alarm. These birds will alert you when anything strange or unusual happens on the surrounding area of your farm, though they will also most likely alert you when cars are driving by or packages are being delivered. Because of this, it’s best to have the watchdog aspect of the fowl as a “bonus” instead of your sole reasoning for buying the fowl.
Lastly, guinea fowl can be bred and sold for meat, which, though gamier than chicken meat, is also cited as being richer in flavor. As you can see, there are many reasons why you should consider getting guinea fowl.
If you’re interested in knowing more about guinea fowl, check out my article How Long Guinea Fowl Live & Other Interesting Facts.