Why Guinea Fowl?
The Guinea Fowl at Buttle Farm live a fully free range existence, foraging in the fields for seeds, insects and whatever takes their fancy, coming back to the Barn every evening for dinner, and to go up to roost in the rafters.
Originally from Africa, they are hardy birds, adapting well to life in Britain. They need heat for the first 6 weeks of life, but once they have their full adult feathers, they can cope with the coldest of weathers.
Sadly, the flock at Buttle Farm has suffered a number of fox attacks over the winter months and because of that, we are not going to be able to sell eggs or keets during the summer of 2018.
Guinea fowl only lay during summer months but the eggs are worth the winter wait - smaller and richer than a chicken egg. with a higher proportion of yolk to white, they make the most wonderful mayonnaise....or eaten simply fried or boiled.
Guinea fowl come in many different colours - currently at Buttle Farm are royal purple, pearl grey, lavender and white, as well as pied versions. The bird to the right is a pied pearl, and the one below, a pied lavender.
Unlike chickens, the birds pair up in the spring - after some spirited battles between the boys - and then stick with each other throughout the season. When the girl goes off into the bushes to lay her egg, her boy stands on guard nearby.
From a distance, it can be hard to tell the males from the females - male birds are slightly bigger and ‘posture’ a lot; especially in the spring, whereas the females have a different call– a two-toned 'pot-rack'. They are often called 'guard birds' and certainly, if they see something unusual that upsets them, they let everyone know! The sound from a group is enough to intimidate anyone.
Sadly, survival rates for eggs hatched in the wild in the UK are not good - between the weather and the foxes, the odds are against them, so every year, we put several batches of eggs in our trusty Brinsea incubator to add to our flock.
The one pictured below is just a couple of hours old in transit from his incubator to the brooder and the ones that are not used for hatching make great eating. With a higher proportion of rich yellow yolk to white, they are excellent for baking and make the most wonderful mayonnaise!