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. The current flock at Buttle Farm numbers around 40 - ranging in age from a 9 year old, taken in as a rescue, to young birds hatched this year
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. Subject to availability, eggs are available for hatching and can be shipped within the UK. If you would like to know more about hatching out eggs, click here for advice. Depending on the time of year, birds may also be available for sale - as week old keets - only available for collection from the farm.
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. Our second hatch of the year is now out - another batch of healthy fluffy keets of mixed colours.
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!