Lesson 449 – Guinea hens – the platypuses of the fowl world

I have so much stuff to put up on this blog (including a new release by one of our chick-lit authors and a new induction into the Good Egg club – all will go up next week) but today I want to tell you all about my newest executive decision.

First let me introduce you to this magnificent creature:

It’s called a Guinea hen (or fowl) and if you ever thought that chickens resembled prehistoric beasts then you’ll see this little throw-back has everyone beat. Guinea hens are like the platypuses of the fowl world. Someone, somewhere wasn’t really paying attention when this genetic code came down the line.

BUT, (and that’s a large “but” on purpose) Guinea hens are known for being tremendous tick eaters. Apparently (according to the good folks on the forum at Backyard Chickens) regular hens will eat ticks, but then again, sometimes they won’t. (who knew that ticks have a bitter taste?) Not so with Guinea hens, apparently they love ticks as much as this mama hen loves her Sweet-tarts (don’t get me started on those delicious compact tablets of sweet and sour goodness.)

I’ve made reference to it before and I imagine it will be coming up again (and again) but so far we have 3 cases of Lyme disease in our house (and I suspect the remaining 5 of us have it as well.) If treated early, Lyme disease can be fairly easily contained. If not treated early, however, it can linger in your body causing a host of strange, unexplainable, and at times, debilitating symptoms. We have symptoms ranging from mild to severe in our tested-positive kids.

It goes without saying that we need to avoid ticks at all costs.

So I’ve made the decision to add to our fowl flock in order to protect as much as possible my little chickie flock. Being part of a flock means looking out for each other and taking up the slack for another when things are not as they should be.

Sometimes it means being on the front line to protect those behind you.

So even though they are weird looking birds, even though they are known to make a lot of noise (the shriek of a banshee has, at times, been mistaken for the call of a Guinea hen) they will be welcomed into our household early next Spring to help in the good fight of protecting our entire flock.

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18 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Lyme Disease, Personal

18 responses to “Lesson 449 – Guinea hens – the platypuses of the fowl world

  1. While growing up in South America (Brazil) I had friends with farms and there was always lots of Guinea Hens (in Brazil it’s actually called (Angola Chicken as they may have some migration origin from Angola perhaps during the slave trade brought by the Portuguese colonizers). I wanted to say they are hearty chickens, tough as nails and not only they eat ticks, they eat snakes!
    In the area where In live in Merrimack there is a flock of Guinea hens that are loose. I asked around the neighborhood and all of them say they are just roamers and no one has come to claim them. Their “territory” is around McQuestion/Turkey Hill/Wilson Hill intersections and I often stop to see them given they are amazing creatures.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Stephan,

      Hmm, I haven’t seen any of those birds in town but know I’m going to be on the lookout for them.

      From what I understand they really don’t like to be cooped up in a, well coop, so when we get them, you can be pretty sure we’ll have them roaming free in our back woods.

      Wendy

  2. Good and bad…
    Good: Lovely polkadot feathers. Eaters of ticks.
    Bad: baKAK baKAK baKAAAK baKAK bbbaKAAAAAK bakak bbKAK :)

    • Wendy Thomas

      I know, that little (big) shriek that they have is certainly an interesting call, but having lived with a tribe of 6 kids for so many years, I doubt it will even phase me. :-)

      Wendy

    • Wendy Thomas

      Lisa,

      I have heard that they have outstanding personalities and are just the funniest little birds. I’m actually looking forward to getting them.

      Thanks for the input.

      Wendy

      On Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM, Wendy Thomas wrote:

      > I know, that little (big) shriek that they have is certainly an > interesting call, but having lived with a tribe of 6 kids for so many > years, I doubt it will even phase me. :-) > > Wendy > >

  3. Lisa

    I have kept Guinea hens in the past and just love them. I’m sure you will too!!

  4. Ticks are an issue around here, but the real plague are slugs. We decided not to do ducks. We thought about guinea hens, but the noise is a very serious issue for us. Main reason we live where and how we do is for quiet.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Modesty,

      I hear you on the noise. I saw a video on Youtube of Guinea hens and they are LOUD and non-stop.

      But then I remind myself that I’ve lived in a tribe with 6 kids for the last 2 decades. Guinea hens can’t be much noisier than that.

      Wendy

  5. Off-topic. Another of our hens fell ill. My wife immediately isolated it from the flock (to protect them) and tenderly cared for it in the house for several days. We discovered a vet in our area who will attend to chickens. My wife took “Helen” into the vet this afternoon, who told her the chicken was mortally ill, put her to sleep. My wife came home and sobbed. I am sure she will hug the other three hens tenderly tomorrow, who will unsentimentally say “More bugs and oats, please, and stop the tears.”

    Reminds of my daughter and her two cats. One, Sebastian, was very big (and frankly, not that lovable); the other, Sylvie, very small (though adult), and exquisitely lovable (very kind and patient to our little granddaughter, never biting and scratching). Sebastian hated little Sylvie; she had ruined his life he was sure; he constantly chased her and tormented her. Finally, Sebastian died of natural causes.

    I asked my daughter how Sylvie was adapting to the absence of Sebastian. “She walked into every room in our house, looked under every bed and in every hiding place, purring loudly.” Cats and chickens are very sentimental creatures.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Modesty,

      I am so sorry to hear about your hen. I know the last one was tough, to have another one follow so closely must be painful.

      We lost a hen recently (I think she had an egg stuck.) We wrapped her in towels to keep her warm (when we found her she was unconcious) and let her quietly die inside the henhouse with her sisters. If you are going to have a flock, you are going to experience some loss in the flock, i’ts part of the deal.

      At least that’s what I telling my kids. :-(

      Wendy

  6. If this Vet is in NH and near us I’d like this contact please! i Already had to put one down becasue I made the mistake of getting other hens from another place while I traded my two “hens” who turned out to be roosters. Just want to make sure the one “imported” hen is OK because out of 3 now I am only seeing 2 eggs/day.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Stephan,

      We are also seeing a HUGE decrease in eggs. Out of about 30 egg laying birds we are only seeing around 10 eggs a day. Part of it is the time of year but I also suspect that our girls may be laying eggs *under* the henhouse. This weekend we are going to investigate, I fear we may find thousands of old eggs. :-)

      Wendy

  7. I accounted for the “slow” this season .. problem is I have seen my 2 Brahmas laying eggs constantly but I have not seen the Barred Rock even make an attempt to go to the nesting box. I have a cut-off section in the coop door where I can see them (and nesting box) and I go there in different day of day, still nada, so I amo not sure if this one (who got better form that cough after I treated them) had had any “side effects”.

  8. I hate typos! very sorry guys and gals! it’s a phenomenon called “fat-fingering” in addition to “not checking for spelling … :-) .. there is a cure ….

  9. Not only do we have typos, we have someone named “Stephen” (that is my name, though I am using “Modesty Press” for comments on this blog) and someone named “Stephan.” This Stephen (me) is mildly dyslexic, so the other Stephan does not need to apologize; just say “My evil twin brother typed that typo.”

    Anyway, Stephan, although my brother (who sells beads but raises no chickens) lives in Maine, I live in Washington State. So the kindly vet who put our terminally ill chicken to sleep is not of much use to you.

  10. When I was a child of 12 or so in California, we had poorly contained chickens, who climbed out of their chicken run and laid eggs in all quadrants of our 3/4 of an acre. I was often finding (old and stinky) eggs. One chicken laid an egg in our duck’s nest. The duck hatched ducklings and baby chick. Being a 12-year-old boy (thus, by definition naughty) I waited with interest to see what would happen when Mama duck took baby ducklings for first swim. However a weasel or similar predator ate Mama and babies before they could splash. Our current chicken coop/run makes it difficult (though not impossible) for poultry to conceal eggs.

  11. Annie

    I am new to your blog. We live in Central NH. I was very much against getting Guinea hens, but gave in and we have had them since April. They are not nearly as loud as I expected. Our are free-range as are our chickens as we live in a fairly rural area. For the most part our Guinea (2) only make any loud noise when someone new comes to the house or something is different such as a neighbor cat walking through. Once someone has been to the house a few times they no longer make noise at them….they are great watch birds. I hope you have as much luck as we have…

    Also when one was a little lame and not leaving the coop area much that one would squawk if the other got out of seeing distance…I recommend at least 2. They are so funny to watch together!

    -Annie

    • Wendy Thomas

      Annie,

      Thanks for this feedback! I’ve pretty much made up my mind to get a few (6 at the most but more like 3 or 4). It’s good to hear that they weren’t really that loud and I kind of like the fact that they work as “watch birds” for you.

      BTW welcome to the blog!

      Wendy

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