Lesson 727 – Seriously why are Guinea hens so dumb?

I have yet to hear a story about Guinea hens being even remotely intelligent.  Heck, I’m not even talking at the top of the class, I’d settle for not crashing into the side of the chicken coop when I approach.  But I haven’t heard one.

Nothing, zilch.

Instead I keep hearing stories about how when released they can’t find their way back into the coop.

Or when they lay eggs, they forget where they’ve been laid, the eggs slowly going to waste.

And the noise, in the infamous words of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Oh the noise, the noise, the noise, noise, noise, noise.” A Guinea hen has a unique call which can best be described as a cross between a goose honk and a smoke alarm. It’s the sort of sound that initially makes you take notice but after the 7th, (8th, 20th time) you find yourself wishing the bird would understand what the term “quiet time” means.

There must be a place in evolution for these awkward creatures. At some point their little football shaped bodies must have accomplished something or at the very least been found to be delectable. But no, Guinea hens, although eaten by some, are not exactly considered fine dining. I don’t know of anyone who looks forward to a Guinea hen dinner.

Either they’ve evolved out of their usefulness or being the tiny, freaks of nature that they are, perhaps they never really had one at all.

We have our Guinea hens as a way to control our tick population. Someone, somewhere, told me that chickens find ticks to be bitter but that Guinea hens find them to be yummy, yummy. On that piece of information alone, last fall we added two hens (well actually it’s only one hen and one male) to our flock. In exchange for a theoretical massacre of our ticks this Spring, we put up with the constant honking, the odd looks as people ask us – “what’s wrong with that chicken?” and a mother hens’ constant worry that our Guineas will one day forget to look both ways before they cross the road.

Just what is this guy thinking?

Just what is this guy thinking?


I write about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact me at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even  a recipe or two.


Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Mama Hen, Points to ponder

9 responses to “Lesson 727 – Seriously why are Guinea hens so dumb?

  1. I don’t think they are at all dumb.
    They eat ticks and small snakes too! in some countries this is important so children don’t get bitten by small poisonous snakes.
    Given that they roam in the wild and from their original habitat is also full of predators I wonder if they lay eggs strategically in locations to throw away the predators from where the real nest is?
    I grew up in Brazil and Guinea hens are widely abundant in rural areas there. My mother had a ranch in the outskirts of Rio and neighbors had those (to control ticks and snakes) but once you rode into their driveway they send out alarms so here’s another great feature to add to their intellect!
    I’d rather have these around than be bitten and broken into 🙂 As for their nutritional value, well, there is always other choices so I’d gladly given them a break for the great merit they have.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Thanks Stephan oh defender-of-the-Guinea-hens.

      I wasn’t aware of the snake aspect, as one who is truly terrified of snakes, that alone is reason to keep them.

      Hope all is well.


  2. J. Shelton

    We know someone who likes the taste of Guinea’s, and they are not dumb. We have a flock of 20 and they know our truck and will come flying to the house when they see us come home. They also know how to get in and out of the hen house. Ours also will not come off of their nest, once they have at least 28 eggs in the clutch until their little babies are born. Then they keep their babies close and watch over them, teaching them how to hide for safety and what bugs are good to eat.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Thanks for putting this comment up, I’ll be looking for these signs of intelligence this Spring when we start releasing the birds to our yard.


  3. Great info from J. Shelton. Seems now you need to ADD more Guinea hens in your flock 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. We have some Farmers Market customers from France who beg us to harvest our guineas for them to eat! We have sold them a few, at top dollar, but probably still not a profit given their mortality rate! They seem to be so easily spooked and then do dumb things. One winter, they were spooked by two men installing our solar panels on the barn. They ran out and flew into the tree tops and I could not get them down. A blizzard came and I could see them by the light of the yard light, whipping around in the top of the trees in the blasting snow and wind all night. In the morning they plummeted to the ground like frozen footballs. Two were severely frostbitten and did not survive. The five guineas I have now were raised by a hen (when we found the guinea nest we moved the eggs to a broody hen) and they learned to return to the coop at night and are not quite so wild. I love to watch them make sweeps through the yard and pasture eating bugs. Usually if they start making a big racket it is because there is a danger, such as a feral cat stealing a chic or a hawk on the fence post.

  5. Haha, this is too funny! They are definitely intellectually challenged, I’ll give you that. I’ve seen a guinea stuck on one side of a 5 ft fence because he didn’t realize he could just fly up and over. He was just pacing back and forth for hours. It seems like they do get a little bit wiser with age. My oldest guineas (almost 2 years old) have settled in and seem to know what’s going on. But the young ones, goodness gracious! It is entertaining at least 🙂

  6. Ron

    I have 16 of them and I love them. They r great with insects and rodents…..they r great little carnivores. I find them to be quite entertaining and humorous. I think u might want to take another look at their cute little football shaped bodies and unique prehistoric head gear….just sayin 🙂

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