While guinea fowl are not the most common poultry, they do offer a lot to backyard farmers and homesteaders. They are perhaps most known to be great for pest control, relatively easy to care for, and affordable to feed.
Despite all their advantages, however, it could be difficult to determine the right number of guinea fowl to keep around your home, and many future keepers’ first question is, “how many should I get?“.
The number of Guinea Fowl you should get highly depends on their intended purpose:
- Pest control: Minimum 3 birds plus 3 more per acre
- Backyard pets: Minimum 3, but 6 will make a nice little flock
- Guard animals: Minimum 3 birds
- Breeding purposes: Start with 6 of each sex and from different stock
- Eggs and meat: About 2 hens per person for egg production, plus one hen and a male for breeding meat keets
Guinea fowl are typically social animals, and leaving them without company can lead to loneliness. Guinea fowl are already pretty loud birds, and they will be even noisier when kept without a flock, as they will call out for company. Therefore, you should usually keep at least 3 birds.
Below is a simple guide to how you can determine a good number of guinea fowl when you’re starting out. Regardless of how many you decide to get, make sure they are not let loose right away, as they will probably fly away. Read How to Keep Guinea Fowl from Flying Away for a comprehensive guide.
Table of Contents
How Many Guinea Fowl for Pest Control?
Guinea fowl make great pesticide-free pest controllers and can usually do an even better job than chickens. This is as they naturally forage for their food, and particularly love ticks and other small pests. Their ability to fly also allows them to reach pests where other species (like chickens) can’t reach, and to cover a large area
Guinea fowl are also particularly good at keeping snakes away, as they are not afraid to attack even larger snakes. In fact, they are generally very brave birds that have been known to chase away even larger predators, such as foxes and coyotes.
For efficient pest control, you should keep a minimum of 3 guinea fowl in a smaller yard, increasing the number by three birds per acre.
Consider keeping their house in the middle of your property as they will be more likely to cover the entire area evenly.
How Many Guinea Fowl as Backyard Pets?
While it may be a little unusual, guinea fowl also make great backyard pets. They are noisy birds, however, so you’ll want to ensure you (and your neighbors) can handle the loud calls that your flock gives out.
Typically, you should get 3 to 6 guinea fowl to keep as backyard pets, depending on how big your backyard is. This is enough for a small, manageable flock
Do note that they need space to stretch out and run, so you’ll need some land to keep them happy. If you live in an area with neighbors close by, you’ll want to ensure they will be comfortable with the level of noise coming from your flock. After all, the last thing you’ll want is to have a sour relationship with your neighbors.
How Many Guinea Fowl to Ward off Unexpected Visitors?
Does ‘guard guineas’ sound weird? Well, while they probably can’t chase away burglars, they are great alarm pets, as they often squawk at unfamiliar sights, sounds, and people.
If you’re keeping guinea fowl to warn you against unexpected visitors, you need a minimum of 3 birds so they can keep each other company.
The downside, however, is that they are easily startled. Therefore, while they can warn you of unwanted guests, they will activate a false alarm from time to time.
How Many Guinea Fowl For Breeding Purposes?
Breeding guineas fowl is fun and can be rewarding. However, guinea hens are very likely to die or lose their keets to predators, disease, or their own incompetence as mothers. Making it extremely difficult to hatch and breed guineas the natural way. This means you will probably have to use an incubator.
If you’re considering keeping guinea fowl for breeding purposes, you will want to ensure you have a minimum of 6 fowl of each sex and from different stock. This is a reasonable starting point for breeding a healthy stock and avoid inbreeding down the road.
If you plan on selling your keets, focus on increasing the number of adults until you have enough for your business plan. Later, one male per five females will ensure efficient fertilization
How Many Guinea Fowl for Eggs and Meat?
Finally, some people may want to keep these birds for their eggs or meat. Although this is not as common as chickens, guineas have gained popularity in the culinary world. This is as they’re usually meatier than regular white meat and very tasteful.
Guinea hens lay up to 150 eggs annually, depending on the breed, while the average American consumes 280 eggs per year. Assuming you keep a high-production breed, you will need about 2 hens per family member or 8 for a family of four.
Assuming you will want to maintain that production by breeding your own egg-layers, you will need a male and another hen to supply eggs for incubation.
In the case of meat production, this depends a lot on how often you will eat guinea meat. Assuming a family consumes one bird every second week, that equates to 26 a year. This means you should be able to produce more than enough meat from just a small flock of one male and two females.
Can You Keep Just One Guinea Fowl?
Although guinea fowl are usually social birds, some people may find a flock too noisy or too much work. Thus, some may wonder if it’s safe to keep only one bird in their yard.
The short answer is: you can keep only one, but you shouldn’t. Guinea fowl are social animals that prefer to have company around them, and one lonely bird will be very unhappy.
If you’re determined to keep only one bird, then you’ll have to ensure you don’t add or remove any other birds throughout the lifespan of your bird.
This is as guinea fowl are habitual birds, so introducing and removing other birds could cause them to feel disorientated. Guinea fowl may even mourn over the loss of company, if another bird is suddenly removed, possibly resulting in health complications in the remaining bird.
Can You Keep Guinea Fowl with Other Birds?
Considering how social guinea fowl are, first-time breeders may ask if they can keep these birds with other, large birds, such as chicken and ducks.
It is possible to keep guinea fowl with other birds. However, it may take time and patience for you to integrate a flock of guineas with chickens or ducks. This is as they are not just social animals, but they can be highly dominating and demanding of their space too.
The pecking order is perhaps the most important thing to guinea fowl, and adding them into another flock can result in your birds fighting each other. Some male guineas can be very aggressive against poultry that don’t “understand” and act according to guinea behavior, possibly resulting in injuries.
If you’re thinking of adding guinea fowl to your chickens, it’s recommended that you first keep each flock in their own areas, separated by a fence (and remember that guinea fowl can fly). You can then remove the fence after they have gotten used to each other – on a day when you are available to monitor their interactions.
Adding any new birds to your property can be stressful for your existing poultry, so you may see a drop in egg production for a small period. This is quite normal to most farmers, and you’ll see the egg production return to normal once things have settled down.