What is not considered a game bird but acts a lot like one, comes from Africa, and roosts in a tree if you don't keep it penned up? It's a guinea, called the African chicken, although it is more closely related to the pheasant. They're noisy, quarrelsome with other poultry, and probably not practical to own unless you're going to keep them penned up (because unconfined guineas hide their eggs, lose their babies, and are difficult to catch) or unless you have a major insect problem and lots of room for them to roam. But they are hardy, do have a tasty meat, and lay rich eggs.

Dynah Geissel, Missoula, MT, wrote me about guineas, "I wouldn't say that guineas are useless. They announce the arrival of a hawk by screaming and standing their ground while the chickens run for cover. They also broadcast the arrival of other visitors. They are excellent and persistent setters, but they lay their eggs in the fields where they become easy prey to predators such as skunks. They are terrible mothers who will lead their 12-15 keets through puddles, wet grass or anything else in their way. The best bet is to take the eggs and let a hen hatch them. If a guinea does manage to hatch her clutch, take all but two and raise them yourself. Turn them loose when they're 8 weeks old. Butcher them in the fall (shooting them out of the tree where they roost is your best bet). Be sure you shoot the babies and not the adults. This partly for the sake of tenderness, but also because a guinea dramatically mourns the loss of its mate. The meat is wonderful—like pheasant."

You can get more information on guineas in the handbook Guinea Fowl, available from Inman Hatcheries (see "Poultry Supplies" under "Chickens" in this chapter).

Continue reading here: Guinea Attributes

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