Letter Re: Guinea Fowl for Bug Control in Your Garden

After reading yet another article about how guineas do no harm in the garden, I thought it was time to toss in my thoughts on the matter.

First, guineas do not do nearly the damage a flock of chickens will do. However…

When mine were free to roam the garden, they dug their dust pits right at the base of plants because the soil under plants is cooler from both shade and watering. Be prepared to sacrifice plants to exposed roots.

They walked up and down the rows of strawberries and pecked at all the green strawberries, which then just lay on the dirt because they didn’t taste good and were too small to ripen.They also did this with all the pinto bean pods long before the beans ever matured. And they found each tomato as it began to turn red and from the side that was red, pecked out the entire inside so I was left with what looked like a hanging green ice cream scoop. They did this as high as they could reach. They pecked at squash and melons and when they pecked deep enough, either they liked it and ate it, or ants found the wound and made short work of the whole thing.

They pecked every red raspberry they could reach and apparently didn’t care for them. This didn’t stop them from still pecking off every berry they could reach and just leaving them on the ground. Every day.

I no longer have grape hyacinth all over my yard, because the guineas graze them off like little lawn mowers. I think they can see very tiny things, because I rarely get chigger bites and only get ticks from the cats when they’ve been in the tall grass.

Guinea hens will not sit on any eggs they might lay if they are penned up. You have to put the eggs under a good mother hen, best being a game hen. Guineas hide their nests and if you don’t find them, you will probably lose the nest and the hen, as they will not leave the nest when threatened. They will be lost to skunks, raccoons, possums and dogs. Armadillos will also take the eggs, but I don’t think they harm the hen.

Guineas usually make turkey appear intelligent by comparison, but they can be smart in some ways. I have seen them send a youngster to go get a lost keet peeping in the tall grass, and lead it back to the flock. I have only one left now (he is called “Little Schumer”), and he talks to me. He hangs with the chickens now that he’s alone, and doesn’t wander so far, but he gets really naughty about going into the henhouse at night. His last remaining brother got killed by an owl and I hope to keep this little “tame” one around a long time.

I put thick, slippery plastic sheets about 30″ high around the three trees the birds chose to roost in. These won’t stop owls, but since being installed they have prevented any more losses to opossums and raccoons.

Here’s a helpful hint. Use the poultry to help, not ruin a garden. Stagger plant potatoes in a three foot wide row, barely below the surface of spaded soil. Cover generously with straw, and then roll out a length of 2″ x 4″ welded wire fencing, four feet high, flat on top of the whole bed. This prevents the chickens from digging it up, the straw means you don’t need to hill the potatoes, and the chickens and guineas will eat all the potato bugs and not touch the plants because they are poisonous.

I hope this is of help to anyone who plans to get guinea fowl. – Carol in Arkansas