I really do love my guinea fowl and since this is my fourth attempt over two years at having a flock roam around the garden at Sophie’s Patch, I am very keen to see them succeed. They are a delight to watch. I love their noises. I love the way they roam in a chaotic swarm. I love the fact that they run to danger … literally. Every car that comes up our driveway, they literally run towards and seem to only stop when they are right by the wheels. It freaks many visitors out, and even myself every now and again when I fear I have driven over one (rest assured we haven’t squashed one yet).
A friend recently educated me on what the collective term for a flock of guinea fowl is – it is a confusion. A very apt description. As much as I love them though, I wouldn’t not describe them as bright. Richard recently commented that in order to get aerodynamic abilities (yes they can fly great distances), Nature has economised on weight, from the neck up!!! Big body, little brain. Almost daily they fly into the orchard to talk with the rest of the flock and then most fly out. However there is always one or two that forgets how they got in and then runs up and down the inside of the fence calling to those on the outside! Even still they have become so dear to me that I can’t imagine the garden without them wandering around.
The reason I got Guinea fowl in the first place was not just to look cute as mobile garden art, even though they do, it was to act as mobile pest control around the garden, and in particular to deal with cabbage white caterpillars in my vegie patch. My chooks, ducks and geese do a great job of pest patrol in the orchard but cannot be trusted to roam the garden, and especially not the vegie patch as they do too much damage. So I thought guinea fowl would be a great solution as I was led to believe they don’t scratch as chooks do and are insect eaters not vegie grazers. Just to be doubly cautious, I deliberately didn’t not raise them under a chicken so they would not learn to scratch.
However several weeks ago I noticed something had been dust bathing near the top orchard gate and had scratch a number of holes. I automatically presumed that it was an escapee chicken and then saw my confusion having a great time! At the time I thought “I guess I can live with that”. Within days I entered the vegie patch to see them walking on top of my vegie netting cages and squashing the frames to the ground.
Hmmmm. Not good. But it gets worse. I looked around to see others eating my vegies. What!!!!! NO … I had seen that something had been eating my crops but again had put it down to a wayward escape chook. At Sophie’s Patch there always seems to be one wilful chook that jumps the fence because he or she feels they deserve to be truly free range, and until the gates on the orchard cage are finished I really can’t keep everyone inside.
So now I am really uncertain what to do and I am putting it out there. Has anyone ever had guinea fowl and had them cause problems in their vegie patch? I would love to hear any feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org