As every month, we bring you a post to learn about new breeds of chickens and discover their characteristics and curious facts. Last month we introduced you to one of the oldest chickens, the Barred Rock, and today we bring you a practically unknown bird in the Philippines with a very peculiar appearance: the Guinea fowl.
The guinea fowl is known as the painted hen or coquena hen and may seem much more exotic than the chickens we all know, but they are also domestic birds that coexist on our farms without problems. It has its origin in central West Africa, south of the Sahara, from where its name comes. It is unknown in most European countries, except in France and Italy where it is more present. They get to acquire a large size, about fifty or sixty centimeters, and are characterized by having a fat, strong, and very long beak that begins at the nose.
It belongs to the galliform or gallinaceous family of birds, to which 283 different species belong, along with partridges or turkeys, which also belong to that family. Its scientific name is Numida Maleagris, someplace it in the Phasianidae family, with birds such as pheasants. There are three types of guinea fowl: gray, blue, and white.
Characteristics of the guinea fowl
The guinea fowl has a medium size of 53 cm to 63 cm, depending on its lineage. It is very peculiar because it does not resemble the rest of the chickens that are on farms, it has long dark feathers and it has a bald neck and head. Some specimens have a crest on top of their head. With a rounded body, small head, and short tail and wings, they weigh about 1.3 kg on average.
It has a short beak and deep red caruncles. A bluish-gray or pearl-gray plumage with white sequined spots, with white fur, slightly bluish on the head although with black spots. They can live 12 years in the wild and several more in captivity.
When it comes to raising them, they are quite delicate, since these birds come from the tropics, so they need controlled areas that protect them from cold and heat. The guinea fowl is an animal that usually lives in large and open places, in a farm this factor has to be taken into account so that they live in optimal conditions. They form flocks and are social birds that move in groups and travel miles during the day and at night they climb trees to sleep.
An interesting fact about these birds is that they are monogamous animals that have only one partner throughout their lives. On a farm, there must be the same number of males and females, in their courtship or breeding season the males will look for several females, but the moment a female accepts it, she will stay with her. They lay between seven and twenty eggs and, unlike traditional chickens, guinea fowl hatch their eggs for 25 to 30 days. Those that live in freedom, usually eat worms, tadpoles, or small snails to avoid having to leave the nest.