The guinea fowl ordinary belongs to the family guinea fowl. The homeland of these birds is Africa south of the Sahara. Even in ancient times began their domestication man. Over time, birds were brought to the West Indies, Brazil, France, Australia. This species is divided into 9 subspecies.
The length of the birds reach 53-58 cm. The head is small, the body is rounded. Weight is within 1.3 kg. The tail and wings are short, the beak is hooked and compressed from the sides. These birds mostly move on the ground, and fly reluctantly, as they get tired quickly. There are no feathers on the head, but there are growths and a reddish fleshy horn on the crown. Bare skin has reddish and blue patches. The plumage on the body is gray-black and covered with white spots. Subspecies vary in size and head color.
Reproduction and longevity
Peak breeding occurs in the summer dry season, as the chicks do not tolerate damp and humidity. In clutch there are 5-8 yellowish-white eggs. The nest is a hole in the ground. The incubation period lasts about 4 weeks. The weight of one egg reaches 26-30 g. In winter, mating activity is absent. During the breeding season, birds have a marked increase in testosterone levels in their blood. In the wild, guinea fowl lives for 12 years.
Behavior and nutrition
Outside of the breeding season, these birds live in flocks, in which there are up to 25 adults. In search of food, they are tireless and can go up to 10 km per day. They live in sparse dry forest-steppe and in agricultural lands. Avoid dense forests and shrub thickets. The diet consists of seeds, fruits, herbs, snails, spiders, worms, frogs, lizards, small snakes and small mammals. Representatives of the species have strong claws, and they easily tear the soil in search of food. They spend the night on the branches of trees.
Large flocks of common guinea fowl in recent years can be observed in suburban areas of Cape Town. In these places, birds adapted perfectly. They slowly move along the roads in search of food, and spend the night on the roofs of the bungalows. But it annoys the locals, as in the morning the birds create a lot of noise.
Homemade guinea fowl
Domesticated representatives of the species lived in ancient Rome and ancient Greece. In the XV century they began to tame in Europe. In Russia, the first domestic guinea fowl began to appear in the XVIII century. These birds have very nutritious meat and are considered to be one of the best in taste. Eggs are smaller than chicken, but surpass the latter in nutritional properties. They do not have salmonella because of the thick and sturdy shell. Shelf life is 6 months at temperatures up to 10 degrees Celsius. And they contain these birds in the same way as chickens in spacious and dry rooms.
The birthplace of the birds described is African countries. Presumably, they received their name from the ancient Romans, who called them in honor of the famous emperor.
In the middle of the XV century, Portuguese traders imported common guinea fowls to European countries. Due to its peculiarity to quick adaptation, it came to court. Changing the type of climate from equatorial to temperate continental and Mediterranean, the guinea fowl has gained wide popularity among farmers and poultry farmers. In the Russian empire it was introduced in the 18th century as a decorative bird, but already in the 19th century it was grown in agriculture along with chicken and other birds. Today, in Ukraine, guinea fowls of the following breeds are grown: gray-speckled, Zagorsk white-breasted, Siberian white, cream, blue, Volga white.
Characteristics and lifestyle
Living on the outside, these birds gather in large flocks, electing the leader of an adult and a strong male. Together they get food for themselves: fruits, berries, plants, insects. People are not afraid of wild representatives, but do not contact them when they meet, preferring to ignore. More fearful are young individuals. Sensing a threat, they fly into the sky. From enemies - predatory animals and birds, reptiles, hide in shrubs and trees.
What explains the sympathy for guinea fowls in the household? Yes, the fact that this genus of birds is quite unpretentious in everyday life and livable with other birds. Birds live in a hen house, they do not require special conditions, but they like comfort and cleanliness, spaciousness and light, and containers for food and water should always be filled. The level of immunity is high, rarely get sick. You should not restrict their freedom, because they are pretty tightly attached to the court and always return there. In addition, the farm has the following benefits:
- function "guard": in the case of a visit to the courtyard of the house of an unexpected guest, the feathery will raise the din, like a guard dog,
- pest control: beetles and worms are included in the bird's diet - it is simple to accustom them to eating a certain type of insect, you only need to tutter their pet a couple of times,
- Guinea fowl - a source of dietary meat and eggs.
Guinea fowl as a delicacy
Guinea fowl meat is considered a delicacy, contains almost no fat and is rich in vitamin B, protein and many amino acids: threonine, methionine, isoleucine and others. Nutritionists recommend it for use to children, pregnant women and people suffering from anemia, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, with a general weakness and exhaustion of the body. It may be contraindicated in cases of individual intolerance by the body of this product. In the cuisines of different countries there are original recipes for cooking guinea fowl dishes.
Habitat in the wild
Guinea fowl birds are spread all over the world, but African individuals are distinguished by the brightness of their plumage. Especially stand out guinea fowl breed. They are also called the birds of Artemis. Their head is like a neck. It is small in size, devoid of plumage. On the crown there is a small patch of bright brown feathers. Their neck is covered with fine fluff. Outwardly, she looks thin and naked.
The main plumage is painted in all shades of blue. Individuals keep in packs of not more than 30 heads. For habitat, they choose an area close to the forest zone. Comfortable and in the mountains. Long limbs are adapted to move on a rocky surface.
Crested guinea fowl looks interesting. They look like gray-speckled ordinary individuals, but on their heads they have curly feathers that form a large forelock. Individuals gather in flocks up to 100 heads. They choose for themselves a territory with thorny shrubs and high grass.
African guinea fowl runs fast and is able to fly. Sensing danger, it can rise to a height of 50 m, capable of covering a distance of 500 m at a time. Birds lead a nomadic lifestyle. They constantly move in search of food. For the night, they find bushes with thorny branches. Most often it is an acacia. Shrubs are protected from birds of prey and animals.
With the first rays of the sun flock wakes up. The night in the savannas and semi-deserts is cold, therefore in the morning dew appears on the branches of bushes, on the grass and stones. Birds need to collect it. This is a water supply for the whole day. When the sun rises to zenith, the flock hides in the shadow. She spends the whole day in the grass. Griffon guinea fowls are used for protection from the sun cleft in the rocks. In the evening, the pack again goes in search of food.
During the dry period, before rainfall, guinea fowls try to keep closer to the forest. There is more vegetation there, which means that there is food and drink for them. Sometimes they collect forest fruits, which were thrown off by animals, pick berries. Far into the thicket they do not go deep. For them it is too dangerous. They will not be able to fly among the trees or run through the thick grass. Better flocks for open territory.
African guinea fowls differ from European specimens. In Europe, birds are most often kept in aviaries. For them there is no need to look for food and water on their own, to save themselves from danger. Their instincts are a bit lost. People take care of them, create favorable conditions for their life. Birds are unpretentious, omnivorous, but some rules still have to be followed.
Most often breed gray-speckled breed. They get meat, eggs and feathers. Grif and crested guinea fowls contain as an ornament for the yard. Massively, they are mainly used for hatching eggs or offspring. Eggs and meat have the same good characteristics as the gray-speckled bird, but decorative individuals are more expensive on the market.
Breeding at home
Guinea fowl usually does not require special conditions of detention. It is recommended to breed for beginners in the poultry industry. For them build a chicken coop with exits to the aviary. It is advised to equip the closed enclosure. It should be dry and light. To prevent precipitation from penetrating, it is covered with a roof of transparent material. The mesh for the hedge is chosen with a small cell so that the bird cannot insert its head into the hole.
To the birds decorated courtyard, they are released into the free range. They take care of the vegetation in the garden. They are carefully removed from the leaves of insects, such as the Colorado beetles, but they will not pluck the plant. They will not rake the beds either. When free-range there is one big problem - the birds can fly away. To avoid this, tail feathers are pruned to individuals or fences above 3 m are made. At least 1 m 2 should fall to 1 individual in a pen.
In the hen house guinea fowls spend the night and hide from the cold weather. Heating in the room is not provided, but the walls are insulated with insulating material. Be sure to install ventilation. Fresh indoor air is a pledge of bird health. In the house should always be dry and clean. On 1 individual assign 1 m 2.
In a closed enclosure and in the coop establish perches. They must be at different heights. This is done in order for guinea fowls to actively move and fly. Feeders and drinkers are best mounted outdoors, make portable, so that individuals do not scatter food. For a weight gain of 1 kg, 3 kg of feed is required. Diet for chickens up to 3 months. In the future, livestock fill trough 2 times a day. Individuals themselves regulate the amount of food they need. Water should be freely available.
For feeding use a variety of techniques: dry mix, homemade food, which includes the presence of grain, succulent feed. As dry mixes recommend to buy feed for meat breeds of birds. It is noted that the cost of such content is high, so they use either a mixed technique or homemade food.
Morning feeding may consist of mash, or of succulent feed, greens and vegetables. In the evening, give the grain mixture. As greenery, euphorbia, dandelions, nettle, clover are useful. Chickens are given parsley, dill, green onions. Grain mixture is prepared from corn, wheat, barley. Birds will better gain weight if they introduce germinated grain. For mash use whey or yogurt. You can add cottage cheese to it.
The common guinea fowl gets used to the person. Birds meet the owner with a loud cry. The same cry they emit and at the sight of a stranger. Livestock serves as a good guard for property. No one will pass unnoticed by the aviary with guinea fowls. Podvortsy warned that the loud cry is not always like the neighbors. Good relations with them can be broken. It is advised to place guinea fowls in the far corners of the village.
The appearance of the "royal bird" in Europe and Russia
The island of Madagascar, the center and south of Africa - the place where the common guinea fowl lives to this day. The current name of the bird is “obliged” to ancient Rome.
After all, it was grown there to provide royal fun and delicious food on the table of the rulers. In honor of the commander, the birds were called "Caesar's birds". Subsequently - just “guinea fowl”, which means “king”.
Ptahi, trapped in Europe before the new era, did not survive and died. And only in the XV-XVI century, guinea fowls were re-brought from Guinea by Portuguese navigators. Much later (in the XVIII century) they appeared in Russia, first as decorative specimens, and then domesticated.
Common guinea fowl: its appearance and "character"
The second variant of acquiring the name of an ordinary guinea fowl received due to the presence of a special “horn” on its head resembling a crown. This bird of the guinea fowl family is ranked among the order of the Curonidae, in appearance and build it resembles relatives (hens, turkeys).
The length of the grown individuals is 53-58 cm. Not long wings and tail allow you to fly freely. The color of feathers is monotonous, meanwhile, light uniform blotches on the overall dark gray background look original.
The head and neck are completely devoid of feathers, the beak is shaped like a hook, compressed at the sides and decorated with red leathery growths.
In a calm environment they are actively talking, cooing among themselves. Lovers of schooling lifestyle. Very hardy birds are equally well tolerated in both heat and cold.
Features of the life of guinea fowl in the wild
Gathering in flocks of different sizes (from several dozen to 100 individuals), the birds obediently move after the leader of the chain. From danger rather quickly run away than take off.
Favorite places of residence are low growth forests, which are periodically replaced by glades. Here they get food: insects, snails, berries, grass, leaves, seeds.
During the breeding season, the female makes a simple nest. Often it is a small fossa dug in the thickets.
Laying 6-8 eggs (sometimes 19, but this is the maximum number), incubates for 25 days. The newly emerged young soon leave the “home”, where they hatch and move together with their parents. They grow rapidly when their value reaches half the height of adult guinea fowls - they begin to fly and spend the night with a flock on the trees.
Guinea fowl - excellent poultry
Endurance, not frequent diseases, excellent meat and eggs to taste - these are the reasons for the breeding of this species of farmers by farmers. In comparison with chicken, their meat is more useful, has a significant similarity with game.
A distinctive feature of eggs is a heavy-duty shell, which contributes to the smooth transport and long-term storage. Also, guinea fowl eggs contain a huge amount of vitamins, hypoallergenic, therefore, they are valued above chicken.
Interesting is the indifference of these birds to the Colorado potato beetle. Guinea fowls are used to combat it. After all, these birds are able to find and eat beetles without damaging the leaves of the potato and not raking the ground. Only you need to protect the birds from cabbage and zucchini, so as not to lose the harvest, because they love this type of vegetables.
Variety of Guinea Fowl Breeds
In the wilderness are found their various varieties. However, the guinea fowl is the progenitor of the existing breeds of domestic birds of this species. The main focus of their differences from their predecessors is more weight and egg production (homemade guinea fowl is able to carry 120-150 eggs per year).
Popular species of domesticated guinea fowls:
- Volzhskaya - white plumage with a cream shade. White meat carcass favorably characterizes this breed and gives an attractive presentation.
- Withstands severe frosts and add weight faster - white Siberian guinea fowl.
- Zagorskaya white-breast - has a combined color: the whole individual is gray with white patches, and the chest, wings and neck are pure white. Her meat is most similar to chicken.
- The most common breed is gray-speckled.
These types of birds are unassuming to the conditions of life and easily get along with other "tenants" of the poultry yard.
History referenceThe first to know about the existence of wild guinea fowls were south african tribes. And in the V century BC. This bird was discovered by the ancient Greeks, bowing before it. 200 years later, when the Punic Wars broke out, the Romans became interested in colorful birds.
In those days it was a very expensive living creature that only wealthy individuals could afford. It valued everything: eggs, meat and feathers. After Caligula came to power, the fame of the colorful birds spread to the very west Asia and Byzantium.
However, in the Middle Ages, the former popularity of guinea fowers was forgotten, and the birds began to disappear from the household. Repeated their "discovery" occurred only after the invasion of the Spaniards into the territory Guineawhere for centuries they have grown these representatives of the fauna.
Description and appearance
Modern zoologists distinguish 6 species of birds from different genera of the hen family. All of them are characterized by a specific pearl ebb of feathers and a peculiar body structure. By these signs of exotic birds can be found from afar.
Common guinea fowls have a dark feather with small white specks. They also have peculiar, cone-shaped, fleshy growths on the crown and under the neck. The leathery, bare area of the body stands out in a contrasting bluish tinge on the red-gray collar.
The tail of birds is short, with lower pubescence. The legs are gray, the wings are rounded, the body is heavy and dense, the back is rounded. Guinea fowl beak - hooked, medium size. The body weight of females reaches 1.5 kg, and males - 1.7 kg.
Lifestyle and character
In most cases guinea fowl not overly shy and noisy. Если оказавшись за рулём, вы увидите на дороге перед собой стадо взрослых жемчужных пернатых, не рассчитывайте, что они в тот час же бросятся в разные стороны — напротив, эта живность продемонстрирует свою вальяжность. А вот для испуга молодняка достаточно уже одного приближающегося шума. Цесарки держатся группами, количество птиц в которых может достигать иногда нескольких сотен особей. Птицам привычны быстрая ходьба и бег. Guinea fowls also know how to fly, but they do it extremely rarely, mainly when there is a threat to their lives.
In the wild, guinea fowls have many enemies. They are hunted by predatory animals, snakes and other birds. Therefore, all members of the herd are very friendly with each other, they follow the leader along the chain. By the way, only the oldest, and therefore experienced, male can lead the pack. At the sight of danger, these birds stop responding to their surroundings, focusing exclusively on the threatening enemy. This feature is often used by poultry farmers to catch a bird.
What feeds on
The subtleties of the nutritional diet of these birds are largely dependent on their habitat. Due to living in arid places, birds acquired the ability to absorb moisture more intensively from the received feed during the digestion process, for which they have an overly elongated cecum. Guinea fowl feed plant food: berries, plant bulbs, seeds, leaves, worms, snails, and in the mating season they prefer a diet of insects.
Eggs and Guinea Fowl
For centuries, meat and egg products of these birds are appreciated by real gourmets. Let's understand its features.
Guinea fowl eggs have an average weight of 40-45 g. They are distinguished by a pear-shaped form and a creamy hard shell with dark specks, sometimes the colors can vary to smoky shades. This product is suitable for storage at temperatures from 0 to +10 degrees for 6 months. But most of all chicken eggs are valued for high content of vitamins and healthy ingredients. Among them:
- proteins - 12.8 g,
- fats - 0.5 g,
- B vitamins,
- fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic, palmitic, oleic, stearic, myristic),
- retinol - 2.3 g,
- Riboflavin - 0.44 g,
- thiamine - 0.7 mg,
- tocopherol - 1.2 g,
- folacin ―1,2 µg,
- Niacin - 0, 43 mg,
- Choline - 3.2 mg,
- Biotin - 7, 0 mg.
- iron deficiency anemia,
- pregnancy and breastfeeding,
- children age
- diseases of the nervous system,
- malfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract,
- metabolic disorders.
The most delicious part of these birds is brisket, in one hundred servings of which are contained:
- proteins - 20.6 g,
- fat - 2.5 g,
- carbohydrates - 1.2 g,
- water - 75 g,
- phosphorus - 169 mg,
- thiamine - 0, 012 mg,
- retinol - 0.067 mg,
- Riboflavin - 0.112 mg,
- selenium - 0,0175 mg,
- Pantothenic acid - 0.936 mg,
- calcium - 11 mg,
- pyridoxine - 0.47 mg,
- folic acid - 0.006 mg,
- sodium - 69 mg,
- cobalamin - 0.37 mg,
- ascorbic acid - 1.7 mg,
- Nicotinamide - 8.782 mg,
- potassium - 220 mg,
- magnesium - 24 mg,
- Zinc - 1.2 mg.
- manganese - 0,018 mg,
- iron - 0.77 mg,
- copper - 0.044 mg,
- amino acids
- omega-3 and omega-6.
According to experts, guinea fowl meat is useful for:
- depletion of the body
- postoperative rehabilitation,
- various diets
- breastfeeding and pregnancy,
- failure of the nervous system,
- disorders of the digestive tract.