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May 6, 2014 07:39 AM

Anyone have any experience with using Guinea Hens to keep down the bugs in the garden?

I'm thinking about it, lots of pros but a few cons.

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  1. They have larger feet than most hens, so the chance at uprooting entire rows while scratching for bugs is enhanced.

    But they do taste wonderful.

    2 Replies

      I heard the eggs are delicious too ;-)

      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        I love pintade. (the French name for Guinea hen)

        I have thus far neglected to ask for the recipe, but one of my best pals makes pintade braised in cider with apples. It's fab.

      2. Not guinea hens, but we do have chickens. They love the bugs, and do a righteous job in keeping the bug numbers way down (pro). They also love the plants, and also keep the plants way down (con).

        On balance, we decided not to let the chickens roam the yard at will. They have their own part of the yard in which to range, and in which practically nothing grows. We also keep an open-topped compost bin in the chicken yard, so they hop in there regularly and pick out bugs and turn the top layers of compost with their scratching.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ricepad

          I hear the Guinea hens don't bother the plants at all, which is a big plus. We had a "neighborhood" one a few years back and he/she was just great!

          1. re: coll

            Be careful what you 'hear'. Before we got chickens, we 'heard' that they wouldn't bother our vegetables and ornamentals - "don't worry, they'll just pick the bugs off" - but that's a bunch o' hooey. They won't bother the parts of the plants that are out of reach, but everything else seems to be fair game.

            There's another con, too: little blobs of turds all over the yard. You cannot housebreak a chicken, no matter how hard you try!

            1. re: ricepad

              And remember the corollary: the bigger the bird, the bigger the turd.

              1. re: ricepad

                We did have a neighborhood wild guinea hen and she was very good. But since she was a loner, who knows.

          2. We had several Guineas many years ago and the main thing I remember about them was the awful racket they made. Seemed Iike every little thing set them off.

            3 Replies
            1. re: miss_belle

              Yeah that I already know from the visitor we had a few years ago. At least you knew she was around! Now we have a flock of about a dozen turkeys that race around the neighborhood and they're not all that quiet either!

              1. re: miss_belle

                Mom keeps a few. They are great for grasshoppers and fire ants. But she has a hard time getting them to roost where she wants them to - they prefer the tree right over her car, instead of the coop.
                And yeah, they're noisy!!

                1. re: tacosandbeer

                  That part I know, they stay in the trees. And they might just disappear on you, never to be seen again. I'm willing to take that chance! They're very cheap to purchase, if you get babies. Like $5 or so.

                  If they work out over the summer, then I guess I'd build them a little hut to live in when the cold weather comes. But they're not domesticated like hens by any means. I sort of like that.

              2. On my friend's horse farm and organic garden, they use guinea hens to keep the ticks and other bugs away. Works well, although the hens themselves aren't the prettiest thing in the world and they can be noisy, but the upside is bigger than the downside.

                The nice thing about them is they are low-maintenance. They basically wander the property and are fine left to their own devices so long as they are fed and have a place to sleep and rest.

                As far as eating from a garden, I am only going by my friend's many years of experience, but they do have a large garden used to produce vegetables for sale and I doubt they'd let the guinea hens loose on the property if there was danger of them eating any of those valuable crops!

                2 Replies
                1. re: pickledtink

                  I could have written this word for word...The guinea hens eradicated the ticks on my friends property. They seem to be skittish creatures though.

                  1. re: meatn3

                    Yeah I hear if you don't get them as chicks and really take care of them, there is a good chance they will disappear. I don't want to bring them up from babies though. They are pretty cheap either way, but if I get a bunch I have a feeling they will all disappear together.

                    The wild one we had never bothered my garden at all, just hung on the edges gobbling up bugs all day long. I really miss him, and I sort of liked his talking too. Amazing how high they can fly when they sense danger, although a neighbor's dog finally did him in.

                2. We herd our ducks into the garden every few days, and they do a pretty good job at keeping the larger insects under control.

                  Guinea hens should work just fine, and they taste great.