Did you know that the Helmeted Guineafowl is to the most poultry lovers, the same that cats are to the most pet lovers? You either love them or hate them. You will either tolerate them with their ‘free-thinker’ lifestyle or you will want quickly to get rid of them.
The Helmeted Guineafowl is one of the most common guineafowl breeds in the world and in the Unites States. Actually, it is the only one recognized breed of guineafowl by the American Poultry Association. On this page, we want to look at it in a bit of depth.
This information is great if you are considering raising the Helmeted Guineafowl as a pet, for meat, or you simply want to know more about this breed of bird.
Where Do Helmeted Guineafowl Come From?
The guineafowl is native to Africa, and it can be found in several places throughout Africa living ‘wild’. It is especially common in South Africa.
Here, the population of helmeted guineafowls have managed to get out of control.
In fact, they are so out of control that they are deemed to be a pest and have ended up causing a lot of destruction in certain places, most likely in the hunt for good.
It is worth noting that the helmeted guineafowl is not the domesticated version of guineafowl, although a lot of people will raise it as if it were domesticated.
That being said, the domesticated version of the bird is descended from the helmeted guineafowl.
The domesticated version is simply known as ‘Domesticated Guineafowl‘, which isn’t the most original name in the world.
The helmeted guineafowl would have been first domesticated in the 5th Century BC, and imported to the United States at some point in the 18th or 19th Centuries.
But, it was admitted to the APA in this century, back in 2004, in its three varieties White, Pearl and Lavender Helmeted guineafowl.
What Do Helmeted Guineafowls Look Like?
The Helmeted Guineafowl looks pretty much like any other guineafowl. This means that the most prominent feature will be their large, round body.
This is a stark contrast to the rather tiny head that they have. Their wings and their tail will be so short that they will be barely noticeable.
However, despite the smaller wings trying to support a larger body, this guineafowl can put a lot of power into flight, even if it is not able to travel all that far.
The bird gets its name from the small, red knob that it has on its head. It looks like a bump. None of their head will be feathered.
The helmeted guineafowl only comes in one color; black and white. However, the domesticated version of the breed may have other colors available.
It is unlikely that you will ever see these in the wild. If you do, then they would have escaped from a domesticated flock of guineafowl.
The average helmeted guineafowl will weigh a little under 3 lbs.
Behavior and Temperament of the Helmeted Guineafowl
This is a bird that travels in larger flocks. If you encountered it in the wild, then it wouldn’t be uncommon to see them in flocks of over 30-birds.
This is part of the reason as to why they are pests. In the wild, if the helmeted guineafowl enters your garden, you do not have one large bird coming in, you have dozens of them.
It is very, very rare for the bird to separate from its flock when it is an adult. However, adult guineafowl seem to have no issues abandoning their young.
While the bird can fly, it doesn’t do it all that often. It cannot sustain a long-flight. It will pretty much run everywhere.
They walk a lot too (around 7-miles per day) and they do so at an astonishingly fast speed.
What Does Helmeted Guineafowls Eat?
Pretty much anything that it can get its beak on. They are extremely good foragers and they will eat anything that they find.
The Helmeted guineafowl eats a lot of grain and seeds and it also targets larger insects.
In the summer months, when it is breeding, around 80% of their diet will be larger insects. This is because they need the protein to produce the eggs. The rest of the time, the insects will only form a small portion of their diet.
Breeding Helmeted Guineafowl
Helmeted guineafowl find a mate for life. They are a monogamous breed, which is why it would be quite difficult to breed the helmeted guineafowl in captivity.
They will also only breed in the summer months. Their breeding season lasts for around 2-months, and they will lay 1-2 eggs per week.
If the helmeted guineafowl has a mate, then almost all of these eggs should be fertilized.
Can you Eat Helmeted Guineafowl Meat?
You can. In fact, many people that raise the helmeted guineafowl do so with the intention of eating their meat one day.
Although, do bear in mind that this is not a bird that will taste anything like other meat birds.
The helmeted guineafowl, just like other guineafowls will have a game-like taste to it. Not everybody is a fan, so you will probably want to taste guineafowl before you raise them for the meat.
The eggs should be fine to eat, and you will notice that much of a difference there. However, most people will not be raising their guineafowl for the eggs.
They will only lay 12 eggs per year, and this will only be during the summer season. If you are breeding the helmeted guineafowl, then you will want to ensure that you use those eggs for breeding purposes.
Helmeted Guineafowls Facts as a Pet
This guineafowl makes a tremendous pet. They live for about 15-years under human care and, for the most part, they should be dead simple for you to be able to look after too.
They make a good starter pet, but only if you are a calm person. The thing is that with the sound they make they can drive anyone to madness.
If you haven’t heard guineafowl noises and sounds, then we must worn you that they are extremely irritating.
However, the good thing is that they will be a natural alarm for your farmyard. With the sound they make they will warn you if there are rats, snakes or other predator or intruder in your yard.
The other benefit of raising Helmeted guineafowl as pets is their ability to be insect exterminators. They will hunt and eat every insect in your farmyard. Even the smallest ones.
Many people claim that there are no grasshoppers anywhere near a guineafowl flock.
Remember; helmeted guineafowl travels in larger flocks. This means that if you are going to be going down the route of having these birds as a pet, then you will need to have a number of them, and that is going to take up a decent chunk of space.
You certainly wouldn’t want to be raising the helmeted guineafowl if you only have a small garden. There are other birds that are probably going be far better for you there.
Probably the only issue that you will have when it comes to finding the Helmeted guineafowl as a pet is that there are not many breeders about.
This means that they can be a bit tricky to find if you live in smaller areas, or in a city.