The majority of guineafowls have been raised in captivity for thousands of years and are becoming more common on farms all over the world where they are raised for their eggs and meat. However, the situation is a little bit different for the white-breasted guineafowl.
White-breasted guineafowls are a vulnerable species, which means they are at risk of becoming extinct in the future. They aren’t as common on farms because of this, but it’s possible that they could be used for farming in their native range. Continue reading for everything you need to know about these birds.
Quick Facts About White-Breasted Guineafowls
|Breed Name:||White-Breasted Guineafowl|
|Place of Origin:||Africa|
|Uses:||Pest control, eggs, and meat|
|Guinea Cock (Male) Size:||2-4 pounds|
|Guinea Hen (Female) Size:||1.5-3.5 pounds|
|Color:||Black with white neck and breast, red head|
|Climate Tolerance:||Mild to moderate, subtropical|
|Care Level:||Easy to moderate|
White-Breasted Guineafowl Origins
White-breasted guineafowls have their origins in the subtropical region of West Africa. They live mostly in the forests of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Once more common than they are now, white-breasted guineafowls are listed as a vulnerable species, which means that they are at high risk of facing extinction in the wild.
The decline in the population of white-breasted guineafowls in West Africa is mostly due to massive deforestation in their native range. Since their population is declining in the wild, people don’t often raise white-breasted guineas as livestock for eggs and poultry due to restrictions and regulations. Instead, the helmeted guineafowl is more commonly used.
White-Breasted Guineafowl Characteristics
White-breasted guineafowls are considered to be medium-sized birds that are around 17 inches in length and can weigh up to 4 pounds. As far as the size differences between males (guinea cocks) and females (guinea hens), the only difference is that females are slightly smaller and less plump.
All species of guineafowl prefer to live in flocks consisting of several birds. In the wild, they can live in groups of up to 15 to 20 birds, and they do better on farms when there are multiples of them as well. However, large groups of guineafowl can be quite noisy because they call out every time they become alarmed or alerted to something. The sound they may is usually a low-pitched “kuk-kuk-kuk” sound.
Because they become alarmed so easily, guineafowl can make excellent “guards” of the farm and livestock. But if they feel threatened, they aren’t afraid to peck and scratch at whatever they feel is a threat. It’s important to handle them carefully and cautiously so they don’t feel threatened, which happens very easily.
It’s not uncommon to see these birds perched high in barns or trees on farms, as they roost in trees in the wild. Adult guineafowl are not that difficult to take care of, but young guineafowl (called keets) require a bit more care to ensure that they stay warm and dry especially when they aren’t in their native, subtropical habitat.
Guineafowl, in general, are raised for farming and as livestock in a similar way to chickens and ducks. They are mostly used for egg and meat production, and guinea hens can lay up to 15 eggs at one time. If the eggs are allowed to hatch, they will usually do so within a period of 30 days. Their meat is high in protein, low in calories, and is very lean.
Guineafowl can also provide excellent pest control, as they often eat insects such as ticks and flies, and in the case of white-breasted guineafowls, in particular, maggots. However, white-breasted guineafowls aren’t the most common type of guineafowl that is raised for meat and egg production, although they can be raised for that purpose in certain areas as they are very similar to other species of guineafowl.
Appearance & Varieties
As previously mentioned, white-breasted guineafowl are plump, medium-sized birds. They are larger and plumper than chickens, but unlike chickens, there is very little difference between male and female guineafowls.
The white-breasted guineafowl has a body and plumage that is mostly black. The neck and breast area is white, hence the name. They also have a small head that is red in color and bald, without feathers. Their feet are gray and their beak is a greenish-brown color.
Population, Distribution & Habitat
White-breasted guineafowls are still mostly confined to West Africa. This is mostly due to them being a vulnerable species, which limits where they can go and what they can be used for. That’s not to say that they aren’t used for farming in West Africa and elsewhere, but their population distribution is largely unknown.
Plus, since some species of guineafowl are considered to be exotic birds and can only live in certain habitats, some countries have regulations as to what types of guineafowl are recognized and can be used for farming. For example, the United States only recognizes the helmeted guineafowl, which is the most common guineafowl and the only one that has actually been domesticated.
It’s also worth mentioning that the area in which white-breasted guineafowls live is subtropical. Subtropical climates have hot, humid summers and mild, chilly winters. For white-breasted guineafowls to truly survive in captivity, they would need to be in a climate that is similar to their native climate.
With that being said, they can tolerate cold temperatures as long as they have proper shelter and protection. But, all of that depends on if you would even be allowed to raise white-breasted guineafowls for farming in your area, which is something you can inquire about at your local city department.
- Also See: Lady Amherst’s Pheasant
Are White-Breasted Guineafowls Good for Small-Scale Farming?
White-breasted guineafowls would be good for small-scale farming if they were to be officially domesticated and if they weren’t a vulnerable species. However, these factors make white-breasted guineafowls unsuitable for small-scale farming since many areas don’t recognize them and because they are confined to protected areas.
If you’re interested in raising guineafowl or using them for small-scale farming, a better option would be the helmeted guineafowl, which is more common, domesticated, and more widely recognized. However, guineafowl are not as easy to keep as chickens are, since they are larger and can be a bit more skittish than chickens. They’re easy once you know what you’re doing, but they definitely require a little more patience when you’re just starting out.
Some species of guineafowl are well-suited for farming, but the white-breasted guineafowl is not. Yes, it can be used for meat and egg production, but it is a vulnerable species that is mostly confined to certain areas in its native habitat of West Africa. It’s possible that if the population were to increase enough to where they don’t need protection, then these birds could make great assets to farms all over the world. But until then, those interested in raising guineafowl will have to stick to another species.
Featured Image Credit: Peredniankina, Shutterstock