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Smallholder helmeted guinea fowl production in the tropics

Smallholder helmeted guinea fowl production in the tropics

BY F. K. AVORNYO (BSc., MSc., PhD)

COUNCIL FOR SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCHANIMAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE, NYANKPALA STATION, TAMALE, GHANA

DECEMBER, 2016

Contents

Getting started 4

Acquisition of inputs 6

Housing 9

Records 11

Sourcing, collection and handling of hatching eggs 12

Records 13

Incubation 15

Natural incubation 15

Artificial incubation 16

Temperature regulation 18

During hatching 18

Other issues to consider during incubation 19

Records 20

Brooding with a fowl (the traditional system) 21

Microclimate, feeding and watering 22

Feed formulation 24

Medication 27

Brooding of keets without a mother (commercial system) 28

The brooder house and microclimate 28

Feeding and watering management 33

Medication 34

Sanitation 35

Records 36

Sexing of guinea fowls 38

Post-brooding management under the free range system 39

Management of growers at the initial stage 39

Records 42

Management of the laying or breeding stock for good hatching eggs 44

Records 45

Transportation of live birds 46

Day old keets 46

Growers 46

Conclusion 48

Bibliography 49

 

[] Getting started

Some people probably have interest in rearing guinea fowls. They may already have been rearing guinea fowls for many years and may already be keeping a few guinea fowls. Others may be complete starters. Whatever their needs may be, it is hoped that they would find some useful information that would help them succeed in guinea fowl rearing. Whatever their situation might be, if they are considering rearing guinea fowls, there are a few things they have to do.

There is the need to identify a place to rear them. This may be in a community or away from human settlement. They may be reared under the intensive system, on free range or under the semi-intensive system. If local breeds would be used, then it might advisable to keep them under the intensive system for the first six to eight weeks followed by the free range system for the rest of their lives but they should be trained to sleep in their coops overnight. If exotic guinea fowls would be kept, then they might be maintained under the intensive system. It may however be difficult to make any profit under the intensive system considering that most people in developing countries would not have the capacity to keep over 10,000 guinea fowls at a time.

If the intention is to produce large numbers of guinea fowls, then it would be advisable to undertake such a venture in the outskirts of town. This however has its challenges. The problem of snakes killing them may be encountered. Another possible threat is theft. Guinea fowl house may be sited at a location where theft is not common. There may be the need to engage a caretaker to keep watch over the birds. Brooding of keets may be done in one’s house or community and the keets later transferred when they are six to eight weeks old to the site earmarked for rearing of growers and adults.

If the guinea fowl house is located close to the road, vehicles may run over the guinea fowls, unless they are maintained under the intensive system. However the intensive system may not be advisable if management skills are low. It may be difficult to rear a large number of guinea fowls within the community since there might be problems with space. Moreover, guinea fowls destroy seedlings and this may bring about conflict in the community. Advice on site selection may be sought from successful guinea fowl farmers. The selected site should not get flooded in the rainy season and it should also be free of litigation.

[] Acquisition of inputs

After choosing a suitable site, there would be the need for a building to be constructed. Further discussion on building can be found in the Chapter on Housing. There would be the need to buy a few thermometers. If hens are not available for incubation of eggs, there may be the need to buy an incubator. If there is electric power source, then an electric incubator may be purchased. However, if there is no electricity in the locality, then a kerosene incubator may be purchased. A few incandescent lamps need to be purchased in the absence of gas brooders; ten 100 W incandescent lamps for brooding 300 guinea keets, a generator, fuel for the generator and wood shavings. Three sacks full of wood shavings may just be enough for a room measuring 3 m by 3 m. If rice husk is used as litter for newly hatched keets, the keets may suffer paralysis. For a kerosene incubator, kerosene should be bought. For people with electricity, the guinea fowl house should be connected to a power source especially where brooding would be done. A few electrical extension cables need to be acquired. Fertile guinea fowl eggs should be acquired as well as feed and water troughs. Only a few small-sized feed and water troughs should be bought for the first week of brooding. Bigger ones that can contain more feed and water should also be acquired so as to avoid purchasing many small ones when a few large ones might help save some money. In the absence of electricity and a gas brooder, a few Awudu heaters may be used. An Awudu heater is an assembly of clay pots containing burning charcoal. One or two Awudu heaters may generate enough heat for 300 keets. For the Awudu heater, some charcoal, a lighter, a fan and some kerosene may be needed. It may not be advisable to use lantern especially for very young keets because of the smoke and the smell of kerosene. Local stove may also pose danger to keets. Burning Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a good source of heat. It may be used together with an Awudu heater and electric lamps.

There may be the need for large transparent polythene sheets. These may be used to wrap round the brooder facility to keep the place warm for young keets. A few 1 inch nails may be needed to nail the polythene sheets to the brooder facility. Other items that may be needed include a good disinfectant, measuring cup, glucose with vitamin C, a good mineral-vitamin supplement, a good antibiotic, special guinea fowl dewormer, a coccidiostat and empty sacks. To be on the safer side, arrangements should be made to vaccinate keets against gumboro, New Castle disease and fowl pox. Balanced feed may be bought or prepared for keets. Each unimproved keet may require about 2 kg of feed from hatch to 8 weeks old. Afterwards grains may obtained and used for supplementary feeding for the rest of the rearing period.

Table 1: A list of inputs that may be required for successful guinea fowl rearing (This example is for raising 600 unimproved keets)

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*Some of these materials can be used again and again. It excludes supplementary feeding cost from grower to adult stage.

[] Housing

It is a good practice to house guineas both when they are young and also as adults. One structure can be constructed and partitioned into two so that one side will serve to brood young ones and other side can be used for housing growers and adults at night. If possible the housing for young ones can be completely separated from that for the adults because the old birds can easily transmit diseases to young ones if the houses are close to each other.

Brooder and adult houses should be built in such a way that when the wind is blowing, it would get to the brooder house first before going to the adult house. If it is not in this way, the wind may blow diseases from the adult house into the brooder house. This may be dangerous for the enterprise. Also the building should be properly sealed so that moles, snakes and other predators do not get access to attack guinea fowls inside the house. Houses should be constructed in the east-west direction so that the sun and wind will apparently move along the length of the building rather than the breadth of the building. However there is also the need for enough sunlight to enter the building so that inside the room is not completely dark. A brooder house may look like a normal building for human beings with windows and doors to match the length of the building. Keets below 4 weeks of age do not tolerate draught well so if possible the rooms for very young keets (less than 3 weeks) should have only a door but no window to admit draught which may contribute to keet mortality. House for growers and adults may look like a shed with a short wall and hanging roofs. There should be wire netting to cover the space between the wall and the roof. For adult and grower guinea fowl house, wire mesh with slightly bigger holes may be used. Once guinea fowls cannot pass through or get stuck in the wire mesh, it is okay. A similar structure may be used even for brooding of young birds, however, the wire mesh should be very small otherwise keets may squeeze through it. For brooding purposes, the mesh should be covered with large transparent polythene sheets round the building for about three weeks from the period of hatch.

The roofs should be over-hanging so that even if there is a storm, the wind will not blow water into the house. This implies additional expenditure on roofing sheets to obtain the desired overhang. Walls should be well-plastered with cement such that guinea fowls cannot peck at the walls and chip into the building. Perches should be provided in the houses because guinea fowls very often like to perch instead of sleeping on the floor. The floor of the house should be well-cemented and slope gently to a drain that leads outside the building. Anytime the building is washed, the drain will help to get water out of the room easily. However the drain should not become an entry point for moles and snakes. Preferably it should be covered when not in use.

The ground surrounding the building should not be bare. It should have some grass cover. But the grass should be weeded and kept low. A few tall trees near the building will bring shade and make inside the building cool. A fence may be provided around the building for the bigger birds to exercise, feed and drink within the fenced area.

The average size room (3m x 3m) will require between 2 and 3 bags of wood shavings as litter. This size of room can house up to 300 local or 150 improved keets from hatch up to 8 weeks. This implies that local keets can be stocked at 35 keets in a 1 m x 1m floor space for up to 8 weeks of age. When the keets are very young, this room space will be too big for them so a movable partition can be constructed inside the room, which can be used to confine the keets in one area of the house. As they grow bigger, the partition can be shifted outwards until at about five weeks when the partition may be removed completely from the house. Alternatively, the partition can be left in place and some of the keets transferred to the other side of the partition when they are about 4 weeks old. A flock of 150 growers and local adults can also occupy the same space (3 m x 3 m) meant for 300 keets from hatch to 8 weeks. Perches should be provided in the house for both adults and young. Another absolutely necessary structure that should be provided in the guinea fowl house is brooder guards, at the corners of the building. A board or some other suitable material may be used to seal off the corners of the room very well otherwise when guinea fowls, both young and adult rush into the corners from time to time whenever they are scared, there would be stampede and invariable loss of birds. This is absolutely important from the fourth week onwards. If the guards are not properly done, deaths would be recorded. A good carpenter can make them.

The brooder house will require a footbath. This can consist of a receptacle containing a solution of disinfectant. A house where birds are intensively reared will also require a footbath. Sometimes a footbath can be provided by digging the ground a finger deep, two feet wide and two feet long, and cementing inside. A disinfectant solution can be poured in it for people to dip their feet inside before they enter the house.

Provide facilities to hang feeding troughs from the time local guinea keets are entering their third week. At the same time, put the watering troughs on blocks. If these are not done, they will waste feed and soil the water with a lot of the wood shavings to the extent that they may not even get the water to drink.

[]Records

There is the need to take note of the expenses incurred at this stage. Below is an example of a record sheet for inputs purchased.

Table 2: Record sheet for inputs purchased

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p<>{color:#000;}. Remarks | <>. |<>.
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[] Sourcing, collection and handling of hatching eggs

***

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Smallholder helmeted guinea fowl production in the tropics

This book contains information on how to rear guinea fowls in the tropics. It teaches readers where to site the production unit and the factors that should be considered when choosing a place for guinea fowl production. It also offers some titbits that entrepreneurs can use in their plan for a successful venture. Generally certain items have to be acquired for a successful production and this book makes mention of these items, some of which are drinkers, feeders and heat source. This book gives a description of structures that would be suitable for brooding purpose and that for adult birds. Advice is also given on how far apart the brooding house should be from other structures and the care that needs to be taken to keep vermin away from the brooder facility. Very young keets are very delicate and require a lot of care to keep them alive. This book recommends stocking rates that would help optimise return on production. Examples of records that should be kept to enhance decision making about the production have also been provided. Obtaining fertile eggs for hatching can sometimes be tricky and so this book gives some suggestions on how to obtain your fertile eggs. Eggs have to be properly stored prior to incubation, and they should not be stored for too long otherwise the embryo in them would die. Care must be exercised in the handling of eggs for hatching. It is important to observe good hygiene. Titbits are given on how to maximize the hatch that you get from your incubator. There is a section on the handling of day old keets. The author sheds light on whether or not day old keets may be offered solid feed. Up to seven days old keets are prone to getting drowned in their drinkers or getting trapped in their feeders. Certain measures are therefore necessary to obviate such accidents. The author recommends a medication regimen for keets up to 8 weeks old and shares his opinion on whether or not to vaccinate the local guinea fowl. Brooder house heating regimen is also provided for readers to adapt. Information is also provided on the nutritional quality and quantity of feed required by a keet in a brooding facility. A few suggestions are made as to how to reduce feed wastage. A guide is given on feed formulation. If calcium and phosphorus contents of the feed are not enough the keets may develop leg paralysis. This problem can however be offset by exposing the keets to sunlight from the fifteenth day of age onwards. The author stresses the need for all sharp corners at the ground level in the brooder facility to which guinea keets have access to be rounded off to prevent stampede, suffocation and subsequent death of keets. The issue of sex determination in guinea keets is still yet to be unravelled. A lot of care is required for proper transportation of guinea fowls otherwise they would perish. If many guinea fowls are transported together in one cage, there may be stampede and death of some of the guinea fowls. Season, feed protein content and quantity offered to breeding stock are three important determinants of the extent of egg production by guinea fowls. If feeding is adequate, a sex ratio of 1 male: 4 females may result in more fertile egg production. On the other hand where feed is in short supply, a sex ratio of 1:2 may be adopted. The older the birds become, the lower the total annual egg production. Increasing the length of day light may induce guinea fowls to produce more eggs. Feed containing about 14% protein will be suitable for laying guinea fowls. There may not be any good economic reason for feeding free ranging guinea hens lots of supplementary feed. In the off season when birds are not laying, feeding them 2.5% of their body weight as supplementary feed may help prevent fatty liver syndrome. If feasible young laying birds may be fed about twice a day as opposed to once a day as feeding twice a day may be associated with higher egg output.

  • ISBN: 9781370277117
  • Author: Franklin Avornyo
  • Published: 2016-12-09 17:50:11
  • Words: 12735
Smallholder helmeted guinea fowl production in the tropics Smallholder helmeted guinea fowl production in the tropics