Guineafowls continue to lay with just a small break of 45 days in confined conditions. Two or three periods of lay is observed in Africa under the intensive system of rearing of birds. In CARI (Central Avian Research Institute, Uttar Pradesh, India) Guinea fowls are found to be seasonal layers, stating that the laying season begins in March and ends by September with peak egg production in April. In Africa the egg production was higher during the rainy months (ie from April to September; than at other times with peak egg production during the month of July.
Guinea fowls reach sexual maturity by 21-22 weeks. Often egg production is noticed at 17 to 18 weeks of age. The egg-laying period is longer in good layers and the clutch size ranged from one egg to seventeen egg as per studies at CARI (1992) best hatchability was obtained between May to September. The optimum mating ratio is 1:3 or 1:4. In a commercial guinea fowl farm in France the number of eggs laid/ hen housed was up to 184, while a hatchability of 72% has been registered. In India maximum of 60 percent hatchability is recorded. Guinea fowls raised under the range system shows broodiness.
Pen mating: All the females in pen are mated with one sire for pedigree breeding As a rule 3 to 5 females can be kept with each male. Compared to flock mating the pen mating generally show-reduced fertility.
Flock mating (mass mating): In this mating several males are placed with a group of females. Flock mating is often more successful than pen mating and usually overcomes the problem of individual preferences of males or hens. Sometimes rotation of males may be followed. One male is used with the flock at a time and may be changed every third day.
Stud mating: It takes advantages of the long survival of spermatozoa in females (mean fertile period). Males are kept separately and each hen is let in to the male pen one by one, at least once each week and removed after mating. This system of mating is not successful with guinea fowls.
The incubation period of guinea egg is 26-28 days (28 days). The egg weigh about 35-40g eggs must not be stored for more than 10 days. For the first 22 days the incubation temperature is 37.8C. The relative humidity (RH) % should not exceed 60%. Eggs must be turned at least four times a day initially i.e., The first 23-24 day. Guinea fowl eggs have very thick shells (0.39 to 0.4Omm) and it is difficult to test for fertility by candling. Under the extensive system of farming, normally desi chicken are used to hatch guinea fowl eggs; about 12 to 15 eggs can be placed under one hen.
Selection of hatching eggs
The eggs selected must be clean having right shape and colour and weighing between 32 to 40g. The shell must be smooth and not chalky or porous. Eggs must be collected a minimum of twice a day. Only clean eggs must be used for hatching. If dirty eggs have to be used then they could be dry cleaned and sanitized and used.
In the range system, it has been observed that guinea fowls make poor mothers. A broody hen that hatched the guinea fowl eggs will make a very good caretaker of the these chicks (keets). They need warmth during the first two weeks. The keets must be placed in the small enclosures provided for the first week of life for protection from predators and for better survivability
Under the intensive system of raising keets; the chicks are provided hovers or infrared lamps or gas brooders to provide 100°F temperature to keep the chicks warm. They must be placed within a brooder guard of four feet diameter that can accommodate 100 chicks. The keets are highly energetic and need no special care, provided they have the required feed, water and warmth
Crude protein levels of 20 to 24% and Metabolizable energy levels of 2700 kcal/kg can be given during brooding. In India it was observed that the crude protein requirement during 0-4, 5-8 and 9-12 was 220, 200 and 160g/kg while the ME requirements were 11.3and 12.13 MJ/kg during 0-4 and 5-12 weeks of age. Guinea fowls from 0-8 weeks of age may be provided a floor space of 0.5sqft/bird and later increased to 1 sqft/bird.
It is easier to manage Guinea fowls in the cage. Cage brooding can be done even up to 12 weeks of age but after this period the guinea fowls are more comfortable on the floor. These birds have not been totally domesticated and require someplace to move and also fly and sit on perches. Perches must be provided for these birds.
These birds are hardy birds and are highly resistant to many of the common diseases. Ranikhet disease vaccine need not be given for these birds as they are resistant to the disease but they may act as carriers of this disease. Young birds are affected by E.coli especially under the intensive systems of rearing. Birds have to be protected against Coccidiosis. The anticoccidial drug Monensin should not be given to guinea fowls. Litter management plays an important role when maintaining these birds under an intensive system of management
The most important intestinal parasites are Ascaridia galli, Heterakis sp. and Capillaria (Birds must be dewormed once in two months). External parasites like lice are also known to affect these birds.