There are six species of Guineafowl from the Phasianoidea genus of the Galliformes family, which includes heavy ground-dwelling birds like pheasants and turkeys.
Guineafowl have been domesticated for thousands of years and are native to Africa. Here, we’ll investigate what Guineafowl eat, including their diets and foraging habits.
Guineafowl are flexible omnivores that eat seeds, grains, fruits, and insects. In the wild, they’re avid foragers that pry at the undergrowth for much of the day. In captivity, they’re usually fed with industrial pellet feed.
One of Guineafowls’ favorite foods are ticks, which makes them an excellent choice for animal farms where tick control is a priority. They also keep insect populations at bay and feed upon weeds and weed seeds.
Read on to learn more about this bird’s diet and foraging behaviors!
Guineafowl are flexible omnivores that eat seeds, grains, fruits, and insects
Guineafowl are omnivores whose diet consists of various plant life and small insects.
Some species are very fond of termites and often spend hours hunting for them in the ground. They also enjoy eating ants, grasshoppers, worms, and many other small insects and invertebrates. Wheat, millet, and other grains are also some of their favorites.
Seeds and fruits also make up a large part of their diet; they’re particularly fond of figs, grapes, berries, and bananas. Seed heads are one of the mainstays of their diet, especially in winter.
In captivity, Guineafowls are usually fed pelleted feeds but benefit from a well-rounded diet that includes seeds, fruits, and leafy greens.
Guineafowl eat virtually any and all seeds available in their habitat. Seeds and grains they eat include millet, sorghum, rice, and wheat.
They’re excellent for keeping weeds at bay by eating weed seeds and vegetation, which adds to their credentials as pest controllers.
Guineafowl are known to eat a variety of insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, ticks, cockroaches, beetles, caterpillars, and ants.
Some species are largely insectivorous and hunt insects for much of the day by prying at the grass and under leaves. Studies show that insects can make up a significant portion of their diet, especially during the dry season when other food sources are scarce.
They have also been known to eat larvae and pupae.
Close up of a Guineafowl foraging for food on the grass
Guineafowl are known to be very versatile in their diet and consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Some common fruits that Guineafowl eat include grapes, apples, strawberries, pears, and watermelons.
In addition to fruits, Guineafowls also enjoy eating various greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and kale. Guineafowl generally eat whatever is available to them - they’re unfussy and voracious feeders!
Guineafowls are considered omnivores. This means they will consume plant and animal matter as part of their diet.
In the wild, guineafowl will forage for various food items, including insects, small reptiles, and fruits. In captivity, they can be fed a diet of pellets, vegetables, and occasionally, meat. They’re flexible feeders that graze on their habitats, eating practically anything of nutritional value.
Guineafowl are generally fed a diet akin to poultry, such as chickens and turkeys. Pelleted feeds should be complemented with seeds, insects (like mealworms), fruits, grains, and leafy greens.
Guineafowl have uncomplicated diets but shouldn’t be overfed with bread and other non-nutritious foods.
A pair of Helmeted Guineafowl foraging together
Generally speaking, Guineafowl will eat around 4 to 5 times per day, but this varies depending on food availability. Guineafowl have voracious appetites. In the wild, they’re active foragers and spend most of their day searching for food.
If food is scarce, they may only eat every other day and can fast for short periods.
Guineafowl are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. They typically begin feeding around sunrise and continue until dusk.
Although Guineafowl are most active during the day, they will also feed at night if necessary, especially when the days grow shorter during winter.
Guineafowls exclusively forage from the ground, where they scratch and pry at the soil and vegetation to search for seeds, insects, and other small prey.
Some Guineafowl forage in flocks, while others forage alone or in pairs. Some Guineafowls scratch at the ground to uncover food, while others use their beaks to poke into crevices and holes.
Guineafowl looking for insects in the dirt of the savannah, South Africa
When temperatures drop in the winter, Guineafowls work harder to find food. They will scrape at the ground to find seeds, insects, and other small animals.
If snow is on the ground, they will use their beaks to dig through it to find food. Their winter diets usually consist of fewer insects and more plant matter, including seed heads, which make up one of their dietary staples.
In the summer, insect life is typically abundant, and thus, Guineafowls eat plenty of grasshoppers, crickets, ants, beetles, spiders, pupae, and many other arthropods and invertebrates.
They also eat different fruits and vegetables, including watermelons, bananas, berries, and virtually anything else available in their habitat.
In captivity, Guineafowl diets usually consist of pelleted feed but should be supplemented with grains and leafy greens.
Baby Guineafowls will eat various foods, but their diet is more or less focussed on soft insects.
In captivity, baby Guineafowl (keets) should be fed a 24 to 26% protein turkey or game bird starter at first, progressing to a standard chick starter feed after a couple of months.
Guineafowl parent feeding alongside keets (chicks)
Guineafowl are omnivorous birds, which means that they will eat a variety of different foods.
When feeding Guineafowl, the most important thing to remember is to provide them with a balanced diet that includes all the nutrients they need, including insects, fruits, seeds, and leafy greens.
Guineafowl shouldn’t be overfed on bread and low-value or poorly nutritional foods. Avocados, chocolate, and onions can be harmful to birds, including Guineafowl.
Other things to avoid include anything moldy or spoiled or nuts or seeds that have been treated with pesticides.
Guineafowls, like all birds, exclusively drink water.
Though some birds, like vampire finches, rarely drink blood!
Guineafowl are fascinating creatures that are sometimes kept as farm animals. These birds are native to Africa and have been domesticated for centuries.
Due to their voracious appetites, Guineafowl effectively control ticks and other insects, which is partly why they’re kept on farms. They also deter foxes because they’re aggressive and often chase off predators in large herds.
Finally, they eat weeds and weed seeds, keeping overgrowth at bay.
Close up of a Helmeted Guineafowl eating
Domestic Guineafowl will typically eat whatever they can find, including lettuce.
While lettuce is not necessarily harmful to Guineafowl, it is not exceptionally nutritious. Guineafowl usually prefers other food sources over lettuce if given a choice.
When it comes to fruits, Guineafowl will typically eat anything available. This includes bananas, which are a good source of nutrients.
Guineafowl will eat ticks and often actively forage for them, making them superb birds to keep on domesticated animal farms. This makes ticks an excellent addition to any farm or ranch, as they can help keep the tick population down.
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