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If you’ve ever visited the countryside, you know the joy of having animals on the farm that you can take care of. In the city, you’ll never see a cow except for on a milk carton and the same applies to other farm animals. The obvious reason for this is that larger breeds of farm animals need a specific environment to live in; so the city’s pollution and noise are a big no-no. Luckily, you can keep a few kinds of farm animals at your city home. While it does depend on your area’s jurisdiction, these animals pose the least problems.

Chickens

I’ve already written about the basics of how you can raise chickens from chicks and then move them into a coop. Chickens are also very quiet (not talking about roosters!) so you won’t get in trouble with the neighbors either. Not only will you be raising home-bred chickens that taste better, you’ll also get fresh eggs at home. You can choose to sell these products to your neighbors or consume them yourself. Moreover, they also provide high-quality manure that works well as fertilizer or an addition to compost. You can choose from a variety of breeds, based on whether you’re raising them for the eggs or meat.

Quail

For city dwellers, quail are the best farm animal to keep if you have minimal space. Though they mature a little slowly, you will find that they’re much more fun to keep than chickens. When 24 weeks old, quail begin to lay eggs so if you want to grow some chicks, you’ll require an incubator. While the bird itself tastes delicious, their eggs are too; you can raise a fine amount selling quail eggs.

Ducks

If you can handle their sometimes-aggressive attitude and loud quacking, I recommend that you raise ducks. Now, most people don’t consider duck meat and eggs to be a delicacy, but they are expensive from their ordinary chicken-based counterparts.

Therefore, whether you have a taste for duck eggs, want to make some extra money on the side, or simply think ducks are adorable; you have your answer. You’ll find that a few rare species can even lay almost as many eggs as a chicken, which would be a score. You’ll need more space for these ducks, not to mention a small pool, but other than that you’ll be fine.

Pygmy Goats

Enough about the birds, you want a herd, don’t you? Pygmy goats aren’t just your ordinary petting zoo animal, but they make great urban farm companions as well. Although they don’t serve as a large source of meat and milk, you can’t underestimate certain breeds like Nigerian Dwarfs.

If you’re interested in drinking fresh organic milk, you’ll be happy to know that they can produce up to a liter of milk every day, as long as you feed them good quality produce. However, if you are not interested in keeping them for their meat, there is always the option of having them as pets that produce manure that is rich in nitrogen.

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The Pros and Cons of Raising Guinea Fowl

This article is a followup to a recent discussion in the Forums about raising Guineas. I thought we’d shed a little more light on these fascinating birds. Learn why you should experience them for yourself – or not.

Guinea Fowl may be a little gray, but there is no gray area when it comes to people’s reactions to them. They are a love ’em or hate ’em kind of bird with no in-between.

The Cons

The first thing anyone, even their most devoted fans, will tell you about Guinea Fowl is that they are NOISY. They chatter and cluck, they chirp and squawk, they screech and they scream. They are not a quiet bird.

As for their other not-so-positive qualities, there are a few to be considered:

  • Guineas don’t understand or care about property lines and borders. They are vagabonds and wanderers. For the most part, they will stay on their home turf if there are enough weeds, seeds, and bugs to occupy them. But don’t be surprised if your new “fresh from the city” neighbor calls in a panic about the “giant chickens with horns” that are invading her backyard.
  • Just like their ancestors in Africa, Guineas are seasonal layers who will hide their eggs. If they are confined so you can collect eggs, don’t expect them to be deposited in a nice nest box. In protest, they’ll drop the egg on the floor, in the middle of the path, or wherever the nest box is not. If you want eggs, you’re going to need to be a detective.
  • Baby Guineas aka “keets” are delicate for the first few weeks after hatching. Guinea Fowl hens are mostly neglectful mothers. They abandon the nest once a few keets are hatched and are immediately back to their wandering walkabout ways. The little keets can’t keep up and become lost or chilled as mama goes about her business.
  • Guineas hate to be confined. They become nervous and destructive and will terrorize any other birds penned with them. They are best being out and about and busy. When the birds are young or new, you may have to initially coax them back into their shelter after they’ve been out for the day. They can usually be bribed with mealworms and chicken scratch aka treats.
  • Don’t expect your Guineas to become pets like chickens or turkeys. They are a standoffish bird who doesn’t care if you’re there or not, unless you’ve brought them goodies.
  • Seedlings and young plants can be destroyed by the incessant scratching of Guinea Fowl. They are notorious diggers so you will want to keep them away from new or sensitive plantings.
The Pros

Fortunately, there are a lot more pros to keeping Guineas than there are cons. These cool birds have a lot going for them. One of their most highly touted benefits is their insatiable appetite for ticks and other bad bugs. Guinea Fowl are one of the most efficient and natural forms of bug removal available. Other pests they search out include ants, spiders, beetles, tomato worms, grasshoppers, flies, wasps, snails, etc. If it moves, they’re after it. Other reasons people raise Guinea Fowl include:

  • Guineas are mostly self-sufficient and low maintenance. They prefer to forage for their own creepy crawlies and weeds rather than depend on you for food. Treats are a completely different issue though. Keep in mind they do need to be supplemented during the colder, bug-free months. They are also a hardy bird that is far more disease-resistant than other poultry.
  • Comic relief and entertainment are a side-job of these unique birds. To see them run after a butterfly or mouse is hysterical as they stick their wings out with their heads down and run as fast as they can – while squawking of course.
  • Guineas are appreciated by many farmers and ranchers as they discourage venomous snakes and rodents. They will also flush out destructive birds in orchards or vineyards.
  • Similar in taste to pheasant, Guineas are a great source of meat. They mature quickly and are considered a delicacy in some countries.
  • Just like livestock guardian dogs, Guinea Fowl will act as the protectors of chickens and other animals in a mixed flock or barnyard. They are always on alert and vigilant to anything new or dangerous. They’ve been known to go after predators in a large, noisy group.
  • You don’t have to worry about people (or your own family members) sneaking up to your property. The guineas will sound an alarm and often run out to meet the intruder or resident. They will greet your own truck in the same manner as they greet a car they’ve never seen. It’s all the same to your Guineas.

So what do you think? Will Guinea Fowl be your next addition to the homestead? Let us know!


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