Naked-necked turkens & guinea keets have joined the flock.
What the flock are these critters, you ask?
Chicken fanciers can get into a habit of collecting (and by that I mean us...) as many varieties of chickens we can get our hands on. It can be comparable to Pokémon or baseball cards (that require food and water) - you "gotta catch em' all".
When we first brought home some chickens, and began researching about them, we discovered that there were many more breeds than we ever had seen or heard of at "Old McDonald's Farm".... So many feather patterns, shapes, and sizes. Colored eggs, small eggs, or large. The options are endless. Finding some of these birds though, can be a bit tricky. Some breeds are rather rare, or in such high demand that it's very pricey to get your hands on some, or the waiting list is forever long. When opportunity arises, you have to move quick!
The birds we recently brought home, I am referring to as "yard décor" because we have layers for eggs, and these are not meat birds (for our purposes), but are more for interest, learning, and possible future hatching. Part of our homesteading "journey" has been to try new and different things, to learn about ourselves, and gain knowledge in various types of livestock so we can narrow it down to what we truly want to focus on.
Turkens are not actually a cross between turkeys and chickens, though the concept sounds reasonable, especially after seeing one. The origin is actually due to the breed being developed in Transylvania. They are bred to have feather-less necks (no hackles), with the idea that as meat birds, they would be easier to process at butchering, but they can also be used as layers producing a brown tinted egg. Frankly, they are rather heinous looking, but a fun addition to any flock. They can handle cold climates well, even with the lack of insulation, as long as they have a solid shelter.
(images of guinea hens & turken are examples - ours are not this size yet)
Guineas originated in Africa. They are less domesticated than your average chicken, and are actually part of the peafowl family. They do lay small pointed eggs, but it might actually be an egg hunt to find them, as they prefer to free range, and may not take up residency inside a coop, even if it is offered. They prefer to roost in trees, and travel as a flock (similar to a school of fish). Newly hatched Guineas are referred to as "keets" as it has not been determined yet if they are male or female (hens). Male guineas can be protective and good flock guards, similar to roosters. The feathers/plumage can come in various colors including white, "pearl" (grey with white poka-dots), and royal purple. Some colors (wild looking blue ones) are native only to Africa, and cannot be found locally.
Care for each of these birds is similar, if not the same for that of a chicken. Guineas are a bit more hands-off due to their nature, but they still need a food supply, clean water, & shelter.
The natural patterns that these birds are able to produce are truly a work of art that is naturally made. Watching them in our yard will be a treat, though I'm hoping their chattering noises aren't too intrusive... we'll find out!
These birds are a fun learning experience and we enjoy caring for them. For questions about either bird, or raising ducks, turkeys, chickens, or geese, feel free to send us a message (click here)! We hope to hatch our own in the future, and look forward to a new batch of Thanksgiving turkeys coming soon!
To watch them grow, follow us on Facebook: Harper Homestead