Breeding Bantams and Guinea Fowl – Feathered Genocide
Back in June 2014, I posted Nong Khai to Ban Na Nam Chum – Booze, Birds and Boats on Beyond The Mango Juice. If you haven’t read it, then please do because it sets the story for this post—the ongoing saga of Wonderful Wi’s quest to have her own chicken farm.
That quest has now been upgraded to poultry farm because Wilai has guinea fowl as well as Japanese bantam pecking around our village garden. The ‘farm’ is due to be built early next year when the land at the back of our home has thoroughly dried out.
If you were imagining a pyramid roofed laying house, an automatic dung removal system and optimised egg-laying aviary think again. This bird farm will be 20,000 THB of landfill, some cheap nylon mesh, oddly shaped fence posts and a self-built chicken house the homeless would wide berth.
For the time being the bantam and guinea fowl roam around the garden pecking and dropping what they’ve pecked the day before.
At the last count, there were 17 Japanese bantam and a potful of half breeds courtesy of the backyard Thai roosters Wilai’s mother breeds. There was also six guinea fowl: two adults and four juvenile.
The guinea fowl keets are cute. Easy to photograph, unlike their elders. Adult guinea fowl are difficult to get near to – they appear nervous and wander around in an all adult group. The young form their own troop.
Guinea fowl lay eggs twice a year and in massive clusters. Around 35-50 eggs each time. Wilai is happy if fifteen eggs hatch from one batch.
The death rate is quite high. The first batch of guinea fowl eggs totalled 40. About 15 keets hatched. Now only four remain. The Japanese bantam survival rate is higher but not dramatically so. If poultry birds ever learn to talk, Wilai could find herself in a Thai court on a genocide charge.
The low survival rate is a mystery. The chicks and keets headcount dips at regular intervals. I don’t think snakes account for many if any of the feathered genocide. The young don’t generally disappear (though occasionally one will), they are found unmarked but lifeless. Maybe that’s normal in the poultry farming world. Once they reach a few months old, the survival rate is much higher.
Breeding Japanese bantam and guinea fowl is a steep learning curve for Wilai, but slowly her poultry farm is getting ever closer. Me? I’m learning too. Tarragon and lemon sauce is perfect with roast guinea fowl.
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