Looking for a new pet that will keep your yard free of ticks, fleas and mosquitos AND lay eggs for you?
A guinea hen might be just your gal.
A 2009 study found opossums might be our best defense against Lyme disease, as the rodents eat over 5500 ticks per week each.
Since then, word is getting out that many popular backyard birds are also excellent tick hunters, including chickens, ducks, turkeys, and perhaps none greater than guinea fowl.
These birds haven’t been formally studied for their tick-control talents like rodents have, but colloquially they are known as tick-eating machines” or “tick vacuums.”
And Mother Earth News conducted an informal study in 2015 that found guinea fowl and/or chickens virtually eliminated ticks from 80% of the tick-infested yards they were deployed in within a few months.
Farmers estimate a small flock of guinea hens can kill 4000-5000 ticks a day.
“We originally got five of them for tick control because my 82-year-old dad said it would work,” Robin Bucking of
Waynesville, North Carolina told Mother Earth News.
“Within six weeks we stopped seeing ticks. The fleas disappeared within a year; our three cats never need any form of flea control.”
Susan Jarrett of Dover, Arkansas told the magazine her 25-acre tick-infested pasture was tick-free within a year or so of raising a small flock of baby guineas.
Linda Stevens of Marshall, North Carolina, said her guineas, chickens and turkeys completely cleared her 10 acres of ticks “that used to infest every shrub and blade of grass.”
“The guineas were well-behaved, but the chickens were destructive to all my flower beds — and gardening became impossible.”
“The #1 benefit the guinea fowl will provide will be the eradication of ticks and other insects around our property,” says Jan of A Farm Girl’s Finds blog.
“The chickens eat insects as well, but guineas are said to be relentless in their pursuit of ticks.”
As well as fleas and ticks, guinea fowl are great at mosquito and fly control, and have even been known to eat snakes!
Their eggs are said to be as tasty and nutritious as chickens’, although smaller and harder to find because of their free-ranging, wilder nature.
Their meat is also becoming a coveted culinary delicacy, as it is said to be darker and more nutritious than chicken.