Notes to broadcasters
Nine of ten households in northern Ghana raise guinea fowl, and the birds help these households become food secure. Village and suburban families typically raise five guinea hens and one guinea cock. Poorer households sell their birds early (usually during festivities), but better-off households keep the birds until the end of the farming season in March, then harvest eggs until October or November, when they replace the birds with new stock.
Guinea fowls are productive and their meat is nutritious. It has more protein and less fat than chicken meat, and is low in cholesterol. Guinea fowl eggs have a thicker shell than hen’s eggs, are more resistant to shock, and can be kept longer and transported farther in good condition.
Farmers in northern Ghana often sell guinea fowl first to meet immediate needs such as farm inputs or food during the June to August lean season. Families also use guinea fowl ritually in funerals, courtships, sacrifices, and to settle disputes. There is a high demand for both meat and eggs.
Raising guinea fowl can be a profitable business, but farmers must know how to meet a number of challenges. This four-part drama focuses on the problems and solutions for keet mortality, one of the major challenges in raising guinea fowl. It is based on interviews with farmers who raise guinea fowl in the Upper East Region of northern Ghana.
You might choose to present this drama as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers.
You could also use the drama as background material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on raising guinea fowl or similar topics in your country.
Talk to farmers and experts who are raising guinea fowl or are knowledgeable about the birds. You might ask them:
Is raising guinea fowl common in your area? If so, what challenges do farmers face?
Have some farmers devised solutions to these challenges that they could share on your program? What do extensionists and others say about these challenges?
Is raising guinea fowl a profitable business in your area? What are the economic prospects?
Have local farmers tried some of the solutions recommended in this drama? What has been their experience?
Estimated running time for each of the four episodes in the script: 10-12 minutes, with intro and outro music.
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(PAUSE) A Nigerian writer once said, “Enjoy the world gently, for, if the world is spoilt, no one’s father can repair it.” If we spoil the world, even the concerted effort of all our great-great-grandfathers can’t repair it.
In our drama, we meet two industrious women, Pogsaa and Kening, who are successfully raising guinea fowl. With them is a guinea fowl farmer called Joe. Anxious to succeed, they seek a veterinary doctor’s sound professional counsel.
The first scene highlights the causes of high keet mortality, one of the major problems with raising guinea fowl. The scene then shows how to best remedy the situation.
So please stay tuned to hear our enlightening and motivating success story on how to raise guinea fowl without tears.
The fact is that if a guinea hen is allowed to hatch its own eggs, this is the first major cause of high keet mortality. Can you guess why?
While the guinea hen is wandering about with them in the bush, the keets get frightened at the slightest noise and run into the bush. This makes them vulnerable to predators. Also, the guinea hen does not brood its chicks. When it rains, the guinea hen runs away from them.
Unfortunately, as soon as a duck or turkey hatches a guinea chick, it immediately recognizes that the chick belongs to a different species and quickly pecks it to death. So which of the three would you prefer to hatch and mother your keet?
Fortunately, there is a traditional way of managing this problem. The farmer sets a trap. If the farmer succeeds in killing a crow or a hawk, he or she hangs it at the place where he raises guinea fowl, and the predators get scared and never come back.
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Welcome to our usual program. Today, we present the second part of our four-part drama. Our second episode presents more of the challenges that guinea fowl farmers face, alongside recommended solutions. We will highlight the contribution of inbreeding to the high mortality rate of guinea fowl and to their low fertility rate. We will talk about other factors that cause low fertility. The program will discuss the importance of good housing and good ventilation, and the types of management systems commonly practiced. The characters in the drama are already familiar to you. Stay tuned. I’m _____, your host.
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Inbreeding also delays maturity. This means that hens do not lay until later in life, which shortens their productive period, a disadvantage for the farmer.
Let me talk about another cause of infertility.
But there are yet other causes of infertility.
And some types of ticks kill both chicks and adults. These ticks are usually found on birds’ wings. Some hide in housing walls or cracks, and in wood during the day, but come out at night to feed on the birds.
Let’s see whether we can remember some of the critical points raised so far. Ok? Kening.
The extensive system, also known as free-range, is what most small-scale guinea fowl farmers use. There is no housing provided, and birds scavenge and sleep in bushes or on trees around houses.
In the semi-intensive system, birds have permanent housing at night, but forage for greens and insects in the surrounding environment during the day. Farmers give the birds supplementary feed and water. This approach is widely practiced by guinea fowl farmers in Ghana. Which of these approaches do you practice, Pogsaa?
Now, if you were doing something different from these recommended practices, you should be able to turn things around. Good luck!
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Excessive cold and excessive heat kill keets. They need constant monitoring. When the weather is chilly, they huddle together. When huddling, they sometimes lie on one another and have to be separated to prevent some from being pressed to death.
termites, earthworms, and some insects. They can get infested with worms when feeding on these creatures, so it’s important to regularly deworm the birds, once a month during the rainy season.
You’re doing very well with the feeding, Pogsaa. But tell me, why would you recommend raising guinea fowl to your fellow women here?
Every husband and wife has a social obligation to work together as a couple to raise their families without tears. Our people have a proverb that it is because of hot food that God gave everyone two jaws. (Editor’s note: Traditionally, the two jaws represent a husband and wife. When hot food is put into the mouth, it is shifted from jaw to jaw until it cools, just like a husband and wife cooperate to meet the challenges of raising a family.)
Contributed by: Tennyson Wubonto
Reviewed by: Dr. Moses Gbordzi, Veterinary Services Dept., Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Bolgatanga, Upper East Region.
Dr. Simdim D. Timothy, District Veterinary Officer, Sissala East District, Upper West Region, Ghana
Mr. Ben Fachu, forester,
Mr. Baluwie Bayuke, forester
Madam Modesta Tamag, pito brewer
Interviews conducted in May/June 2015.
Animal Production Directorate, Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 2012. The Training Manual for Guinea Fowl Production.
Wikipedia, undated. Guineafowl. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guineafowl
Gail Damerow, 1992, Raising Guinea Fowl: A Low-Maintenance Flock. Mother Earth News. http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-guinea-fowl-zmaz92aszshe.aspx
Glenn Downs, 2013. A Guide to Raising Guinea Fowl. Mother Earth News. http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/poultry/raising-guinea-fowl-ze0z1307zpit.aspx#ixzz2ZLXzqW64
Kelly Klober, 2014. Raising Guinea Fowl. Mother Earth News, http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/poultry/raising-guinea-fowl-ze0z1410zcwil.aspx