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Meat production from Guinea fowl.


Guinea fowls, chickens, turkeys and pheasants belong to the order of birds known as Galliformes. Meat production from guinea fowl is limited to a very few countries and it is mainly used as a specialty product in restaurants. Two classes of guinea fowl are served on the tables of game restaurants, namely:

* small keets (350 to 750 g live weight), as a substitute for partridge or large quail.

* fowls from 900 to 1250 g live weight.

A fowl of 1.5 kg (live weight) or 1.150 kg (trussed and drawn) is required to provide a substantial meal for four people.

The slaughtering process of guinea fowl is very similar to that of chicken. Mechanical plucking of feathers is difficult due to the thinness of the skin. It is said that shelf life of guinea fowl meat is at least two days more than that of chicken.

This study was conducted to evaluate the influence of age on the different edible components of the carcass of the Pearl Grey. Information is also provided regarding the nutrient composition of the meat of the Pearl Grey.

Body parts

A flock of 53 Pearl Grey chicks were reared in an indoor pen. Commercial broiler diets were supplied to chicks. A broiler starter mash (22% protein) was fed for the first five weeks. From weeks 5-10 a broiler finisher mash (19% protein) was fed and thereafter, until 19 weeks of age, a broiler breeder all mash (15% protein).

Two to six birds were killed at the following ages: 21, 35, 48, 63, 71,100 and 127 days. After defeathering, birds were divided in different body parts. Results were converted to percentage of live weight and are presented in Table 1.

Although these values were obtained on a limited number of birds in each age group, birds slaughtered at 71 days of age (1461 g live weight) showed good figures regarding the valuable parts (thighs, wings, breast and neck). It also showed low figures regarding most parts that are not served on the table (feathers, head, feet, entrails). Except for the percentage of wings (which declined) and breast (that inclined) percentages did not differ much from 71 to 127 days. It thus can be concluded that the desired live weight of approximately 1.5 kg live weight will result in the most economic figures regarding meat yield. Although it is known that meat yield of birds generally increases as carcass size increases, this will result in higher production costs.

The guinea fowl compares well to the broiler regarding percentage of edible parts as a percentage of live weight (Table 2).

Although carcass mass percentage is higher, thigh percentage is somewhat lower. Risse (1980) has reported a higher percentage regarding wings and thighs and a lower percentage regarding drumsticks for guinea fowl than chicken.

Nutrient composition

The recommended age of around 71 days for slaughtering is also accentuated by the proximate analysis of cooked (internal temperature of 75 degrees c) breast and drumstick (Table 3). A low fat and protein content were found at this age. Keeping of birds after this age will result in a higher fat content in meat.

A comparison between a nutrient profile from guinea fowl and broiler from literature values is presented in Table 4.

Moisture, protein and ash content do not differ significantly between guinea fowl and chicken. This is a feature of the consistency of these components between species. Fat as well as cholesterol content is lower in guinea fowl than in broilers. Some minerals, vitamins and individual fatty acids differ somewhat between the species. The low sodium content of guinea fowl will be an advantage to people who have to consume low sodium diets. Much emphasis is put on the intake of fatty acids in human diets. The intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids is promoted since it was found that fatty acids are involved in the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. It, however, is a well known fact that the tissue fatty acid composition of monogastric (simple stomach) animals, like the guinea fowl and chicken, can be altered by feeding.

Proximate analysis of cooked meat from guinea fowl in comparison to broiler are presented in Table 5.

Although broiler looked "better" than guinea fowl regarding protein content and "worse" regarding fat content, it must take into account that these components are related to moisture content. The lower the moisture content, due to cooking loss, the higher protein and fat content will be.


The guinea fowl compares well to the broiler as a meat producer. Although it will take approximately 4 to 5 weeks longer to get the desired live weight from the guinea fowl in comparison to the broiler, research on feeding and selection of strains can prevent this economic drawback. Furthermore, guinea fowl meat is served as a delicacy and a higher price thus will be achieved for it. The relatively low fat, cholesterol and sodium content of guinea fowl meat, as well as the higher contents of some vitamins, will be a promising tool in marketing strategies of this meat type as a healthy food. This is especially true for the developed western meat market where supply often exceeds demand. In introducing a new meat type to this market there has to be concentration on aspects such as health and strangeness. Research on guinea fowl, which is limited, thus has to be recommended.


TABLE 2: Comparison between body parts from guinea fowl (1.4 kg; 71 days) and broiler (2.1 kg; 41 days)(1)
Component Guinea fowl Broiler
% of live weight
Carcass mass 73.90 68.40
Drumsticks 9.38 9.42
Thighs 11.19 15.84
Wings 11.18 11.29
Breast 19.70 19.45

(1) Kenmuir (1993); mean of four commercial strains.


Hamm, D., Hughes, B.L. and Jones, J.E. (1982). Composition of guinea keet breast and thigh meat. Journal of Food Science 47: 1372-1373.

Hastings Belshaw, R.H. (1985). Guinea fowl of the world. Nimrod Book Services, England.

Hughes, B.L. and Jones, J.E. (1980). Raw and steam cooked carcass yields of guinea fowl. Poultry Science 59: 657-658.

Kenmuir, M. (1993). Growth, carcass yield and thigh skin tensile strength of four commercial broiler strains. M.Sc. thesis. University of Steilenbosch.

Risse, J. (1980). Guinea fowl and quail as poultry meat. In: Meat quality in poultry and game birds. Eds. Mead, G.C. and Freeman, B.M. Poultry Science Symposium number fifteen, British Poultry Science Limited, pp. 193-197.

USDA (1979). Composition of Foods: Poultry Products. Agriculture Handbook No. 8-5. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, USA

Build an incubator with an egg turner

Long winter evenings can be boring for an active, enthusiastic homesteader who isn't interested in fireside projects such as spinning or quilting. What can you do when the gardens are snow-covered and the rest of the place is in virtual hibernation?

Here's a suggestion that will provide some interesting and productive work, that will be valuable for many years to come.

This incubator is similar to one Larry McWilliams designed for COUNTRYSIDE many years ago, with the added feature of an egg turner.

Have you ordered your new chicks yet?

If you have, perhaps the thought crossed your mind that it would be fun-- and you could be more self-sufficient--if you could hatch your own.

You could let setting hens do the job, but that's not always feasible. Some hens don't go broody (they won't set on their eggs), some people worry about parasites and diseases when Mother Hen does the job, and you can almost count on losses from predators and accidents. Then too, when a laying hen is broody, you lose egg production.

If an incubator isn't in your budget, or if you'd simply like to exercise your independence by making your own, here's how.

Larry McWilliams adds these comments:

The drawings are pretty self-explanatory, but note that 40 watt appliance bulbs are used and are centered at each end. The addition of a few 1/4-inch holes in the bottom and at the ends are necessary for fresh air.

The turner is not automatic, but it could be rigged up to be so. I just push or pull the wire to turn all the eggs at once.

The turner is basically a hardware cloth basket with wooden ends and a wooden top and bottom brace. I used long pop rivets to assemble the turner mechanism, but screws would work okay.

I used a plexiglas top and it works great. I can watch the eggs hatch and tell when the chicks are dried out enough to remove.

I use an old bath towel to cover the top and help hold the heat in, but you could also use a piece of Styrofoam.

Have fun... and let us know how your homemade incubator works out!--Larry McWilliams, Tulsa, Oklahoma








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Title Annotation:includes article on how to build an egg incubator
Author:Sales, J.; van Niekerk, S.A.; McWilliams, Larry
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1996
Previous Article:Lambing season: it can be the worst of times ... and the best.
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