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free range guinea fowl farming- How much space does one need

 
ibnahmed Abdullah
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HI there everyone i am new to the forum and i thought i come on here and ask for advice.
Myself and 2 other friends are looking to set up a large scale broiler guinea fowl farm.
I am in the process of of buying a 1200 acre plots of land in East Africa, prime savanna land(natural habitat of the bird), we intend to have a dozen goat on site as well .

So how much space does a bird need what would you consider a good starting flock and money and manpower are not a a issue.

any advice will be appreciated
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Ibnahmed, welcome to Permies

Can you give a google link to your farm...if you wouldn't mind, and describe the landscape in more detail. The "livestock load" on the land is interdependent on the underlying biome type and if you are a permaculturalist (which we promote,) and concerns for impact this concentration of animals may have on the natural environment. With this much land, human, and fiscal resource, what other possible ventures could you pursue that may be beneficial to your goals, and the permaculture ethos? Look forward to knowing more.

Regards,

j
 
ibnahmed Abdullah
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hello Ibnahmed, welcome to Permies

Can you give a google link to your farm...if you wouldn't mind, and describe the landscape in more detail. The "livestock load" on the land is interdependent on the underlying biome type and if you are a permaculturalist (which we promote,) and concerns for impact this concentration of animals may have on the natural environment. With this much land, human, and fiscal resource, what other possible ventures could you pursue that may be beneficial to your goals, and the permaculture ethos? Look forward to knowing more.

Regards,

j


Thanks for the warm welcome jay

I intend to be a permaculturalist, one of the prime reasons we are doing this in our home country rather than the Europe is because we are not limited by law in East Africa and have Free-range is the norm.
At this point we are looking to grow Sorhum/Milo and a endangered native nut shrubs called the cordeauxia edulis/yeheb nut tree.

The biome we are working in is the West Somali ethiopia savanna area. deforestation is a big problem here and we want to work towards significantly slowing this process down. This really where the endangered yeheb shrub comes into and in combination with the planting of the acacias and junipers that make the Somali savanna so epic at sunset and sunrise.

I have provided some pictures here they are from a website but they display the land that will be the farm well.
acacia.jpg
[Thumbnail for acacia.jpg]
this is what the land looks like after the rains
baled.jpg
[Thumbnail for baled.jpg]
this is what the land usually looks like
 
John Elliott
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ibnahmed Abdullah wrote: deforestation is a big problem here and we want to work towards significantly slowing this process down. This really where the endangered yeheb shrub comes into and in combination with the planting of the acacias and junipers that make the Somali savanna so epic at sunset and sunrise.


Solving the deforestation is the key to your success. As long as goats are free-ranging and can eat whatever you plant, you will be fighting a losing battle. If you can keep herbivores away from small plants so that they can grow into big plants, you will be able to re-green the desert and it will support many more animals than it is currently capable of doing.

Other trees that you could consider planting are ones of the Parkinsonia genus. These are quite common in the southwestern U.S., but I understand that they are "threatened by habitat loss" in East Africa. If you would be interested in seeds of these, you can try contacting the Desert Legume Program at the University of Arizona. I have a much smaller seed bank than they do, but I have a collection of some desert legumes and would be willing to share them with you. Send me a PM if you are interested.

Once you have your range improvements well in hand, then you will be able to consider how many animals that range will support.
 
ibnahmed Abdullah
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John Elliott wrote:
ibnahmed Abdullah wrote: deforestation is a big problem here and we want to work towards significantly slowing this process down. This really where the endangered yeheb shrub comes into and in combination with the planting of the acacias and junipers that make the Somali savanna so epic at sunset and sunrise.


Solving the deforestation is the key to your success. As long as goats are free-ranging and can eat whatever you plant, you will be fighting a losing battle. If you can keep herbivores away from small plants so that they can grow into big plants, you will be able to re-green the desert and it will support many more animals than it is currently capable of doing.

Other trees that you could consider planting are ones of the Parkinsonia genus. These are quite common in the southwestern U.S., but I understand that they are "threatened by habitat loss" in East Africa. If you would be interested in seeds of these, you can try contacting the Desert Legume Program at the University of Arizona. I have a much smaller seed bank than they do, but I have a collection of some desert legumes and would be willing to share them with you. Send me a PM if you are interested.

Once you have your range improvements well in hand, then you will be able to consider how many animals that range will support.


I see re-greening the desert, seems like the smartest thing to do. How would you combine it with large scale ginuea fowl farm. keep in mind that we have a total of 5000 acres but at this point we are only really looking into using 1000-1200 acres as beginning.

I think maybe a multi-stage project would be good. Dividing the 5000 acres in several sections and over several years regreen the area. Maybe something similar to what was done in Niger with ''the man who stopped the desert''..

but i agree great idea, and this seems like the way to go.

 
John Elliott
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"Stopping the desert" really means carefully going over the land and creating spaces (swales, culverts, check dams, and other catchments) where plants can best make use of the scarce water resources. And then making sure animals don't eat them as soon as they sprout after a rain!

This project report was done on a revegetation effort in a part of California that is probably very much like the land you have. You can see that quite a bit of labor went into building the water catchments, but after that initial effort and seeding, it was left to nature to fill in the greenery. (Well, maybe a tiny bit of supplemental watering.)

The area in this report gets about 100mm of rain in a year, which is really a minimal amount of precipitation. There is a big difference in what you can do with 100mm as compared to 200mm or 300mm. When you get up to 300mm, well that's almost a decent amount of rainfall. If it is concentrated over a few weeks, you can even plan and raise a millet crop with that much moisture. With 100mm, you can't really plan any annual crop, you have to rely on plants like the Parkinsonia I mentioned or jojoba which are perennial and can survive when it doesn't rain and put on growth when it does. Even then, they can't survive out in the open desert and tend to cluster where there is some natural water catchment, like a seasonal watercourse.

I hope this project report can give you some ideas of what you can do with your land. I think in the beginning, you are going to have to rely on inputs to raise the guineas (water, food). But as you improve the desert and it becomes better habitat for them, you will have to supply less and less. When you reach the point that you don't have to bring in any inputs, you've reached the goal of a *sustainable permaculture*.
 
frank larue
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ibnahmed Abdullah wrote:
So how much space does a bird need what would you consider a good starting flock and money and manpower are not a a issue.

any advice will be appreciated



I've never worked on such a large plot of land before, and frankly, I'm having trouble visualizing it. But I can offer some advice for guinea fowl raising. If deforestation is a problem and there is minimal undergrowth then the birds will struggle. What is predation like?

My flocks generally make up groups of 15-30 birds that range about a 40 acre area of mixed woodland, pasture, and vegetable beds and orchard. I've never had more than 4 flocks at a time and I've never felt the need to stress the whole system to see how many I can push. They love hunting in packs, moving through the tall grasses, or marching through the woodland herbs looking for anything that moves (rodents, bugs, small snakes). I got into them to control my tick populations, as they eat them and their carriers with ferocity. Unless you are ready to pay to feed them though, I agree with Jay that you might want to consider rehabilitating the landbase to support them. Maybe it makes sense to start small.

I'm not at all familiar with your climate and native species, but in my opinion creating spaces to support understory plant growth is a requisite to ranging guinea fowl. I would look for early succession species native to the area. This will likely include "weeds," many with taproots to pull moisture for the subsoil. They will likely be opportunistic and compete for bare soil. Earth works like ponds, swales, hugel-culture beds and so on will be vital to making the most use of water that falls or runs on the property. These will likely be your best locations for starting your oases of desired species. With some assistance, you can spread these patches faster than if left alone (though this would work as well).

How do you plan to catch them? Are you intending to allow them to reproduce and swell numbers? I raise my chicks with friendly broody hens which seems to help them adjust to my presence and impart a sense of protectiveness on the hens so they don't walk off from the clutch, or abandon chicks in a field. Guinea fowl don't seem to be great parental figures, at least in the climate I'm in (zone 6, wet temperate mountains). It seems starting them with broody chickens (I have a rooster that is apt to watching over guinea chicks too) has improved their subsequent reproduction in the field. Even then, during slaughter times, these buggers know what's going on and make themselves invisible or abandon the coop for the tallest hemlock on the property. There is a balance to be struck between keeping them wild and getting them to trust you at the expense of their domestication. This might be an important consideration to discuss with your partners if you don't yet have a plan in place.

 
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the permaculture playing cards
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