I don't know how many ticks they actually eat, though they look like they're pecking things off the foliage. But I have to say that when I lived in NJ, I was in a major tick infested section of the pine barrens. We had 7 acres and 3 dozen guinea fowl that free ranged the property. And the ticks were still horrendous. Either we had too many ticks for the birds to control, or they weren't as good at eating ticks as we were led to believe.
The best control method was our Border Collie. I'd run her through the bracken and huckleberry all over the property about once a week. She'd come back covered in ticks, literally hundreds if not thousands. I'd use a flea comb to remove the majority of the ticks clinging to her fur. The amitraz collar took care of any I missed. Winter and spring were the worse tick times. Once the hot dry summer arrived, the tick number scaled back dramatically.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Hunter, I haven't had guineas long enough to tell you from my experience, but I have bought adult guineas twice and in both cases the previous owners had recently cleared some wooded land and claimed that they had ticks all over the place, but with in one year their guineas cleared out the ticks. In both cases they had about 5-10 guineas and maybe about an acre of cleared land.
Of course, both of these individuals were selling me guineas so could have been telling me what I wanted to hear.
Based on my experience, I think the tick control you get from chickens is vastly underrated. We've kept both chickens and guineas but we've only had chickens for the past few years. We let 12 chickens (silver laced wyandottes now, brahmas in past years - both pretty good forage breeds) free range over about two acres and we never find ticks on ourselves after we've been in that area. We do frequently find ticks on ourselves after visiting neighbors and other nearby properties.
I don't mean to suggest guineas aren't effective for tick control but my non-scientific conclusion is that chickens are probably just as effective. As far as how many you need in an area, I don't really know - I can just share that the 12 chickens/2 acres setup from my own recent experience seems to work pretty well.
We had terrible tick problems until we got our guineas. We couldn't step out in the yard/barnlot without pulling several off every time. After the guineas grew up enough to range around, ticks are just gone. They patrol around all day, and I now only do a serious tick check after I've been up in the woods and such. I read somewhere that 3 guineas cover an acre? We have 4 who seem to do well taking care of about 3 open acres with the barn lot, yard, garden area. We have 27 acres in all, but I'd say they cover about 3-4, and they do a great job. I told the kids that they get a spot for every tick they eat.
Hi, thanks for all the great info on ticks. I am currently living in a rental property - small house, brand new garden - and have ticks almost every time I go outside. Not a chance to have any fowl here. Am wondering if anything else can be used. I don't like chemicals and I know this group does not also, but I am tired of them. My pup and I do a full exam each time we come in and even at that, I ended up with a couple attaching to me. Totally love being a part of this group. Someday I will have my land and then will be so far ahead with knowledge from what I have learned here.
I only have a short time period of the last year and a half to share to this topic. Probably not statistically significant! We started with only guinea hens on our 14 acres of forest. Only a small clearing for our house. The guineas stayed close to the coop on the edge of the forest after their adjustment period(locked up) of being trained to know where home was. We had 7. Still after the guineas were let free to forage, we had ticks on us and ticks all over the dog. The guineas would often go to the neighbours and raid their birdfeeders, often staying the night.
When we realized that we had to make peace with the neighbours and that the ticks were still everywhere, we switched to chickens. This spring and early summer so far I have not seen a tick from walking in the chicken area. Beyond this area I have had a tick on me. We only have 3 chickens right now on patrol. They keep close to the home and forest edges where we most frequent.
I have no bias between species, just a short personal experience. This does not take into account the different weather from year to year. However, this past winter being mild, I would have suspected more ticks this spring. I suspect the best results come with a varied flock that is trained well to stick close to home(easier said than done) and by tossing feed in the areas that you wish the birds to forage so that they will scratch and be attracted to these areas for food source. I hope this helps. Everyone has such a different experience based on the various factors of your land and the personalities of the animals as individuals and as a flock mentality.
All the best feeding whatever tick eating machine you decide.
The way I understand how a guinea bird controls ticks is that they are tick magnets. The ticks find them! Just like they find your dog. The difference between the dog tick magnet and the guinea tick magnet is that guineas eat ticks. They clean themselves up. Marilyn Kefirlady
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Hello, I have to add one critical thing about guineas, THEY ARE LOUD!!! If you have neighbors near by (couple of hundred feet), or like the peace and quite of country life, Think Twice About Getting Any. We had about a eight when we first got chickens. they were kind of obnoxious. They also insisted on sleeping on top of the chicken coop instead of inside. The first night on pasture (movable chicken tractor, electronet fence,) an owl got one. After that we went out at dusk and grabbed them and put them in the coop. However timing was critical, had to wait until they were roosted to grab them, but owl came earlier and earlier it seemed, so if we waited til it was dark owl would get another. Eventually only one was left, so he slept inside with the chickens after that. They are meaty, small turkey size (our dog got lucky with all the leftovers from owl just eating heads and guts.
Mother Earth News just had an article about ticks, and suggest chickens good at controlling them. Our ~dozen hens free range from ~ mid october til ~ mid april (minus when snow on the ground) We just put them in fence when we plant the garden. They roam all over the ~ acre of yard, don't roam out into our open pasture too much. Seems like we get less ticks now than used to but hard to say.