Guinea fowl, while great pets, do have trouble in winter weather. They don’t seem to handle the cold as well as chickens. That doesn’t mean you can’t have guinea fowl if you live in harsh winter areas, such as our home of upstate New York. What you can do is prepare your guinea fowl for the winter months and keep them snuggly warm.
Prepare the guinea fowl pen in late fall. You want to ready the guinea fowl before the snow hits and temperatures drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll know if your birds are cold because they puff up their feathers and shiver. Many times, they will stop eating from the stress of the cold. You want to have their pen winterized before they get that cold.
Have a pen set-up for cold weather climates. Many people give their guinea fowl a small building to sleep in, and let them wander free during the day. That won’t work in the winter. Most guinea fowl won’t tolerate even stepping into the snow. Guinea fowl should have a fenced in pen with lots of space for them to explore during the long winters. The more guinea fowl you have, the bigger the space needs to be. They need plenty of area to live in. Inside should be a number of perches at different heights. Guinea fowl love to perch, and the higher the better. The pen should be connected to their building so they can go in and out. During warmer months, you can let your guinea fowl free to explore and enjoy the trees.
Cover the fenced pen with clear plastic. Bulk plastic can be purchased at most hardware stores, and even Walmart. The entire pen should be covered in the plastic and nailed in place with a nail gun. The plastic will keep the heat inside the pen, and it will let the light inside for added warmth. You don’t want your guinea fowl stuck in the dark all day. The plastic will provide enough warmth to keep the guinea fowl happy and healthy.
Cover the pen in the plastic when the weather starts to get cool. If you do it too soon, it will be too warm inside the pen for the guinea fowl. If you want to get the job done in warmer weather, just make sure the guinea fowl can’t get inside the pen until they need it.
It’s easiest to start on the roof of the pen. You can roll the sheets of plastic along the roof and down the sides. Nail the plastic in place every few inches. Work on covering the rest of the exposed sides after the roof is finished.
Remember to clear off any heavy snow that lands on the roof. Building the roof on a slant will help keep snow from building up.
There are a few other ways to keep guinea fowl warm in winter. Make sure any open holes in the building walls are boarded up so that cold air can’t get inside. Heat lamps can be placed in corners, with perches beneath them, for the guinea fowl to cuddle beneath. Floor heaters can be used during extremely cold weather, but always keep an eye on them and do not leave them on too long. They are a fire hazard. Young guinea fowl could, and should, be brought inside during harsh weather. They can be kept in cages. Let them out to follow you around the house during the day.
If you are still worried about your guinea fowl getting cold, you can always do what the Little Hen Rescue does for their rescued battery hens: They knit the hens sweaters.
Cernansky, Rachel. Sweaters For Chickens, PlanetGreen.com
Cleveland, Elizabeth. Considerations Before Deciding to Own Guinea Fowl, Guinea Fowl International Association