Spring means it is tick season again here on the East Coast. In the spring the ticks are very small in their nymph stage, they are the size of a pin head. Even this small these ticks can do damage. I have struggled with Chronic Lyme Disease for 4 years. I have a personal dispise for these small, blood sucking creatures. Over the years we have tired many things to get rid of them. Nothing that we did seemed to get rid of them completely. We make sure the animals have been vaccinated and that we use tick prevention on them. This has helped but is still not 100% , especially not for the goats. So after doing more research and talking to other farmers, I believe we have found a solution that will work; Guinea Hens.
A large precentage of the Guinea Hens diet is ticks. They forage and “hunt” for their food, they do not eat from the feeder. Meaning they not only eat ticks but they are also very economical. There are many challenges that come along with guineas which is why they are not the solution for everyone. First, they are incredibly loud. The sound they make is similar to that of nails on the calk board, it will send chills down your spine. Second,they are almost imposible to keep in a designated area, they will visit the neighbors or just plain leave the farm. Lastly, they do not go into a barn to roost at night, so if you start the spring with 10 guineas, by the end of the summer the fox will have eaten most of them. Even with all those down sides I have decided guineas are worth a try.
They will be in a brooding pen close to the house for a few weeks, once the weather warms up and they feather out, they will be moved to their guinea treehouse in the field. Guineas love to roost up high, so we are going to build them a coop off the ground. We are hoping that if we keep them in this coop for a couple weeks while they are still young they will come back to it at night and not die! Who knows, I will have to let you know how they do. In the mean time, I am looking forward to tick free fields and a decreased risk of Lyme disease for my family and my animals. They are so cute when they are little! Not so much when they are older.