Yes, it’s Wednesday already and the group is just arriving. One of the parents has just told us the guineafowl are all over the road (fortunately walking rather than flat) and the first task of the day is going to find them and guide them back into the fields. For those of you who have never kept guineafowl or peacocks – once you get them you will have a lot of people giving you messages like this as they tend to go wherever they like with complete disregard for modern traffic – a bit like like my great uncle who can’t see why he needs to go over 15 mph.
They like the roads and often have a walk along them, much to the concern of passing motorists. It’s easier for doing distances I suppose, and from what we’ve seen they also like picking up grit as they potter along.
Grit is an interesting subject when keeping birds. When I first started in the poultry industry we regulalrly fed two sorts of grit to our breeders, but then I was taught the business by someone who had started keeping poultry in the 1920s. As time went by grit became a thing of the past.
The two sorts of grit are insoluble or flint grit, which supposedly aids the grinding process in the gizzard and soluble grit, or oystershell, which is assimilated by the bird to ensure good egg shells. It now seems that birds are capable of digesting food without using grit. Modern poultry rations seem able to include enough calcium to make oystershell superfluous, though that isn’t what I’m talking about here.
Wild birds still seem to like picking up grit, a fact that is used in the medication of red grouse in the wild. They may need it to help with digestion but they probably also extract minerals from it as it breaks up. Again, modern rations contain enough vitamins and minerals for poultry without them having to eat grit.
For once I actually have a picture of the right species of bird!