Guinea fowl are a fundamental mainstay of nutrition in many African countries, particularly Ghana. Guinea fowl farming represents a way for low income farming families, often led by women, to generate a modest income from a small-scale enterprise alongside beneficial nutrition. Guinea fowl are easier to manage by resource-poor farmers with hardly any access to formal veterinary services because they are resistant to most poultry diseases.
However, high mortality of juvenile birds in the early post-hatching period constrains productivity of these small-scale farms. Our aim is to understand the factors that contribute to juvenile guinea fowl mortality in the breeding systems that are used in Ghana. We will do this by working with a network of Ghanaian farmers to collect and analyse data on the development of animals raised using their current husbandry protocols tracking health and survival of the birds. This will give us a currently unknown insight into what makes a resilient fowl. A larger network that disseminates best practice and allows us to directly support the farmers will then be formed.
The importance of guinea fowl to the nutrition of farmers and their families cannot be overstated. The project will have a significant impact on the welfare of animals and the sustainability of a fragile but essential way of farming across sub-Saharan Africa, with implications for all global communities reliant on farmed avian meat and egg products.