Cattle and guinea fowl do not really mix well together. I first realised this last year when my housework was interrupted by an awful lot of squawking.
Picture the scene….. Farmer’s wife with feather duster in hand, poised and ready to dust, when suddenly the tranquil calm was disturbed by the machine gunner noise of a gang of guinea fowl.
My only thought at first was that the birds must be getting close to the house. I didn’t really pay too much attention, until I heard lots of mooing from the cow shed. When I looked out of the window I could see the red comb of Hatty the Hen in amongst the big, burly cattle. Without a thought for my housework, I fled to the cattle shed to rescue Hatty.
Upon closer inspection, all the guinea fowl and the resident partridge were also in the fold yard with Hatty, trying to peck their way through the straw.
One of the Charolais cows had only had a calf the day before and she wanted to protect it. She was not a happy lady! Her mooing had set off the whole herd of hormonal cows, who by this time were noisily mooing and snorting at the birds.
The birds, however, were not deterred and they stood their ground against the beefy ladies, squawking noisily back. Action needed to be taken, so before any bird, cow or Farmer’s wife could be hurt, I waved my feather duster in the air and chased the poultry back to the orchard, with Hatty the Hen leading the way!
On this occasion the story ended happily with the poultry and cattle living harmoniously side by side………that is until Christmas morning 2006 when my housework was again interrupted by an awful lot of squawking.
Picture the scene….. Farmer’s wife with oven glove in hand ready to serve the Christmas luncheon to sixteen people, when suddenly the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations was disturbed by the machine gunner noise of a gang of guinea fowl.
This time I knew what to expect and it wasn’t the pleasant exchange of Christmas greetings between bird and cattle. Unfortunately the scene that faced me on this occasion was that of a battle ground with the cattle looking close to victory. The heavily pregnant cows had managed to trap the foraging birds into a corner and they were kicking up a fuss.
I cautiously entered the battle ground and began attempts to rescue the cowering poultry. Most of them saw their chance to escape and ran for safety. However two of the gang had been injured in battle and had to be carried to safety. As you can see, cattle and guinea fowl really and truely do not mix!
I’m pleased to report that the two casualties made a full recovery. The guinea gang appear to have learnt their lesson, (I hope!) since there hasn’t been any foraging for food in the fold yard recently. Although it is fair to say that this latest battle was won by the cattle, I just know that this war is not over. The unperturbed guinea fowl have now taken to slowly, very slowly, strutting past the cattle shed, just getting close enough to cause a disturbance, without getting close enough to lose another battle!