DescriptionThe Guinea Fowl family is a group of insect and seed eating, ground nesting birds rather similar to partridges.
They have featherless heads and, in the original form, spangled grey plumage. Nowadays there are many more colours available.
They are large birds which measure from 40-71 cm in length, and weigh 700-1600 gms.
Photo from Backyard Poultry website  Cinnamon Female courtesy Trevor Hunt 2006
Guinea Fowl, which originated in Africa, were domesticated more than 4000 years ago, and in Roman times regarded as a table delicacy. They were spread across Europe in two waves, firstly by the Romans. In Greek mythology two Caledonian women were killed and turned into Guinea Fowl. Their tears turned into the white spots on the Guinea Fowl plumage. Following the fall of the Roman Empire their popularity died out until Portuguese traders reintroduced them around the 15th century and they have remained ever since.
According to the Guinea Fowl International Association, there are 25 colour varieties ranging from Fully Pearled (dotted), to Partially Pearled through to Solid.
There is a fantastic Colour Chart here listing the following colours (not all available in Australia)
Pied Pearled Grey
Guinea eggs are small and quite pointed at one end with extremely hard shells. They taste very similar to chook eggs.
Some Advantages of Guinea Fowl:
• They act as very efficient watch dogs and are constantly on guard
• They will pick up a large part of their own food during the warmer months if given space
• In the winter they eat less grain then most domestic fowl
• They carry few of the diseases dangerous to other domestic fowl
• Guinea Fowl eggs are considered a delicacy and have a good flavour
• Guinea Fowl meat is classed as a game meat and described by many as halfway between a free range chicken and a pheasant, and commands premium rates
Some Disadvantages of Guinea Fowl:
• They can be very noisy
• They can roam large distances
• They are flighty and difficult to tame (although can be trained to come to food)
• The lay eggs seasonally
• Broodies are easily taken by foxes
• Happiest in flocks
Suitability: Need room to roam to be happy, and as they are flock birds are happiest with a group of companions. If they are brought up with chooks they will happily be a part of their flock. They can be very noisy so are not really suited to suburban backyards.
Male and Female
Head: Short and broad with the helmet on the top. A narrow band of hairlike plumage runs down the back of the head and neck. Nostrils are prominent. Beak is short, stout and well curved. Eyes are to be large, round and alert. Wattles stiff, wide, smooth, and free from wrinkles or folds. The Male helmet and wattles are usually larger than the female.
Legs & Feet: Shanks fairly short and unfeathered. Toes straight, well spread and strong.
Serious Defects: Crooked back or breast. Decidedly wry tail. Want of size. Any other deformity.
Sources & Links
Reference - The Australian Poultry Standards, First Edition
Guinea Fowl International website
Guinea Fowl International Colour Chart 
Guinea Fowl International Genetics 
Guinea Fowl International Articles 
United Kingdom Guinea Fowl 
Wikipedia Guinea Fowl page 
Backyard Poultry forum breed profile by NellyG