Recently I’ve been raising awareness of the impact of the ever-increasing populations of ticks around the world and especially (as relative to me) on the Eastern coast of Australia. You can read all my blogs and articles on my new website, dedicated to recovering from just one of the “diseases” brought about by tick bites, Mammalian Meat Allergy.
What we now know is that paralysis ticks are tiny, silent and their bites contain poison strong enough to kill small cats and dogs as well as transfer blood from their previous mammal feed into a human, resulting in Mammalian Meat Allergy (MMA), an allergy that is life altering. Ticks only seek blood to be able to breed. They live in longer grass areas to find their mammal hosts, such as bandicoots, who are immune to paralysis tick poison and are the host for moving paralysis ticks around the forests. MMA is spreading because families go on camping holidays into the bush, and also bring ticks back into their home town with their dogs transporting them, by accident. Now paralysis ticks are in backyards and nature strips in suburbia and once they’re in an area they breed there, which is why MMA is now a diagnosis for people living in suburbia as well as on farms and in the bush.
The breeding cycles of ticks can be interrupted by prolonged cold and dry climates, however the recent La Nina (extended periods of humidity and rain) in Australia has worsened the tick population and the impact on pets as well as humans has been a rapid increase in the diagnoses for Mammalian Meat Allergy.
How do we manage the population growth of ticks and ultimately prevent sickness?
As I’m a student in permaculture, I decided to look at the situation on our personal property, and our community, with a permaculture mindset.
One of the most famous quotes in permaculture, by the father of permaculture himself Bill Mollison, was: “You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency!” His example was to ask the question when you see yourself confronted with a perceived problem: why not try and look at the situation from a different angle?
Therefore I would say that in permaculture you would say: “You don’t have a tick problem, you have a Guinea Fowl Deficiency.”
Meet Rhode Island and her children – 3 gorgeous Guinea Fowl. (Rhode Island is actually a breed of red chicken, which I’m pretty sure this hen is NOT, but the nickname stuck). Chickens like Rhode Island here will reportedly eat anywhere between 3 – 300 ticks in one hour with the average being 80 ticks per chook… it fluctuates depending on the breed. And the Guinea Fowl are the ultimate tick eaters, with reportedly 4,000 ticks a day going down that little beak! That’s around 350-550 an hour. Isn’t it incredible. Ducks are also said to be powerful tick population controllers with extra razors in their little beaks that – unlike chickens – will prevent the tick sliding back out.
And just look at how stunning they are. They have a lovely, graceful and kind energy. We’ve found them to be friendly and trustworthy… and very intelligent.
Our guinea fowl tribe was raised amongst all the household action so they’d be accustomed to our habits and only make noise when there’s a threat such as a snake, lizard or stray dog etc.
Rhode Island adopted them. She moved into their tiny hutch and sat on them every night to keep them warm, until they were too big. She hasn’t left their side for a moment. They protect her fiercely, and she lovingly guides them to be trusting of us. We can easily pick up and cuddle Rhode Island while her Guinea babies stand at our feet, doing their tick grazing.
I love how they are apart of the cycle on our farm. We all contribute in some way, we all have a role to play.
What if as many households as possible raised just 3 guinea fowl? What if guinea fowl were allowed to breed and join nature, taking residence in national parks and public parks? Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out if we can, in fact, reverse the increasing trend of tick bites and subsequent diseases.
I’d like to be a part of a world that embraces guinea fowls and consciously improves the guinea fowl population with this permaculture principle.
Day by day we aim to repair our bodies and have trust, faith and optimism for the future. You can join me as I walk to wellness in the private facebook group Joanna Haley Homestead (Journey to Wellness)
Joanna Haley, Author