BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Other BackYard Poultry › Guinea Fowl › Raising Guinea Fowl 101
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Raising Guinea Fowl 101

post #1 of 994
Thread Starter 

I thought it would be helpful if we could try and make an informative post about the basics of guinea fowl, and address a lot of the frequently asked questions about guinea fowl.  Please post any corrections or suggestions that you think should be added. 

Raising Guinea Fowl 101

Why Guineas?


Guineas are very interesting and unique creatures.  They have many uses.  They are kept frequently for a source, of income, meat, watchdogs, and entertainment.  They are extremely hardy birds, and forage very well.  They are an ideal bird for any farm. 

Guinea care.

What do I feed Guineas? 

Guineas are amazing foragers and can find almost all that they need outside in warm weather.  It is always a good idea to feed them some additional grain.  They probably do best on a gamebird feed, but many people, including me feed guineas whatever you feed your chickens. 

Where can I get guineas?

Many hatcheries sell at least a few colors of guinea fowl.  The largest farm I know of is Winter Guinea Farm http://www.guineafarm.com/  Better still many B.Y.C. ( backyard Chickens ) members sell them as well. 

How do I house guineas? 
Guineas can be left to roam free, or they can be confined.  I think that the absolute best thing for the guineas is to free range during the day, and be locked up at night.  This also allows the guineas to forage for a lot of their food.  Guinea shelters do not have to be very elaborate.  It could just be an old barn.  They can live in your chicken house, or in a portable pen.  Guineas can stay in trees outside at night, but often this encourages them to become wild and not stay around.   I like ours to go in a coop at night so that I can always catch them. 

How do I coop train my guineas?
Guineas need anywhere from 6-10 weeks to know where home is.  When building a coop and run, plan for one big enough to accomodate your flock for that amount of time.  I generally coop mine for 8 weeks and have never had a problem with them returning.  To help encourage them to return to the coop, feed them every night at dusk.  Once you start free ranging them, they will return for their nightly handout.  Some folks don't start out releasing the entire flock at once.  They only release half for the first week.  Guineas have a strong flock instinct and will return to the calls of their flockmates.  After a few days of returning at night, they start releasing the entire flock.  Thank you for the information Soccer Mom! 

Can I house guineas with my chickens?
Yes.  I do it that way.  Some people say that they will kill your roosters.  I have never had that happen.  When I only had one rooster they did sometimes harass him until I was afraid that they would hurt him.  Now that I have a lot of roosters I do not worry about it.  They do enjoy teasing chickens.  They like to run at a group of hens and make them fly up in surprise.  They like to bite them at night and knock them off the roost. 

Can I free range guineas?
Yes.  They can fly up into trees at night and do quite well.  They are extremely good fliers, and are hard to catch.  However, if allowed to free range they often become wild and are hard for you to catch.  Hens will also get eaten on their nests more often.  There is always a chance that something clever and devious like a fox might come in and kill them.  Keets also have a hard time in the wild.  Some people let their guineas run loose, but catch the new keets when they see them and keep them safe until they are older.  Guineas can even free range in the winter.  I have been told that they can inhale ice and die.  Often, when given the choice, they will come in to a barn in the winter. 

Managing your guinea flock.

How do I tell males and females apart?
Females usually have smaller wattles when grown than males do.  This is not always accurate though.  The only accurate way to sex guineas is to listen to their voice.  We started raising guineas with 7 guineas we purchased. They were supposed to be straight run. I tried and tried to figure out the difference between their voices.  I never could.  I was told that the female makes a two syllable call in addition to the one syllable chat chat noise.  The male can only make the chat chat noise.  I never was able to distinguish the difference.   Finally I decided to quit worrying about it and get some more guineas.  These new guineas made a sound that I had never heard before.  It turns out that all of my first guineas were males.  Once you hear the sound it is easy to tell the difference.  They all like to go chat chat or chaa chaa chaa.  They make that noise with great frequency.  Sometimes the females decide to make their call.  It is extremely hard to type, but to me it sounds something like ree onsch, ree onsch.  It is kind of raspy.  Only the females will make this noise.    Here is a link provided by MuranoFarms that should lead you to a sound recording of the male and female call of guineas.  http://www.guineafowl.com/fritsfarm/guineas/sounds/

Guinea colors?
Winter guinea farm has a lot of nice pictures of guinea colors here

How old are they before they start to breed?
Usually they will breed the spring after they are hatched. 

Can you eat guinea?
Yes.  I never have, but I have read a lot of posts about people who did.  I was once told that when you go to a fancy restaurant and order game bird you think it is pheasant, but it is actually guinea.  I do not know whether that is true or not.

Will guineas protect my flock?
I think they help.  While they can not actually kill predators, they can sound an alarm. They are supposed to deter hawks.  I have seen them sound an alarm and watched every bird run to the henhouse.  They have also sounded alarms to alert me to foxes etc.  I once saw a picture of them surrounding a fox.  I have never had that happen, but it was a neat picture.  I have also been told that they are not afraid of cats.


Guinea eggs and keets

How old are they before they start to lay?

Guineas will usually lay the spring after they are hatched.  speckledhen informed me that French guineas have a much longer laying season.  She said she had a guinea lay its first egg in December.  Thank you speckledhen!

What do their eggs look like/ how can I tell them apart from chicken eggs?
Guinea eggs are brown.  They are about half the size of a large chicken egg.  They are rather rounded on top.  Once you see one you will not have trouble telling it apart from chicken eggs.  Here is a picture provided by Soccer Mom showing the difference between chicken and guinea eggs.  Thanks Soccer Mom! 
http://i611.photobucket.com/albums/tt194/maryrbutler/Poultry/DSCN1340.jpg
On the far left is a standard buff-colored chicken egg (medium-size).  Next to that is the guinea egg.  Notice that it is just a shade lighter, almost pinkish,  and very triangular shaped.  Next is a bantam chicken egg.  It is roughly the same size as the guinea egg, but rounder.  Fourth egg is a medium-size chicken egg.

Will guineas hatch their own eggs?
Yes.  They are supposed to be fairly good setters but poor mothers. 

How do you incubate guinea eggs?
Guinea eggs are fairly easy to hatch.  Here is a chart with some information about incubating them.  http://www.shilala.com/Howlongtohatch.html

Can you eat guinea eggs?
Yes.

Guinea keets (young)
Guinea keets are very active young birds.  They are rather delicate though.  That is why the mother often loses a lot of them if allowed to raise them herself.  I brood mine in a simple chicken brooder box.  I have raised them with chickens from birth.  Some people would probably disagree with that so use your own judgment.  You do need to make sure that the keets will not drown in the water.  They are smaller than chicks and can more easily.  I have heard that you should put rocks or marbles in the bottom of the water container so it is not deep enough for them to drown.  rooster0209 said Another important fact! Keets must stay 95F until they are fully feathered or they die.
Thank you rooster0209 for your information!


Edited by houndit - 3/28/10 at 3:29pm

  Please choose Life! Proud conservative tea party member! 
....the right of the people to keep and to  bear Arms shall not be infringed.  The second amendment.  Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy strength.

Reply

  Please choose Life! Proud conservative tea party member! 
....the right of the people to keep and to  bear Arms shall not be infringed.  The second amendment.  Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy strength.

Reply
post #2 of 994

Thanks, houndit! I stickied this since we had no stickied threads in the Guinea section. Good information. Sometimes, as far as when they begin to lay, they will lay an egg before spring. I had some guineas, had to sell them when they were about sixteen weeks old and the pearl one laid her first egg in December! I was quite surprised, really. Maybe she was a French guinea; she was pretty big. They have a much longer season than your regular guinea fowl. Thanks for the nice summary here!

From now till Sept 1, make any purchase at www.blueroocreations.com  web store, where every artisan is a veteran or spouse of a veteran, and receive a surprise free handmade gift with your order!

The Blue Roo Creations Mascot, Lancelot, says, "Support Our Troops!"


Follow Along with The Evolution of Atlas

 

~A dog on its owner's property is a pet; A dog on someone else's property is a predator~

 

Reply

From now till Sept 1, make any purchase at www.blueroocreations.com  web store, where every artisan is a veteran or spouse of a veteran, and receive a surprise free handmade gift with your order!

The Blue Roo Creations Mascot, Lancelot, says, "Support Our Troops!"


Follow Along with The Evolution of Atlas

 

~A dog on its owner's property is a pet; A dog on someone else's property is a predator~

 

Reply
post #3 of 994

Good sticky!  thumbsup  Here is another frequent question:

How do I coop train my guineas?

Guineas need anywhere from 6-10 weeks to know where home is.  When building a coop and run, plan for one big enough to accomodate your flock for that amount of time.  I generally coop mine for 8 weeks and have never had a problem with them returning.  To help encourage them to return to the coop, feed them every night at dusk.  Once you start free ranging them, they will return for their nightly handout.  Some folks don't start out releasing the entire flock at once.  They only release half for the first week.  Guineas have a strong flock instinct and will return to the calls of their flockmates.  After a few days of returning at night, they start releasing the entire flock.

I'll take some pics of my guinea eggs next to chicken eggs.

Okay, here is an egg comparison:


http://i611.photobucket.com/albums/tt194/maryrbutler/Poultry/DSCN1340.jpg

On the far left is a standard buff-colored chicken egg (medium-size).  Next to that is the guinea egg.  Notice that it is just a shade lighter, almost pinkish,  and very triangular shaped.  Next is a bantam chicken egg.  It is roughly the same size as the guinea egg, but rounder.  Fourth egg is a medium-size chicken egg.


Edited by Soccer Mom - 3/21/10 at 2:42pm
post #4 of 994

How to tell the boy's call from the girls call:
http://www.guineafowl.com/fritsfarm/guineas/sounds/





We've needed this thread for awhile! Thanks!


Edited by MuranoFarms - 3/21/10 at 3:07pm

We are NPIP.


blog, Blog, BLOG: www.MuranoChickenFarm.com

Reply

We are NPIP.


blog, Blog, BLOG: www.MuranoChickenFarm.com

Reply
post #5 of 994
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the information everyone!  I added it.  Thank you for stickying it speckledhen!

  Please choose Life! Proud conservative tea party member! 
....the right of the people to keep and to  bear Arms shall not be infringed.  The second amendment.  Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy strength.

Reply

  Please choose Life! Proud conservative tea party member! 
....the right of the people to keep and to  bear Arms shall not be infringed.  The second amendment.  Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy strength.

Reply
post #6 of 994

Guineas are also not afraid of cats- my young cat will spook the chickens to see them flutter, but one day one of my male guineas stood up to her, and chased her back to the workshop.  Needless to say, the guineas will fluff and follow/chase the cat as soon as they see her now. 

I'm waiting for my first egg this year.  I have in my journal the first egg in 2009 was March 14th.  First day of spring and we had snow showers- will it ever warm up and not be muddy/sloppy??

Lora in central IL

Lora

Raising Black and Auburn Javas, Dark, Partridge, and Blue Laced Red Brahmas (love a big quiet bird), Guineas, a few Peas and 10 turkeys.

Reply

Lora

Raising Black and Auburn Javas, Dark, Partridge, and Blue Laced Red Brahmas (love a big quiet bird), Guineas, a few Peas and 10 turkeys.

Reply
post #7 of 994
Quote:
Originally Posted by houndit 

How do you incubate guinea eggs?
Guinea eggs are fairly easy to hatch.  Here is a chart with some information about incubating them.  http://www.shilala.com/Howlongtohatch.html


The link you have does not give any info on guineas that I can find, can you tell me how many days it takes for guinea eggs to hatch? Thanks

I'm looking for some nice looking (show quality) mille fleur OEGBs. Any one have chicks or hatching eggs, please let me know price with shipping to zip 56347. Any adults within driving distance would be even better. Thanks!

Reply

I'm looking for some nice looking (show quality) mille fleur OEGBs. Any one have chicks or hatching eggs, please let me know price with shipping to zip 56347. Any adults within driving distance would be even better. Thanks!

Reply
post #8 of 994

26-28 days for incubating guineas. The link does have info about incubating guineas, but it's under peafowl. I'd not have my humidity that high, though, unless it was waterfowl.

Peafowl
Congo                26 days            99.5          60-65%        80-85%           22nd day
Green                 28 days            99.5          60-65%        80-85%           26th day
Guineas             28 days            99.5          60-65%        80-85%           26th day
India Blue        27-29 days         99.5          60-65%        80-85%           25th day

From now till Sept 1, make any purchase at www.blueroocreations.com  web store, where every artisan is a veteran or spouse of a veteran, and receive a surprise free handmade gift with your order!

The Blue Roo Creations Mascot, Lancelot, says, "Support Our Troops!"


Follow Along with The Evolution of Atlas

 

~A dog on its owner's property is a pet; A dog on someone else's property is a predator~

 

Reply

From now till Sept 1, make any purchase at www.blueroocreations.com  web store, where every artisan is a veteran or spouse of a veteran, and receive a surprise free handmade gift with your order!

The Blue Roo Creations Mascot, Lancelot, says, "Support Our Troops!"


Follow Along with The Evolution of Atlas

 

~A dog on its owner's property is a pet; A dog on someone else's property is a predator~

 

Reply
post #9 of 994

Now that you pointed it out, I can see it just fine. big_smile (I did go down the list 3 times and still didn't catch it, I think I better get my eyes checked.)
Thank You!!

I'm looking for some nice looking (show quality) mille fleur OEGBs. Any one have chicks or hatching eggs, please let me know price with shipping to zip 56347. Any adults within driving distance would be even better. Thanks!

Reply

I'm looking for some nice looking (show quality) mille fleur OEGBs. Any one have chicks or hatching eggs, please let me know price with shipping to zip 56347. Any adults within driving distance would be even better. Thanks!

Reply
post #10 of 994

Another important fact! Keets must stay 95F until they are fully feathered or they die.

Lots of great info here!

One Husband...9 cats, 2 Doxies & 1 Lab/BC cross, lots of guineas & chickens

"You can judge the heart of a man by the treatment of his animals" Emmanual Kant
Reply
One Husband...9 cats, 2 Doxies & 1 Lab/BC cross, lots of guineas & chickens

"You can judge the heart of a man by the treatment of his animals" Emmanual Kant
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Guinea Fowl
BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Other BackYard Poultry › Guinea Fowl › Raising Guinea Fowl 101