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Cooping Guineas

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Right now, I have my 7  6-week old guineas in the same coop as my 11-week old chickens.  They are separated by some mesh and have never been together.  I've thought about combining them, but then realized it would be difficult to let my guineas free range when the time came.  I just built my coop and thought I would have this avian sanctuary.   I'm starting to think it would be easier and more practical to coop my guineas in the old pen that has been on the property for a while(I just bought the house this year).  I could easily let them out without worrying about the chickens loose and they could go "home" to protect themselves if something came flying down(hawks for instance).  I would lock them up at night.  This is the perfect scenario in my head......

 

My questions:

 

1) They've been living in the chicken coop for 3 weeks and I think they feel that is their home.   The door came open once, and they did not leave.  They also escaped through the mesh, but wanted back in.  Are they still young enough that I can re-home them and the new place will feel like they should live there?  I really don't want them roosting in trees at night.

 

2) What's the best way to handle guineas to move them?  They are hard to catch and I don't want to hurt them(or hurt me).

 

3) The new place is well secured with hardware cloth, but does not have full walls.  It's great for summer because they can cool down, but for winter, what would be best?

 

4) I've been feeding them 30% protein exotic game bird starter.  The bag is almost empty, should I continue with this or buy something else?

 

 

Any responses would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

post #2 of 16

They will probably need 6 wks in their new coop to reprogram their brains into accepting and connecting with their new coop/home. You can try 4 wks, but chances are they will want to go back in with the chickens. Putting a mirror in their new coop will help them feel like they aren't so alone, since they see twice as many keets.

 

If you have a wire cage or wire dog crate (wire works best, solid crates are harder to herd them into) that you can put in the corner of their coop up against one wall and far enough away from the other wall so that you can open and close the door, with the door open you can kind of use it like a cattle chute and calmly herd them into the cage, but be sure to move slow or they may scatter. Once they are in just reach down shut the door and carry the entire cage/crate to the new coop. Then just open the cage door, leave them be for a while and let them wander out on their own before you remove the cage/crate.

 

Another way of catching them is at night in the dark or very dimly lit coop... Guineas are blind in the dark so if the are up on the perches and you can get behind them then you can calmly, but quickly (with gloved hands, if you are concerned about getting scratched) get a good grip around their wings and body with both of your hands, or you can try using a towel and wrapping that around them when you grab them. The key is to get those wings under control so all you have to worry about are the beaks and feet/claws. The major drawback to this method is that by catching them one at a time each birds usually will scream bloody murder, explode into a panic attack, try to get away and probably upset the rest of the birds in the process... so IMO this method works better for just catching 1 or 2 birds, but since you only have 7, it's still workable. If you have a helper then maybe you can each grab a bird at the same time and get the job done quicker... with less bird panic attacks. You can either put them in a cage or crate or carry them to the new coop one by one.

 

I prefer the herding into a cage or crate method tho, because once they are in the cage/crate there's minimal explosion and panic compared to how it can go in the coop in the dark. Also if you do catch them at night you'll want to have some sort of light on in their new coop so they can see once you get them in there.

 

You can also use a catch net, but my birds fight the net like crazy and it turns into a total tangled up fiasco.

 

Best of luck.


Edited by PeepsCA - 7/19/12 at 6:50am
... Flew the Coop, Twice.
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... Flew the Coop, Twice.
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post #3 of 16

Oh and the new coop sounds like it will be fine for summer as is, but you may need to weather proof it more for winter, Guineas are  pretty hearty but can easily get chilled if they are wet and the coop is really drafty. They can't fluff up and insulate themselves if they get wet out in the rain.

 

And at 6 weeks I usually gradually wean my keets over to a grower feed with at least 20% protein in it and keep them on that until they are 12 wks, then gradually wean them over to a layer feed with at least 16% protein in it.

... Flew the Coop, Twice.
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... Flew the Coop, Twice.
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post #4 of 16

Just want to share the experience I have with my guineas. They went into their outside coop separate from my chickens when they were about 4 weeks old. They stayed exclusively in the coop for about 5 more weeks. Every evening I would come out with a cup of crickets, call "keets" several times in a high pitched voice and give them their treat. Granted, they are much more suspicious of crawling things at this age than I remember my chickens ever being. You give chickens something new and they are all trying to check it out. Guineas, very suspicious and watch first. So, we started just leaving the coop open in the evening and they would slowly venture out. The first time I watched them closely because I wasn't sure if they would head to the road area. Well, I have a couple 3/4" five foot long pieces of pvc and I use them to herd the guineas towards their coop. The first few times were rather interesting with the flying and screaming but after about 3 nights they figured it out beautifully. I open the coop every morning now and they have been coming out earlier every day and manage to make their way back into the coop almost on their own now. With the intense heat we have been having here in NC I go out several times to check on them and make sure they have an alternate water source other than their coop. They are thriving beautifully. Some people say they are really dumb birds, but I disagree. They tend to get confused easily but are very habitual creatures and love to be together. I too have a mirror for them and put a little battery operated light on in the coop if they haven't come in on their own. It makes herding them much easier as they do not like to go into dark areas.

I'm no guinea expert and this is my first experience with them, but it could not be better. A couple managed to get INTO the chicken coop today and other than what I call "a little chickin' bitchin'", everyone was fine. Well, except the ones outside the coop trying to help the others get out. Always entertaining!!!
 

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your responses.  I'm getting the pen set up before I move the guineas this weekend. It's a very sound structure, just needs to be modified for guineas.  A friend gave me several mirrors.  Is it possible to have too many mirrors?  They have one right now in their space and they absolutely love it.   The dog crate idea seems like it would work perfectly.

 

I definitely will wait at least 6 weeks.  I know I got them for helping with bugs, but I tend to get too attached to animals(I know, I know)....I'll be super nervous once I let them go.

 

Thanks again for all your help! 

post #6 of 16

Why keep them apart? I have chickens and keets in the same coop they go out in the morning and i trained them that when i shake my stick it's time to go to the coop and so they all go in and i tell them ok time for bed and both the keets and chicks go in. Maybe they are special but i showed them by herding them around 7 pm before the sun goes down to get into the coop and eventually all i had to do was act like i was going to herd them and they just started doing it on their own. I don't wait till dark.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

I want to free range my guineas, but I want to keep the chickens in the run.  My dog, bless his heart, wants to protect the chickens from everything, except himself. He hasn't shown the same aggression towards the guineas.  In the setup now, I would let the guineas out of the coop, and then have to open the door for the run.  I would then have to close the door to the run so the chickens don't escape.  However, the guineas wouldn't have access to the coop if they wanted to go there for some reason.    The previous owners had a pen on the other side of the property for their chickens.   With a little modification, I think it would work better.  I could open the door in the morning and they can come and go as they please(if they even felt like coming to the coop), then close it at night.  I built the new coop with chickens in mind, then decided to get guineas later.  I think that's the best scenario for me.   I am definitely open to other ideas/suggestions.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveclank View Post

My dog, bless his heart, wants to protect the chickens from everything, except himself.

 

Mine too! lau.gif

 

I just use a cardboard box if I need to move the Guineas.  They are still small enough that it works, and they've gotten used to me herding them into a corner, getting in the box and going for a ride. (my run is not attached to the coop yet, so I have to move all the birds every morning and night)


Edited by javamilk99 - 7/20/12 at 3:56am

 Every time my husband "jokes" about getting a new critter, I get one. You'd think the man would learn, after the poultry boom this spring...

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 Every time my husband "jokes" about getting a new critter, I get one. You'd think the man would learn, after the poultry boom this spring...

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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

The dog crate worked perfectly!  They seem very happy now to have some more space and a little more fresh air.  Eventually, they'll be able to explore the land and eat as many bugs as they can eat.

 

When do they start becoming really loud?  They are now almost 7 weeks old, and they only sound like they are casually whistling away.  Even when they moved, they didn't scream bloody murder.

post #10 of 16

Congrats on the successful move, glad they cooperated. Herding them into the wire crate works good because since they can see out of it/thru it while they are keeping an eye on you behind them as you move them forward, their brains don't register that they are actually heading into something that will contain them until the door is already shut, lol.

 

They may not get loud for a few more weeks... but the Hens may start buck-wheating a lot any time now. I have a bunch of 10-12 wk olds in my grow out pen now, and the Hens never shut up. Lately both sexes have been starting the alarm call if one of the other flocks decides to sound off first because a leaf blew by, lol... so enjoy the quiet while you can!

... Flew the Coop, Twice.
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