BEGINNING WITH GUINEAS
In sparsley populated Wyoming guineas were not a common sight a few years ago. I had never seen one and didn't know anyone who had them. I knew very little about them. But I thought they would make a nice addition to my chicken flock. We have a lot of rattlesnakes in our area and plagues of grasshoppers thru the summer. Guineas are known to be good at controlling things like that. So my search began.
The only option I could find for getting guineas was to order them from a hatchery. The minimum order from hatcheries is 30 babies which are called keets. After finding a few friends to share the order we prepared to receive them in May. Keets need the same things that any baby poulrty needs, 95 degree temperature the first week, a high protein starter (28%) like game bird or turkey starter, and water. Vitamins and elecrolytes in their water can also help them recover from shipping stress.
Keets are tiny! They can easily go thru chicken wire so a secure brooder is important. They need a floor that is not slick so newspapers won't do. I used old rough towels in the beginning to avoid spraddle leg in the keets. After two weeks they can be placed on other bedding such as pine chips. Never use cedar chips as they are toxic to birds.
Shipping is hard on keets. When mine arrived several of them had not survived. But 27 were alive and very active. It's important to get them hydrated as soon as possible so getting them to drink is the first priority. I have since read that getting hydrated before eating can help prevent pasty butt. But I didn't know that back then. Keets are like little piggies, they will start eating as soon as they see food. Sprinkling a little on the floor is a good way to get them started after they have a drink.
Keets are like any other baby, they sleep a LOT at first. But when they are awake they are very active. Keets are very skittish too. So don't be surprised if they all pile into a corner every time you get near. Keets are harder to tame than a lot of other poultry. It can be done if you are willing to spend a lot of time with them tho.
Pasty butt is probably one of the first problems you will have with them when their first food works it's way thru their system. Bowel movements will stick to the down around their vent and harden. If enough of it accumulates it they will not be able to poop. They can die within a day if this happens. So it must be removed. This is where I made my first mistake. I tried to remove it with a wet washcloth. In the process the keet got wet and chilled. I lost that keet. Lesson learned. Don't let them get wet or chilled when removing pasty butt.
For the next few weeks there isn't much to taking care of the keets. Just food and water and clean the bedding when needed. Reduce the heat 5 degrees a week as they begin to get feathers. Keets will start trying to fly within a few weeks so make sure the sides of your brooder are high enough to keep them in.
Once the keets are fully feathered at around 6 weeks old they can be moved into an outdoor coop. And the adventure begins........
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