6 week old guineas exploring the outdoor pen for the first time.
By the time keets are 6 weeks old they are mostly feathered although the head and neck will still be covered with down. At this age they are called young guineas. If the nights are warm, above 60 degrees, they can be moved into an outdoor coop. They will still need to be confined until around 3 months old so you will need a covered pen attached to their coop. They can fly pretty well at this age and they love to practice. My pen is about 6' high with a perch at 4' height.
Guineas are afraid of everything new or different at this age! So don't be surprised when they all pile into a corner and are scared to move when first put into the new coop. They have to adjust to their new surroundings at their own pace. It helps to have the same feeders and waterers that they had in the brooder. Any mirrors or other familiar items can also be put into the new coop. They will probably be afraid to go out into the outdoor pen. It's a big scary world out there! Don't force them out. It may be several days before they are willing to actually step out the door. Sometimes you can entice a few of them out with their favorite treat. But they will probably run back in to be with the others.
After they have adjusted to the new home and start venturing out into the pen they are often hard to get back into the coop at night. Remember that they are still basically babies and they haven't learned what they are supposed to do. At first they will need to be guided back into the coop at night. They don't like going into dark places so it helps to get them in before dark or else have a light in the coop. I usually have a favorite treat waiting for them inside. After a week or two they will have this routine down and will usually be inside when it starts to get dark.
At around this age a lot of people will be wondering about the sex of their young guineas. Males and females will have about the same feather and body size development. So unless you are able to figure out how to vent sex them (I've never tried) the only way to sex them is by sound. At around 6 weeks old the female will begin to 'buckwheat'. This is a two syllable sound that males cannot make. To me it sounds like she is saying 'goback, goback, goback. The female can make every sound that a male makes. But he cannot 'buckwheat'. Just because a guinea does not buckwheat doesn't always mean it is male. Some females will begin making this sound a lot later. So sometimes only time will tell.
Sometime between 2 and 3 months old the young guinea will begin to lose the down on their head and neck. Many people have been surprised to see their guineas developing a purple head. Nothing is wrong with them! This is part of the transition to the adult head and neck. Sometimes it will look blue before becoming the white head of an adult. Around this time a male's wattles will begin to grow larger and often form into cups. Female wattles usually stay small and pointed. Males may have pointed wattles and a few females may develop cups. But the male wattles will always be bigger.
By the time young guineas are 3 months old they are close to their adult size. This is when they need to start having a little freedom if you plan to eventually let them free range. They usually won't go far from their pen at first. Since my juvenile pen is attached to the chicken yard and henhouse I will let them explore both places when the adults are out free ranging. I will stay with them a lot at first until they are more confident in getting away from the safety of their coop and pen. The chickens rarely bother with young guineas but adult guineas love to harass them.
Many people wonder why their young guineas won't go free ranging when first turned loose. After all, they got them to eat the ticks and other pests around their property. Don't be surprised if it is the following spring before they venture far from the area that they are familiar with.
By the time guineas are 4 months old they are ready to become part of the adult flock. That's when the real 'fun' begins.......
These are 4 month old guineas. The light Lavender on the left is female. The 2 Browns and the Lavender are male. All of the wattles are slightly different on the males.