3 guineas coming tomorrow! Need some Q's answered ASAP!

35chick4kid1dog

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 23, 2012
25
1
24
Hey all - I know I can count on the BYC community to give me the feedback I need.

This past week we've discovered a number of ticks in our yard, especially around our lone large tree - which, of course, is where the kids play most often (swing, etc.). For obvious reasons we don't want to go spraying pesticides all over the place, and we found someone locally that needed to rehome 3 adult guineas for a reasonable price ($35). We go to pick them up tomorrow.

We have a flock of 16 chickens established who free range during the day and get locked up at night. My first questions is this:

I have read that it takes 6-8 weeks for guineas to imprint on a new home. Do they need to be confined to the actual coop for that duration or could they also be let into an attached covered run?

Next question: We live on (and the coop is not too far from) a fairly busy road. There is no fence, but there is a somewhat steep inclined hill leading up to the road. The chickens never go up there, but they like feeding along the ditch at the bottom of the hill. Is there any hope of keeping the guineas out of the road, or will they beeline for it? Are we likely to lose our tick-controllers before they do any good for the yard? (I wonder if it's the noise of the road they like????)

Final Q: During the winter (Assuming they make it that long) will they need a heat source? Our coop is unheated. Our chickens did great this past winter (Southwest Ohio) - not even any frostbitten combs or anything. But I'm not sure what guineas require in the way of cold protection. Seems like they'd need hats.....
lau.gif



If anyone has any great advice for quickly integrating these little birds into our existing flock and getting them to munch away at our resident tick and mouse population (which I recently learned can be related!) I would appreciate it!

Thanks, everyone, in advance!!
 

filly1969

In the Brooder
9 Years
Jul 6, 2010
23
0
22
You can turn the new guineas out in the chicken run provided it is covered with a net or you clip the new guineas wings otherwise they will just fly out of it. Once they figure out where they are being fed they will stick around. As far as the road mine roam in the yard and they don't get in the road sometimes in the ditch but all I have to do is yell at them and the head back into the yard. No they will not need a heat source in the winter as long as they have some kind of shelter to get in and I assume you are going to let them live with the chickens. Mine live in the chicken house with my chickens and do just fine in the winter.
 

PeepsCA

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 28, 2011
4,732
210
256
BFE, CA
Confined to the coop and run is fine, but I'd herd them into the coop each night (every night), give them a treat and make that a nightly routine. Guineas like routine. And yes the run needs to be covered, they are strong flyers. I would not clip wings. They are predator bait with clipped wings. I never advise to clip wings, it's instant death wish to any bird that takes flight by nature to avoid danger (which pretty much covers everything but penguins, dodos and kiwis, lol).

Guineas and roads do not mix, and unfortunately roads are an attraction to the birds, for numerous reasons... so yah, they may end up road kill. Make your yard more of a lure for them than what's in or across the road (like setting up bird feeders to forage under, plenty of greens to munch on, dust bathing areas, and mirrors (at Guinea level), random treats on and off thru the day to keep them guessing. They also roam a lot farther than chickens do and don't stay close to home, so don't expect immediate tick relief in or yard right away once they start free ranging. Be prepared to herd them back home often when they roam too far. They learn from repetitive correction, but need to be conditioned to understand where the "boundaries" are. No fence of any kind makes this difficult... a visual cue helps them learn quicker.

Guineas are not chickens, and they don't always get along with other types of poultry, especially just a small number of Guineas. They need plenty of their own kind to stay focused on their own flock. Be prepared to house them separately and/or expand your Guinea flock to avoid chicken aggression issues.

No heat source is needed, ever (except when they are keets). They just need shelter from the elements... tho if given the choice they would still prefer to roost outside thru all of it.
 

35chick4kid1dog

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 23, 2012
25
1
24
Thank you all so much!! That's very helpful!

So would it be best to close off a corner of the coop for just them? (At least during the acclimation period?) We were thinking of using some leftover hardware cloth to close off a corner so that the chickens can't really get to them yet. We'll have to keep our eyes peeled for a couple more guineas. I think there is a swapmeet at the fairgrounds in early fall again - there are usually some there.

Once they are out free-ranging, will the chickens go after them, do you think? Or will they be fairly accustomed to them by that time?

Also, we've got 15 peeps that will be ready to transfer to the coop in a few weeks. Does anyone know how guineas do with young chickens? Do they tend to harass them?

We may consider building a small coop for just the guineas later in the summer - we have to build a doghouse by fall anyway. What are their habits in the winter? Do they spend most of the time inside the coop or do they still want to be outside in the cold weather? The predators pick up incredibly around here once the snow starts flying, so letting them out of the run is unwise. There are just too many cats and raccoons and coyotes.
 

PeepsCA

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 28, 2011
4,732
210
256
BFE, CA
Their own corner in the coop sounds good to me, then after the chickens are let out to free range the Guineas can have the run to themselves all day while they are going thru the acclimation period.

Guineas are not always very accepting of new additions (be it other Guineas or other poultry), and can peck hard enough to kill, or they can even gang up on certain targeted chickens. And yes they can harass younger birds, especially when they are in the coop and pen/confined areas. Out free ranging usually is usually more peaceful. I'd be sure to separate your new chicks from the Guineas by wire for 4-6 wks, so they get to know them but not get to them. When/if you don't see any aggression from the Guineas towards the chicks they should be ok to integrate, but you might want to do it while everybody is free ranging so none of the chicks get cornered, and keep an eye on everybody.

Most of the time it's the Guineas who are the aggressors, not the chickens... but some snippy Hens and cocky roosters may boss them around for a while... until the Guineas get comfortable with their new home, then the tables may turn. Usually in the end, the chickens lose (or the Guineas end up in the freezer or the crock pot).

Hopefully you end up with 1 male and 2 Hens of Guineas or all Hens... because an all male, or even 2 males and a Hen combo may wreak havoc with your chickens (especially during the breeding season) without more Guineas and Hens to keep them preoccupied. Guineas really do better in flocks of 10 or more.... and PLENTY of free range time, but that's not always possible for everyone, so just watch for signs of problems (and be ready to house them separately).

It's hard for anyone to say how your 2 Guineas will act towards your chickens, or any new Guineas you bring in since every bird and every situation is different... but their nature is to be aggressive, territorial and protective of themselves, their flock and their space. Housing everybody side by side, separated by wire for plenty of exposure will help... usually.

Guineas do not like snow (they do not like change period, snow being one of the biggest changes for them), and will sometimes fly up into the trees until it's gone (or they starve to death, get dehydrated or freeze to death and fall out of the tree), so if you are expecting a lot of snow it's better to keep them penned unless you have a way to dig pathways they can use. Sometimes it helps to scatter straw or shavings down on the snow to help get them in and out of the coop. They really do hate changes tho, and are very leery of silly things like a hose laying were it wasn't the day before, a bucket they have not seen before, or even a different jacket you have on etc etc.

There's a ton of Guinea related info here on this forum, and you can use your search option to look for certain subjects/topics.
 

35chick4kid1dog

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 23, 2012
25
1
24
Okay, I think we can handle this.
But, I have to say it...
6 weeks?!?!?!?!?!? Really?? SIX?! The summer will be halfway over by the time they've acclimated!
th.gif


Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We'll see how this goes. If it becomes too much trouble or they're too noisy or something, my hubby is perfectly willing to try some roasted guinea. That being said, I don't know if I can convince him to get the ladder out every other evening to shoo guineas out of a tree.

Hmm...
hu.gif
 

PeepsCA

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 28, 2011
4,732
210
256
BFE, CA
If you let them out too soon, before they imprint on their new home/coop... they may wander/fly off looking for their old home/flock, and you will never see them again. So yes, 6 wks, lol. A flock of Guineas are a pain to get started, but once they are established they can be super low maintenance and earn their keep. All your hard work should eventually pay off.

But if them being loud is going to be an issue for you... you might want to sharpen that axe, soon. They tend to sound off over every little thing for a while, until they get used to all the normal sights and sounds of your property...

Roasted Guinea is really only good (tender, not chewy/stringy) if they are 16 wks old or less. So you'll need to brine the heck out of them, for a couple/three days before you roast them, and then hope for the best, lol. Otherwise... the crock pot works excellent for mature birds.


ETA... just leave the ladder out, lol.
 
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