Age to be turned loose?

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by treldib, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    We are thinking of getting 50 Pearl Guinea Keets and (after raising them of course) releasing them on the 1200+ Acre Cattle Ranch to control those dang ticks. How old should they be at the time of release? Is Pearl the best variety to camouflage and evade predators (I know Whites get picked off by Owls while roosting) in a semi-wooded habitat? Thanks.
  2. damselfish

    damselfish Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri
    Well, ours went out to free range at around six weeks.

    But I think that 50 guineas are not going to patrol 1,200 acres very well. Yes, they may eventually reproduce but I'd expect you to lose a substantial number. Owls or other predators will pick pearls out of a tree as well. Anyone that we let roost outdoors, we eventually lose.

    On the other hand, you might eventually end up with some very streetwise guineas and their offspring.

    Our eight have a home range of around an acre even though we have 40 acres. And keep in mind, we started with around eighteen, I think? And that's with a very secure night coop and three hatched keets that did manage to get raised. So we really only have five originals left.

    Interested to see what others have to say....
  3. J3172

    J3172 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 6, 2010
    The one thing I've learned, Guinea+free range at night= owl food.
  4. jrobertson

    jrobertson Robertson's Rare Poultry

    Apr 24, 2010
    NW Alabama
    you'll never really know until you try it. Everyone seems to say that if you dont lock them up every night, the owls are going to get them. The owls will probably get some of them but not all i'm sure. I agree that you'll need more than 50 to patrol 1200 acres. we have 26 that free range all the time on only about 4 acres. But we live way back in the woods where the ticks are horrible. Since getting the guineas, i have not found the first tick on me while in the yard or pasture. If it were me, i would buy the 50. rear them to about about half grown in pens and then, when you go to feed one day, just leave the pen door open. Dont rush them out. leaving the door open and watching from a distance lets them take their time coming out when they are ready. a guinea that has been raised in confinement to that age will hardy ever leave. then let that be your experiment. See what kind of losses you experience over 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and a year. you should very quickly be able to determine whether they will make. If they do, I would make it a practice to gather the eggs from the free range nests, and incubate them so you can add those young ones to the flock later. the easiest way to find guinea nests is to watch the male.....he will usually go to the females general area and call to the other guineas. so if you spot a male all by himself calling, the female is probably on a nest very close. just take a dipnet and two people to gather eggs. because there is no comparison to a mad mama guinea.
  5. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    Quote:Great info. Thank you very much [​IMG]

    Without a coop to return to every night, wouldn't they just keep roaming and cover a lot more land than if they were coop trained.

    We successfully released Eastern Wild Turkeys onto the ranch two years ago and they have exploded in population. 100 Adults (quite tame actually) were originally realesed and there are at least that many adults now that were hatched in the wild. In the beginning A LOT were picked off by Coyotes, Bobcats, Owls etc but that was back when you could just walk over and pick one up without them even walking in the other direction. If you wanted one for Thanksgiving dinner you could just sit in the truck and hit one with the door when they swarmed the truck looking for food (not that we ever did this [​IMG] ). Now you actually have to track them down and call all day to locate one of the flocks. There are even enough now that a group of hunters got their bag limit a few weeks ago (2010 was the first year we started hunting them). All the ones shot this season were born wild (no tattoes on their legs, which the original flock had).

    They do roost, so maybe the Guineas could learn a thing or 2 from them [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2010
  6. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    Bump [​IMG]
  7. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sunny side up :)
    Guineas will roost about 20 ft up in the trees sometimes but owls will still find them. They are probably smaller than the turkeys so might be easier pickings. If you can keep them cooped up in a coop with a small run for the first 2 or 3 mos of thier lives and then slowly start letting them out for a little while during the day and increasing it. THey will be more likey to come back and roost in thier coop at night and you can lock them up and let them out in the morning. If you don't want to mess with opening and closing the door you can get a automatic door opener and a timer. THere are plans for homemade ones that are cheap to make if you search on the byc site.
    Ours were cooped up at night, with a run during the day for the first 5 mos of thier lives. They absolutely want to go back in the coop at night. Yesterday, there was a bald eagle who came for a visit around noon and sat in a tall pine in the yard (we only have 3 and 1/2 acres) and the guineas ran into thier coop and put up a fuss. They know where to hide. YOu could also think about putting up some small dog igloos or wooded boxes with a hole cut out on one side stratigically around your property for the guineas to take cover during hawk or bird attacks. It won't help with foxes, coyotes etc but can help during the day to run for cover when they are out freeranging.

    Another idea if you are feeling up to it, is if you only have 50 guineas and you want them to patrol a larger area you could break them up into groups and make 3 coops on different areas of the property. It might work or they might find each other and some band together into a larger group.
  8. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    I also raise Guineas for tick control/bug patrol. My first batch flew the Coop forevermore. After that I raise keets and chicks together and have had them stick around and mostly roost in the Coop. The ones that do roost outside do get elimanated one by one.
  9. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    We have a cattle farm and we got Guineas for the ticks too! We are very impressed with how well they keep the ticks down. First year, the ticks were greatly reduced. Second year, they were almost non-existent! [​IMG]

    I would definitely recommend Pearl Guineas. Lavenders and Whites are not as hardy and are a whole lot more susceptible to predators. Also, Pearls are cheaper and easier to come by.

    I wouldn't let them out to free-range until they're at least three months old.

    Our surviving adults roost in the trees right by our outdoor watch dogs near the house. Any of the Guineas who decide to roost in other trees farther away dissapear.

    Guineas will not reproduce naturally. They will try to hatch some eggs, but Guinea hens are notoriously bad mommas, and we've never had any naturally hatched and raised keets survive past one week old. When we want to replenish the flock, we'll gather some eggs and hatch them with an incubator. Guinea eggs are easier to hatch (for me) than chicken eggs. The keets are much hardier than chicks.

    For a 1200 acre cattle ranch, I would recommend a final flock size of at least 150 birds. You can start out with 50-100, and then hatch some more the next spring to boost the flock size to 150+. For a ranch that big, you could easily have up to 300 birds, possibly even more!

    When planning Guinea flock size, I aim to hatch about 150% as many keets as what I actually want as a mature flock. You'll lose some when they first start free ranging, especially if they don't have a predator-proof coop to go in.
  10. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    Awesome info you guys! Thanks! [​IMG]

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