Breeding: Is it really that easy?

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by zootycoonman223, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. zootycoonman223

    zootycoonman223 New Egg

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    Jan 31, 2013
    Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum but I have a question. Last year I ordered guineafowl keets from the hatchery. I loved them dearly and raised them until they were fully grown, I currently have 8. It's fun watching their ideosyncracies and social heirarchy and it's clear to me that I have at least two pairs that stick around with one another, and then two more pairs that tolerate each other. The largest female and I'd assume the largest male (I'm not sure because I can't hear the single syllable calls over the double syllable calls) roost with each other and everything which has my hopes up. What I've heard and seen by skimming through the forum is that they are incredibly easy to breed. Is this true? I have 2 acres that mine hang around on for 70ish% of the time, the rest of the time they're in the brush on the property lines, in my rural suburbia. And what I've read is that a female tends to "disappear" and reappear a month later with 8-20 keets following her home. I want to have keets but I want my guineas to rear their own offspring for the most part. What are the chances that I could find keets this summer? What constitutes if they are willing to breed or not? I surely have at least two pairs so it can't be out of the realm of possibility; I'm just concerned with the different variables that I don't have experience with and whether or not they'll be fertile/successful this year or not because they're so young?

    P.S. They are going to be 8 months old in February, the two acres I'm on are mostly open pasture/lawn; the rest of the neighbor's property surrounding me is woods and horse/cow pastures for at least 3 acres in every direction; which is why my neighbors are so patient with them. I tend to keep them close to home and will chase them down and coerse them back home if they go over any of the fences.

    Thank You to Anyone Can Help! [​IMG] and sorry for writing so much...
     
  2. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's entirely possible that your hens will come up with some keets, but the odds are also in favor of the hen being taken by a predator along with the eggs. She'll most likely make her nest in the woods in a place that's next to impossible to find, too.

    Do you have a pen on your property or do they free-range 24/7? If they free-range 100% of the time, then you'll have to take your chances with the hen/s hatching keets out on their own. However, guineas make notoriously bad mothers, so even if they do show up with some keets, those keets are at a definite disadvantage and you'll have losses due to wet, cold, predators, etc.
     
  3. zootycoonman223

    zootycoonman223 New Egg

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    Yes, my guineas are 100% free-range. They weren't always free roam but I had problems with penning them and I was more successful with letting them free roam; they still return to the horse barn (if it's cold) or the garage/storage barn (if it's warm) every night on their own. I've wondered that though because I know they really like the woods and brush but I was hoping they'd choose the brush over the woods because the brush is basically in my front lawn and I can watch it. I'd be willing to raise the keets because I've heard of horror stories about mothers and their keets... that and it's fun to watch them grow up; I was wandering for the incubation part of the rearing process... My question then would be: do you keep them penned up to prevent them from nesting in a bad location?
     
  4. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure anyone can predict where a guinea will make her nest, but it will be hidden well. You would be very lucky to be able to watch the nest every day - but it happens for some.

    Most people who hatch keets have their hens penned up each day until they lay their eggs, and then let them out. That seems to be the best of all worlds for everybody. If you're lucky enough to find a hen's nest outside the pen, then take all but a few of the eggs (mark those you're leaving in the nest with a marker so you know which are old) and take the rest every day. Then you can hatch out those keets in an incubator.

    But if you want the hens to do the hatching safely, you'll need to keep them penned until you have keets. There are a few ways of going about it. It just depends on what end result you want.
     
  5. TarheelBirdy

    TarheelBirdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Breeding isn't difficult - it's keeping the hen/eggs/keets alive that is challenging. When my hens have gone to sit on their eggs, every time they have been snatched by a predator while sitting. They are good at finding hard-to-find laying spots. I've never had one actually hatch on their own (I incubate the eggs). I keep my hens penned up with mates now, but when I did have females free-ranging, I would not let eggs sit if I could find them.
     
  6. zootycoonman223

    zootycoonman223 New Egg

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    Alright thanks! I will probably build a new pen for them to keep them safe (and it'll be easier to find the eggs); I had a (distant) neighbor approach me that owns a farm and he said he would be interested in some keets if I was successful with breeding. So I may try incubating the eggs just because the hatch rate will go up, though it makes me nervous: I've never incubated eggs and when I was younger my parents tried incubating and failed. Time to start researching. And TarheelBirdy have you ever tried mother-incubation or have you never taken the risk, because I know the fertility rate drops drastically when the mothers do it? And do you keep each pair separate (I think I have 3 pairs and two that are either both females or not paired) or do you have one large pen? I myself was considering a large open pen where they'd have shelter but would focus more on openness of freedom to roam around, if not I'll have to re-plan a little.
     
  7. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Incubating isn't hard, but even the pros don't have100% success rate with most of their hatches. The key to success for a beginner (trust me, I know because I am one) is to buy the right incubator. PeepsCA recommended the Genesis Hovabator that has air circulation and a digital temp and humidity read on the lid for me, and it's the reason I still hatch. Other incubators are more difficult - like those "wafer" things (I don't remember what they're called). They require a lot of monitoring, fidgeting, guesswork, and luck in my opinion. The Genesis Hovabator does the work for you, although you still have to pay attention to what's going on in the incubator with temp and humidity, adding water...that sort of thing. They cost about $150.00 depending on where you buy it. GET THE AUTO TURNER, too. If you don't, you have to turn the eggs by hand three times a day at least (or is it twice a day?). Life is too short to be turning eggs every day. The auto turner is about $50.00. Worth every penny. You put the eggs in it, turn it on and it turns the eggs 24 hours a day.

    I've sold enough keets to make back the money I spent on equipment so now the keets I sell pay for a little bit of their feed. I do it for the fun though, not money.

    That said, you'll probably make some mistakes (we all did, and still do) that will lessen your hatch rate. Don't let that stop you. Most people have low hatch rates in their first couple of sets of eggs, but it gets better and better with each hatch. Mine did, and I hope that continues.

    Generally, if you want to collect eggs from your pen, you have two choices: keep the hens and roosters penned 24/7 and collect the eggs, or you can keep the hens penned every day until they lay their eggs then let them out to free range. Be sure you have the guineas conditioned to come back into the pen each night. Guineas out at night tend to be predators' dinner very fast. You don't want them roosting in trees if you can help it - in my opinion. The pen you're building will be great. Make sure they can get out of the rain, wind, snow...they need to be able to protect themselves from the elements.

    If you aren't breeding for specific colors, or if you have all one color of guinea, you don't have to keep them in pairs. They'll work that part out themselves :).

    If you DO want specific colors and have several different colors in your flock, separating is the only way to go. I have three chocolates, a buff, a mystery "white" that's probably a very light buff male, and a pearl gray. The gray won't be staying because I don't want his genes in the mix - the others can breed to their hearts' content. I just wish they'd HURRY UP because it's almost spring and I haven't had the first egg from these guys. I'm waiting, waiting, waiting.....
     
  8. zootycoonman223

    zootycoonman223 New Egg

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    Hmm, well then I'll have to get a go at it :) I appreciate the enthusiasm; and am very excited to maybe see some keets later this year! Colors don't matter because all I own are Pearls although a few have the "white-wing" gene (I think that's what it's called) but that's alright it defines them. I'll keep mine penned in 24/7 until summer comes and our grass has time to regrow (we're reseeding the pasture this year). Thank you for the help! And I hope yours start laying soon for you!!! :) P.S. I think it's called egg crate.
     
  9. kadizkidz

    kadizkidz Out Of The Brooder

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    THANKS EVERYONE for your interesting input on guineas. I also have 11 young guineas, who hopefully will be breeding this Spring.... I can't wait [​IMG]
     
  10. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another initiate to the dark side of hatch-a-holics. [​IMG] Welcome!
     

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