Broody guinea hatch

Mixed flock enthusiast

Free Ranging
May 21, 2018
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Ok, so I’d love to hear your opinions! Setup: I swear we have the broodiest guineas on earth! Viceroy has been broody for five weeks. I gave her six timed eggs to sit on that are now on day 24 so about to go into lockdown. Two weeks ago, Welch (probably her biological mom but not the one who hatched her) also went broody, and she’s now sharing Viceroys eggs. More recently, two other guinea hens decided to go broody; they are on the three(!) eggs that I left on an adjoining, secondary nest so guineas would keep laying in the coop. I have a good feeling about Viceroy but this is her first year. Welch and the others I don’t know: this is their second year, and at least one of them killed hatching keets on a giant community nest last year. I had intended to give Viceroy two more same aged eggs from the incubator for a total of 8 eggs. However, now I’m stressing that I’m replicating the community nest with different lengths of broody hens from last year that proved lethal. I could block off the end of Viceroys nest that is closest to the new broodies... Or maybe the problem last year was the giant, stinking nest with broken eggs?

If anyone has any thoughts on increasing the chance that Viceroy/Welch can safely hatch their eggs I’m all ears! Today is the last day that I plan to gather extra eggs from their nest, then they and the incubator eggs will be on lockdown...
 

Mixed flock enthusiast

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May 21, 2018
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Thought I’d update our situation. The drama of this hatch was superseded by the drama of a guinea hen dying of an unknown disease just as the keets were hatching! I’ve posted on that separately. However, as an update on the hatch: one week ago, I chased the foster mom, Viceroy, off the eggs and candled the six. Five were internally pipped, and one looked less developed than the others. I decided to leave the nest alone for awhile to hatch. On Wednesday, June 10, I went into the coop and saw babies under Viceroy! There were four babies, probably all pearl grey but I haven’t gotten a close look so there could be some purples. My guineas favor these big communal nests with multiple hens sitting on them, and that happened here as well with multiple hens arrayed around the nest, each with their own pile of eggs. I had been collecting eggs so they wouldn’t accumulate, but at this point, I stopped for the safety of the keets, since collection is an unpleasant affair. So, I now had Viceroy, Welch, Scout Red, Cherry Pie, and Pearl all sitting around the nest. I’ve mostly watched the action on video cam as they hide the babies when I come in, plus I’m quarantining the guineas due to the unknown disease.

Each hen has responded differently to the keets. Welch acts annoyed and pecks at them, even though she had been broody second longest. Scout Red adopted them and then started roosting again, so their hatch broke her broodiness, even though she had only been broody a few days. The biggest surprise to me is that Cherry Pie, alpha hen but mate to the most subordinate cock, has largely stolen the keets. Interestingly, Cherry Pie and Concord were the moms to Viceroy: they hatched her but abandoned her after three days so I had to take the keet. Viceroy is not happy about this usurping, but it seems that there’s little she can do. Cherry Pie has largely delegate nursing duties to Scout Red, who seems to spend much of the day with the keets, but she roosts at night while keets hang under various broody moms. Cherry Pie also chases off any non-broody hens who come near the keets, creating conflict as these hens try to lay their eggs in the communal nests. Sorry it’s such a fuzzy picture, but here’s a guinea cam pic of Cherry Pie, Scout Red, and Viceroy with three of the keets. Trying to keep water available for the keets with the adults constantly kicking stuff into it has been a challenge!

I’m surprised at what a group effort that the broody hens are making at keet raising, and that the dads are almost completely uninterested. All cocks act like the keets are minor annoyances underfoot. Keets will need to get about 10” up before able to leave the coop, so hopefully they are coop bound for a bit, and will be able to keep up with a group when I can finally let them out again.
 

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Mixed flock enthusiast

Free Ranging
May 21, 2018
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Better pics of guinea keets! They are now just over a week old. I was so proud of Ghost, the cock paired to the hens that stole the keets from Viceroy, for being so good with the keets! I went in with mealworms to show the guineas that I’m not after their keets and in hopes that the keets won’t be terrified of me, and got some pics out of this. Unfortunately, Ghost wanted all of the mealworms and gave a keet a hard peck to keep the keet away. Ouch!!! I don’t know how those keets survive that! Bad bad Ghost!! :duc Ghost is the lavender guinea giving me “ The Look”.
 

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Mixed flock enthusiast

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May 21, 2018
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Sadly, today was not a good day for the keets in the coop nest. We had been quite droughty, so was very excited to get rain this morning when we only had a 30% chance of rain. The rain came with a series of storms, typical for Oklahoma. The internet was knocked out for awhile, so I couldn’t see the coop cam... no worries, keets and adults have been fine locked in the coop/run for nearly 2
weeks, I figured they would stay in the coop. Rain lightened up at noon so I checked on them, and stuff was everywhere. I figured that the storm had blown stuff around in the coop (south wall is open air) and put fixtures back and fixed camera. I only saw 2 keets (there were 4 yesterday), but it was much cooler and moms were hunkering down so I figured keets were staying warm.

Went to work and watched the camera occasionally. By late afternoon, I was only seeing a single keet. I got concerned and asked DD to check on them, with the sudden horrifying thought that a keet had been blown between a board (used to contain deep litter) and a cattle panel wall. DD found one chilled keet huddled in the run (their first time leaving the coop) and one hunkered on the ground with moms; no other keets. I came home to look as it was getting dark. Sadly, I indeed found one dead keet caught between the board and cattle panel, where two flew to and got temporarily caught yesterday. Obviously those boards need to be removed. I also found that there were no hens on eggs in the nest box, and only 2 of 4 broody hens on the ground nearby with the two keets. I looked closer in the nest box, and found a very large black rat snake gorged on eggs, and presumably the other missing keet, and lounging in the nest box waiting to be hungry enough to resume its meal. I am so sad that those keets made it 10 days then succumbed to snake/storm. I’m now wondering if the coop stuff was knocked over by frantic scared guineas, rather than the storm. I’m so impressed that two moms stayed on the ground nearby to protect the remaining keets!

This is the third keet I’ve lost to black rat snakes, and the second time they’ve eaten a ton of guinea eggs from the coop. I believe that this snake came in through the chicken door that opens just after sunrise and closes at sunset, which also happened once before in their old coop. I’ve been trying to think of whether there is anything I can do about the coop door situation... Poor babies; what a way to go!
 

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Mixed flock enthusiast

Free Ranging
May 21, 2018
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So things have been going well with Scout Red as primary mom to two remaining keets, with Lemon Pie acting as her heavy and other nanny. After the awful snake incident, Welch is the only guinea still broody. I’m crossing my finger she stays that way as I just set a dozen expensive guinea eggs in the incubator - arrangements I made before the snake incident.

I’m continuing to try with our broody experiments in hopes of better integrations. At any rate, I’ve been impressed with Scout Red’s mothering skills... until tonight! She went up to roost, and left the 2 week old keets with Welch. :duc This is just what happened last year, except that there was no broody hen left to keep the keet warm at night, so I had to remove the keet. I hope Scout continues to mother the keets by daylight... I really need to let the guineas out - they’ve been cooped too long and are losing feathers to quarrels - and a mom needs to be responsible for them.

So, moms cared for a single keets for three days last year, 2 weeks for 2 keets (originally 4 keets)
this year. I’m still looking for the missing ingredient here and am left with the same two hypotheses. 1) Too few keets to keep triggering mom to stay on ground with keets instead of roosting. 2) Lack of father investment. I think wild keets are mainly cared for by the cock. I have no idea how to get these deadbeat dads more involved.
 

My2butterflies

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My plan for integration is a pen inside the guinea pen once the keets are a few weeks old.
Your plan sounds interesting and if the guineas cooperated seems like that would be the easiest way to add to the flock.
I wouldn’t be able to try it. My girls stopped being broody after I took the 10 viable eggs from the nest. I still left a good amount of eggs for them, but I think they noticed I took the “good” eggs.
Now I have no idea where they are laying there eggs. 🤦‍♀️
 

Mixed flock enthusiast

Free Ranging
May 21, 2018
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Stillwater, OK
My plan for integration is a pen inside the guinea pen once the keets are a few weeks old.
Your plan sounds interesting and if the guineas cooperated seems like that would be the easiest way to add to the flock.
I wouldn’t be able to try it. My girls stopped being broody after I took the 10 viable eggs from the nest. I still left a good amount of eggs for them, but I think they noticed I took the “good” eggs.
Now I have no idea where they are laying there eggs. 🤦‍♀️
Huh, I just took all of Welch’s viable eggs and left glue filled eggs. She’s still sitting on them. I have t been giving min the choice with wild nests - they are still locked up. I’m thinking I will try letting them out this afternoon, but I’ll follow the group with the 2 week old keets and see how it goes.

For your setup, did you put a brooder plate in the pen? I wondered if I could do that; leave a brooder plate for the keets to stay under at night if the hens all decide to roost...
 

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