Free Ranging my birds - Young

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by DonnaScott, Aug 13, 2019 at 6:33 PM.

  1. DonnaScott

    DonnaScott In the Brooder

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    1. I'd like the experience posters thoughts on my unconventional way of free ranging my Guinea Hens.

      It's a bit long winded but I've read the posts for so long before joining and I have so much to say about these amazing birds and so many questions.

      (What is a chicken run would probably be the dumbest question).

      So I did something a little different then it seems everyone has. I received my birds at 3 weeks, put them in the coop at 4 weeks and immediately started free ranging them. I would sit outside with 3 of them for about two hours everyday, then 4, then 5, then 6, etc. (I'm new to these fine birds as well) and could watch them endlessly. I did make the mistake in the 5th week of letting all 12 out. HUGE mistake, they still hated me and thought I was the enemy so rather than herding them in their cage they went down in the brush deep into the woods. Husband herded them back up thank GOD and never made that mistake again. (I thought I was the new proud owner of NO HENS). Since then I continued spending two hours a day with them with half free ranging for two hours a day. They are now 9 weeks and I let 3 free range all while at work, then 4, then 5 and I'm up to 8 now.

      This is how it went (yes I kept a diary):

      Day #1 letting the hens free range while I could monitor them went perfect. They stayed by the cage all day.

      Day #2 let out 5, came home from work and they were piled by their home cage. Also Perfect.

      Day #3 Nothing short of a shit show. Let out 4. Came home to no free ranging Guineas. Tried to keep my cool. Chris let out the dog and he found one of the guineas and ran after them in excitement. One came hauling ass up the driveway straight at me and then turned and flew deep into the woods. So the bright side I knew one was alive and felt the others didnt make it. Chris searched through the woods and not a guinea sound to be heard. He leaves and shortly after my Guineas in the cage sound off like sirens and shortly there after 2 hens come up the left side of the wooded area (you would have thought these 2 birds were celebrities. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) so 2 out of 4 was better than none I kept repeating to myself. Than alas, two more birds emerge from the right of the woods (apparently not as popular as there was no big rejoicing ceremony). I wish they could talk because it must have been a huge adventure for them.

    2. Day #4 Thunderstorms all day so they will stay penned

      Day #5 I was home all day and I checked on them at 11am and all was good, checked on them at 11:30 and wasn't a hen in site. My husband and I ran down stairs and after searching the whole yard we found 3 hiding in the car port, 4 hiding behind a shed. Something spooked them. Still missing I looked up in the sky and pointed up for my husband to see. It looked like a horror movie. I couldn't even count the amount of vultures and one freaking hawk swirling around. I asked my husband what he thought and he said "I think we now own 11 Guinea hens". But I come with great news folks, at dusk he returned unharmed. (What I've learned is you don't worry about them until after dusk).

      Day 6, 7 and 8 went perfect.

      I haven't pulled the trigger on all 12 at the same time yet but we've finally become friends and once they are outside the coop they trust me (they still act terrified when they are inside but still have no issues taking meal worms from me.)

      If I don't get home in time they hop on top of the coop.

      With that said I think they know where home is but I've become so invested in these birds I'm afraid for anything to happen to them.

      So as long winded as this post was, I hope it gave some incite on what to expect.

      Free range with supervision at 4 weeks and started full free ranging a few at a time at 9 weeks with several scares. I'm glad they had scares, it gives them practice on how to hide and avoid predators.

      People say they are dumb birds and I have to disagree, they are very in-Tuned to everything. They cause a bunch of commotion and I can't figure out why...I take the time to listen and look around my surroundings and I can see their side of things. ( a dog barking in the distance).

      I did throw a giant square meal worm & see square as a treat and it terrified them so badly they wouldn't even go up on their roost so they won that battle and I pulled it out (their loss).

      Well as you can see I can literally go on all day about them. I love them and I hope my neighbors will as well when they start exploring. Keeping a few in the coop is key for awhile.

      I haven't pulled the trigger on all 12 yet but I'll keep you posted

    Do you think it's safe to do so? I live in the woods, and there are plenty of objects for the hens to take cover in and I believe they know where home now since they return.

    I should also add that they grew so big so quickly and out grew the coop which was why I started them free ranging so quickly.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 6:44 PM
  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Can you make a pen to keep them in where they will have more space so If you can't free range them they will still have some added room to roam? I never raised Guineas but have raised Pheasants. I had a good sized pen which was covered with netting to keep them in along with some good sized branches for them to get on and around.
     
  3. DonnaScott

    DonnaScott In the Brooder

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    Well the goal is to have them free range 24/7 which should be soon. Just to go into a coop for rest, that should suffice yes.....or not really?

    They are already popping up on top of the Coop roost if I'm not home in time (which is not often).
     
  4. sunnie7

    sunnie7 Chirping

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    Did you read my post?!
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/guinea-success.1327007/

    I started trying to let mine out around 8-9 weeks. It was “a shit show” as my husband called it. I was never able to successfully “herd” them back into the coop after many failed attempts. There were nights some stayed out, all stayed out and then days I left the coop open all day and they wouldn’t dare go out! Finally after a couple weeks we got the hang of it! I don’t leave feed in their coop and I free range them all day and around 7pm they are usually waiting by the coop or the garage for me to bring their food. If not I yell “GUNIEA, GUINEA, GUINEA” and they come running! My purpose for the guineas is tick control so I want them free ranging as much as possible and while it’s summer and bugs are plentiful I’m only feeding them maybe 3cups of food a day.
     
    DonnaScott likes this.
  5. DonnaScott

    DonnaScott In the Brooder

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    have you lost any?
     
  6. sunnie7

    sunnie7 Chirping

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    Only one....to my German Shepherd and we live right next to a state forestry. I had a fox get 2 of my chickens recently but we saw it stalking the guineas and DH thinks he “got it” we haven’t seen it since.
     
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    :welcome :frow
     

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