Getting Keets

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by Julic, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. Julic

    Julic Out Of The Brooder

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    I am brand new to owning Guineas (am a chicken girl). Anyway, I got an adult pair the other night and they already familiar with going into the coop each night. They have their own coop separate from the chickens. I intend to keep them confined in the coop/ run for a month and then I will let out so they can free range with the chickens once I am more confident they wont run off.

    I would like to have more than two and thought maybe they would come naturally. I keep reading about people hatching keets and am wondering if the hen will hatch and raise her own keets or if I should take the eggs from her and incubate them. Surely in the wild they raise their own babies. Not sure which way is best. Either way she wont start laying until the spring. Any advise is appreciated.
     
  2. You need to keep them locked up for 6 weeks.


    A hen MAY be able to hatch SOME keets. They're terrible mothers. And chances of her dying on the nest is high, and then the chances of keeping any keets alive is low. Moving the hen is rarely an option - they usually abandon.
    you'll need to incubate eggs, and raise them up somewhere warm, DRY, and safe
     
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  3. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    If I were you, I'd keep the pair confined and provide a nest box. Then incubate the eggs (or give them to broody hens, who make excellent mothers, unlike guineas). You can probably sell any extra keets, but once you have all you want, then you can let the pair out and (eventually) move the keets into their coop.

    The reason they are bad mothers isn't that they are stupid. Just consider where their ancestors are from. Chickens descended from Jungle Fowl (from jungles and forests), guineas come from the open savanahs for Africa. Wild guineas probably never experienced dew, and if they did, it was so hot it would not have been dangerous to a keet. If you lived in a desert, a guinea hen might be a better mother than a chicken, but where most of us live, they lead their keets right through wet grass and never consider that they might be getting cold and wet. I've also heard that chickens are better at counting their chicks and keeping them all together, and that guineas (and peahens) seem more "math challenged".

    Guineas are generally considered more fragile than chickens for the first 2 weeks of life, roughly until they are feathered out and can fly, then they are much hardier and wilier than chickens. They will notice predators from far away (remembering life exposed on the plains of Africa, where they were on the lunch menu of a lot of animals) and sound an alarm.
     
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  4. Julic

    Julic Out Of The Brooder

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    I will extend their confinement to 6 weeks or until they give me enough eggs to hatch some keets. I have a perfect place in the garage (heated/cooled) that I can hatch them when the time comes. I use it right now for when I get week old chicks. Has a heat lamp. I will have to study up on keets since I have read they are more difficult/fragile than chicks.

    ~~Thanks so much for the info.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  5. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Guineas start laying rather late compared to other species. I would not expect eggs until April or May, but maybe you'll get them earlier. Once you let them out, the hen will likely find a remote place to start laying and they are masters at hiding the nest from you. Once she starts setting, you will see only the male and he will likely hang out close to the hen, so that can help you locate her and the nest, but it's not guaranteed you will find her in time, especially if you have predator issues. We eventually lose all our free range hens that way, or by getting run over by farm machinery.
     
  6. Hotcookie

    Hotcookie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My guineas must be the smart ones in the class, because my females have turned out to be wonderful mothers. They have successfully raised three batches of keets now.....A couple of times, the females attempted to start nests in the woods, but luckily I found them, gathered the eggs, and destroyed the nests before they became too attached to them. I keep them in a coop where there are nest boxes, and they have learned to lay their eggs in them now. A good trick in teaching them where you want them to lay, is to keep them contained inside until after lunch time (they typically lay their eggs in the a.m.). All of my females quickly started laying in one of the nest boxes.....and when there were about 30 or so eggs, one of the females went broody and started sitting on the eggs. One time, I had two females go broody at the same time, so they were a tag-team....sometimes taking turns sitting, but most of the time, they sat tandem on the nest together. When the keets hatched, I made sure the mama guinea stayed inside the coop with the babies, and she did a fine job teaching them how to get water and food. When the babies were finally old enough to venture out into the big outdoors, (around 6 weeks old), they followed her everywhere she went...and a couple of the other adults came over to help her watch over the little ones. Good luck!
     
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  7. Julic

    Julic Out Of The Brooder

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    Great info once again :)

    I certainly don't want to keep them confined to the coop/run until April or May in order to get the eggs. I planned on letting them free range starting Marchish....just don't want them running off. Once I start letting them free range they have a large wooded area to roam so finding a nest may be difficult. hmmm?

    Well fortunate thing is that right now they put themselves inside the coop at night so if they will continue to do that then I can keep them in the run until after lunch time starting in April. Then she will be forced to use the nesting boxes in the coop. Hopefully, each night they will continue to come back to the coop. Right now it is just the two of them in the coop since the chickens are in a different coop.

    This is great information considering I have never had guineas. Reading info on line is good but first hand advice is the best.
    Thanks!!!
     
  8. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    It would be best to gather the egg's and put them in the incubator [​IMG]
     
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  9. JJSS89

    JJSS89 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I realize this posting is a few months old now but for anyone reading it in the future, read both sides of this thread. I have had about a dozen guinea hens that raised no less than 20 keets each to maturity and all this freerange. I think the key is to stay away from hatchery stock if you want good mothers.

    I'll tell you what, I had a pair of pearl guineas that hatched out 31 keets and were the most alert, teaching, and viciously protective parents I've ever seen. They attack dogs, cats and anything that comes within a country mile of their little babies. I've seen similar results from (like I said) about a dozen other hens. These birds - in my case - put American Game Chickens to shame with their parental skills. Not even kidding
     

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