Guinea Dilemma

Naverretia

In the Brooder
Jan 23, 2021
6
26
33
We started trying to raise guineas last year, after we lost thousands of vegetable plants to pigeons. Currently we have two males and one female free ranging. We had planned on more, but lost most of the juveniles to large rats before we realized what was happening (We live in an area with few natural predators). They are pretty wild, but would always come for feed. They did such an amazing job, not only scaring away every last pigeon, but decimating every bug and caterpillar in our beans and potatoes. Now that we aren't tilling and planting, they seem to be bored and wandering more. Our neighbors claimed that they came over and killed two chickens. They didn't see it happen, but since they wander everyone assumes they were the culprits. We had to trap them and lock them in a coop. So, based on the assumption they did kill the chickens, is there anything we can even do to let them free range again? I have heard that adding more guineas, as in a flock of 20, might keep them distracted with each other instead of picking on chickens, but that sounds like a dangerous gamble, and of course I don't really understand their flock mentality. Adding a fence large and high enough to keep them in seems virtually impossible, as well as insanely expensive. If they stay locked up for a couple of months until we are back to planting a tilling and we need them to do pest control, will they just go back to the same shenanigans? Sorry for the long post... I love them so much and will be devastated if we have to keep them in or just give up and butcher them.
 

Sydney65

Songster
Aug 2, 2019
619
1,459
206
Indiana
Try keeping your female locked up and see what happens. My females were the ones who instigated leaving the yard during mating season. Once I locked up the remaining female, the boys had zero interest in leaving our property. Now that we're out of season, everyone gets to roam, and they stay in our yard. Come this spring, the girls will be in lockdown again.
As for killing chickens, I know they terrorize them, bc @R2elk said they don't share mating habits & goons pull feathers, etc. He or someone else will have to address killing. I can't imagine mine doing that, but I don't have chickens.
For boredom, give them chopped celery or cabbage. Mine eat from my hand but if I toss it on the ground they have a blast trying to "kill" it. Sometimes I "hide" millet in the coop for them to find, or toss a sheaf of straw or shavings in for them to spread - their version of house cleaning.
 
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Naverretia

In the Brooder
Jan 23, 2021
6
26
33
That is really good to know, I never even thought the female would be the instigator/wanderer. I am a little unsure when the mating season actually is. I had always heard April and September, which would make sense because she had a nest in September. Unfortunately we had a hurricane come through and she had to abandon it before we even found it. Do you know if they might breed year round in a more temperature climate? We rarely ever drop below 50F. I really wish I knew for sure if they had actually killed the chickens. They were a pretty small breed of chicken, and we lost a lot of guineas to huge rats. There are also weasels and loads of feral cats, so there are plenty of things that could have done it... They just look guilty because they were always sitting on the wall close by🤦.
I am trying to avoid giving them any vegetables that we may want to plant, but I don't think celery will be on that list. Also I just got an old mirror for them to look at and they are hilariously obsessed with it 😂
 

Mixed flock enthusiast

Free Ranging
May 21, 2018
3,121
8,076
646
Stillwater, OK
We started trying to raise guineas last year, after we lost thousands of vegetable plants to pigeons. Currently we have two males and one female free ranging. We had planned on more, but lost most of the juveniles to large rats before we realized what was happening (We live in an area with few natural predators). They are pretty wild, but would always come for feed. They did such an amazing job, not only scaring away every last pigeon, but decimating every bug and caterpillar in our beans and potatoes. Now that we aren't tilling and planting, they seem to be bored and wandering more. Our neighbors claimed that they came over and killed two chickens. They didn't see it happen, but since they wander everyone assumes they were the culprits. We had to trap them and lock them in a coop. So, based on the assumption they did kill the chickens, is there anything we can even do to let them free range again? I have heard that adding more guineas, as in a flock of 20, might keep them distracted with each other instead of picking on chickens, but that sounds like a dangerous gamble, and of course I don't really understand their flock mentality. Adding a fence large and high enough to keep them in seems virtually impossible, as well as insanely expensive. If they stay locked up for a couple of months until we are back to planting a tilling and we need them to do pest control, will they just go back to the same shenanigans? Sorry for the long post... I love them so much and will be devastated if we have to keep them in or just give up and butcher them.
First off: Welcome to BackYardChickens!! :welcome Where do you live that rats are a problem but you have few other predators?

I’m trying to wrap my head around the circumstances that would lead your three guineas to attack and kill two neighborhood chickens... Were there witnesses, photos? Did you see the bodies? If so, can you describe the damage? Do you truly have no other predators? What about loose dogs?

I ask all of this because your scenario doesn’t fit very well with what I know of Guinea fowl behavior. They can attack each other and other poultry, they may even kill each other, though they seem less likely to directly kill other poultry. Instead they stress them out so much that they might be nervous wrecks and succumb to disease...

Guineas are much more likely to be aggressive with roosters, especially those that they were raised with. Most aggression outside of their flock must be supported by a large flock acting in concert together. Aggression in guineas is usually related to territoriality. Do your guineas think that the neighbor’s property is their territory? Could there be a nest there? I am struggling to see how such a small group of guineas could feel brave and territorial enough to lethally attack neighboring chickens. Defense of a nest is the only scenario I can think of. Even then, it’s weird to actually kill the offending chickens, rather than giving chase and feather pulling until the chickens avoid the nest area.

If you must confine the guineas, can you confine them to the area that you want them to keep free of pests? How are they housed now?
 

Sydney65

Songster
Aug 2, 2019
619
1,459
206
Indiana
That is really good to know, I never even thought the female would be the instigator/wanderer. I am a little unsure when the mating season actually is. I had always heard April and September, which would make sense because she had a nest in September. Unfortunately we had a hurricane come through and she had to abandon it before we even found it. Do you know if they might breed year round in a more temperature climate? We rarely ever drop below 50F. I really wish I knew for sure if they had actually killed the chickens. They were a pretty small breed of chicken, and we lost a lot of guineas to huge rats. There are also weasels and loads of feral cats, so there are plenty of things that could have done it... They just look guilty because they were always sitting on the wall close by🤦.
I am trying to avoid giving them any vegetables that we may want to plant, but I don't think celery will be on that list. Also I just got an old mirror for them to look at and they are hilariously obsessed with it 😂
Yes, they do know they're beautiful. I put 3 mirrors from a bathroom vanity in for them. I swear I cld sit and watch their antics all day.
 

Sydney65

Songster
Aug 2, 2019
619
1,459
206
Indiana
First off: Welcome to BackYardChickens!! :welcome Where do you live that rats are a problem but you have few other predators?

I’m trying to wrap my head around the circumstances that would lead your three guineas to attack and kill two neighborhood chickens... Were there witnesses, photos? Did you see the bodies? If so, can you describe the damage? Do you truly have no other predators? What about loose dogs?

I ask all of this because your scenario doesn’t fit very well with what I know of Guinea fowl behavior. They can attack each other and other poultry, they may even kill each other, though they seem less likely to directly kill other poultry. Instead they stress them out so much that they might be nervous wrecks and succumb to disease...

Guineas are much more likely to be aggressive with roosters, especially those that they were raised with. Most aggression outside of their flock must be supported by a large flock acting in concert together. Aggression in guineas is usually related to territoriality. Do your guineas think that the neighbor’s property is their territory? Could there be a nest there? I am struggling to see how such a small group of guineas could feel brave and territorial enough to lethally attack neighboring chickens. Defense of a nest is the only scenario I can think of. Even then, it’s weird to actually kill the offending chickens, rather than giving chase and feather pulling until the chickens avoid the nest area.

If you must confine the guineas, can you confine them to the area that you want them to keep free of pests? How are they housed now?
Will they cont mating in warmer climates? OP said hurricane & rarely <50°
 

Sydney65

Songster
Aug 2, 2019
619
1,459
206
Indiana
I don’t know but it’s certainly possible...:idunno
"In Africa, guinea fowl mating season begins at the end of the rainy season.In southern Africa, the rainy season typically lasts from October to April."
@R2elk , why are you being so quiet lately?!
Anyway.. my personal opinion is that if @Naverretia lost keets to rats, then beloved neighbor w/small chickens also lost chickens to rats - or weasels. Otherwise, dear neighbor wld have been complaining abt the horseplay first. - But, you know my boys could never do wrong, so.....;)
 

Naverretia

In the Brooder
Jan 23, 2021
6
26
33
First off: Welcome to BackYardChickens!! :welcome Where do you live that rats are a problem but you have few other predators?

I’m trying to wrap my head around the circumstances that would lead your three guineas to attack and kill two neighborhood chickens... Were there witnesses, photos? Did you see the bodies? If so, can you describe the damage? Do you truly have no other predators? What about loose dogs?

I ask all of this because your scenario doesn’t fit very well with what I know of Guinea fowl behavior. They can attack each other and other poultry, they may even kill each other, though they seem less likely to directly kill other poultry. Instead they stress them out so much that they might be nervous wrecks and succumb to disease...

Guineas are much more likely to be aggressive with roosters, especially those that they were raised with. Most aggression outside of their flock must be supported by a large flock acting in concert together. Aggression in guineas is usually related to territoriality. Do your guineas think that the neighbor’s property is their territory? Could there be a nest there? I am struggling to see how such a small group of guineas could feel brave and territorial enough to lethally attack neighboring chickens. Defense of a nest is the only scenario I can think of. Even then, it’s weird to actually kill the offending chickens, rather than giving chase and feather pulling until the chickens avoid the nest area.

If you must confine the guineas, can you confine them to the area that you want them to keep free of pests? How are they housed now?
We live in the Azores. As far as predators, we definitely have rats and weasels, stray cats, dogs, very small owls and the occasional large hawk. There is a dog not far away that killed an entire flock of chickens, but I doubt it would kill one at a time. The chickens weren't eaten, the only damage seemed to be a small cut on their neck... Which made me think weasel? I doubt they did it, but of course if the neighbors don't want them there I have to be responsible and try to control them. I don't think they were nesting. They love following our horses, and the horses have been close to the neighbors yard, which is why I think they have been invading. For now they are locked in a coop. I'm considering building a larger coop that they might like to return to if we let them out that is much farther away from any neighbors and see if they will get used to that? They are just tough to keep boundaries on.
 

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