Guinea nest attacked by ants (not fire ants) ~ Good update!

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by elevan, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. elevan

    elevan Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Yesterday -

    Well we have more guinea keets. The guinea hen's eggs that were behind the house hatched today. I sent K out to feed the pig and she came running in to say that the guinea was in the field with babies. Indeed she was, with 5 of them.

    I went to check her nest and was horrified by what I found - there were 3 keets laying there and a couple more hatching but the nest was completely OVERRUN WITH ANTS! They were going into and out of the shells of the hatching keets and the keets that had hatched were covered in ant eggs. I quickly snatched up the keets that were hatched and checked to see if they were alive. Only one was, so I got the ants off and pulled off all the eggs and handed it to K. Then I grabbed hatching eggs one by one and pulled pieces of shell off blowing ants away as they came out. The guinea eggs were FULL of ant eggs! So I pulled off all the ant eggs and handed 3 more keets to K.

    Next up was grabbing the intact eggs and blowing off any ants and tucking them in B's shirt. We took eggs and keets to the coop. Time for some rearranging of chicken hens who were broody. I took eggs away from one hen and put the keets under her. Then I took eggs away from the girls who are sharing a box and gave them the intact guinea eggs (all 20 something of them...yeah she had a big nest). Then all the chicken eggs that I pulled went under another hen who was only sitting on 3.

    All of that happened in the span of 15 minutes at 5:30 yesterday evening.

    The intact eggs are still under the girls and haven't hatched yet. I candled a few and it looks like they were a few days behind.

    This morning -

    We lost one in the night and another one is struggling. I brought her into the house and gave her some water and she seemed to perk up. Right now she is squirming all over my chest as I sit here typing. I hope she makes it. I have no idea what kind of ants these were or what kind of damage that they may have caused these keets.

    Here's a quick pic of the little one:

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012
  2. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2011
    Big Oak Valley, CA
    Yikes, poor baby keets. Sounds like that Momma Guinea hung in there as long as she could to hatch out some of her babies, but decided the ants were just too much deal with and decided to cut her losses and got her 5 babies out of there away from those nasty ants. Sorry to read you lost so many. I've never had to deal with any type of ants invading a clutch of hatching keets/eggs before but sounds like you definitely did the right thing, as quickly as you could.

    Hope the remaining keets you were able to save do fine... are the others fully hatched and fluffed and dry now? If not, they may be stuck in the shells from drying out, and may need help getting out/free from the shell, (if they've absorbed all the yolk and are ready to hatch). If they're stuck then misting them and sticking them back under the Hen might do the trick. Are there any visible wounds on the keets caused by the ants chewing on them? If there are I'd dab some plain neosporin on their owwies with a q-tip.

    If they've hatched ok and look ok, is the Hen teaching them to eat and drink yet? If she hasn't moved off the nest with them yet, then dipping the keets' beak in water that has electrolytes and vitamins in it ASAP would be a good idea (then put them back under the Hen), with starter crumbles and a shallow chick waterer near so she can get up and take them to the feed and water when she thinks they are ready to eat and drink.

    Hope the rest of the eggs hatch out healthy keets for you. I would think since the rest of the eggs were all still intact and did not have ants in them they will be fine as long as they were far enough along in development that they did not go cold and die during the ant fiasco.

    They are all lucky that you, K and the Broodies came to the rescue!
  3. elevan

    elevan Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    The little one that was struggling is now back out with her chicken mama. She perked up so much in just a few hours.

    I think the main purpose of the nest invasion was to make the keets food for the ants young as the ants laid eggs ALL over them, especially the ones that were starting to hatch and still in the eggs. I'm so glad we saved them from that fate!

    2 of the eggs started hatching about half an hour ago, so I'm hopeful that we'll still hatch out a good deal of keets yet. [​IMG]

    eta: They are eating and drinking well.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  4. elevan

    elevan Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Just an update (pulled from my journal on BYH, each post separated by *):

    She perked up so much that I took her back out to her adoptive mama hen.

    While I was out there I checked on the guinea eggs under the girls and found 2 keets hatching and a very motherly hen talking and helping.

    I'm so glad that what could have been a horrible ending for those keets turns out to be a happy ending.

    We now have 3 guinea eggs that have hatched under the girls. They are so cute taking care of their nest together [​IMG]

    The 3 keets from yesterday are all doing well right now.

    While I was in the field the guinea mama let me get really close to her and reach down and pick up one of her keets. She just watched me the entire time.

    Then her mate jumped into the air and caught a horse fly and called to mama. She ran over and he gave it to her. She then ran over and dropped it on the ground for the keets. I've never seen anything like that with my poultry. The chickens will call their chicks to something that they found, but for the 2 parents to work together to obtain protein for their young like that. I'm honored that I had the chance to witness it.

    There are more eggs starting to hatch tonight. We moved the 3 that had been with the eggs under the other chicken hen, so she now is fostering 6 keets. The girls on the eggs are doing a great job of working together to hatch those eggs. I'm so glad I have such great chickens.


    The girls have hatched out 3 more keets this morning! I'm hoping that they can hatch out all of the remaining eggs.


    Guinea mama came out today with only 1 chick. And she kept losing that one. It's disappointing but this is her first time. This is also the first time I've allowed any of my poultry to brood their babies outside. Normally I would take mama and babies and put them in a brooder pen for a couple of weeks to allow the babies time to grow and so that I can control their environment. I don't think that would work with guineas though. I guess if I want keets they'll have to be brooded by chickens.

    I'll be darned if she doesn't have all 3 with her right now. I don't know where the heck the other 2 were this morning [​IMG]


    Well I don't know what to make of that guinea mama. She's trotting around the field right now with 4 keets. So maybe, just maybe that 5th one is still tucked away somewhere.

    The girls hatched out 6 keets between last night and now. I took one of the girls and the 6 keets and put them into a broody pen. And one of them is a royal purple!

    Then went back to examine eggs left under the other girl. 2 eggs were hatching and seemed to be struggling. The first I opened up had been zipped all around and the keet didn't appear to be moving. Unfortunately it was a loss. The other egg I opened had a very grateful keet inside. So the other girl is happily sitting on the rest of the guinea eggs and welcoming that 1 little keet into the world. She'll get any remaining keets that hatch. I'm out of broody pens though, so I'll have to pull a cage into play.

    So if my math is correct then we now have 18 keets from this clutch (so far) being raised by 4 different mamas! And to think what a huge loss this could have been. We feel so blessed that this has worked out the way it has.

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012

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