Guineas and Tick Control

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by billfields, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. billfields

    billfields Songster

    Aug 29, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Gave my next door neighbor a dozen eggs today (which, along with making sure he tolerated a crowing rooster got me 50 lb of oats in return) While he was looking at the coop I mentioned having considered guineas for tick control but was not sure how people would react. Turns out he got Lyme disease a few years back and is all for trying a few guineas next summer. Couple of questions. combine we have about 5 or 6 acres that includes some woods, a barn and small pasture, two lawns, a garden, and of course my chicken coop and run. We do have a pretty serious tick problem. My question is how many guineas would it take to make an impact and how far will they roam? Also have been told that if you raise guineas in a location they will stay put pretty well but if you try and introduce adults they will tend to wander off. That true?


  2. leonphelps

    leonphelps Songster

    May 15, 2011
    Bucks County PA
    Guineas work great for ticks. I started the spring with pulling off about 25 ticks from my body. I was going crazy. I got about 15 to start with and 13 made it. I have pulled maybe 2 ticks off after the guineas.

    Get keets (chicks) and not adults. Adults are harder to train. You want to get them brooder and keep them heated for 12 weeks, they will get their second feathers.

    Have a secure run and coop for them with perches for them to climb up.

    Guineas can be trained to stay in an area. Most say to let a couple out and keep the rest in the secured run. They are very social birds, so the ones outside will try to stay near the others. Then rotate the free ones for a couple weeks, then see how you do.

    I would recommend this being an early spring or late winter project since the birds will really be wanted to eat ticks in the spring and summer.

    Expect to see them up in the trees.

    This is a relatively inexpensive science project. I was out about $100, cheap considering I still have the birds and the ticks have been drastically cut back.

    I was spending $50-100 a year on tick and bug killers. The guineas eat everything. I mean everything.

    I would also recommend a chicken tractor for the guineas. This will be the safest and you can rotate the killing fields.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  3. GuineaLady93

    GuineaLady93 Songster

    Aug 7, 2011
    Cameron, NC
    My Coop
    Guineas are great for tick control. Before we got ours, you couldn't go outside without getting one on you, now you NEVER see any ticks. We live on about 50 acres (me and family, aunt, and grandma's houses). I have 8 guineas that free range all of that land and they cover it all very well. If you have a tick problem you should defiantly get you some guineas because they will take care of it. If I were you I would start with about 10 keets that are less than a week or two old, and yes if you get babies they will stay around but grown one will leave trying to find their way home.
    Hope that help!
    Good luck,
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  4. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Songster

    Aug 8, 2011
    we started with adults in July. we have a chainlink dog run we put the adults in (6 of them) and one escaped the run but stayed near by. we kept them penned in the run for 2 weeks, feeding the loose one outside the pen (because there was NO catching it.) after 2 weeks, we opened the run and let them come and go. we kept a full feed dish and water in the pen and another set outside the pen... we did not have any wandering off.

    we have lost a couple to predators (hawks), and a couple to a dog attack. 3 weeks ago I bought 4 near-feathered keats... they went in the dog run along with two 2-month old turkey poults, and I was able to get the two remaining guineas herded in and captured, so they went in with the keats (they know the area now, so I was hoping they'd bond). the adult guineas weren't very interested in tolerating the keats for the first week, but by the second week everyone seemed to be getting along fine. after a week, we let the turkey poults out, but kept all the guineas in. once the keats finished feathering out (last wednesday) I let the lot of them out. we have free-ranging turkeys, chickens, ducks geese as well as the guineas. we round them all up and put them in at night, but they're ranging during the day. right now the keats aren't sure if they should follow the guinea adults or the turkeys, but they seem to opt for the guineas more each day.

    for the first few days after turning them out, we kept feed out in the run and outside the run. starting today, we'll feed on turnout and before putting them up. starting monday, we'll feed only before putting them up.

    I've seen our guineas cover perhaps an acre, maybe a little more - they are not covering a huge area, however, we haven't seen any ticks on people since the second week after we got them. we've only seen 3 or 4 ticks on the dogs and cats since end of july... prior to getting them at least one of the dogs or cats had a tick every other day.

    I just hope they haven't eaten all my fireflies... I'd miss them. [​IMG]

    so... how many do you need? not sure, ours aren't ranging that far. if you want more territory covered, you might need quite a bit more than we've got.

    the one thing I *would* suggest is stay away from light colored birds (whites and lavenders) - everyone locally says they get picked off by hawks and owls first. we have pearls and royal purples.

  5. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Crowing

    Mar 28, 2011
    BFE, CA
    Guineas are excellent for tick control, they are hard core tick eating machines. Speaking from personal experience a huge tick problem in the past... I'd have a flock of no less than 12 Guineas on 5-6 acres, that way if you lose a couple to predators you still have a decent flock. I started with 7 Guineas the first year (on 10 1/2 acres), then increased my flock to 28 the next year and had the tick problem completely knocked out by the end of that tick season (2 yrs tops). Before Guineas I was pulling 50+ ticks a day off of my poor horses, plus several a day off my dogs and cats. After Guineas.. zero. No lie. 6 yrs later I now have 55 adults that free range 3 different pastures... I have not seen one single tick on any of my animals (or on myself) in ages. Guineas also run off and even kill the rattle snakes here and deal with spiders and small rodents for me.

    There is no reason not to get adults, starting with keets is not necessary at all, you just need to coop/pen the adults in their own coop/pen for 6 weeks before letting them loose to range for ticks so they know where home/safety is (you may get away with less time, but reliably 6 weeks completely reprograms their brains to accept where their new home is). Keets are more work and would have to be brooded and then cooped/penned for the 6 weeks, which would take even longer. Once you finally do let them out they will need to be worked with consistently every evening (herded in/called for food) when you want them to coop up until they have an established routine of going in each night. You have to put a little effort into establishing an routine, or they will establish their own. But IMO, you are way better off in your situation starting off with adults, or at least young pullets and cockerels, because there is way less time involved before you have effective tick control than there is with raising them from keets. Besides that, you may not find keets until next spring, and adults are usually available all year long, especially in the Fall (check your local craigslist). I sell adults all the time and have never had a problem with their new owners training them, as long as they keep them penned for the full 6 weeks and have worked with getting them used to the routine of coming running for treats/feed to a certain call. Consistency is key tho.

    Chicken tractors for Guineas typically do not work well for more than a few Guineas at a time, there's just not enough space, head room or roosting space in the tractors and that can result in too much aggression between the birds which can eventually lead to more problems, especially around breeding/laying season. They need lots of elbow room to be happy and burn off extra their energy, both in their coop/pen and while out free ranging. 4 sq feet per bird in the coop, twice that in a covered predator proof run.

    Whatever you decide to do.. adults or keets... good luck on your tick control mission!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  6. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member 7 Years

    Id start with at least ten.... Fifteen would be better. You are going to loose some to predators for sure.

    There is one trick to getting them to come in at night. They go nutzo for White millet. Thats the same millet they feed parakeets and you can buy it at the feed store. Start with making a noise or calling them like Treat Treat Treat or a bell or whistle or clicker.... what ever you want. When you do this scatter out some millet. At first they will ignore it till they figure out how yummy it is.

    Do the call Every time you treat them. Then when its time for them to come in to the coop holler or make your noise and scatter out the millet. Dont feed it unless you want them to come in. Practice while they are contained so you dont loose any during the conditioning process. I call it conditioning because you arent really training them. You are conditioning them to come to a noise because there will be yummy food available.

    I would lock up the food too once they go out to free range too and once they are in the coop or locked in the run to the coop then you can unlock the food.

    My plan for my own is to keep them in this winter and do some free range experiments this spring. My own situation is wayy different because i cant interact with my birds like most people... I have physical limitations so I cant chase one down. Plus I want to breed guineas eventually so my free range time allocation will only be after eggs are laid. Because if one goes Commmando on me I will never be able to find her.

    So far because I feed treats just about every time I go in the coop they come to the door and give me the stink eye.... Like they were looking at their watches.

    Good luck.
  7. tomingreeneco

    tomingreeneco Songster

    Jun 29, 2010
    Greene County, PA
    Not only do they eat ticks, but also love stink bugs. Farms around us have stick bug problems, but not us. An apple orchard down the road is having a problem with them and I told him to get guineas next spring. He's thinking about it!

  8. melroseladi

    melroseladi Songster

    Mar 17, 2011
    Melrose, Florida
    My guineas have worked wonders on our tick problems and I think by the end of next year they will have the ticks pretty much eradicated.

    I started with 3 adults, 2 males and a female, and then added another adult female. I followed Peeps advice on penning them and releasing them and it worked great. I had them in a chain-link run until they became acclimated to their new home. I now have the 4 adults and one keet that pretty much free range and are locked up at night when they cooperate. Other times they roost in a tree by my back door.

    I have 9 keets that are caged and in the shed, only released inside the shed, but 5 of those will be being released soon. I have a lav and a pearl gray that are much smaller then the others even though they are the same age, and those 2 won't be released yet. I also have 2 buff dundottes that I haven't decided if I am going to release yet or not.

    Adults are much easier then the keets are. If you got adults now and penned them through most of the winter, they would be ready to go come spring and start right off getting rid of your ticks.

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