Hatching Keets with Guinea Hen

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by okiekeets, Jul 11, 2019 at 3:59 AM.

  1. okiekeets

    okiekeets In the Brooder

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    I have 6 guinea fowl; one male and 5 female, 11 months old. They have been raised together since 2 days old. I am trying to hatch keets "naturally". One of the hens has become broody and sits on her eggs constantly, only getting off her nest (inside the coop) for a short amount of time. Often, another hen will sit on the nest as well. I have marked several eggs with the date and do not collect those eggs to see if they will hatch. If the eggs hatch, I plan to confine the keets to the coop for several weeks, allowing the adult guineas access to the coop and run. Of course, the keets would have access to food and water. I live in Oklahoma where the night temperatures range in the 70-80's. I am hesitant to add a heat source in the coop due to fire hazard. Will a guinea mother keep her new keets warm enough at night? I do not want to remove the keets once hatched from the flock because I have read that they will not be well accepted when returning to flock and I would like to raise the keets as naturally as possible to ensure their acceptance by the flock.

    I would appreciate any advice from anyone who has experience raising keets with a hen/flock.

    Thank you!
     
  2. R2elk

    R2elk Free Ranger

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    You will not need to add a heat lamp.

    @guineapeeps has experience with allowing her guinea hen to hatch and raise its own keets.
     
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  3. guineapeeps

    guineapeeps Crowing

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    I know letting guinea hens hatch and raise their own keets is not for everyone, but I have had pretty good luck doing exactly what you are wanting to do. (I lived in SE Iowa at the time, so I’m guessing my temps/weather to be somewhat similar to yours.) The first time hatching keets, I used an incubator but had trouble integrating the keets into my existing flock, so I tried letting the hens hatch their own after that. They turned out to be good parents with a decent hatch rate and I rarely lost any keets. Several hens would usually go broody together and both hatch and raise the keets together and usually one male would also help parent. My hens were almost always very attentive and did a good job of keeping the keets warm and taking care of them, and like R2elk said, you should not need a heat lamp as long as your hen is caring for them properly. Once the keets hatch, you will probably find that the hens are very protective, which makes them aggressive and ruthless when anyone messes with the keets or even gets near them....including you. I have been scratched, pecked, and attacked for picking up keets...so be prepared. Never let small children get too close or pick up the babies with the hen around. Also, if you have a very confined space, the mother hens may even go after the other guineas if they get too close, so make sure you have some space for the other non-parenting guineas to get away if they need to. I found this aggressiveness with the flock to get a bit better after the first week or so and the keets should seamlessly integrate into the flock as they grow.
    If you do notice the hen is not caring for the keets and you need to remove them for any reason, it is not impossible to integrate them back in to the flock, but it may take time, depending on how long they’ve been gone. Also, If you decide to let the keets out of the coop, just be aware of the weather forecast and do not let them out if rain is expected or if the grass is wet or they will get wet and chilled and could die.
    Feel free to messenge me if you have any questions...I’d be happy to help. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019 at 9:06 AM
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  4. okiekeets

    okiekeets In the Brooder

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  5. okiekeets

    okiekeets In the Brooder

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    Thank you for your responses! The eggs should hatch in the next week if they going to. I'm sure I will have more questions then. :)
     
  6. mkeawsh

    mkeawsh Woody Hollow

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    I am incubating guinea eggs and will brood them for 6 weeks and then put them out in a 8'x8'x4' screened pen that is along side the chicken tractors. I have four 4 yr. old guinea males that free-range during the day and sleep on a beam in the barn at night. They are what is left of a flock of 12. The females would lay in the woods and got taken by probably foxes. I know for sure one of them got taken by a sky predator by the circle of feathers in one spot. I would loved to have females to hatch their own eggs but since that is not possible, how do I eventually incorporate these little ones with the older males. I plan on having them in the screened pen for at least a couple months. Will the males get used to visiting and seeing them in the pen so when I do let the young ones out, it won't be so dramatic on them. My four old ones get along with my chickens and even leave the little pullets and cockerels alone when I let them out of the end tractor, where I keep them separated from the rest of the chickens and guineas for a couple weeks. They are used to seen by all so they are not picked on by anything. I'm thinking it may not be that easy with letting the young guineas out? I also have a plan for when the females decide to brood in the woods to keep them safe, so there if not a repeat of the circumstances of the past.
     
  7. guineapeeps

    guineapeeps Crowing

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    Sorry to hear about the loss of so many of your guineas! I have lost a few to nests that I was unable to find outside of the coop as well. There is always something waiting to pick them off. I had fox and coyote coming into my yard in the middle of the day...once they get a taste of the poultry buffet, they are relentless!
    As for introducing new keets, I think your headed in the right direction with your plan. Putting them in a pen where they can see each other but not get at each other will get them introduced to each other without the little ones possibly getting hurt. When you do let them out together, make sure there is plenty of room for the newbies to get away and be ready to intervene if needed. The one time that I incubated the eggs myself, it took months to integrate them into the flock. Once they graduated from a heat source. I put them into a little pen in the coop where there could see each other but have no contact. I did this for probably a month and then let them out with much “guinea sitting” on my part. They got chased around a bit by the older guineas, but no one got hurt. I did this everyday, but would lock them back in their own pen every night for awhile. They finally integrated in just fine but it took a few months. The biggest problem was not getting picked on, it was that the little ones were so darn timid. When they were finally let out of their pen, they were terrified of everything. They wouldn’t leave the coop for weeks and cowered in the corner. When I finally forced them to leave the coop, they hid in the tall grass and wouldn’t free range with the others for quite some time. It finally all turned out ok, though, with much persistence!
    Also, for what it’s worth, I have had some luck moving guinea nest that have been laid outside of the coop....definitely not 100% successful, but probably in the 50-75% range. I figured if I was to leave them out on the nest, I’d lose the hen and the eggs, so it was worth a try. The hardest part was actually finding where the nest was hidden.
    Good luck on enlarging your flock. Let us know how it goes!
     
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  8. mkeawsh

    mkeawsh Woody Hollow

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    Thanks. I think just needed some reassurance that it is possible - with some challenges ahead. That is okay. I love my animals very much and love being there to keep them safe and enjoy their antics - even my LOUD four male trouble and mischief makers. I whistle "This Old Man" and what ever creature they are aggravating - snake, turtle, armadillo, possum, deer, squirrel, chipmunk etc. they stop harassing and come running. LOL
    Will give you an update on how well they all got along. :)
     
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