How to free-range Guinea Fowl?

brideofchaos

Songster
5 Years
May 2, 2015
182
32
126
Magnolia, KY
Hi all,

I have four 2.5-month-old Guineas that Ideal gave me as extra in a chick order in October. I've raised Guineas before and tried to free-range them, but they inevitably either wandered away or got taken by predators.

We now have 55 acres in Kentucky (mainly wooded but their run is in an open area) and I would love to be able to free-range the guineas in spring. Does anyone have any tips for successfully free-ranging them? If I keep them in the run until spring, thought it would better the chances of having them stay nearby in the trees at night. We plan on getting some other more hardy free-range chicken breeds in spring to add to our other chickens but not sure on those either what is the best chicken age to start free-ranging?
 

R2elk

*
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Feb 24, 2013
35,962
175,853
1,661
Natrona County, Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
Hi all,

I have four 2.5-month-old Guineas that Ideal gave me as extra in a chick order in October. I've raised Guineas before and tried to free-range them, but they inevitably either wandered away or got taken by predators.

We now have 55 acres in Kentucky (mainly wooded but their run is in an open area) and I would love to be able to free-range the guineas in spring. Does anyone have any tips for successfully free-ranging them? If I keep them in the run until spring, thought it would better the chances of having them stay nearby in the trees at night. We plan on getting some other more hardy free-range chicken breeds in spring to add to our other chickens but not sure on those either what is the best chicken age to start free-ranging?
If you do not provide a secure coop for them at night, you will lose all of them.
 

brideofchaos

Songster
5 Years
May 2, 2015
182
32
126
Magnolia, KY
They will absolutely have a secure coup...but...HOW do you successfully get them to use it? Feed at the coop and have a light on inside the coop to draw them back in?
 

R2elk

*
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Feb 24, 2013
35,962
175,853
1,661
Natrona County, Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
They will absolutely have a secure coup...but...HOW do you successfully get them to use it? Feed at the coop and have a light on inside the coop to draw them back in?
Training. Some people use treats and a call of some sorts (a bell, a whistle, a ring tone). I taught mine to be herded. Initially I used two long sticks, one in each hand to herd them into the coop. I would do it at any time of the day to get them used to it.

One must approach slowly and keep the guineas centered between the sticks. You must always be consistent and never give up without achieving the goal of getting them into the coop.

Now I can use one stick which I tap on the ground to get them moving faster. If I wait late enough, they will already be on their roosts in the coop.

I only feed and water in their coop.
 

southwind00

Songster
Jul 29, 2018
134
318
151
Western New York
They will absolutely have a secure coup...but...HOW do you successfully get them to use it? Feed at the coop and have a light on inside the coop to draw them back in?
From my experience as long as they have been in the coop for a decent amount of time and you always have fresh water and feed for them, and a draft free area in the winter and well ventilated in the summer they will come back (sometimes with some coaxing ) to roost. Just be advised that spring is when all the predators have extra mouths to feed so they get a little, no a lot , braver then usual so I would be cautious til summer and constant vigilance of where your birds go will be important. Some of your birds my want to make some nests on your property so you'll have to be aware of everything.
 

Sydney65

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
1,401
2,940
266
Indiana
Not sure how long you've had 4 2.5 mo. olds, but- keep them in the coop for a few weeks to learn this is home. I took mine out "to play" with me, they never left my side, so I skipped the part where you let one out alone for the day, who will stay near coop. Then 2, then 3. Then go w/the above for getting them back in. I clap my hands, they line up and march inside. They'll probably stay in your yard at this age. Next spring, your females will wander off to build a nest, & your males will follow.
 

My2butterflies

Crowing
Apr 14, 2020
1,337
3,413
356
Minnesota
Guineas are very trainable. Like others have said, you just have to set a routine and be consistent.
If your plan is to keep them penned in the coop/run till spring that will give them plenty of time to be used to that being “home” once you decide to start letting them out.
And depending on your setup a funnel fence can help when you are rounding them up. This is what mine looks like. Nothing fancy, just serves its purpose.
661385E3-099E-4151-9B02-6DE51A581DBF.png

If you do give them treats, talking to them/calling for them will get them setup to associate you with food. I used to have to walk the property looking for them, but now if I call out to them they will come running and flying to see if they get treats 😄
I find guineas easier to work with and train over chickens. 😝
 

B-Goock

Crowing
8 Years
Jun 8, 2013
1,040
2,762
326
Somerset, Kentucky
They will absolutely have a secure coup...but...HOW do you successfully get them to use it? Feed at the coop and have a light on inside the coop to draw them back in?
Hey fellow kentuckian. A guy I work with just went through the same thing. He couldn't get his to stay either. He built a real nice coop & run. They would go in his woods to lay. Sometimes not come back. He got down to two and gave them away.
Another friend bought a pair. Tried training them to stay and the male got out. Wouldn't come back. For several days he could see it walking around the pasture by itself but wouldn't come back.
 

Sydney65

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
1,401
2,940
266
Indiana
Hey fellow kentuckian. A guy I work with just went through the same thing. He couldn't get his to stay either. He built a real nice coop & run. They would go in his woods to lay. Sometimes not come back. He got down to two and gave them away.
Another friend bought a pair. Tried training them to stay and the male got out. Wouldn't come back. For several days he could see it walking around the pasture by itself but wouldn't come back.
That will happen during breeding season. After losing 2 (one disappeared from her nest, eggs & all, the other flew into a passing vehicle) - my remaining female was kept in lock down for the rest of the season. She was a 4 o'clock on the dot layer, so I tried letting her out afterwards, but she still wandered off insearch of a perfect spot.
She had free reign in the coop and run & a separate covered kennel to let her "free range". She was content, the boys had no reason to roam, & everyone survived the rest of the season. Once I was certain she was finished laying eggs for the year, she resumed free ranging w/boys.
I have 2 female keets now, we will do the same next season w/the 3 of them.
 

Mixed flock enthusiast

Free Ranging
May 21, 2018
3,714
9,015
676
Stillwater, OK
Hi all,

I have four 2.5-month-old Guineas that Ideal gave me as extra in a chick order in October. I've raised Guineas before and tried to free-range them, but they inevitably either wandered away or got taken by predators.

We now have 55 acres in Kentucky (mainly wooded but their run is in an open area) and I would love to be able to free-range the guineas in spring. Does anyone have any tips for successfully free-ranging them? If I keep them in the run until spring, thought it would better the chances of having them stay nearby in the trees at night. We plan on getting some other more hardy free-range chicken breeds in spring to add to our other chickens but not sure on those either what is the best chicken age to start free-ranging?
I love your BYCs name, Bride! :gig I do the same as My2butterflies with a fence leading to the door that they will use to enter the coop. I use an automatic door as I sometimes work weird hours. Guinea fowl are creatures of habit. After using the door near dusk for several weeks, they expect to keep using that door at dusk. I also teach herding, though nowhere near as well as R2elk. So, mine get the idea that they want to congregate near the coop (but outside) about a 1/2 hr before dusk because I scatter millet outside for them then. I also use a whistle call at the same time. They mostly know to go in, I never leave one to roost outside if I can help it.
 

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