How to more safely free range guineas?

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by Mixed flock enthusiast, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Songster

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    Hi All, we hatched 15 guineas that are now about 10 weeks old. They’ve been raised with chickens and ducks, and they’ve all been in a coop/run for 6 weeks. My intention is to free range the guineas (maybe with a rooster/hen) and have them come back to the coop at night to roost. For three weeks, I let guineas/chicks/ducks out 1-2 hr before dark to practice free range and going into coop at night. Guineas have been good about staying close and coming in.

    Problem: a coyote killed a hen that was free ranging with them a few days ago. The coop is at a forest/prairie border, and the birds all gravitate towards the forest, which is where the hen was taken, 30 feet from the coop. All are closed in the run/coop now, but the guineas need to go out eventually. I plan to try herding the birds towards prairie/lawn and stake my dog in woods to discourage them from woods. Of course, we also have hawks... Questions: 1) At what age do they need to get out full time for guinea/chicken sanity? I can continue supervised free ranging for 1-2 hr a day, several tones per week if that would help this transition. 2) Anything else I can do to help guineas be predator savvy? I really love these guineas and am feeling awful about asking them to free range now... I had thought that if I could convince them to come in at night, they’d be fairly safe, but now think that won’t be the case... Thanks!!!
     
  2. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Songster

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    All my guineas were too stupid to avoid predators. Made too much noise to notice anything, drew in stuff for miles. I needed a bird for insect control in my pastures, and to possibly be the canary in the coalmine so to speak, if I had a predator issue that might effect sheep and goats. I switched to game chickens, every mythical fantastic thing that guineas are supposed to do, game chickens do and then some. Much more pleasant to be around. Guineas need inhospitable landscape or very high numbers to give them an advantage. They don't reproduce well enough to achieve numbers needed to keep all the predators full, because they are poor mothers and the chicks won't tolerate dampness well. They need desert conditions to raise keets. Too primal to make them come into a coop at night, not enough instinct to pick a good roosting spot.
     
  3. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Songster

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    They wander too far from human activity centers and will lead your chickens with them. Then they will all fly back home and your chicken(s) are left to fend for themselves.
     
  4. Mixed flock enthusiast

    Mixed flock enthusiast Songster

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    Stillwater, OK
    Thanks for sharing your experience with guineas! I have been reading about and discussing guineas for awhile, and it seems that people love or hate them! I’ve viewed this guinea project as a bit of an experiment, so I know that it may fail, but I’d like to do what I can to up the odds of success. Anyone with positive experience here with any suggestions?
     
  5. anvia

    anvia Songster

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    I’m really interested in your reply - we were thinking about Guineas to control sheep tick in bracken - What breeds of game chickens have you found succeed?
     
  6. red horse ranch

    red horse ranch Crowing

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    Buffalo Wyoming
    My experience with guineas isn't all positive but then chickens and peafowl have a downside too. But overall I love all my poultry and can't imagine not having them.

    I think you are doing okay as far as letting them free range 1 to 2 hours a day. And while they are this young you are training them to ALWAYS go back in the coop at night. That's important for them to do that the rest of their life. My guineas are usually 3 months old or more before I let them free range full time. They have most of their adult size by then and have a better chance of flying away from a predator.

    My guineas might be anywhere on the 35 acre pastures around us. But the chickens will rarely ever go more than a couple hundred feet from the buildings. But if you've lost a hen 30' from the coop there is no safe area to totally protect them. Unless they are penned all the time and that defeats the purpose of having them. A guard dog would help but that's not a sure thing either. I lost a guinea hen just a few weeks ago to a feral cat. So if you have guineas long enough, you will have losses. Wish I could tell you some foolproof way to protect them when free ranging but I haven't found it yet. :idunno
     
  7. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Songster

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    Standard Old English or American games work well. With Orientals the hens don't get along as well, but on free range they can carve out their own spot, and they aren't as cold tolerant, but they are my personal favorite because of the whole velociraptor thing they have going on. Catch up all the extra stags in the fall and leave one boss with the flock and they do great.
     
    anvia likes this.

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