intelligence of guinea fowl


11 Years
Jun 15, 2008
I've had my guinea fowl in a pen in the coop since I got them at around 3weeks old. I left them loose in the coop with everyone locked up for a week and then the past few days started opening the door in the evening. They ate in front of the door and went back in with the chickens. Today I opened it at noon and went to shut it at dark. All the chickens were in but no guinea fowl.
I figured they'll be in a tree, over in the building on top of things, or at least hiding in the weeds and probably pretty safe from predators. Thinking we'd never find them in the dark we got flashlights and went looking anyway. Checked the building and my husband headed over to check the weeds near the coop. I move my flashlight in his direction and see something laying in the yard. I walk over ready to find a dead guinea fowl. Nope it's alive and there's all the others but one. They were sleeping in the middle of the yard with the bottom one jammed down in to a hole. Any faith I had in guinea intelligence is gone... How anyone can have these guys sleeping outside and not lose them all is beyond me. They might as well have been served on a plate to the local raccoon population. My husband kept them gathered together while I carried them 1 or 2 at a time to the coop. It went fine until the last one which happened to be one of my 2 slates that were so hard to get ahold of. It panicked about being alone before he could grab it and flew up into a tree. We decided even if it was one of my slates a dumb guinea was not worth the risk of trying to get up in to that particular tree after dark during a windstorm. Hopefully it's still alive in the morning and the missing royal purple appears. I'm not sure what to do with them now. I guess I could toss them back in the little pen but they were starting to outgrow it. I don't want to keep my chickens locked up with them for another week.

Are people who just let these guys run about with no coop insanely lucky or what? Mine wouldn't have lasted their first night out. The few chickens I've had stay out overnight did a better job. I had to collect a coupe hens that were trying to roost on some posts once and had 3 hide out in the weeds when a predator attacked during the day. They showed up the next day just fine. Even a few 8week old chicks managed to hide out once when they escaped their pen. I didn't find them and neither did the predators before they reappeared with the free range flock. The guineas can't even find a hiding place except to have one stick it's front half down a random hole in the yard with it's tail feathers sticking up like a flag while the rest sat on it in a circle. Giant predator buffet right out in the most open part of the yard with nothing around to block the view of them.
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Mine are full-time free rangers, and my 3 oldest ones have decided that the building rafters are too crowded and went back to the tree. Of course, in a month when the cold rains come in, they'll be heading back into the building, but my younger ones have been going in the building with the chickens ever since I let them out.
I would have laughed myself silly seeing them all piled in the yard! You'd think they would at least get off the ground! How old are they?
It was rather funny seeing the one with it's head in the hole and it's tail in the air once I realized it was ok. Both of us trying to figure out the best way to get it out of the hole when only it's tail was within reach was also rather entertaining. It took a lot of effort to get some of these guys though like the slate who is currently in a tree so having them be completely suicidal isn't so funny.
I don't remember how old these are. They've been in the coop for months and while they aren't adult size they are fully feathered with featherless heads. My husband has been complaining about their ugly bald heads for weeks now and I'm sure doesn't miss them but keeps looking since he knows I really wanted guineas.

I locked them up for a day and then let them out this evening so my chickens could at least get some of their usual free ranging time in. I planned to be back in a few hours but I got delayed and didn't make it before it was completely dark. There were no guinea fowl in the coop. We looked around the yard but didn't see them. At least they are hiding better.
Who knows if I'll have guinea fowl tomorrow though. If not then I'll build them their own pen and coop next spring so I can keep them locked up longer without having to confine the entire chicken flock with them.
There is a thread on here about oxymorons and that is all I could think of when I read the title of this thread
My guineas don't even know they can get into a tree or that they could fly over our fence if they wanted to. Ours only free range when we are outside with them though. My DS would be devestated if something happened to his birds.
I saw the title to your post, read it to my DH, and answered: None
I swear those poor things are the dumbest birds ever. Our neighbors have them, and No matter what, they are always hit on the road. Same thing at our old house... Neighbors had guineas. Guineas = squished Hope yours are ok in the morning!
If you're going to let your guineas free-range and you're worried about them overnight then you need to figure out a way to work your schedule so that you are herding them back in before it gets dark. That's what I've been doing with mine for the last couple of days and so far it's been working.

I'm also torn because I want the guineas but not if they're just going to be locked in a pen all day. I got them for pest control and want them to do that job. So, I'm letting them out and herding them back in. Right now I'm letting them out around 2p and herding them back in around 5 or 6 so it's not too long between lessons. Hopefully after awhile they'll get the message and do it on their own. So far they haven't even figured out how to get out of their coop on their own, much less how to get back in!

Good luck with yours!
Part of the problem is I don't have a schedule right now. I've been in and out of the hospital and emergency room. A couple weeks ago I went to talk to a new specialist which was just going to be a short conversation before he started my case and I'd be home. I ended up admitted to the hospital overnight so instead of being home in an hour I was home a day later. I can ask someone else to close the coop but it ends up being well after dark and they can't herd guinea fowl. The doctors schedule things, I go to them, and I have no idea how long it will take or if something will happen. I can't keep everyone locked up indefinitely until my health improves especially when they have no idea what's causing my symptoms and all attempts to treat me have caused other often life threatening symptoms. I also can't build a guinea pen or coop right now and my husband does not have time. His family offered to make something but they estimated what we wanted to cost $1500 when I already checked the prices at menards and found no way it could go over $500. We don't have $1500 for coop building.
We just had to replace my husband's car because the transmission went out.

I think you get the idea... I love my guinea fowl but they are pretty darn low on my list of things to worry about right now. I'm going back to letting my chickens out on their normal schedule so I don't have to also worry about them and expend twice as much effort keeping waterers and feeders filled cause they are stuck inside. If the guineas show back up and survive then great and if not I'll concentrate on getting guinea fowl in the spring instead. Maybe my husband will like them better if he sees them as cute little fluffy keets instead of already quite feathered.
HI Akane,
Sorry to hear about your recent health troubles (and guinea troubles). We got our first guineas and chickens in may, raised them in a brooder in the basement and moved them out to the coop as soon as it was finished (they were probably 3 weeks old then). Everyone spent the obligatory first few days in the coop full time but have been ranging every day ever since.

Each evening, they would begin to congregate around the coop as it began to get dark. I'd entice them inside with some food and close them up for the evening. This was easy with the chickens, more challenging with the guineas. At first they wanted to sleep right on the ground as yours did adn we'd spend some time guinea wranglin' each evening to get them inside. Then the Guineas wanted to roost on top of the coop door as it stood open. We worked out a maneuver where I would push a tomato stake at their feet and they would step up onto it from the door. Then into the coop with all three perched on the stake. Kind of a pain in the arse, and I cursed the dense birds many nights, but they now simply hop inside just before it gets dark and take their roosts (they do occasionally spend a night in the trees when they are feeling rambunctious and dont make it in time for lock down). I come along once I'm sure everyone has settled down and close the door behind them.

So in my brief experience, it seems like a reasonably consistent schedule and some focused training is the key. Perhaps that's not in the cards for you this year and you might start fresh in the spring? Best of luck.
Wanted to also say that we had gotten guineas, and they were fine for a while Then they decided that our neighbors place looked better, so they moved over there
Later (like after we moved to our new farm) , we were talking to our old neighbors, and they were saying how they had guineas that would just show up at their place. They said it was so strange, because a few showed up the first time, then 6 more showed up (those were ours)! So, then they decided to get some more on their own
Our lips were sealed, but we laughed when we got out of ear shot!! My point being, guineas tend to range a lot further than chickens, in my experience...

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