Keets are almost six weeks

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by bpeterson80, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. bpeterson80

    bpeterson80 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 29, 2012
    I got some keets about 5 weeks ago when they were must one week old. The will turn 6 weeks this Saturday. I have built them a chicken coop and was wondering if 6 weeks is enough to move them out of the large (48x48x48) cardboard box and into the coop. I live in TN so it does not get terribly cold and I have a heat lamp I am planning on mounting on the inside of the hen house. Would they be okay?
     
  2. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you can keep their coop at about 70 - 75 degrees - even a little warmer closer to the lamp, that should be okay. I don't think they're fully feathered yet, but I might be wrong.

    Also, there is a lot of cold weather coming our way (I live in N GA) because of the hurricane. Better safe than sorry.
     
  3. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the coop is free from drafts/well sheltered then they should be fine with a brooder lamp on out there to use if they need it. Depending on how big the coop is you may want to wire off a section for them to go into at night (with the lamp at one end) so that they don't scatter too far and get chilled for a couple weeks or so until they get used to all the new space they have. If you raised them on high protein feed they should be fully feathered and able to regulate their own body temps by 6 wks old, but if they were raised on lower protein starter feed then it takes them longer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  4. bpeterson80

    bpeterson80 Out Of The Brooder

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    They have been on about 26% protein feed since I got them. They are all almost full feathered. They should be fully feathered soon.

    A second question I had was when can we let them free range. We have always had the intention of free ranging our guineas. What is a good age that they will be able to do this.

    Thanks,
     
  5. TenOC

    TenOC Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in middle-TN. My keets have been free-ranging (with chickens the same age and a foster mother) since they were about 4 weeks old. They now are about 8 weeks old. They come into the coop at night and roost (on a ladder roost) with the chickens and their foster mother.

    I started with 11 keets, but I have lost (about one at a time) until I am down to only 5 now. I think that they get lost in the neighbor's grown-up lot next door. It appears that I lose then when the weather is bad and they go to this lot to eat and stay out of the wind or rain (?).
     
  6. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Brooder-raised keets are typically much easier predator snacks than those that have been raised by a Momma Guinea Hen or Broody. Their survival instincts and awareness of danger are all much slower to kick in than for keets that have been taught by a Momma Hen. With there being only 5 of them in your flock there's not very many eyes and ears there to watch each other's backs... and your 5 can become 1 really quick. Guineas do not like change and usually take a while to get used to new situations. Once they walk out of their coop everything looks completely different to them and confuses them, they are spooked and leery of everything. Even by how the coop looks to them from the outside, so without some conditioning/training they may not go back in on their own and just bed down in the grass, or not get up high enough to roost where it's safe. They can't see in the dark so they will just stay where they are once the sun goes down... making them exceptionally easy prey for a hungry predator.

    I don't let my keets out to free range until they are at least 12 wks old, sometimes even at 16 wks old after they've been in a coop/covered run set up for at least 6 wks... after I have worked with them enough and trust that they will come to the coop for food/treats when I call them and I can calmly herd them around their pen without too much of a scattered bird fiasco. I make a consistent routine of giving them treats in the coop each evening at approximately the same time and always using the same call over and over every time I give them food or treats (so that they associate that call with food/treats in the coop).

    There's more than one way to deal with teaching them to coop up each evening, but this method works well for me because I free range my birds during the day only and need to be able to coop them each night to avoid predator loss. Mainly tho I wait until they are 12-16 wks because they are a little smarter by that age, more agile/alert, instinct has had some time to kick in, and it also gives them 6+ wks to get used to their coop/pen/surrounding area and all of the normal sights and sounds of my property before I start letting them out. And once I do start letting them out I keep an eye on them and herd or call them back if they stray too far, and as I mentioned I coop them up each evening consistently (before it gets dark), making it a routine. Guineas like routine... and if you can create one for them then usually they won't create one of their own that leads to their demise.

    Every flock, situation/set-up, property and predator load differs, but waiting until they are at least 12 wks old is what works best for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  7. bpeterson80

    bpeterson80 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank You Peeps, you help is much apprciated. It is good to know there is a wealth of knowledge on these forums that I can access.
     
  8. bpeterson80

    bpeterson80 Out Of The Brooder

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    This is the coop that I made. The hen house (the red part) is 4x6. This is what they would be in with a heat lamp for the next couple weeks. During the day when I am or my wife are home we would let them in the open area. and close the door to the hen house. After they get acclemated to outside and get old enough I will let the free range. My question is to teach them to come home to get it the coop should I start making the noise, when I feed them, that Peep talks about as soon as I move them in so they get the picture?


    [​IMG]
     
  9. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That looks like a great set-up to me. I should go out and paint my coop barn-red. I think I'll do that when we have a warm day down here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  10. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hen house looks great to me, pen too! I need about 10 of those built for breeding pens, how's your schedule looking for the next couple weeks? LOL [​IMG]

    I'd go ahead and move your keets out there now... it will be less mess for you to deal with and more room for the birds. They should be plenty cozy with a lamp for warmth. It will help them acclimate to the hen house better/quicker if you keep them contained just in there for a week or so before letting them out in the pen. You want them to feel comfortable and safe (and warm) right from the get-go.

    And just to warn you, you may have issues getting them up into the elevated coop at first... so you may have to grab them one at a time and put them all inside for a while until they figure out what a ramp is for (or steps, whichever you're going to use). They should learn by repetition tho.

    IMO, it's never too soon to use a food call every time you feed them or give them treats. With my keets I actually start with the repetitious food call right from the start, so they learn what it means early on. As silly as you feel making that call all the time it does eventually sink in and work to your benefit, I can call my birds from anywhere on my 10 acres and they all come flying or running towards me. Some people use a bell, whistle or shake a can with pennies in it etc... so it does not have to be a call, it just needs to be some sound that's consistently repeated when they get food or treats so they make that food association. Guineas are very food/treat driven, and it's always a plus when you can use that to your advantage.
     

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