Newbie and mesh size for guinea coop gate?

sande010

Hatching
Oct 3, 2019
5
2
9
Hi, We are raising our first guinea broods for free ranging tick control and just to have them around on 22 acres of pasture and woodlands near Hillsborough, NC. The first brood (4 survivors/10) is a month old and doing well, and the second (8 survivors/10) is three weeks behind them. We kept/are keeping the keets under a warming light in a custom coop in our home to introduce them to us and our dog for three weeks. Of the first batch from Hoover Hatchery/TSC, 2 were DOA in the mail and 2 more died within 2 days. We had a lot of pasty butt, and 2 more succumbed from that. The remaining four are strong. The second batch of 10 from TSC has been much stronger from the beginning with 1 DOA, 1 more died in 24 hours and now another that looks quite sick at 7 days and half the size of the others. We are feeding a 26% protein game starter.
Here's my question - I've built an arial coop on stilts (4x4's) that starts 6 feet off the ground (it's on a 6ftx 6ft footprint) with a roof and perches etc and a wide front aperture that looks out over our property. It looks bit like a big deer hunting hide with an open front, small rear entrance, nice roof and plenty of sheltered perching space with a good view of the surrounding area. The aim is for it to be safe from predators (coyotes/foxes) and be a better bet for them than the trees. I've enclosed the area underneath it with chickenwire and a predator apron and that's where the 4 juveniles are now and quite happy. The goal is to graduate them to the upstairs area, keep them there for a few weeks to imprint it as home, and let them go one at a time to free range, hopefully returning to roost. By that time the second brood will be ready for the juvenile area and we will move them all stepwise through these areas. I need to build a door over the open aperture of the coop to keep them in for a while. I have some nice and strong 1/4" galvanized steel mesh from a previous project that graduates from 6" squares to 2" inch squares and is strong enough to be a door in itself if I cut it to size and fit some custom hinges. Question is, how large can the mesh be and still contain a near adult guinea? Can/will a 4 pound bird squeeze through a 3"x3" aperture? 4"x4"? I can change the mesh size by welding on some new wire, but I want to keep it as large as practical to just contain the birds, hoping that the height of the coop will deter most predators ( don't have many raccoons here). Thanks for your help - sorry about the long ramble.
 

R2elk

*
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Feb 24, 2013
34,668
169,425
1,641
Natrona County, Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
Hi, We are raising our first guinea broods for free ranging tick control and just to have them around on 22 acres of pasture and woodlands near Hillsborough, NC. The first brood (4 survivors/10) is a month old and doing well, and the second (8 survivors/10) is three weeks behind them. We kept/are keeping the keets under a warming light in a custom coop in our home to introduce them to us and our dog for three weeks. Of the first batch from Hoover Hatchery/TSC, 2 were DOA in the mail and 2 more died within 2 days. We had a lot of pasty butt, and 2 more succumbed from that. The remaining four are strong. The second batch of 10 from TSC has been much stronger from the beginning with 1 DOA, 1 more died in 24 hours and now another that looks quite sick at 7 days and half the size of the others. We are feeding a 26% protein game starter.
Here's my question - I've built an aerial coop on stilts (4x4's) that starts 6 feet off the ground (it's on a 6ftx 6ft footprint) with a roof and perches etc and a wide front aperture that looks out over our property. It looks bit like a big deer hunting hide with an open front, small rear entrance, nice roof and plenty of sheltered perching space with a good view of the surrounding area. The aim is for it to be safe from predators (coyotes/foxes) and be a better bet for them than the trees. I've enclosed the area underneath it with chickenwire and a predator apron and that's where the 4 juveniles are now and quite happy. The goal is to graduate them to the upstairs area, keep them there for a few weeks to imprint it as home, and let them go one at a time to free range, hopefully returning to roost. By that time the second brood will be ready for the juvenile area and we will move them all stepwise through these areas. I need to build a door over the open aperture of the coop to keep them in for a while. I have some nice and strong 1/4" galvanized steel mesh from a previous project that graduates from 6" squares to 2" inch squares and is strong enough to be a door in itself if I cut it to size and fit some custom hinges. Question is, how large can the mesh be and still contain a near adult guinea? Can/will a 4 pound bird squeeze through a 3"x3" aperture? 4"x4"? I can change the mesh size by welding on some new wire, but I want to keep it as large as practical to just contain the birds, hoping that the height of the coop will deter most predators ( don't have many raccoons here). Thanks for your help - sorry about the long ramble.
The minimum recommended amount of clear space in a coop is 4 sq. ft. per adult guinea. Your coop is too small and is not designed for guineas. Guineas are ground dwelling and nesting birds whose only time spent off of the ground is when they are roosting. A proper guinea coop is a tall coop built on ground level so they can walk in and out and fly up to roosts in the coop.
 

sande010

Hatching
Oct 3, 2019
5
2
9
Hi R2elk, Thanks for your reply. We will be free ranging our guineas, so this "coop" is only for roosting as an alternative to our trees. We hope they will come home to it. The doors are there only to keep them in for a few weeks while they imprint this as home or for any other reason they need protection etc. We would not consider 36 sq ft enough for the 11 guineas we are likely to have - they will have 22 acres, day and night, but will hopefully come home here.
 

R2elk

*
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Feb 24, 2013
34,668
169,425
1,641
Natrona County, Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
Hi R2elk, Thanks for your reply. We will be free ranging our guineas, so this "coop" is only for roosting as an alternative to our trees. We hope they will come home to it. The doors are there only to keep them in for a few weeks while they imprint this as home or for any other reason they need protection etc. We would not consider 36 sq ft enough for the 11 guineas we are likely to have - they will have 22 acres, day and night, but will hopefully come home here.
The recommended 4 sq. ft. per adult guinea is only for coop size. Any run or free range areas are a must in addition to the coop size. Guineas need much more "personal" space than chickens.

It can take much more than a couple of weeks to imprint guineas with their new home.

Guineas do not range anywhere at night. They are extremely vulnerable to predators at night.

In order to keep their guineas safe, a predator proof coop is typically used and the guineas are encouraged to make their nests in the coop.

Your set up will not protect the hens when they go broody on hidden nests.

In my opinion, you have no way to ensure that your guineas will go in your coop at night. With it being open, it will not protect them from flying or climbing predators.
 

sande010

Hatching
Oct 3, 2019
5
2
9
Here is my near finished coop. It offers 72sq ft of floor space for 11 guineas and a lot of roosting options. I plan for the guineas to free-range in the day and come back home to roost, and I've built this coop to be predator-proof. As you say, they are ground-dwelling birds, but they like to roost high, so I've tried to design a structure that will do this, and give them some protection for when we are not there to close the doors. They can enter via the door on the ground floor or fly directly into the upper coop. The mesh doors can be closed at night, but give them a good view of what's up in the area until we reopen them in the morning. Right now the upper and lower areas are separate because I have two broods of different ages, but I plan to join the two areas together via a trap door and ramp so the guineas can move freely between the upper and lower floors. The structure is on a 6x6 footprint and is about 12ft high. The mesh doors on the front can open widely - since this photo was taken I've added hinges and welded extra mesh to the doors to reduce the maximum aperture down to 2 inches, which I figure is too narrow for an adult guinea to squeeze through (and the reason for me originally posting this thread).
IMG_7973.png
IMG_7971.png
 

Sydney65

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
1,013
2,152
266
Indiana
From a fello rookie, What I've learned:
1. Listen to R2Elk
2. Your birds will be able to wiggle out of the upstairs for quite some time. Our hard cloth is 1", & I wish we'd gone w/1/2". Not that they can wiggle out, but
3. You said you don't have raccoons - not sure where you are, but oppossums, weasles, snakes, rats,- there are lots of predators- and they'll tear that chicken wire up. I like that you have the perch in for the keets!
4. Mine are 12 weeks old now, & I only have 6. Your coop wldnt be big enough for mine.
5. There are a lot of threads w/good advice in here. If you look for "Wk.#3", I've been logging the past 12 wks w/mine. Not bc I'm a pro, but bc you'll see my blunders and the guidance I received.
6. TSC-I have 6 from 24. That was rough- I certainly wldnt want to go through it again
7. Good Luck!
 

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