newbie questions about guineas and keets

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by tazzy, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. tazzy

    tazzy Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    We want guinea keets, but we were thinking about starting with them next year. We're completely unfamiliar with raising guineas. However, we have tons of ticks on our property and we definitely like the idea of having critters out there to eat the ticks!

    Is there a good resource for guinea info? Such as, is mid-September too late in the year to safely raise guineas? Do they need a brooder now, with 55-degree nights? When can they be out in the cold without worry about freezing? What kind of shelter do they need? What do they eat?

    Also, would I be better off getting them this fall, so that they're adults next spring, or waiting to order them from one of the hatcheries next spring, so that they have the entire warm summer to grow into adults. At what age can they free range? (We would put them up at night, if that's what they prefer. See above question about housing.)

    We currently have about 40 chickens and one duck. (soon to be two ducks again. coyote just ate one of them.) We have a great pen for the chickens and ducks and a covered pen at the back of the barn for our cows that's adjacent to their pasture.

    I don't want to get guineas and then have them fly off in search of more appealing digs. Is five acres enough to appeal to guineas? My dad said he had guineas as a kid but then, when they were big enough, they flew off to the nearby river and never returned to his family's farm.

    Thanks in advance for any advice for a newbie to guineas.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009

  2. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    I've got some babies in a brooder right now, so no, not too late in the year. They do need to be in a brooder til they're feathered out, no matter what time of year it is.

    I keep mine with my chickens. I introduce them when they are pretty big, so the hens don't bully them. I usually have one hen that decides they are "hers" and babies them.

    They eat gamebird starter. I keep them on that til they are integrated with the chickens. Then they free-range and eat chicken food. The gamebird starter is a higher protein than the chicken food, so it is important for them to start on that.

    My guineas think they're chickens, and free-range with the chickens. I've never had a guinea run off. They go in the coop at night with the chickens and roost with them. If you have enough room to do this, it seems like people have less trouble with guineas running off when they are raised with chickens.

    I have 15 acres. My guineas do not go on the 5 that is adjacent to our neighbors. I wish they would! It is full of ticks! But, they have a Shepherd and he barks at them. They stay somewhat around the house. Usually within sight. Sometimes they go along the fenceline and venture into the paths of the woods near the back. If I call, they come running! I think 5 acres is plenty for them to forage on.

    If you get them now, there is a possibility that they might lay for you in the Spring. They are seasonal layers, so you might have babies next year! I would also start with at least 4. That way, if you lose one, you'll still have more than one. I have 9 grown guineas right now and 2 babies in the brooder. Also, it seems to me that if you have more than 2-3 they are quieter. Maybe that's just mine, but they are not nearly as loud as they were before I got the others.

    If it makes it easier, I usually have a couple of chicks that I brood with the guineas. They make their own flock, and will stick together. The chickens won't wander and the guineas won't leave their "flock". If you don't free-range your chickens, maybe you can let a few that you raise with the guineas, and it will keep them home.

    Hope this helps! Welcome to guineas! I love mine!

  3. ziggywiggy

    ziggywiggy Songster

    May 25, 2009
    McNeal, AZ
    Basically, you raise them just like chickens. If you get them now it would be a hassle beause you would have to bring them in at night for a much longer period of time than if you waited until spring. Also, guineas love green grass and weeds to eat which, you won't have before too long.
    I keep mine couped up for about 12 weeks or so and they never leave for good. They always come home for food.
    Guineas are very fun to raise. They will never be as gentle as chickens but, that is what makes them fun. They are closer to being wild than chickens.
  4. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    Guineas in this area would be okay outside with a light at 4 weeks old. Don't get any little babies and you'd be fine. I have some young ones I might be able to spare, how many are you wanting?

    My youngest ones that are outside are about 6-10 weeks old. The only birds that bully them are the older guineas, the chickens could care less. Some of them have adopted an OEGB hen, and some have adopted and SLW hen. They snuggle with them at night, it's so cute! Especially since the OEGB is about the same size as the smallest guinea keet! [​IMG]

    I would think there will be others at the chickenstock, but I have 5 pearls that I don't intend to keep if you're interested. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009

  5. tazzy

    tazzy Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    thanks for all the input! and thanks, shelley, for the offer to sell a few of your own. I will check with my husband and get his input and let you know. he said he thought perhaps we should wait until next spring to get guineas, but it seems like this might be a good time now, to have them ready for tick eating next spring! the ticks were in full force around our property by april this year. It was awful.
  6. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    If you get some already started or can provide a heat lamp for awhile you would be fine to get them this year. They should be feathered enough for your winters and they will lay at least most of next year. If you get them next year you probably won't get eggs until the following year. If you get them really early you might get some eggs before winter. Guineas are seasonal layers unlike chickens. Even if you provide light they will not lay over winter. The large guinea hatchery here already has had a sharp decline in egg production. When I called a month ago nearly all the colors I wanted had stopped laying. I finally found someone with several week old guineas in most of the colors I wanted. I did have to get royal purples instead of violets. If you want guinea eggs and you don't want to spend 2years waiting for them then get them now.

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