Return of the Guineas... (UPDATE!) and a couple questions


8 Years
Aug 8, 2011
So I started with 6 adult guinea hens, 3 royal purples, 3 pearls, free ranging, bless their little tick-hunting hearts. within a couple of days I had 3 royal purples, 2 pearls and a large pile of feathers in the middle of my lawn. I figured it's probably a hawk

Every day or so I'd count... yep still 5... for about a month. then over the next 3 days I went from 5 to just two royals. no feathers, no bodies, just missing hens.
didn't see any more feather piles, but didn't see the other guineas either. that was about 2-3 weeks ago.

and then, this weekend, I'm back up to 3 royals and one pearl!

I'm guessing that the prodigal guineas were off being broody... and although there are no keats, perhaps they're done and decided to return to the flock.

So... my questions:

How long do guinea eggs stay fertile after being bred? I figure they were 4 or 5 weeks on my property before they went AWOL... and they had been with a mixed gender flock prior to that. any possibility that eggs they might be laying are/were fertile?

How long do guineas set? I didn't write down the date they failed to show up for breakfast, but I'm guessing hey were gone between 2 and 3 weeks. that seems a little short for brooding time to me, but I'm used to ducks...

Where does one look for broody guineas and nests? I've got two still missing and maybe they're setting out there in our yard somewhere, well camoflaged in their little ghillie, er, guinea suits. we've got pasture, some trees, some tall weeks, black berry bramble and lots of poison ivy. what sort of environment should I be hunting up?

I read on another thread they often don't survive going broody... is that because they starve? how does one prevent that other than not letting them set (if one can find them...)?

thanks for your help!
Last edited:
Just my thought. You say "hens" but no roosters. Do you have a roo in the flock? If not, the eggs wont be fertile. As for not surviving, it may have been implying to predators. And I have read that they dont make the best broody.

I hope the others show up.
we don't have roos, just hens, but they were with roos before we bought them... so if they were laying when we got them, the first eggs should have been fertile...
but then, I haven't seen them lay, and I don't know that they were when we picked them up. some in the flock we bought from were and some weren't and I don't know if the ones I got were part of the layers.

so really that question is, once removed from the company of roosters, how long would they continue to lay fertile eggs?
Guinea Hens can carry the male's sperm and fertilize her eggs with it for up to 2 weeks (maybe a little longer), depending on the day time high temps (higher temps tend to degrade fertility).

Fertile eggs, if laid in a cool shady location and rotated by the Hen regularly can stay viable up to 3 weeks or so. If you are positive you have only Hens, then I kind of doubt any of your Hens' eggs are fertile after owning them this long already tho, unless maybe your neighbors have some free ranging males that visit, lol.

Once the Hen goes broody (on fertile eggs), keets should hatch out any where between 26-28 days. The Hens may continue to sit for up to 2 weeks before giving up on infertile eggs tho... but some refuse to give up until you take the eggs and destroy the nest.

Guineas usually lay in very well hidden areas; tall grass, behind boards, under buildings, you name it, as long as it's hidden and out of direct sunlight their nests could be anywhere. Every place that you mentioned... go look there 3 times, lol. You can walk right over a setting Hen and not see her. Sometimes more than one Hen will use the same nest and they will brood the giant clutch together.

Usually predators will take a Hen and her eggs, that's why they do not survive. The Hens refuse to get off the eggs and predators pounce, on her and on the eggs. That may be why your Hens showed back up, something spooked them off their nest or nests and they luckily escaped. It is possible they gave up on their eggs, or that they were all sharing a best and the still missing Hen is being greedy and not sharing the nest any more... but I'm guessing it's more likely one could have been taken by a predator and the others saw it happen and came back home.

Brooding Hens are just sitting ducks waiting to get eaten by a predator or even a stray dog, so finding the nests, destroying them, (collecting the eggs) and locking the Hens in the coop/run until they lay their eggs in there every day is really the only way reliable to ensure Hens will survive the laying season. Sometimes you can construct a secure pen around the nest when shes gone broody, but even that isn't completely safe, but why bother, sounds to me that it's very unlikely your Hens are laying fertile eggs.

Predators tend to return for a free meal as often as they can until the food source runs out, so IMO cooping/penning the rest of your Hens at night and just letting them free range during the day is a good idea if you don't want to lose the rest of them. Besides, Guineas eggs are delicious and nutritious, and you'd be able to easily collect them from the coop every day

Hope your missing Hen turns up, Happy Hunting!
thanks PeepsCA! that was a very helpful post!

We were going to brushhog the blackberry cane in the next week or so, guess I'll have to poke around in it first... ouch!

we've got ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys... they're all in at night but the guineas don't usually show up to get penned with the others. Don't know where they've been roosting at night... guess if I want guinea eggs I'll have to find out.

are guineas usually early morning layers? my chickens are sort of random about when they lay, if I have to keep them cooped until they all lay they'd *never* get out! the ducks are usually done by 10am, but... I have to leave to go to work before 7. <sigh>

this'd all be so much easier if I could just raise birds and eggs and sheep and goats for a living!
Guineas may start out as morning layers, but will lay a little later each day until they skip a day (with my Hens it's usually every 8-10 days or so, and they don't all skip on the same day, lol), then once they skip a day they start again the next morning, and on goes the cycle over and over and over and over...

I feel your pain about the nest hunting and egg collecting, I have 3 breeding flocks hating me right now because I keep them in until I get the majority of their eggs for the day. Some days they do not get out til 5-6 pm
But at least they get out. This is the normal breeding/laying season routine around here tho, otherwise I am climbing thru poison oak, black berries and thistles to collect their eggs, lol (or I'll end up losing Hens to predators). Guinea laying season is a pain in the butt, good thing the keets are so dang cute!
progressive laying delay? <sigh> silly birds. don't they know you're supposed to finish your homework before you can go out and play?

well, I primarly got the guineas to bring the ticks under control... they're workin' birds. eggs would be a bonus, as would keats, but mostly its about the ticks. maybe I'll just try to find the missing pearl and then see if I can get them in the roost at night. perhaps in the spring I'll get a roo and maybe set up a breeding group to help replenish the working flock.

I do kinda get a kick out of having the odd little feathered dinasaurs in the yard...
Be careful with the tractor when you go out to brushhog. Had a local guy tell me they were baling hay & baled up a guinea hen on her nest! Glad your others came back!
here is my 2cents for what its worth. I have let mine free range all day this spring and summer
I swear I wont do that again next year. I will coop them till afternoon or evening and then let them play. I have 20 acres with 250 acres around me. lucky for me mine have laid within our 20.. yeah, fun time. I did read a lot and got a lot of advice from Peeps and I found that before they go broody, when they go to lay it is usually between 10am-2pm here. and the male is close by. when she lays she makes a funny cackle noice and then leaves her nest. Soooo when I see a male pacing and gawking around I back off and watch for the hen to come out. Then the search is on. I take a big stick (broom stick) and I go pushing back bushes and weeds. a few of mine I didnt get until they went broody and you better have help getting her off the nest and keeping her off of you. (A friend of mine was attacked by a hen.) And when your team gets her off the nest you better get those eggs real fast cause she starts calling the whole guinea clan to come and assist.
and they come raging mad. I have a great pyranees which helps GREATLY with predators. But I still lost one hen this year and eggs to something. Never could find her nest and she never came back. So If you want to keep your great tick eaters, I would def coop them at night.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom