Starting with Guineas Under a Playhouse?

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by daddykirbs, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. daddykirbs

    daddykirbs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We would like to start raising Guineas. I recently built a playhouse for my kids. Would it be ok to convert the bottom portion into a coop for the Guineas? The area is 6'x8' and about 5' tall. These will be free range birds so this will just be their roost/coop.

    Are there any health risk to my kids?

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  2. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Big Oak Valley, CA
    NICE play house, what lucky kids! I think that's an excellent place for Guineas, and a really good use of existing space... plus very cost effective for saving on materials to build an actual coop elsewhere. Not sure how many Guineas you plan to house there, but a flock of 8-10 should do fine.

    The only possible health risk I'd be concerned with is if your kids might have allergies to the dust/dander the birds can make or the bedding materials you will be using. Developing a deep litter system could help with the dust issue, plus once you get it going it's pretty easy to maintain and creates excellent garden compost. You can research the deep litter method here on BYC, there's a ton of info on the correct ways to go about it and the best bedding and organic materials to use/add to keep it working like it should.

    You'll need to keep the flock penned in their new coop for at least 6 weeks before you let them free range your property, if you want to condition them to return to the coop each night to roost. You want them to imprint on the coop as home and a safe place to roost, and that takes some time with Guineas. They are not as easy to coop trains as chickens are. And after the initial containment period you will need to be consistent about herding them to go back in and making that the normal nightly routine for them. You may get away with less time needed for imprinting them on their coop as home and where to roost, but you will still need to be really consistent about herding them back to the coop each evening.

    If you use treats for a reward and the same call repeated over and over every time you feed them/give them treats (from day 1) they will associate that call with food/treats and learn to come when you call them. Once they have a routine established they tend to stick with it... you just have to make sure you establish the routine for them, or they will establish their own (and may start roosting in the trees or on top of the play house, instead of under it). It also helps if you ONLY feed them in the coop... the more they associate the coop with food/comfort, the faster it helps them develop the routine. I've used this method for years, and at feeding time (for all my animals) I have Guineas waiting in or at the coops wanting their nightly treat. (Guineas are very food oriented, and like routine/consistency, and I always recommend using all of that to one's full advantage in hopes of having a more easily manageable flock. Consistency is key tho).
     
  3. daddykirbs

    daddykirbs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very nice reply, Thanks! We were thinking about starting with one male and two females. From there we'll see.
     
  4. daddykirbs

    daddykirbs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How much "head space" will be needed? So... How much room from the roost to the ceiling is comfortable for them?
     
  5. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Guineas like to be up high and will roost up as high as they can get, but they can bump their heads and hurt themselves flying or jumping up to roost, and also get spooked at night and hit the ceiling (brain injury, broken casque, broken neck etc) if they don't have the head room they need. I try to keep my highest roosts at least 1 1/2-2 feet from the ceiling, and over the years that has worked out pretty well... no head injuries or mysterious coop deaths. I have read that some people put a layer of padding on their coop ceiling, but I have never gone that route.

    Just so you know... Guineas do better in decent sized flocks, rather than just a trio. That way there are more eyes and ears watching out for each other when out free ranging, plus a flock is way better/efficient at tick and pest control.

    To get just 1 male and 2 Hens you'll either need to buy mature/adults birds... because you can't sex keets when they are young. Sexing Guineas is typically done by the call they make (or do not make). Hens will make a 2 syllable buck-wheat call, males will not. You can't really reliably sex the females until they start buck-wheating around 6 wks old (some wait longer to buck-wheat tho), and the males can be even more difficult to sex until they are almost fully matured (around 12 wks). Before that you may just be getting a temporarily quiet Hen. Keets are always sold in straight runs.
     
  6. daddykirbs

    daddykirbs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do have a source for adults. We were hoping to build our own flock so the keets would be accustomed to this being their home.
     

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