The truth about ticks

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by canesisters, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2011
    Virginia
    Hi all. I'm considering adding guineas to the 'chicken kids' for their famous tick eating ability.
    Question is - is it true?
    A few more questions:
    * Will they return to the coop to roost? Or will I just be feeding the wildlife in the woods until I'm out of guineas?
    * I should know this.... but do they eat the same feed as chickens? My chickens stay penned all the time. If I let the guineas wander should I provide a feeder outside the pen?? No feeder at all - let them eat ticks?? Don't worry about it, they'll get back in the pen if they want feed??
    * Are they REALLY all that loud all the time??? Or only when disturbed? And do guineas consider a leaf falling to be a disturbance or will they mostly be settled except for things that get the dogs going anyway? (someone pulles up the drive, stray dog wanders through, etc)
    * Just how far DO they wander?? I have about 5 acres surrounded by a couple more of woods. Will my neighbors be calling me to 'come get these ugly chickens' out of their yards?

    Thanks,
    Debbie
     
  2. Ambrose09

    Ambrose09 New Egg

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    Jun 18, 2014
    I can tell you this about the tick eating. I live a half mile in the woods and so far this summer my German Shepherd has had none. Before we had them he was getting ticks just about every day. Mine return to the roost every night and they don't wander too far but I've talked to people that say they've seen them up to a mile away from their house. And yes they are loud. Mine don't even need a trigger to start chattering. They just randomly start it seems like.
     
  3. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2011
    Virginia
    Thanks.

    Any idea why yours stay close? Do you do something (training)?? Or are some types more 'homebodies' than others?
    And - along that line - are there different breeds or just different color variations?
     
  4. Ambrose09

    Ambrose09 New Egg

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    Jun 18, 2014
    Honestly I'm not sure why they stay so close. They have always been with the chickens since they were young so maybe they stick around because the chickens don't go anywhere. Our second group is a little bit younger and they seem to stick right with the adult guineas. The whole flock, chickens included, never leaves our yard and they free range during the day so if they wanted to they could leave. They just seem to prefer to stay. As far as I know there is just different colors but this is the first time I've ever had them so I'm not too sure about that. Hopefully someone else can chime in with some more information on that. I hope this helps you. I wouldn't worry about the noise unless you have close neighbors either. The entertainment these things provide more than makes up for the noise. Like I said also I have yet to see a tick yet this year either so they definitely help with that.
     
  5. malinois

    malinois Out Of The Brooder

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    What i have discovered is that how far they range depends on the terrain? I have a narrow, 6 acres plot. The birds rarely , if ever roam too far into the "woods" proper..they like field grass, scrub land, and grass and lawns. Mine will cross a 2 lane street with a 50 mph speed limit to visit the neighbors, but their lot layout is similar to mine, not deep woods.
    After they are about a year old, the obnoxious, unreasonable screaming has stopped, but they do alert, and i go see what its about. It is usually legitimate. The ticks have disappeared. My three, free range cats have not had a tick all year. The same for the dogs,and horses. Highly recommend, but they are DUMB birdS. Lol. Love them
     
  6. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2011
    Virginia
    Ugh... that may be a problem. I have cleared lane/meadow up to the road - and then a neighbor across the street who is likely to not appreciate their company...

    Are they strictly but eaters or do they, like chickens, eat plants (like the neighbor's garden)
     
  7. R2elk

    R2elk Overrun With Chickens

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    Natrona County, Wyoming
    Guineas like chickens are omnivores. They typically do less damage in a garden than chickens because they aren't the diggers that chickens are. However if they have become accustomed to being fed garden scraps they most certainly will eat the plants that they like. They can be especially harmful when the seedlings are just coming up.
     
  8. malinois

    malinois Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2013
    Butler Pennsylvania
    Speaking just from my bird experience, coming out of the coop first thing in the morning, they graze on clover, grass, and gravel. The will snatch up any bug that they disturb during that time. The rest of the day they eat bugs, bugs, bugs. They are fed a Flock raiser chicken feed in their coop, and I will add a handful of bird seed, mealworms, sunflower seeds, or other treat feed to them for coming into the coop at night. They have never disturbed my garden, but I only plant cucumbers, basil, tomatoes, and chives. I can't say what else they would like in the garden. My neighbors have not complained about them, but I will usually give a dozen eggs to any of the neighbors that the birds do 'trespass' on. That seems to help. I also have open communication with my neighbors too, which helps as well. [​IMG]
     
  9. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oxford NY
    After two years with guineas here's what I have found.

    I got 7 guinea hens as keets last spring. The were brooded along with a dozen chicks and did just fine--I brooded them in half of my chicken coop, separate from the adult birds. They did fine on a diet of game bird grower. When both species were about 5 months old I let them out in the big room with the adult chickens which meant they also could go out into the chicken yard. At first some of the guineas returned to the coop to roost, some didn't. I tried to round up those that didn't with mixed results--one flew over the fence and disappear, presumably eaten. Eventually the remaining 6 got the idea and roosted in the coop every night, generally going to roost after the chickens. (They also laid eggs on the floor of the coop.) In October when the birds were 6 months old I opened up the gate to the chicken yard to allow all the birds to free range--I also open up the garden at this time so the birds can clean up bugs and weed seeds. The guineas wandered over my property and, occasionally, on to my neighbors but stuck fairly close. They all returned at night but I had to be sure they were on the roost before locking down the coop.

    About this time 3 cocks that belonged to a neighbor who lives about half a mile from me showed up. These had been part of a flock of about a dozen birds but were the only ones remaining. These cocks hung with my hens all winter--usually the cocks roosted in the trees in my hedgerow even when the temperatures dropped to 30 below. The hens, however, continued to go into the coop each night. I was concerned that maybe the cocks would lure my hens away but the opposite was true. When I stopped in to the neighbor to tell her where her birds were she told me they'd come home. get something to eat and disappear. This went on all winter and well into the spring. We have 3 fairly open acres around the house, a mixture of lawn, hedgerow, hardwoods and fields. Both sets of birds stayed close but not as close as the chickens.

    This led to their eventual loss. Within 2 weeks at the end of June some predator--I assume a red fox--began picking them off one by one. Leaving only 2 of the cocks who, after the last hen was taken, continued to show up each morning calling for the hens to come out. I have discovered that guineas rely on flock numbers as protection from predators. While both the chickens and the guineas were free ranging in the same area, I only lost one chicken during this time. In fact, I spotted the fox only because my two roosters put up such a fuss that I came running just in time to chase it off. On the other hand, my last hen disappeared within 30 minutes of my last seeing her with one of the cocks and there was no indication there was a problem--the cock was fine, still is. Of course guineas are noisy so it is hard to tell if there is a problem or they just can't find each other. From reading about other people's losses I suspect this is a fairly common occurrence--guineas don't seem to have a real high predator avoidance strategy.

    Now as far as ticks. We have 2 indoor/outdoor cats. Both are fairly old and don't wander far from the house but I do know they get into some of the wooded area on our property. Now cats are fairly good about keeping ticks off themselves except for their heads and shoulders. One of the reasons I got guineas in the first place was I was tired of pulling ticks off the cats' shoulders, necks and faces--worst are the tiny nymphs that get around the eyes. While I kept the guineas fairly close last year and found ticks on the cats into the fall, once the birds were out and about this spring the ticks seemed to disappear. (We have a herd of 6 deer that hang around so there is a steady supply of deer ticks.) While I am certain the chickens will take ticks as well, the guineas seem to get into areas where the chickens will not go--another reason for their contact with predators. I have not found a tick on either cat all summer so it seems to have worked. Also I watched the guineas actively hunt Japanese beetles and ants so they're good for controlling other pests as well. Now we'll see if ticks make a comeback since the guineas are gone.

    End of story: I now have 16 keets that I purchased from Purity the first week of August who will be free-ranging later this fall and, hopefully, next spring. I'm hoping the numbers will be helpful in keeping a few around long enough to discourage predators and ticks.
     
  10. DesertLab

    DesertLab Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 13, 2014
    Georgia
    Hi all. I'm considering adding guineas to the 'chicken kids' for their famous tick eating ability.
    Question is - is it true?
    A few more questions:
    * Will they return to the coop to roost? Or will I just be feeding the wildlife in the woods until I'm out of guineas?
    * I should know this.... but do they eat the same feed as chickens? My chickens stay penned all the time. If I let the guineas wander should I provide a feeder outside the pen?? No feeder at all - let them eat ticks?? Don't worry about it, they'll get back in the pen if they want feed??
    * Are they REALLY all that loud all the time??? Or only when disturbed? And do guineas consider a leaf falling to be a disturbance or will they mostly be settled except for things that get the dogs going anyway? (someone pulles up the drive, stray dog wanders through, etc)
    * Just how far DO they wander?? I have about 5 acres surrounded by a couple more of woods. Will my neighbors be calling me to 'come get these ugly chickens' out of their yards?

    Thanks,
    Debbie[/quot

    We have about 60 birds. They do eat ticks. We have a newly purchased horse farm and the first year we had a ton of ticks. Ever since we got the birds we have one or two ticks a year. They do roam quite far if they run out of bugs to eat. Our birds stay close to our 45 acre farm if we Only release half the flock for the day. Also, they will all stay close if they have a lot of bugs to eat. In the fall when we have fewer bugs they will go 2miles out in any direction. Our brids do return home at night. We keep them in one of two large, fully enclosed runs until all the brids are at least 12 weeks old. The birds only get food and water inside the pens. We leave the doors to the pens open all day so they can come and go as they please. At night we have taught them when it is time to close up the pen they will get meal worms as a reward for coming in at night. Guinea birds will scratch and can dig up a garden. They are not as dedicated to scratching as a chicken.. But if they think something tasty is in the dirt they will scratch and dig it up. We have had to repair some landscaping and landscaping fabric dur to their digging. They are loud birds. They will start yelling about something for some unknown reason during the day. After they go up to their roost at night they are usually very quiet. They have A LOT to say at meal time. If you do not have a secure place for them to roost in total safety they may get ate quickly. They like to roost shoulder to shoulder at night on a high perch. However, if one gets taken by an owl, snake, fox, etc.. The others will just sit there at night. They won't sound an alarm or move. As a result.. The owl or fox or whatever can come back for seconds and thirds. If it is closer to dawn when the birds are more awake they may make some noise if a predator is around. We feed them the medicated chick starter year round. We do provide them a place in their pens to totally get out of the weather and any rain or wind. We are in GA but it can get into the 30s at night in the winter. Our birds have always been fine in any temps. but they always have shelter.

    All the best =)
     

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