Top on the run???


8 Years
Jul 26, 2011
Central Indiana
Hi BYC Buddies.

So, I have 5 guineas - about 6 weeks old. We raised them with a few turkeys and some chicks. They are all feathered in - and our run is completed - almost.

My question is: Should we put a cover/top on the run so the guineas can't fly out? They are still pretty small, so I'm concerned that in the first few times out they will fly away and either not be able to find their way back, or become a snack for the never-ending variety of varmints.

My neighbor that talked us into getting them told my DH that the top on the run is a waste of time and money because "they know where their home is".

I don't want to waste time or money - but I don't want to lose any of my babies either. Am I just being paranoid? I want them to free range eventually - but not until they know the area, where they are supposed to roost, and are big enough to fly away.

What's your take? Waste of time and money? Being too paranoid?

We have already made the design - the run is 20 feet long by 10 feet wide, and we are building a wire covered "roof". Basically, we have built frames, put hinges between them, tacked wire to the frames, and we can attach the frames to the top of the fence. Then, when they are a little older, we can take it down, fold it up, and store it in the rafters in our barn.
I don't have alot of guinea experience, since our guineas are only about 10 weeks old, but if your guineas are like our guineas they will definitely fly out and won't be able to figure out how to fly back in. If only one guinea gets out, it will want to get back in with the rest, but if they all get out, they will be gone! And unless you are a guinea whisperer, you will not be able to catch them to put them back in because they fly like crazy! Put a cover on! The cover we have on our small run is actually just an old sheer curtain, but it works.
That's a good idea - and I actually told my husband to use a tarp or something like that to make the cover. He decided to go "all out" and make a really nice top. I will get pics up when he finishes it.

How old do they need to be before I let them out to free range?
I let my guineas free range at eight weeks. I just left the door open and they EVENTUALLY found their way out. These are my first ones so I hope this is some help. I had to kind of walk behind them to shoo them back in at dusk. They were kind of running along the outside and seemed confused about where the door went! But, after one or two more days they figured out the door didn't move on them.
Definately a top on the run if it isnt prohibitive. Even for your other poutlry. My two week olds could have flown out of a run. But a top even if you free range will give you security if and when you need to lock them up like say for a Vacation.
LOL that's SO true leon... (funny but not funny!)

Good decision on the top Cori... after going thru all the trouble of raisin' up those babies you don't want to be basically hand feeding them to the predators
An attached secure covered run also assists in training them to go in at night. Starting the routine of them coming when you call them for treats and also going in before sundown in the confines of the covered run and gradually working up to free ranging is a luxury, believe me!
Last edited:
Hehe. Point made! That is funny but not funny.

The guineas still won't eat out of my hand, but at least they aren't trying to climb the walls or hide anymore when I come in their house.
I've been putting treats in a certain feeder (it's a mason jar feeder without the mason jar) every night when I'm putting up the other chickens. The guineas (and the turkeys and chicks I'm raising with them) know that when I set down that certain feeder - they are getting treats (a mix of dried mealworms and 'parakeet' food with white millet as the main ingredient). The guineas actually see me come in with it... watch as I set it down.... make sure I'm not looking... and run to the "treat bar" to eat.

So, to train them to come in and roost at night:
I'm going to start letting them out into the run after we get the top on it (either tonight or tomorrow night). Then make sure that everyone comes back in when I put up the others (by bribing them with treats and/or shooing them in the door). Once they get the hang of that, then what?

Do I just take the top off and let them fly out? How old/big should they be when I start letting them out of the safe zone? Once they become free range, will they still come back at the same time at sundown if I've set the schedule? How long does it take for them to 'get it'?

If they aren't back when I put up the others, they still would have a safe place to roost. We have very, very, high rafters in our barn, so technically they could fly up there and still be 'mostly' safe - and we have lots of trees. Hopefully they would pick the barn since it is the safer of the choices.

I just don't want to rush anything and make a huge mistake that costs my babies their lives.
Personally I'd leave the top on the run, that way you always have a safe area to contain all of birds if you have to go out of town, during bad weather, or during a predator scare. I don't particularly like my Guineas flying up over anything... because I've worked by butt off training them to stay inside my fence line.

I start letting mine out at 12 weeks old, but that's a personal choice because of the predator load here and the fact that I have other Guineas that will harass keets younger and smaller than that and either kill them or run them off. 12 weeks old (for my keets) seems to be the magic age when they are a little more self sufficient, smart enough to avoid the older birds, be more alert of dangers and able to escape predators better than younger birds.

Once you start letting them out to free range hopefully your treat training carries over and they come back to the coop/run on cue... you may need to work with them for a while, herding them back in each night so they get the whole routine of being let out and getting herded back in down. If you want them to roost in the barn rafters that is your choice, but that leaves the chance that they can choose the trees or rooftop instead and start disappearing one by one.

That also welcomes the Hens to lay eggs out in the bushes and then disappear when they go broody... and IMO (and experience) they are just sitting ducks for predators of allowed to do that (both Hen and eggs). I always coop/pen my birds up at night and do a head count so I know everybody's there... plus I like being able to keep everybody locked up during the laying season until my Hens lay their eggs in the coop/pen, rather than somewhere in the bushes that I'll have to hunt down.

All with that being said... to each their own when it comes to raising and keeping Guineas, there certainly is no ONE way that has to be protocol! This is just what works for me, on my land, with my flocks and the predator load in the area I live in. I prefer not to lose birds to predators if at all possible, especially from my pretty breeding flocks!
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom