TOTAL GUINEA FOWL NEWBIE...questions galore

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by m2wandc, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. m2wandc

    m2wandc Songster

    Apr 19, 2009
    quick history:

    i have having them!
    my hubby won't let me get too crazy in the chicken world, but he has mentioned guinea fowl to free range in our vineyard. They would be raised to be set out low maintainance birds...They would have a coop and be offered food and water, but for the most part he would want them to just run free and do a very low maintaince thing with them. (unlike our chickens) [​IMG]

    So here are my question:

    do they lay eggs like chickens (in the same place, daily, etc)
    are they edible eggs (worth collecting daily)
    are guinea fowl edible meat birds?
    what pros and cons are there to having them?
    can there be more then one male...or is it very similar to chicken roosters?
    can they learn to find their own food in nature?
    are they generally friendly or stand offish birds?
    are they loud?
    how difficult are hatching out their eggs in an incubator compared to chickens?

    Thanks for your answers. [​IMG]
  2. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Songster

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sunny side up :)
    I am a guinea newbie too. So far this is what I've learned. Hope the experts come along and comment. they lay eggs like chickens (in the same place, daily, etc)
    A. Ginea have a laying season. They don't lay all year around. They will like to hide thier nests and nest on the ground.

    Q. are they edible eggs (worth collecting daily)
    A. You can eat them from what I understand.

    Q. are guinea fowl edible meat birds?
    A. Yes you can eat them. I read somewhere on these boards that some restraunts serve them in place of pheasant.

    Q.what pros and cons are there to having them?
    A. Guineas will be more wild than chickens and like to range far from home. They are noisy and flighty. They get eaten up by predators. They will roost very high up in the trees and can be hard to get into the coop unless trained and kept inside the coop's run areas for awhile. My guineas are much wilder than the chickens that they are being raised with. They freak out at every little thing.
    Pros: Eat ticks and other insects. They are hilarious to watch. They will alert you when someone/something new approaches.

    Q.can there be more then one male...or is it very similar to chicken roosters?
    A. I will leave this to the experts but I have heard that males can be together.

    Q.can they learn to find their own food in nature?
    A. Yep but I would make sure they have fresh water and food available.

    Q.are they generally friendly or stand offish birds?
    A. standoffish but I have seen and heard of exceptions. Mine don't wanna be cuddled the way the chickens do. They tolerate me and then run when I let them down lol.

    Q.are they loud?
    A. Yep difficult are hatching out their eggs in an incubator compared to chickens?
    A. About the same the guineas hatch out in 26 days vs. 21 for chickens. Seems like alot of people's guineas hatch early though.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  3. ohiofarmgirl

    ohiofarmgirl Songster

    Jan 22, 2009
    they scream like howler monkeys. seriously.

    as wild as they are, they are not predator proof. a fox took all of my 3 hens leaving the males. during mating season the males screamed day and nite - when they werent chasing each other like wild men around and around and around and around and under the dog, over the fence, around and around and around... i watched them run for an hour straight.

    teach them to come in at night or your neighbors will hate least contained they are a little quieter. once they know the drill they can, more or less, be driven into their night coop.

    on the pro side...

    they are awfully funny little birds. i love their little hot-steppin, tippy toe run. and they will warn you if something is wrong. after a while you can tell the difference between them standing out there screaming to hear themselves.....and the OHMIGOSH THERE IS A FOX HELP HELP HELP HELP... and sometimes its: THERE IS THE NEIGHBORS TOTALLY HARMLESS BARN CAT HELP HELP HELP... and sometimes: HOLY CRAP - ITS THE UPS GUY RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!

    once you can hear the difference they really are very useful.

    while they havent solved all our bug problems, we didnt have any ticks this year (compared to last year when we were over run) even tho the neighbors complained about how many ticks they had. fleas are down and far fewer japanese beetles and squash bugs.

    everything else - is as previously answered. but you'll never get them snugly like hens.

    good luck!
  4. BC_Farms

    BC_Farms Songster

    Jan 20, 2010
    Enfield & Chaplin CT
    Ok I'm a guinea newbie too but I'll share what info I have with you. We started with 4 adult guineas which got picked off by a fox, and are now trying again with keets still in the brooder.

    -They lay edible eggs but the eggs have thicker shells. Our females laid in one nest when they were still in their aviary (both shared the middle of the floor...[​IMG] ), and I was told by a breeder that they will continue to lay in one nest unless you take all the eggs from it. I've eaten them, they are smaller and taste like an egg.

    -I've heard from several people they are delicious meat birds.

    -They are neurotic but they eat ticks and Japanese Beetles etc and don't tear up gardens like chickens do.

    -Multiple males are not a problem, but heard that they can get into feuds with roosters if they are cooped together all the time.

    -They are earsplitting loud.

    -They are pretty standoffish but I am working on socializing and taming the keets right now. Supposedly you can make them friendlier....I'll keep you updated [​IMG]

    They basically look like clowns and have an anxiety problem. They freak out over everything, and when one freaks out the rest freak out. I'll give them treats and they look at it for about 15 minutes with their necks outstretched like they are trying to figure out whether it's a tasty snack or a grenade.

    Hope that helped some [​IMG]
  5. Debbienmousey

    Debbienmousey Songster

    We've had guineas (started with keets) for three years, and we're still learning stuff about them.

    1) Yes, but like Flgardengirl said, they do having a laying season unlike chickens. They normally lay from March to September, sometimes earlier sometimes later. If they don't have a nest and are coop trained, they will most likely lay randomly in the coop or run. Some people have gotten them to lay in the nest box and we've found a few guinea eggs there too. They do lay daily, when they have a nest.

    2) Yes, guinea eggs are just as edible as chicken or duck eggs. I believe them to be healthier since guineas are out in the fields eating bugs, seeds, and greens moreso than like chickens. The shells are generally very hard.

    3) I've never eaten one (Not yet anyway!) but yes they are. I've heard they taste more gamey than chickens. (Also, guinea hens are often used on Food Networks "Iron Chef America")

    4)(I'm going to leave the pros and cons for the end, so this is the answer to the question about having more than one cock) Guinea cocks will generally take 1 or 2 hens as their mate(s), so supplying one cock for every hen is best. Like with chickens, the more dominant guinea cock will show the more submissive cock who is boss. If you have 5-8 cocks then you probably won't have a problem with picking. Sometimes though an older cock will pick and chase on a younger, more submissive cock. Make sure you don't overload on cocks (unless you don't want any hens, then they might act different) and you should be good.

    5) Yes, guineas LOVE fields. They love eating grass seeds, grasses, bugs, ticks, you name it. They're not too much for forest but they love the fields. Some supplement feed is good to keep them in top shape (tip: Give them their feed at evening when you'd want to lock them up to help with their coop/run training)

    6) Mine will come close to us, but prefer not to be touched or handled. They'll struggle when you catch them but eventually settle down a bit. Some people have had guineas that will hop on their laps though, so it all depends on how much time you spend with them when they're young.

    7) I think this is the most asked question, hehe. Yes, for their first year they will be quite the little chatterboxes (Especially since you'll just be getting used to them) Bear with the buckwheating and alarm calls, and when they reach about a year old they'll pair off and quiet down a bit.

    8) We're still working hard to figure out the way to get the best hatch from our guinea eggs. This year I kept the humidity at 60-70% during incubation (We don't have a wet bulb thermometer) and temperature is pretty much the same as chickens. 99.5-100 for incubators with fans and 101-102 for incubators without fans. On websites you'll read that they take 28 days to hatch, but mine normally pip by day 25. Keep the humidity as high as possible during hatch, because the shells are much harder than chicken eggs. Don't be alarmed if the keets (Proper name for baby guineas) take a day or a little more to hatch. If they look like they're getting dried out, wrap them in a wet, warm, paper towel.

    Now pros and cons..

    Pros: Eats bugs, extremely entertaining and funny to watch, very hardy once reaching maturity, generally good mothers, very intelligent when they want to be, will come when called or when they see sight of humans, oh the list goes on and on [​IMG].

    Cons: Some people do consider them noisy, they like to lay in the field (which is not exactly a con, its instinct) sometimes you might get a pretty mean cock (and then his best direction is probably the dinner table), and they like to roost in trees unless trained to a coop. In my opinion the pros out weigh the cons.

    Now, as for this predator subject..We very rarely ever lose a free ranging guinea to a predator UNLESS it's a hen setting on her nest. Setting hens MUST be caged or protected with fencing. Critters love their eggs and something (We don't know what, yet) has carried off a nest of 24 eggs AND the hen once from our farm. To follow a guinea hen to her nest is not very hard, but you need to observe her and her cock closely. First find out if you really think she has a nest. Often hens won't lay unless they have a nest, so to figure this out keep them locked up for a day or two and see if you find any eggs around the coop or run. Most of the time after doing this, the hen will be eager to get back to her nest and check on things. So after you let her out, follow and watch her from a distance (not too far though, as they can quickly disappear into tall grasses and brush)

    Another thing, guineas legs seem to be quite fragile. We often have a cock with a limp, but this goes away within a few days. I never ever catch my adult guineas by their legs as I do my chickens sometimes. Guineas legs have some strong kicking power, but they just seem to be able to pull muscles or hurt themselves in otherways easily. Other than that, guineas are durable little buggers after they become adults.

    I really hope I haven't written to much [​IMG]. Sometimes I think I do but I just have so much that I want to share, and I'm so happy to see another person engaging in the world of guineas. Goodluck! [​IMG]
  6. ohiofarmgirl

    ohiofarmgirl Songster

    Jan 22, 2009
    UNLESS it's a hen setting on her nest. Setting hens MUST be caged or protected with fencing.

    thanks, Debbienmousey

    this is how we lost 2 of our 3 (one just got grabbed and we are still trying to figure that one out!). did you move the nest? we tried this and she totally gave it up. we moved her on the darkest nite w/out flashlights and put her in their nite coop in a brooder box. she ran screaming out of there the next morning. the other hen set her nest by the house in a fenced garden. we thought she was safe - nope. :-(

    any tips for moving a nest or did you make your hen lay in a brooder and just keep her locked up??​
  7. m2wandc

    m2wandc Songster

    Apr 19, 2009
    WOW...thank you....great info!!!

    The less we have to do with them, the better really...we'd like them to roam the property on their own clearing out ticks and bugs...if one dies now and then and becomes the circle of life, then that is that, but for the most part there is a 6 foot deer fence around the property so very little gets in. Not to say they don't get in, it's just more challenging. I would ideally like to every day or even every other day go down to the barn and put out some food and water and let them come and go as they will...mostly be as wild as they can. The more wild they are, the better chance they will have at for MY situation, I would want to get the babies and once they can get out of the brooder situation, stick them out in the wild...I would have to learn the process for it brooder for so many weeks, outside coop/run for so many weeks then open the door and let them go???
  8. pattypenny

    pattypenny Songster

    Sep 27, 2007
    do they lay eggs like chickens (in the same place, daily, etc)
    are they edible eggs (worth collecting daily)
    are guinea fowl edible meat birds?
    what pros and cons are there to having them?
    can there be more then one male...or is it very similar to chicken roosters?
    can they learn to find their own food in nature?
    are they generally friendly or stand offish birds?
    are they loud?
    how difficult are hatching out their eggs in an incubator compared to chickens

    Yes they lay like chickens but they only lay for a season.

    eggs are edible but most people don't eat them because if they are running free the nest are hard to find. we ate them when I was young but truth be told we were hunger and would eat any thing we could find on our Ozark rocky hill farm. there were 8 children in my family and Dad made his living off the land on which we stood, 160 acres of rock and red dirt.

    guinea meat is considered Gourmet eats in some restaurants .

    pros to owned guineas, sound alarm when strange people or animal come into their range. consumes ticks, grasshoppers and any other insects that they can run down.
    cons none as far as I know but some people say they are LOUD.

    One male per hen , but they can have one male to a flock and he will mate with more than one hen in the flock.

    they gather much of their own food but you need to supply some food and make sure they have water at all times, the best reason for feeding is to keep them from roaming away.
    they are stand offish.

    are they loud , yes.

    my nephew hatched his in a incubator with out trouble so if he could do it anyone can. 26 to 28 days till hatch.

    My grandmother kept guineas in her life time and she always sat her guineas eggs under a hen because the guinea mother was not as good a mother. the guinea hen takes off every morning doing her thing and the babies can keep up or fall by the way side and many fall by the way side but I suppose this is the survival of the fittest and might be a good thing. The guinea is native to the African plain and I suppose if your home is there you had better be fit or you are dinner.
  9. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Songster

    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Hi everyone, this is a great topic and I am learning a lot! This is our first year with chickens and we are loving it. I have been talking to my husband about getting guinea hens next spring (and maybe some turkeys too!). Here is a question about the coop - can the guinea hens share the same coop space as the chickens or does it need to be separate? I have a large coop but the way we designed it, it would be hard to partition it for two flocks. Also, if any of you have experience with turkeys, the same question applies.

    Note, we are not interested in collecting eggs for incubating (yet, anyway!). We are too new at all of this to start thinking about that. We would probably eat the eggs if they were accessible but we really want them for pest control and predator alarm.

    Thanks for your insights!
  10. m2wandc

    m2wandc Songster

    Apr 19, 2009
    we have an old turkey coop down by our barn in the middle of the vineyard...the point is to have the ginny run free and eat all the bugs in the vineyard (lots of ticks in the brush on the property too) There is a 8+ foot tall deer fence around the property, so I'm hoping that would keep them in (but I suppose they could fly over it???)

    I would keep food and water at the barn, but I might not check it daily? Would that be a problem? I'm guessing 3 times a week is when I'd get down there?

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