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When do you turn Keats loose?

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by mackattack, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. mackattack

    mackattack New Egg

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    I purchased 12, 3 week old guinea keats 7 weeks ago. I have kept them in their own run, separate from the chicken run. Man, those things can grow. They look full grown but I know they can't be.
    I have a flock of 125 sheep w/2 guardian dogs & 5 guardian donkeys so I also have a flourishing tick herd, hence the guineas. How long do I need to keep them up before I turn them loose?
    Sounds crazy, but I was told they will kill a snake. Any truth to that? Hate a snake!
     
  2. livenwpeeps

    livenwpeeps Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I keep mine in their coop/run for 5 to 6 weeks then I open the door and walk away, sit down and watch. I tried to do the "let out one and leave the others in" method but I couldn't tell who's been out and then they rushed me at the door once they learn what "free range" meant. Don't feel bad if none come out the first day or even the second day and don't chase them out. Let them go out on their own. The coop/run is their safe place so if you chase them out, it is no longer their safe place and the harder to get them back in at nights. Now I already have an existing flock so the new guys usually follow their example. I train mine while they are in their run to return to the sound of a cow bell to help get them in at nights. Along with herding sticks. With 125 sheep, you do need tick control!!! As for snakes, I don't know.
     
  3. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Long winded post here... [​IMG]

    You will get different opinions on the snake killing, typically it depends on the Guineas, some flocks are way more passive and lazy than others, some are super aggressive and watchful. I personally have witnessed my own Guineas killing small snakes (playing keep-away and tug-o'-war with them 'til there wasn't much left of them but something that resembled a bloody string - eww!) and I have also witnessed my Guineas circling around a large rattle snake, raising a complete ruckus (so much of one that my dogs started howling and my Donkey started braying) and then they were pecking and clawing the snake from every direction until they had just about turned it into snake sushi and ran it off my property thru the fence... (then they continued to yell at it from our side of the fence for another 10 mins to make sure it didn't come back, lol). I have not yet witnessed them actually killing a large snake, but I am sure that one went off and died, lol.

    I start letting my young birds out at around 12 weeks old, when they are pretty good sized and have a little grey matter upstairs and are more alert about their surroundings and predators, but like livenwithpeeps I have existing adult flocks that they get integrated into and they learn the ropes from them. From the start, when they are keets I always use the same call at feeding and treat time, so I can call my birds from anywhere on my property and they will come running/flying to me knowing I have food for them (it's kind of fun to have friends or keet/Guinea customers at the house and then call the birds to me... people are always impressed and say things like "my dogs don't even come like that when called!", lol). I also use that same call to get them in at night (and at approximately the same time), and they always get food and treats when they come in. I begin their free ranging routine by letting them out hungry at the end of the day for just a short period at first (I usually take their feed away around noon), then closing their pen while they are out, follow them around while they are out, not letting them go too far and then calling them back (with the call they are used to) at feeding time, usually right as the sun starts setting. I gradually increase their free range time and distance each time until they are reliably coming back in when called, then after that they get let out in the mornings and can stay out all day. It helps to have someone helping you herd them in each night until they get the routine down and start coming in when called. Guineas like routine, once you get one established, (but you have to be consistent and establish one for them, or they will establish their own, like roosting in the trees or on the rooftops instead). I know this is a lot of work, and not everyone wants to or has the time to use this method, but it does work and has worked for me for years.

    With the exception of hawks and owls it does not sound like you will have much of a predator problem with your Dogs and Donkeys being on duty, IMO your main issue will be getting them to come in at night to roost in the safety of their coop/run so the owls do not pick them off one by one if they choose to roost in the trees or on rooftops. (And hopefully you do have a roosting place for them at night, because typically a flock of 12 will quickly become a single digit number, since predators tend to return for a free meal night after night as long as they can). I have sold lots of keets and Guineas to people that just turn them loose without working with them and training them to come in at night, and these people usually come back once or twice a year to replenish their flocks, regardless that I’ve already warned them they will lose them one by one to predators. So I highly recommend that you provide a safe place for them to roost at night, establish the nightly routine of coming in and also training them to come to you when called, whenever they are called.

    Guineas are a lot of work at first (especially to maintain a flock without losing any), but as they get a routine established and they learn the sights and sounds of your land they get a little more easier and easier to deal with as time goes on. Hope this helps, and good luck with your flock [​IMG]
     
  4. stoopid

    stoopid Chicken Fairy Godmother

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    Whatever you do, don't let all of them out at once. Only let a few out at a time. Guineas are famous for taking off, and never coming back. If you only have 1,2,3 out, they stay close to the big bunch, but they still get to explore.
    Alternate them every day, so everyone gets a chance. Guineas are very short in the attention dept.
    Good luck!
     
  5. damselfish

    damselfish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I second pretty much every word Peeps said. Routine is important to keeping guineas. We use the same words, no yelling. If I had a nickel for every time we've repeated the words "Go to bed. Time for bed", I would be able to take a vacation.

    We did not do the "let out one or two" thing either because they were brooded in the coop and knew it was home. We let our original ones loose when they were younger than yours but it was kind of an error...we built a little fence, just to contain them for them first couple of trips outside, and the little stinkers flew right over it. Voila, instant free range.

    We committed to spending the time to getting them back in every night until they learned (and some still require encouragement, three years later for the oldest ones). It's not that they don't know where to go, they just like to be stubborn sometimes. Oh, and a light (on a timer) in the coop seems hugely important to them. The chickens go to bed earlier, so the coop isn't that dark, but the guineas go later and they don't like walking into a place that's darker than outside. Don't know if anyone else has this trouble or not.

    When we slacked off and let a few roost out later the first year, the owls took them. So try hard to avoid that.

    You did mention that you have chickens. It seemed like watching our chickens go to roost at night helped our first guineas get the right idea, so I hope that will help you, too. Then once you have this bunch of guineas going to roost, they will help you train any young ones that come along.
     
  6. leonphelps

    leonphelps Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I made a small run next to the coop. This way they can look around for a couple weeks and the one or two I would let out get to see the others in safety and sweat it a little.
     
  7. livenwpeeps

    livenwpeeps Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, a light with a timer is great!!! I use one that comes on at dusk and goes off at dawn. And the same schedule every day. 90% of the time my guineas meet me in the drive way and walk back with me to their coop and then they run into the coop without any problems. I still ring the cow bell and give them treats too. Then there is the other 10% of the time when ...... when I swear that every one of my guineas must have fallen on their heads because they have no idea who I am, who they are or where they are.
     
  8. damselfish

    damselfish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Southwest Missouri
    Quote:[​IMG]

    Maybe new guineas are getting beamed down from the alien planet where all guineas originate, and secretly replacing yours?
     
  9. Terri O

    Terri O Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:[​IMG]

    Maybe new guineas are getting beamed down from the alien planet where all guineas originate, and secretly replacing yours?

    [​IMG]

    I sure wish I would have read this before mine started sleeping in the trees! Now that it is getting a bit chilly at night they seem to be going back to the chicken coop though...I am going to try the cowbell method before I let my new little ones out! Thanks for the info! Terri O
     

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