When should I let them out to free range?


9 Years
Aug 30, 2010
Western Mass
They will be 7 weeks tomorrow. They are in their own coop (horse stall), and when I open the door they can walk down the aisle and out to the field. They are very skiddish and run from me when I enter the coop. I am the only one who takes care of them. ( I talk to them and sit with them, but it doesn't seem to help) I am worried that if I let them out, they won't come back......when is a good time to let them out? I am hoping that I can let them out during the day and they will go back to the coop at night.
Isn't it interesting how they are so skittish and wild, even though you raised them from birth? Wild at heart.

I have never done what you are doing, I am just now hatching my first batch. It must be a difficult thing. I did want to tell you that I got my four guineas as adults from a neighbor. I put them in my chicken house for a week. When I let them out, they just stayed close by, and came back to the chicken house at night, eventually starting to roost in the trees at night nearby. We only had one moment of worry.....we let one male out first, by himself....and he immediately wandered straight into the woods. My husband followed him and when he got concerned that the guinea was going to run off, he told our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (not exactly a sport dog, lol) to "Get the Guinea home!!" Helmsley rounded him back in the right direction and headed him straight back to the chicken house! So funny. Now we call Helmsley "The Guinea-Getter."

So, if our adult guineas stayed around after only a week in the house, your babies won't go anywhere. You gotta try it sometime
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I've had guineas for 4 years. They are wild at heart. They've never been friendly like chickens, but they free range and always go back in the barn or into the trees at night. I've had a couple that will take food out of my hand but it's as quick as possible and they don't hang around.
Keep them were you want them to return at night for at least 6 weeks before you let them free range. Mine all come back at night for lock up. At first some may not want to leave, but give them time and all will leave and come back.
I start letting mine out for short periods at first in the evenings at 12 weeks old (IMO, this is when they have better abilities to escape predators), and I let them out hungry (meaning I take their food away around noon before I let them out), then when I want them back in I herd them back in, call them and lure them in with food before the sun goes down. I consistently do this daily for a while, allowing them a little more time out each day until there is a routine of going in every night and they have learned it. Doesn't work for everybody, but I've had great success with it. Guineas like routine.
DinosRBirds: It has a stone dust floor, but we don't have rats here. The chickens and ducks also have stalls for coops on the other end of the barn. All covered with hardware cloth, of course. The chicken/duck run is completely enclosed with 2x3 welded wire and flight netting over the top. This is why I am worried about the Guineas.....this will be my first "free range"

PeepsCa: Thanks for the great advice, I will try your suggestions when they get bigger. We are mostly field around us, we are 10 acres and there are another 10 to our uphill side. The other 2 sides are thick brush. We have 2 barn cats that keep the wild animal population almost null around here. They occassionally catch a barn swallow
So I would rather wait until they are a bit larger and more fierce. Of the 11, right now I know for sure that 1 is female (buckwheat)
If you can let them out in the interior of your barn for some initial outings a few times prior to letting them explore outside, that might be really helpful in starting their training to go in at night. That way they will get used to being herded, and returning to their coop/stall for bed. I always make the same call to them every time I feed them or give them treats, so they associate that call with FOOOOOOD and learn to come running when called. When you herd them be as calm as you can and don't push them too fast or they may take flight. Guineas are blind in the dark, so it's real important to get them back in before the sun goes down, otherwise they stay put wherever they are (and they will usually head for a tree right as it starts getting dark).

One daytime predator I really have issues with here are hawks... that's why I let my Guineas out when they are bigger/older, so they are less likely to get packed off by one. I've found that foxes are pretty brazen during the day too, they will sneak in, grab a Guinea and in a puff of feathers it's gone and you are down a bird. Owls are a problem for me at night.

Guineas are skittish by nature (wild blood), but if you establish a routine with them, and also get the food call association working to your advantage, they are somewhat manageable.

Good luck with your babies
My guineas aren't that wild some are nicer than my chickens. i'll pour some feed on my lap and theyll be 10 or so guineas on my lap. And when i'm ooutside theyll follow me around. One time Wing (one of my guinea hens with one wing) was in my lap and i was petting her and one of the domniate males came over and scared her away and took her spot, Guineas!
Haven't seen any foxes....but we have a lot of Red Tailed Hawks, which I worry about. I think I will try your suggestion of letting them out in the aisle.

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