New to Guinea Hens

missyzMarch 19, 2009


I'm new to owning guinea hens. We live on 7 acres in South Jersey.

They free range, sleep in the trees at night and I've been leaving some feed and water so they stick around (yes - I started with them in a coop - (which they want no part of now)- and left a couple out at a time to get used to the area). So far they dont go far from the house - but its only been a week.

Anyway, I ran out of feed and really wont be able to get more till tomorrow. Is there anything else that I can feed them in the interim or just let them fend for themselves?

Any other helpful hints are appreciated as well.

Oh and regarding the feed, they have gotten used to me coming out saying good morning and feeding them. They are at the point where they come running to me when I call them - dont want that to change. My children dont even do that anymore :-(


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any grain will do. I dont feed mine after snow is gone. If they are not fed regularly they will forage better eating more weed seeds and bugs.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:02PM
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I feed my guineas white proso millet as a treat to keep them coming when I call. They also get shredded romaine lettuce which they love. My guineas roost in the barn at night and forage during the day. I also provide them with a Purina Flock Raiser feed. They lay their eggs in the barn, but I have a hard time getting to them before the magpies take them away.

Of all of my farm creatures, my guineas are the funniest to watch and I really love them, especially when they run. They look like footballs with legs!:-)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:54PM
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I just wish I could find some!!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:17PM
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msjay2u, some feed stores will order guineas for customers along with their chicken orders. I have also ordered eggs to incubate from a guinea farm in Iowa, very nice people, and they sell keets as well. Check their website, Murray McMurray Hatchery sells them, but you have to order 25 at a time. Most of the mail order hatcheries sell them but you have to buy quite a few to make a minimum order. I prefer the pearl and royal purple colors so they don't stand out too much to protect them from hawks. They are not the brightest bulbs in the box, but they serve a good purpose eating bugs and warning the guardian dogs of foxes and strangers driving up the driveway. Their eggs are also good for eating. They produce small, roundish golf-ball looking eggs with hard shells.
Adult guineas are easy to care for but the keets (babies) are especially fragile and not as hearty as baby chicks. They look like baby chipmunks (coloring) and are tiny little things. But, if you keep them under a heat lamp and watch them carefully, once they are adults they are very hearty, funny creatures.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 8:52PM
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so what are you saying? if I only want 6 Guineas I better order 12-20 just in case? LOL

I have never even seen a Guinea in real life.

I asked the feed stores about them but they will not order until late summer. There is another feed store that I did not ask. I will check him this weekend when I go to buy some feed.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:08PM
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dannyboquet(z9 So Louisiana)

Just a warning. The more guineas you have, the further they roam. Also, they will raid your neighbors bird feeders.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 3:38PM
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oh really?? I did not know that!! Well I only want 6. Why six you ask? LOL well it is quite genius. It takes six Guineas to ward off a snake... isn't that clever?

Seriously....I only have 2 neighbors. One does not have any bird feeders and the other only has hummingbird feeders. The HB feeder neighbor does also have a pretty mean dog so I do not suspect they will be around that property too much.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 5:54PM
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Ms Jay,

Just to warn you, you may not find the guineas as endearing as everyone else. I heard both side before I got mine. Some people love them and some hate them because they are loud and give false warnings all the time. I figured they were exaggerating on the noise and the false warnings and was fully prepared to love them. Umm... so.... it's been 9 months... I don't love them. I got them mainly to control ticks on my property. Well before the guineas were old enough to free range my chickens figured out ticks were tasty and ate every last one of them. So before the guineas were full grown I realized I really didn't need them but I was prepared to let them stay and add a little variety to the farm. So at this point it's become a like hate relationship.

Here are the likes:
1. Their faces are as ugly as sin but in a way that makes me laugh
2. They have this funny way of charging around with their wing feathers tucked up.
3. They make sweet little chirping noises to each other
4. They do sound the warning if any big bird flies over head
5. Just this week the females decided to nest in my barn. They're really cute because while one of the females is laying the other stands next to her to wait her turn on the nest. Meanwhile their mates hover nearby cheering them on with little chirps. Very cute.

The hates:
1. They are very LOUD
2. They sound the warning for EVERYTHING. Every time the sun rises they must think the earth is going to catch fire because they screech for an hour. Then when the sun sets they let everyone know the world has ended. Anytime a neighbor drives by, a dog barks a mile away, the wind gusts, a cloud covers the sun the screeching is on.
3. They eat like pigs and don't lay me tasty eggs every day like the chickens (guineas lay seasonally)
4. They're mean to the chickens. Chasing them and pecking at them while the chickens run panicky. Not cool. They were raised with the younger chickens and this didn't start happening until everyone was grown up. No one has been injured but I still don't like the bullying.

Before they started nesting I was thinking about trading them with a neighbor for more chickens. Now I'm contemplating using them as brooders since none of my chickens have gone broody yet. They may have found a way to buy themselves some more time...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 8:54PM
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that hates list is so funny especially #2. maybe I better visit someone who has them before I take that leap!


    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:34PM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

Guinea hens DO NOT make good mothers.
I hatch my guineas under bantam hens.

There is nothing like the sound of a bunch of guineas standing outside of your bedroom window at dawn making VERY LOUD guinea sounds on and on and on.....nonstop. It kind of drills right into your brain, you go crazy and you have a strong desire to KILL guineas. If you have neighbors they go crazy and have a strong desire to kill you for having them.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 8:40AM
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It's so true about how they make you want to kill them! I only have chickens for eggs not meat because I can't bring myself to kill any of my animals. Well, the guineas are the only ones that have tempted me. I think I might just be able to pull it off with them...

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 3:33PM
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I agree with everything Jenica said!!! I had some Guineas and I really did like them. I mainly wanted eggs, so I also had some chickens. They were raise together and got along well till they started to mature, then they became real bullies. I was afraid the chickens would never lay eggs with all the bulling going on , so I gave the Guineas back to the person who gave them to me..Now my chickens were so happy. He kept about 14 of them then gave 11 of them to 2 different people, who lived near by each other. One day he looked out the window of his home , there were 18 guineas in his front yard. Here he lived about 2 mi from his friends,the Guineas found each other , picked up 7 more buddies along the way and came back home. They stayed a while then took off across the road. I talked to my friend the other day and she says the flock of Guineas come and go back and forth , they think to the other home of the 7 they found along the way. This is soooo funny. We named them "The Blackhorse Guinea Gang", for Blackhorse, Ohio. They can be very amusing . If I had more land I would have kept them, just not together with my chickens. Some people say it works out fine. Now the noise is anoying sometime to. If I would try to talk they would get real noisy, like they wanted to have the last say or something. I wouldn't say don't get them, just know what you're getting into,lol. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 11:22AM
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We were warned that Guineas were stupid and that they'd all get eaten. We should have listened. Their stupidity freezes them into inaction and they are easily killed by predators. Their constant noise making would seem to be a beacon to racoons and coyotes, even owls. Once a predator finds where they roost and kills one, it will return over and over again to kill the rest. They're not worth an all night vigil with a loaded shotgun. Interesting experiment that proved not worth it to us.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 11:26AM
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Get the book "Gardening with Guineas" by Jeannette Ferguson. It tells you the right way to keep guineas and get them to come in at night, among other things. She also has a great website called They have a forum with a lot of great advice from people who raise guineas. :)

MsJay, you may want to check there too, go to the 'breeders list' and see if anyone close to you is selling keats, that way you don't have to order 30 or more. :D

I've raised guineas for about 6 years. They can be a pain in the a&& if they start digging holes in the yard to dust in. Other than that, and the noise, I don't mind them. They keep the ticks away and I can let them range in my garden, unlike the damn chickens who would tear everything up in a second.

Sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad. I find that in the summer I just feed them a little bit in the morning and let them free range. That way they fight with the chickens less and they are busy eating bugs! They are way hardier than chickens and cost less in feed. They also taste REALLY GOOD...yummy!! Smothered guineas...mmmmmmm.... :)

Plus if the noise bothers you, you can butcher the hens, because they are the noisiest ones, lol!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 5:41PM
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Well guess what?? Everytime I saw someone on Craigs List selling chickens I wrote them an email asking them if they had any Guineas. Always got a no. Then I wrote this lady trying to get rid of 4 Silkie Roosters and she wrote me back telling me that as a matter of fact she did had Guineas about to hatch soon. She put me on the waiting list. Well I was on my way to NY and she called me on the phone to tell me her Guineas were hatching. whaaaat? She said she had another batch hatching soon and she would call me for them. Well Monday she called and whoo whoo another batch hatched. She was selling them for $5 a piece. I was so excited I got my figures mixed up and paid her $6 for 5. I called her today and she is going to send me the $5 back but now I only have 5 :-( so much for my snake killing theories. Well they are so small and the cutest things. I had them in the brooder in my office and good lawd they starting screeching and killed me ears. I closed the door and went to bed. That lasted all of an hour. I had to move the brooder to the basement. I could still hear them all night long. LOL
I thought they were dying for a minute there but they actually lay down and go to sleep.

Well so far I am HAPPPPPPY My Guineas finally made it to Country Dreams (my farm)

I might have questions later

They are so tiny!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 9:09PM
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MsJay2u, congrats on the new babies! I also have 5 and will attest that they are much more fragile in the beginning than chicks are. I started out with 20 and it is a long.....long....story riddled with my own stupidity. Anyway, mine are getting big and I've noticed that they are very strong and solid for their size. They don't seem especially friendly but we'll see. They are now in a pen in the barn after spending several weeks in the house and another few in the garage. Lori

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 7:14AM
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MsJay2u, Good luck with your new guineas. You too Lori.

Here is a link that might be useful: MY BLOG

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Hey, congrats MsJay! They are cute, aren't they? I have some that are due to hatch in 6 days or so if all goes well.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me, I've raised them for about 6 years now. Also, has a great message board if you have questions about guineas too.

I like it that we have guineas because the thought of anyone getting lyme disease from ticks is horrible to me. Best of luck with your keats!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 3:23PM
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I just had to jump in and agree with the previous poster who mentioned the great book "Gardening with Guineas" and the awesome message board moderated by the same author (known as "Frit");

I found the book first as I was interested in guineas because they would NOT SCRATCH at dirt/plants like my chickens do. (We practice organic gardening and love the help w/pests.) I provided the guineas a mirror and dust pit which also keep them happy and away from my house. I must also mention that I find their poop much less icky! ;-) I love my chickens but they make me insane when they scratch all my mulch out of the beds and eat my flowers. I've finally made a run to keep the hens locked up more (tho they are still let out frequently).
I LOVE the silly silly guineas tho - they do not hurt my plants and are so entertaining and helpful as they roam our pastures eating bugs and weeds. We do have a large farm, set well back from the road so neighbors aren't really a problem. Their noise only bothers me occaisionaly if they come up and interrupt a conversation by "barking" at the stranger to our farm. I did follow all of Frit's great advice; started keets in my house w/handling, transitioned out to "nursery" pen in my chicken coop for another 6 wks, then allowed them out. They share the coop nicely w/my hens, eat the same layer feed (now that they are grown - turkey starter w/AMP as keets)although in early spring hormones(?) made my dominant cock a bit mean to the lowest ranking hens and scary for my small kids. They are very good about "going to bed" but they'd like me to close them in earlier than my chickens. On the rare occasion I've left them out too late they have had predator loss so I feel that following Frit's set-up works best. I do gather their (many)eggs to eat. It can be hard to get them to lay in the coop as they want to be more secretive and make nests in tall grass. Right now we've even got a bunch of eggs in an incubator and are eager to see if they hatch. If we get many keets I'll be sharing with all my chicken friends who are now excited to try guineas too. I highly recommend guineas and wish you much fun with them!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 9:13PM
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Guinea eggs do not ship well. the shell is hard but the embryo dies in shipment. best to purchase hatched babies.

in shipment the embryo moves around inside the egg and dies. guinea eggs are the worst to ship.

good luck

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 10:41PM
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We're new to guineas also. Another long story short (same as the first Lori) we started with 14, got down to 6 (thanks to the heat wave). We got another 6 from the same hatching and night before last a racoon ate them ALL. I had them in a "chicken tractor" with a little house inside of it. We usually put the entire tractor in the coop at night of carelessness...and I woke up to an empty tractor (except for various remains). Yesterday a friend brought us 12 new hatchlings! We re-wrapped the tractor in hardware cloth instead of chicken wire and we'll try again. We're very excited about the tick/gardening help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our blog.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 8:46AM
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I will purchase 12 guineas on saturday. I have never raised guineas before but have been successfull with my ducks and chickens for a long time now. I I was wondering, can I feed the keats medicated chick starter? I have read that turkey feed is ideal for growth, but I won't be raising them for meat or egg production, and I already have 50lbs of the chick starter. I also have some unmedicated game bird starter. What do you guys reccommend? Also, I am concerned about the guineas bullying my chickens when they are old enough to share the coop. Can I clip 1/3 of their beaks like I would the chickens? Thanks for any advice!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 11:20PM
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wondering if any one has some recommendations to help get through the "baby" phase with the keets?? We started with 6 and are down to 3 after 2 days. They appear to be healthy and playing- then a few hours later I found one dead. Is this just the normal ratio deal of how many survive?? We do have them under heat lamp - currently at 95, etc. We done chicks before but never keets.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 9:45PM
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I use non-medicated game bird feed, Brenda. What are you feeding? Chick starter will NOT work!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 5:57PM
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