My Miracle Guineas

audrey_gwJune 20, 2010

Hi, everybody. The temperatures in my homemade incubator fluctuated so much--from about 96 degrees to one brief spell of 104, that I began to worry I wouldn't get any keets. But, so far, 19 out of 24 have hatched. And, although they began to hatch about three days earlier than they should have, most of the keets seem healthy. (One or two look as if they may have foot problems.) So I'm calling them my miracle babies!

As you can see, they do look rather peculiar when they are hatching, but quite cute when dry. It may have helped that I purchased the eggs from a reputable E-bay seller, who packaged them very well and got them to me quickly.

If anybody has advice on getting these babies to adulthood, I'd be happy to hear it. They are meant to replenish our flock which has dwindled, over the years, from 20 or so young birds to 7 old ones. Right now they are in a big box with a bulb for warmth, eating turkey starter.

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Guineas come from a very hot area in Africa and sometime the ambient temperature is 110F during the incubation period and they fair well.

We hatched 73 keets and one Phoenix chick out of 85 eggs set. It was mind boggling to get an egg hatching a week early. I thought I was having a 'SENIOR' moment and wrote down the set date wrong, or possibly calculated the hatch date wrong. When he was all dry and fluffy the truth jumped out at me--a Phoenix hen laid an egg in the guinea's nest.

They are very hardy birds after the 2 week mark. During the first 2 weeks keep their brooder very dry and clean. Of keets hatched naturally (via a Guinea hen) most die if the mother takes them out in the dew covered grass or out on a rainy day within the first 2 weeks.

Handle them as often as you can and they will be very tame. If you will let them roam free it is a good thing to raise them as part of a chicken flock and they wonÂt range any further than what the chickens will wander. Guineas will wonder as far away as 4-5 mile. If you raise them with chicks donÂt separate them when they get older or the guineas will make a constant ungodly racket day and night until the find their missing flock mates.

They are a great bird to have. I see you have about 4 or 5 different colors there in the picture.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 9:33PM
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Many thanks for your advice! I'm away at a writers' conference right now, but my folks are looking after the guineas--and I stressed the "warm and dry" part to them.

We had one more keet hatch before I left, so are up to 20 out of 24. But I have some doubts as to the last four, as it was much harder to keep the incubator warm after most of the eggs were removed. Twenty is really more than we need anyhow! I did try to "hobble" the splayed-leg one with a bandage. He can stand up better now, but still has a hard time walking.

We'll probably try to keep them a little bit wild, as the other guineas on our farm fend for themselves. They will sometimes roost in one of the buildings during the winter and often eat seed from under the bird feeder, but otherwise pretty much look after themselves.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 9:11PM
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I've had guinea keats with splayed legs before, I used a small rubber band knotted in the center and put their feet in the loops, if I had to make it 'tighter' I'd just knot it a second or third time. My hatch was pretty lousy this year, I think it's because I had only one hen and 3 cocks, they spent more time fighting than anything else. Also they were first year birds so maybe it took them awhile to 'get the hang of it'.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 10:55PM
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When ever I would get a chick with splayed legs, they would get treated using tape, band aids, rubber bands, string (what ever was handy). Then they were given as a pet to someone or eaten. I never breed them due to the possibility that it is genetic abnormality (weak tendons). Not one splay legged bird this year out of 200+ guineas, 2300+ chicks, 107 turkeys, 67 ducklings and 4 Greater Spotted Kiwis hatched.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 9:48AM
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My mother tells me that the keet I bandaged is doing so well that she can hardly tell it apart from the others now, which is good news. I'll have to keep rubber bands, string, and etc. in mind too, in case I ever have to do that again. Wow, seramas, you do have a lot of birds!

We only had three chickens who roosted in the barn, two hens and an ancient rooster, and the hens disappeared a few days ago. We're guessing a raccoon may have grabbed them. So I might have to try hatching chickens next. Just kidding! The guinea eggs took a lot more time and attention than I'd anticipated.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 6:31PM
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Just wanted to add a postscript that all the guineas are healthy and happy two weeks after hatching--and getting much too big for their large box. As the house is beginning to smell like a chicken coop, we are going to have to move them out of the junk room soon. There is plenty of room in the barn now that we no longer have dairy cows, so we were thinking of constructing some sort of temporary "coop" with chicken wire, until the guineas get big enough that we can release them. But the barn is also where those two hens I mentioned earlier disappeared from. So does anybody have any tricks for keeping predators out? Although we do have a dog, she often stays in the house at night, so she probably won't be much help.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 9:39AM
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Glad to hear they are doing well.

Be sure to make their roost no closer than 18" to any wire side or 30" from a wire roof so predators can't reach them through the wire to snatch them while they sleep. Raccoons can pull a full grown chicken through 1" hex chicken wire fence in minutes.

The tighter you fasten your chicken wire the harder for a predator to chew through it. When it is real tight it will cut the predators mouth up, when it is loose the predator can get it in their back teeth (molars) and chew it up.

Some poultry keepers will use a double walled system when building wire walls in their coops. They cut their 2"x4" into 2"x2"s fastening chicken wire to each and installing them 6" to 8" apart--like a cage within a cage--but only if they have a very serous predator problem.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 10:25AM
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Just an update on the guineas to say that all are doing well, except the one we gave to my niece for a pet, which disappeared from an outdoor cage while she was at church.

They are about six weeks old now and, as you can see in the photo below, we have them in a corner of an old corn crib that we lined with chicken wire. We had actually hoped to release them pretty soon, as we also have about half a dozen turkeys that are a couple weeks younger and need a coop too. But we are afraid to put the poults in with the guineas for fear they will fight.

I see from another post here, however, that it may be too soon to release the guineas. At least they seem to get along well with each other. In fact, all nineteen of them insist on packing onto the same rail of the perch to sleep at night! I suspect they may be a little insecure from not having a mother.

We also have six or seven older guineas who have been running free for years. And we aren't sure how they will react to the newcomers. So, if anybody has any suggestions or predictions about the release, I'd be happy to hear them!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 5:28PM
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