Zach and I have wanted to raise guineas for quite a few years now. They’re excellent foragers, they help reduce the tick population and they’re just really cool looking birds! Every spring we talk it over and try to decide if we want to place an order with a hatchery, or try to find a local breeder. So far, we haven’t been able to find anyone in our area that sells guineas and the hatcheries have such large shipping minimums that we really didn’t want to start off with so many birds at once.
So guineas have become one of those things that will happen “someday”.
Until about a month ago.
We have a new feed store in our town and like many feed stores this time of year, they are getting in chicks and ducklings for sale. Every time we go in (which is like twice a week) I have to give the brooder boxes a “once around” to see what’s new in the selection of poultry.
This time, once particular brooder box stopped Zach and I in our tracks.
“What do we have here?”
A whole box of guinea keets!
We were really excited to see that keets were available! The problem is that with our set up at home, I can really only brood two different species at a time. I guess I could rig something up and make a third happen, but I’m trying not to take on too much this spring.
We have one brooder set up at home with chicks in it, and another ready for turkey poults later this month. Everything I’ve read about guineas is that while they’re a very useful bird, but they can sometimes be mean to chickens. Knowing this, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to put them in the same brooder as our chicks.
Sadly, we talked it over and decided that we should let the guineas go again for another year.
The next time we went into the feed store, all the guineas had sold and that put the finality on our decision.
A couple weeks went by, and a couple more trips to the feed store. The brooder boxes saw different chick breeds come and go.
Then last week, once again they got in a shipment of guineas.
Disappointment settled over Zach and I as we stared into the brood box watching the little guineas peck and peep and sleep knowing that we wouldn’t be bringing any to our farm.
A lady came around the corner with a sales associate and we moved out of her way so that she could select a few guineas to purchase.
While helping the customer the sales associate asked if we wanted her to get a few guineas out for us.
We explained that we would love for her to, but we only had a brooder for chicks.
The lady buying the keets explained that she ALWAYS raises her guineas with chicks because it helps them to keep their personalities in check, makes them more social and helps the guineas relationship with her chickens.
The sales associate agreed!
Zach and I looked at each other and smiled.
As you’re probably guessing we now have guineas.
We only purchased two as the lady advised us that your chicks should out-number your guinea keets to keep them in order.
Brooding of guineas is very similar to brooding chicks with a few exceptions. We learned that they should not be on medicated food because their bodies can’t metabolize it (which is fine because we feed un-medicated) and that they should be handled often to keep them social. We also learned that the brooding temperature of 95 degrees is especially important to guineas. They are more sensitive to the cold than chicks.
So far, everyone in the mixed brooder at home is getting along nicely. I don’t really see much of a difference in the keets personality vs the chicks. The keets are gentle and mix right in. Hopefully they will grow up thinking they’re chickens and be well behaved as adults.
Do you raise guineas? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below, or visit the Community Chickens Facebook Page.