Story and photos by Jennifer Sartell
When we decided to add a couple guineas to our flock, it was a difficult decision. To be honest, besides tick control, I’ve not heard a good word about the birds. It seems that every poultry forum I’ve visited complains that they’re loud and mean animals! Even the day we purchased our keets, the man standing next to us by the brooder bins commented that guineas were annoying and we would be sorry.
I’m glad we didn’t listen to all that because so far our guinea experience has been nothing but pleasant.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about our guineas that we get on our blog over at Iron Oak Farm and here at Community Chickens. Below, I share what our experience has been.
Are they mean?
We only have two, which might have a lot to do with our positive experience, but so far there is little difference in their personality from our chickens. They get along quite well with our other poultry and are quite nice to us, and people who visit our farm.
I believe that this is due to the fact that they were raised with chicks/chickens. They stay in the same “chicken” group that they were brooded with, and I believe they think they’re chickens.
Another thing is that they do not hoard feed from the feeders. I feel like this is probably because they prefer to gather sustenance from bugs, grass etc. They’re sometimes found taking a nibble or two from the chicken feeder, but for the most part, they aren’t a bit territorial about food.
How do you tell the boys from the girls?
A male guinea is called a cock
A female guinea is called a hen
Babies are called keets or chicks
I believe we have a pair. We picked them from a straight run bin at the feed store. It can be difficult sexing guineas as the males and females have almost identical markings. The males tend to be slightly larger, and that’s what we’ve noticed with our two.
Can you eat guinea eggs?
Yes! I’m excited for our first guinea egg, as I’ve heard they are delicious and similar to quail eggs. We are expecting our first eggs next spring.
Are they noisy?
Yes, but not like I expected.
I’m not sure why people are so annoyed with the sounds guineas make. While their everyday chatter is louder than the cooing and clucking of chickens, they don’t sound off that often, and when they do, it doesn’t hold a candle to some of our roosters. Perhaps if you had a larger flock of them it would cause more of a ruckus. They’d probably not be a great choice, (as far as noise concerns), for a closely spaced, suburban neighborhood, but in a farmyard setting like we have, they fit right in.
We have noticed that they tend to compete for conversation. When Zach and I are in the barn talking, they tend to be drawn by the sound of our voices and come to join in. Their sound can best be described as a fast paced Hee-Haw repeated several times then followed by a loud dwindling rattle.
They make great watch poultry and sound off whenever anything new happens in the yard, even better than our geese. Many times the guineas get the geese going and then we hear a cacophony of honks and chatter.
Can you keep them with chickens?
Yes, we do and they get along great, though I’ve read otherwise on different forums.
Guineas do best when they’re not confined. Ours have the option to free range everyday and they really like to explore. Our chickens and turkeys stay right around the house, but the guineas put their heads to the ground and head out.
Like chickens, they are programmed to return to the coop every night around sundown which makes things much easier for us as caretakers.
I’m sure guineas, to some extent, can have different personalities. Just like one rooster can be a gentle Teddy Bear, while others attack everything they get near.
What has been your experience raising guineas? Share your story by leaving a comment below, or by visiting the Community Chickens Facebook Page.
Wonderful article. My darling wife and I ordered 15 keets that’ll be delivered in July and are trying to learn as much as we can before they arrive. Good to read that they’ll get along with our chickens.
When I seen the pictures of your guineas, they looked liked two males. To further answer the question about sexing guineas, there is a really easy way. Yes, it is true male guineas are usually larger but they can vary in size. What caught my eye in the picture were the waddles. Male guineas waddles are always larger and hang down from the face. Female guinea waddles are small and close cropped to the face. However the ultimate way to determine their sex is the relaxed call noise. A male’s alert and relaxed call consists of only one syllable. A female’s relaxed call consists of two syllables. Her alert call can be a single syllable sometimes too. Don’t confuse these sex determining calls with their nightly bedtime cooling, which is like a twilling sound. If you are sexing guinea chick, they start the different syllable calls not long after they get their feathers in. Glad you enjoy your guineas!!! I’ve been raising guineas and chickens for 15 years and truly enjoy them!
Jennifer, Thanks for your comments. We have a new article up that also talks more about how to sex guineas.
If you would be interested in writing about guineas for us, please contact me (the editor) at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to chat with you.
At a South African Air Force base they use Servals to clear the strip of Guinea Fowl that tend to get stuck in the jet engines.
I bought a house two years ago, that was claimed by a guinea. Previous owners stated she showed up one day, and never left. I recently raised her a friend. I love them!! They roost on the porch, and protect us as their “herd” when we walk dogs in the yard. So friendly, so sweet. I am so glad we have them!
Aw, what a sweet story! 🙂
Live above a marsh that generates bugs by the millions….so decided to try guineas for insect control. This is my second year with them, and they HAVE made a difference. No ticks ofn any of the furry kritters.
Raised most of them from keets, purchased from several different breeders. They are a joy to have around. This summer they are about 50/50 as far as returning to the coop vs roosting in the trees. Once our WA rains begin there doesn’t seem to be any problem about sleeping inside.
Interacting with them seems to be on their terms. They follow me at feeding time and peck at my door if I am late showing up. They gather close when I pass out treats (meal worms or grubs), but touching is still not a consideration; unless I’m being being overrun at feeding time…smile.
Have something killing their babys/keets so have started collecting the young at dusk. The ladies can be vicious protecting their young so lure mamas away with dinner, grab up any keets I can find, and make a run for the door.
I have enjoyed observing/understanding their social order. They can be most entertaining, and enjoy time spent away from the TV, watching them.
I’ve noticed that they are great at taking don the insect population as well! 🙂
Yes, they are great at keeping down the tick population, which is why we got them. Noisy, sure, but in the country, who cares? But their biggest drawback by far was the unsettling habit of perching and pooping everywhere. On the deck railing, on the front steps, and worst was on the cars. The cars weren’t even safe in the garage, as the birds would come in, sit on the car, and poop. Yuck.
Oh no! I know that feeling though our turkeys were drown to our goat barn for some reason and it was tough keeping everything clean with the droppings. 🙂
I loved my Guineas! I had 2 buff & 7 regular. They went out to pasture with the goats & returned in the evening. They were better than a house alarm-strangers or anything different, especially ” big birds” in the sky would set them off. They are great birds & exotic looking. I kept them strictly for bug eating.
I LOVE GUINEA’S. HAVE HAD THEM ON THE FARM FOR 10 YEARS NOW. THEY KEEP THE PLACE CLEAN OF ALL KINDS OF BUG’S AND SNAKE’S. HAVE HAD AS MANY AS 30 AT A TIME. I COLLECT THE EGG’S AND INCUBATE THEM. RAISE THEM WITH THE CHICKEN’S. THEY ARE LOUD BUT ALWAYS GIVE THE ALARM WHEN SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT BELONG ON THE PROPERTY. THEY RANGE ALL AROUND THE FARM AND EVEN THE PASTURE’S AROUND THE FARM. THEY ARE SOMETHING TO WATCH AND ARE A BIT CRAZY. WILL RUN A FENCE LINE FOR HOUR’S AND THEN REMEMBER THEY CAN FLY. THEY ARE ALWAYS ON THE MOVE AND CAN RUN VERY FAST AND FLY BEAUTIFULLY. I LOVE MY GUINEA’S THEY ARE AN AMAZING ANIMAL.
I started with 2 keets in a coop, but they escaped and the female died. So I only have one now, but he free ranges with the chickens, duck and rooster with our Guard Dogs who do really well with grown chickens, etc – not as good with babies. 🙁 The Guinea is quite the hoot and he actually protects us at times from the Rooster (a Marans) who has a little bit of a mean streak toward a few people. The guinea swoops down and grabs his feathers and chases him! I would love to have a few females for my male, but can only find straight run. Ours sometimes tries to steal a little dog food, etc – but the dogs run him out of it. I don’t regret getting him at all. He is loud at times, but he is the alarm bird!
You are spot on with all your comments and observations. ..they are interesting animals and to watch what they do and how they explore greatly outweighs the noise they create!!
Not enough room here for what I have learned over the many years of raising ?(if it had feathers,I raised it)?Guineas have their own special place for security as does your geese.However nothing can replace their ability to rid your place of ticks,fleas,& even snakes! Plus will sort of warn you of whatever is not the norm.This could be a vehicle that they are not use to-,to, a snake with some of their eggs in its belly. The only negative that I could agree to would be their ability to be good parents. Although quite noisy how,much are you willing to cohabitate with in order to reap their positive benefits? my flocks were broken up into 2-3 different flocks.Bottom line; The more you have,the less critters will be.
We raised six guineas from keets two years ago. They were raised with our baby ducks and thoughts they were ducks. They were great watch fowl and let us know when someone or something came on the farm. We especially liked them because they ate lots of bugs and ticks. They could be loud at times but we missed them when a stray dog killed the last one. This year we bought twelve and are raising them with our new chicks. We probably won’t do without them anymore.
I just got one of each color and kept them with my chickens, thinking if they got use to us they would stay around…..after 2 mos. in the pen, they were let free to roam and they did…..they left for the woods and didn’t come back….after about a week we caught the 2 males, but the females have never came back…..what do you do to make them stay around
Raising guinea can be an adventure. Watching them interact and do their bird stuff is quite a riot. Their eggs are pretty good but I really enjoy their pest removal the most. I had an entire flock of guineas a couple years ago and they were doing really well until a pair of great horned owls found their roosting spot. Wiped them all out in less than a week… I couldn’t believe it. P.S. I found a really neat new website that helps local farmers and homesteaders sell their products to the community. Anyone heard of FIFY? (Farm It For You)
yes they are very noisy but they are good at sound and invader detection starting from anything new to people and even wild animals as well as snakes. at one time the guineas as adults are attracted to the sounds of the wild guineas. .
when you keep them and they are about to desert you they will refuse to come home. if you become agitated they will run into tall grass shrubs an that way you lose them to wild cats and other predators.
we are involved in the keeping and training of would be keepers of the guineas.
We love our Guineans they are wonderful chicken guardians letting us know if Hawks or others predators are around.
I’m glad other people had good experiences, because I did not. I took over a flock that had 4, and they were mean, food hoarders, as well as splittingly loud (and it was pretty constant). The facility of the original owner was awful, and they ended up escaping. Good riddance. I might try them again and just have them free range for tick control.
Hi Meg, the key to enjoying the guineas I think, is to get them as babies. Adults do not normally adapt to new places as well. If you like chickens, get a few babies to raise together with the guineas and they will do great. 🙂
Just be sure not to let them free range till they have been living in the housing that you want them to come back to at night, for several months!
We love our guineas also and have had them for over 10yrs. now. We keep anywhere between 15-25 at a time to keep down the ticks and Japanese Beetles. They get along fine with our chickens and other pets (unless they have babies and then they are ultra protective!)
I liked your article and attitude towards these wonderful native African fowl! As Jenny and others mentioned the easiest way to tell males from females is the sound they make as the get older. ONLY the girls make the 2 syllable noise (buck-wheat, buck-wheat). 🙂 The males make only a one syllable sound.
Also the majority of the time only the males have long wattles hanging from the sides of their faces. Sometimes older females will get a big longer. If the 2 in the pics are your birds, chances are that they are both males.
Do NOT let your birds set on a nest outdoors unless you have NO predators around such as owls, opossum, raccoons,etc. We have lost many a guinea like that. We also do not let them roost outdoors at night for the same reason (we keep a long pole for bumping them out of the trees).
we have had any where from 10 to 40 guineas for 20+ years. we have decided the best way to raise them was to gather the chicks as soon as we see them. they are protective mothers but have a tendency to run. If it is damp or cold it is hard on the chicks and they can leave chicks scattered all over. we have had chicks hatch from june to oct. the only one i would really call tame was a single chick that was raised in the house and bonded on the kids. it followed the kids all around the house and would chase the fly swatter around after he started figuring out that he got to eat any flies that got swatted.
I grew up on a farm. We only had cows but a neighbor had guineas and peafowl. They would come into the cowshed to eat feed the cows scattered around. In the summer they would roost in the woods behind the barn. Before they settled in for the night it sounded like a jungle movie in progress. I found it quit soothing.
if you look at their backs the male and female are different the female are rounder. the male also have bigger waddles. my uncle can listen to them talk and tell hens from cocks.
When we bought our place out here in the country 3 years ago it was infested with ticks. Someone had mentioned guineas. So I currently have 4 and the ticks have virtually disappeared. I heard they’ll eat stink bugs and Japanese beetles but I can’t confirm that. I must say that my wife and I love them, they are quite entertaining and I love the fact that they put themselves to bed. The eggs are very good to eat too. If anyone reading this is considering buying any guineas, make sure you buy un-medicated chicken feed and millet. They love millet!!
We love guineas! We’ve had anywhere between 2 and 6 at any given time in the last 4 years with our chickens and have never found them to be mean to anyone. They do occasionally get into spats among themselves, but that usually results in one chasing another in quick laps around the house or coop for 2 or 3 hours. It’s really entertaining to watch, actually. I think their personalities are hilarious; much sillier than chickens. You can tell male from female by their sounds. The male has a one syllable call (chee, chee, chee) and the female has a two syllable call (buckwheat, buckwheat, buckwheat). Also, they only lay eggs seasonally, and usually go outside the coop to do it in a hidden location, so good luck trying to collect and eat them. Ours just lay one clutch a year. Every year our females will disappear for a while and come back with a brood of keets. We’ve never successfully had a chicken hatch anything, but our guineas do every year, so that’s cool. I’m glad to hear you’ve had a positive experience with them. We sure like them!
I started out with thirteen guineas that the wife brought home she found in the state farmers market bulletin. We already had a 16′ x 30′ wire pen left from a previous owner who enjoyed raising the birds but let hers always free range so the coyotes always made short work of her flock every year. We also had a larger pen with a hen house on another property next door that I built when my son was young so he could have a few layer chickens and sell the eggs to his friends at church. He outgrew this hobby and got lazy about closing the door to the pen at night and the varmint’s soon relieved him of his flock.
At the end of the first year the original thirteen started laying eggs and I started incubating them with intentions to sell the keets, well I did sell about one hundred but now have a flock of about seventy between both houses/pens and I can tell you when the flocks get this big they can be noisy. I do let them out on alternating days to keep them separate otherwise they would probably mix and get confused which pen is home, they might wind up becoming tree birds, becoming wild and food for the varmint’s.
It is not only coyotes that will make short work of your birds as Racoons, Possums, Bobcats, Hawks, Owls, and even these days Eagles also like ground birds. Owls will make very quick work of a flock at night while they are in the trees roosting, I was late home one night and before the birds were trained to re-enter the house/pen found an Owl with three dead birds on the ground before ten o’clock.
Make sure when you build your pen to at least dig a ditch about six to eight inches deep all the way around and fill with concrete if not the entire floor to keep the chickens from digging their way out and the varmints from digging their way in, the varmints WILL dig their way in as soon as you turn your back.
Yes the birds have to be trained to know which/what home is and to return to the pen at night. This usually entails keeping new birds up for about six weeks so they know where home is and then for the first couple weeks sometimes rounding them up about an hour before dark and herding them back into the pen. Once they get the idea then usually all you have to do is get the one or two that cannot find the door in and close it up.
If you ever let them start roosting in the trees they will become wild and that is the end of domestic and a dinner bell for the varmint’s.
If you have the occasional hard head that insists on roosting in the tree just leave him/her out a couple times and soon they will realize they are not going to be the boss and even though he/she may always be the last in the door he/she will not want to be left out by themselves (that is if the predators do not get em first).
When you hear the flock start raising a racket for seemingly no reason look to the sky and you may see the reason they are yakking, any large bird will get their attention and usually cause a mass exodus to the cover of the nearest tree or other cover for safety.
The females are usually smaller, have smaller helmets on the top of their heads and smaller waddles on their cheeks but this is not always true, the best way to tell the difference is the pot-rack, pot-rack, or buckwheat, buckwheat sound the hens make as the males cannot make this noise.
They are the best watchdogs (daytime) you could ever have on the property, you will always know of any predator (including snakes which they will kill if it is a small one) in the vicinity or strangers entering on foot. They tend to ignore vehicles for some reason.
If you garden or your neighbors do then Guineas can be a problem in the early spring since they are grazers they do love small sprouts and will destroy a crop before it even gets started. The best thing to do is keep them peened up for a couple weeks until the plants get up about a foot and they will leave them alone, also keep them dusted to keep the bugs off otherwise they will also try to do bug control for you and well you know the rest.
Besides their uncanny ability to eat bugs guineas can be a lot of fun, watching all their antics will keep you amused, they do produce a lot of eggs especially in the early spring tapering off as soon as the first few frost happen and they are good to eat if you like dark meat.
They can also be very clannish if the chicks are not raised by the mother. You can incubate, then when they are old enough to introduce back into the pen then expect some loss as the older adults will kill some of the new birds, I am guessing it is the younger males as this is competition for the other roosters.
To Get Started
I incubate until they are about to start hatching, then move them on the 26th day to a incubator without a egg turner so they wont get hurt in the turner as they hatch. This allows them to hatch in an open (lid on but no egg turner) incubator and have room to move around. Then as they dry (within 24 hours) move them to a box roughly 16″ x 16″ x 16″h with a rubber matt on top of news paper to keep box clean and reusable. I then put a piece of wood 2″ x 2″ across top and hang a aluminum dome work light with clamp from the wood with a 60 watt bulb and cover box with an old towel to keep heat in leaving about one inch open for fresh air. I use rubber shelf liner so they can get traction otherwise their legs will go out from under them causing a problem called leg splay and if this happens unless you can correct it which does not work well then you have to put the keet down.
Sometimes you can correct leg splay by using a piece of pipe cleaner attached loosely around the legs just above the elbow to hold them together as they would be normally but I have found this does not always work and putting the rubber matt in the bottom of the box is the best answer. The matt can be washed and reused many times so one roll of liner will last a long time. I also add fresh UNTREATED wood shavings on top of matt so they can snuggle and stay warm like being in a nest.
After about two weeks and they are strong enough to get around well I move them to a 24″ x24′ x 24″h wood box with solid sides and again a light and towel top for about two more weeks, then they are starting to grow feathers and I move them outside to a wood frame box 2′ x 3′ 2’h with 1/4 inch screen wire sides and bottom, wood top with 6″ x 6″ door suspended with wood block over newspaper and still a light for warmth until six to eight weeks.
From there they go to a 2′ x 4′ x2’h box with a door in the end and they get put in the coop with the older Guineas where after the first week I start opening the door just enough for the young to get in and out but the big Guineas cannot get in. This gives the young a safe refuge from the larger birds and eventually they integrate and for the most part get along. I still keep them their own feeder and water in the box until they learn to use the big bird feeders.
In the first box and until they are at least six weeks I use only wild bird starter and give them fresh water daily as they tend to make a mess of it learning to scratch around they fill their waterier with shavings or other material. Chicks can last up to 24 hours without food and water in the incubator but move them as soon as they are about dry and they can finish drying in the first box if it is set up properly and temperature of about 99F .
Guineas do not nest in the pen easily, even having nest boxes they will usually not set on the eggs after laying. You might be able to fix a place in a corner like a small igloo dog house and STAY OUT OF IT AND LEAVE IT ALONE and a hen may set on some eggs but you best bet if you want to increase flock is to incubate.
I use only starter for the first six weeks and then start mixing it with super scratch until they are three months and then change them over to just super scratch and letting them out with the big birds to graze.
You can purchase supplies at suppliers such as http://www.gqfmfg.com/index.php?p=home, your local feed and seed, or Co-OP. I use the 1602N thermal air Hova-Bator with egg turner and one without turner for final hatching. I actually had three with turners and one for hatching going all summer with a batch of eggs hatching every ten days or so this last summer to get those kind of numbers, the hatch rate was only about fifty percent so you go through a lot of eggs to get a quantity of chicks. At times some batches were combined in the boxes to conserve space.
I don’t know if I will do it to that magnitude again this coming summer unless I sell some more of what I already have or the varmints manage to do substantial damage to the flock.
Hope my experience helps, I had the advantage of watching my neighbor years ago raise hundreds every year and turn them loose so I was already a little wiser about what I was getting into but I do love them and if worse comes to worse I have a large source of meat and eggs if I need it.
congratulations on your new additions, my frneid ! they are all soooooo adorable, and I bet they’re all such a show to watch ! :DI admire your relationship with growing animals & eat them in the end. We are not vegetarian, but I think we have a harder & harder time eating animals. We don’t eat much meat or fish, but still do.wishing you a lovely week ahead my frneidxoxoxo
can I clip the wings of my guineas?? I have a small backyard that they and my 2 chickens free range in. the guineas fly out of the yard more as they get older
Having Guineas in a residential setting will be difficult as they are range birds and like to wander. Their ability to fly is their only real protection from predators and if you clip their wings then they would be defenseless if they do manage to get out of the fenced yard which they probably will. Even your chickens will most likely fly out of the yard from time to time so I hope your neighbors are bird friendly.
I have six guineas, three hens, and one rooster and they all co-exist peacefully in their coop (knock on wood). We live on seven secluded acres and all of them free range until sunset. My guineas seldom ever make a ruckus, so I just can’t understand the people who complain about all the noise they make. There are times throughout the day where they will all be wandering around and suddenly, with no provocation, I’ll hear what I call their “war cry” and they take off – not sure what that’s all about! I have yet to see any of these guineas show aggression. FYI: If you plan to free range your birds keep in mind they have no respect for property lines! My sister (and next door neighbor) has about eight horses and I frequently see the guineas parading through the pasture right between them.
Have had guineas for three years now and still enjoy them. Their eggs are very good but you will find they are harder to break open. Guineas have a tendency to lay an egg while on patrol, they squat, lay and continue on so the shells are harder. The only complaint was from our neighbor of them getting into her flower garden, i suspect to dust in the fresh earth. Haven’t tried to eat one yet but will one day.
I also have Guineas and love them! Once they start getting older they are much easier to sex – the girl has a two note call and the boy can’t do that – looking at your pictures I think you have one of each too.
In my experience they can be naughty and chase the odd chicken but on the whole they go off and do their own thing. Some are very tame and can be happily picked up and others are less happy. I now have two boys and eight girls and they seem to have a good balance between them – they lay the next year after they were born and although I have chicken, duck, geese and quail eggs – Guineas are my favourite – they are seasonal and sometimes you have to go and hunt them out (they aren’t like chickens when it comes to laying – they are great broodies which is in their second year and I found them to be reasonable mothers – but to my cost you need to keep them very rat free! The keets are one of the sweetest of all the babies and make the most charming noises. More people should have them – yes they can be loud but if that is because the fox is around for me that is a good thing – I am usually more worried when I can’t hear them as this means they are up to mischief somewhere. All have their own little traits and personalities – worth keeping – I would really miss mine!
Several years ago I bought full grown guineas at a swap meet and they were noisy and mean with chickens. I had to get rid of them.
This year I ordered 6 meets from a local hatchery and raised them with 25 chicks. They are fantastic. They roam the farm yard all day and at night, they return to their roosts with the chickens. No trouble at all. They are fun to watch.
I love guineas. I have nothing but great things to say about them. They eat more than 2 1/2 times their own weight a day in bugs. We have a large stream and woods behind our place and when we purchased the place there were quite a few toxic snakes – copperheads and water moccasins. But once we got the guineas they have taken care of that problem. Honestly, I don’t know how many guineas we have because they roam a bit. I only really know when winter hits and they all want in somewhere warm and safe. otherwise they roost in the trees, the barns, etc. Two of our guineas run with our ducks and home with them every night in the winter. they cause no issues at all. they run with the ducks, the chickens, and the horses. They are just as inquisitive about what we are doing around the place as the other animals. So they will watch you work and let you know if someone is walking up being you. By no means are they cuddly, but if one is hurt they are smart enough to let you pick them up and take care of them. Moms sitting on eggs can be cobra fast with trying to strike if you get to close. But I can respect that. Moms are also very protective of their babies. Interesting is that all the babies seem to have a couple female hens that take turns watching and protecting. Almost like the family is taking care of the kids. We just love our guineas and think they are a great addition to any farm. Of course, I don’t consider them a backyard bird. They don’t really make a lot of noise but if they are upset. they can definitely voice their opinion. So that might upset the unsuspecting neighbor. But honestly, their voice does not bother me a bit.
I have 4 Guineas, 3females and one male. They stay in the chicken house with my layers all day and in the late afternoon I turn them out when I get home from work. They forage and chase bugs better than my chickens and help a lot in destroying ticks in the yard. They are noisy especially when they feel threatened or when something strange is happening. They put themselves up every night but most of the time they are the last ones to go in. They don’t seem to care that it may be dark already. I have a light on in the chicken house for a while at night and they take advantage of the automatic bug attractor! By they way, the females make the two tone sounds and the males screech. I never had any of my Guineas attack anyone besides s dog who tried to chase one of the females. The male shows off sometimes, fluffing his feathers and raising his wings but he has never gotten any closer than 3ft from anyone.
I’m so glad that your experience has been a pleasant one. We too have guineas, 13 of them. They were quite loud for the first year then all of a sudden quitened down; we live in a rural area so this isn’t a big deal. This seems to be the trend we found online as far as the noise is concerned.
The eggs? Incredibly good! Probably due to their varied diet of bugs, etc. If you throw one of these at someone, be prepared for an aggravated assault charge due to the shells being as hard concrete!
We let them out of their confinement (where they get along very well with our three ducks) around noon to avoid peak predator times, dusk and dawn. They explore up to a mile away but always return at dusk and get in the coop promptly.
If I could rate the experience of having guineas on a 1-10 scale it would be an 11! Just do your research before making the plunge and you will be prepared for this pleasurable and wonderful venture.
We Love Our Guineas!
I LOVE my guineas – well except when they act stupid and one will not come into the coop at night and has to be chased in – happens once a month or so. They were raised with my chickens and hang with my chickens. I love their soft sweet little whistle and (I have to admit) I love their clattering when something does not suit them. We laugh at the funny way they run – they remind me of a parade float. They follow me around just like my chickens do and I have never noticed them being mean.
Guineas have a brain about the size of a small pea and barely have the sense to come in out of the rain. I have found out of thirty or forty birds in a pen there are always about three to four who can never find their way back in without help. When raising keets if the brooder is not warm enough they will pile up in a corner trying to stay warm and suffocate those on the bottom of the pile.
I got my first guineas about five years ago. There have been a lot of problems with raccoons getting into my “impregnable” pens so I have lost some (as well as chickens) along the way. Last summer the raccoons were the worst ever and I lost two dozen chickens and all my guineas. The coop/pens have been reinforced and metal roofing cut to about a foot put down along the outside of the fencing. So far I have had a safe summer and my chicken flock is back up to eleven. There has been a problem hatching guinea eggs this year (and I have no idea why), but I have some in the incubator now and hopefully will have keets soon. I do so miss my silly guineas. I have never had a mean one! They get along with the chickens, cats and me. They do get noisy at times, but I live away from close neighbors and they don’t bother me at all. They are such funny birds and are such a pleasure to watch that I have really been trying to replace the lost ones. I have read all the negative stuff about them, and none of it applied to any of the birds I have had. Guineas are great!!
We also have two guineas that were raised up from keets with our chicks. There were four originally, but a fox got a two along with a some hens when they were young and out free ranging. They roost and live together with our chickens with little fussing, but I will have to kindly disagree on the noise level. For the most part it is an acceptable part of “country life’, when they are away from the house. The problem becomes when they are out free ranging they like to come on the deck and stand at the sliding glass door and get to carrying on so loud I finally have to chase them off. It has really become a “game” that I am no fond of playing and all I can think is “what if there were four of them”.
My understanding from the internets is one other way to distinguish the male from female is by the noises they make or don’t make. Both will make a call that sounds like “Chi, chi, chi” but only the female will make a longer call that sounds like “buckwheat, buckwheat, buckwheat”. We appear to have one of each and for sure at least one female because we are getting a single egg on a regular basis. The eggs tend to have a pointer end than chicken eggs and ours doesn’t like to use the next boxes, so it is a nEaster egg hunt every day on the coop floor.
Hard to say with only two and the weird weather this year if they help with the ticks or not, but for now they are part of the flock!
Our experience has been closer to yours than the doom-and-gloom predictions. Ours can act a little bit like bullies, especially toward the younger birds, but, as you said, when they free range, they pretty much leave the chickens alone. We have chickens, turkeys, ducks and guineas, all living together, pretty happily. (Last year, when our guineas were new and we had them more confined to imprint “home” on them, we collected 3 eggs and gave them to a broody chicken. She raised them up beautifully, and they integrated themselves in with the other guineas when they got bigger! It was amazing to watch!)
Thanks for a great article about guineas! I am vacillating back and forth about having a couple of guineas in my flock, and you have been the tipping point I think! :+)