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.