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Guinea Hens in the garden

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Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Jay Bird on 5/6/2010, 9:42 am

As some of you may already know I am a Chicken and Guinea advocate, they help to maintian the Organic bug free garden, or so I am told.
Well I started the guineas last year and had a devil of a time with them. I raised them with the chickens and later tried to move them to their own coop. Well they didnt like that idea and began to roost in the trees. One by one I lost them (Owls) went from 5 to one in 30 days. So my LW bought 12 more chicks from a local guinea farm and we tried again. This time I raised them in their own coop and had good success with getting them back in every night but we had to coax them in they didnt just roost on their own. If left to roost on their own they would go in with the chickens. I gave up and decided we would integrate and let them coohabitate.
Coyotes got 4 of the new hens and they last of the original bunch, I was down to 8 birds.
The girls started laying eggs a little over a month ago and we collected them and set them under a couple Banty hens to hatch.
They only laid 14 eggs at least where I could find them. Slowly the numbers began decreasing again one day we would have 8 then the next maybe 5 or 7. As the days went on I noticed different birds from day to day would be gone. I surmised that since we collected their eggs they got mad and started laying in the brush.

Well night before last while my dad was bush hogging his place next door he found them. At least some of them, two hens were sitting 50 eggs under some brush. I have read that guinea hens are not good mommas after the chicks hatch and that you will lose 50% of the chicks so again I collected the 50 eggs and set up 6 banty hens to brood them.

I am still missing 2 to 4 hens daily I think there is another nest somwhere with at least 50 or more eggs, If I cant find it, it will fun to watch for a guinea hen one morning in the next few weeks come strolling in with chicks in tow.

I made the statement that if they all hatch we will have lots of guineas to sell , and my wife replied on no we can keep them, she dosent grasp yet what 50 plus guineas would sound like running around all day. I think I will get my way!

Why keep Guinea hens? In the old days gramma and grandpa kept Guineas to control bugs and snakes and yes it really does work, also Guineas dont scratch around in the dirt or eat fresh veggies off the vine so the garden is safe and subject to be bug free. They are just a little noisy!

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Jay Bird on 5/6/2010, 9:44 am

I almost forgot 13 hatched yesterday from the first set of eggs! Yahooooo!

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Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Bec on 5/6/2010, 9:50 am

What a great story! Keep us informed of what is happening. Would love to have chickens (or maybe guinea hens) some day myself.

Bec

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/6/2010, 11:12 am

I had guineas at my last place, and they share nests so it is possible for a couple of hens to hatch out 30+ keets. You are right about them not being good mothers. What I did was grab all the keets when they brought them in to the coop and raise them in a brooder, which can be done very easily. I used a large appliance box with two gooseneck lamps each with a 100 watt bulb. Turkey starter feed is preferred for the first 3 months due to it's high protein. Yes, you can spend the extra $$ for the red brooder lamps, but they are not necessary with keets as they don't tend to peck at each other (unlike chicks). At one point I ended up with 47 guineas -- the teenagers are the worse noise-wise. But even so since they liked to hang out on my back porch, the noise was deafening. But they are so much fun to watch.

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  miinva on 5/6/2010, 1:27 pm

We tried a dozen and lost them all, one here, two there, until they were all gone Sad We don't have chickens, though, so I'm going to wait until we get our chickens (which will hopefully happen this year!) before I try again. I have to say that I was really amazed at how truly stupid the guineas we had were. I'm not going to get them from the same person in the hopes that they aren't all that dumb! Smile

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/6/2010, 2:03 pm

@miinva wrote:We tried a dozen and lost them all, one here, two there, until they were all gone Sad We don't have chickens, though, so I'm going to wait until we get our chickens (which will hopefully happen this year!) before I try again. I have to say that I was really amazed at how truly stupid the guineas we had were. I'm not going to get them from the same person in the hopes that they aren't all that dumb! Smile

I had a good laugh at your last statement -- how true! Then someone pointed out the size of their head -- not much room for brains there.

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Jay Bird on 5/6/2010, 8:27 pm

Well, as I was working on a fence around the muscedine's I noticed a guinea in the weeds just sitting there, so I checked it out.........Found 44 more eggs! Wont run short of guineas this year thats for sure.
We gathered up the eggs and distributed amongst the banty hens alread brooding and didnt have enough hen estate to get all the eggs placed. We did have one full size hen that has been acting broody so I decided to try and get her setting, SO far so good she was large enought o handle 18 guinea eggs. So all eggs are under a hen.
Well just a few minutes ago I checked the second nest and darned if there isnt another egg there! I am gonna let nature takes its course for the rest, we dont have any more available hen estate ( hen belly's) to place any more eggs.

We paid $4 bucks apiece for week old keets so if all 94 + the 14 we already have make it to a week old they will net $432 bucks ,, not bad for a bunch of birds bought to control bugs and weeds!

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  miinva on 5/6/2010, 9:46 pm

I wish you lived closer to me! Smile

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Jay Bird on 5/14/2010, 7:57 am

Update on the guineas,, Sold 24 eggs to a local guy to hatch out,, found another 38 eggs on nests,, found one hen with two hatched keets.
We caught the keets and put them in the pen with the other babies but they are escape artisits and got back out, caught them again the next day and plugged all possible escape routes but they still got out. We spent the week hunting for babies, the hen stopped bringing them out of the woods.
Finally last night we were able to catch the keets, we watched them this time and witnessed them squeezing thru the chicken wire holes it was amazing. So they are now in a cat carrier until they forget about their momma. Some of you may think that is cruel but the chances of them surviving in the wild with the hen are slim I am really suprised they lasted this long.

Keet predators= my wifes 12 cats, 4 dogs, 40 acres of snakes, coyotes, owls, hawks, and foxes to mention a few.

So total live keets now = 15 totalhatched,,,, eggs under hens somewhere around 110 I lost count, best guess on hatching schedule anywhere between now and 21 more days.

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  LaFee on 5/14/2010, 8:24 am

don't forget that guineas are pretty highly prized for the table, too - here in Europe, they're half again the price of chicken for a bird the same size.

They've got a little more flavor, and a lot less fat than a chicken, so do be careful to bard them before roasting (lay a couple pieces of fatty bacon across the breast) -- it helps keep the meat from getting dried out.

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Book

Post  WardinWake on 5/14/2010, 8:37 am

Howdy:

There is a book out called "Gardening With Guineas". The author has a web site with forum and CHAT. When I was puttering around with the idea of raising guineas to help combat ticks I visited the site a number of times and joined the CHAT. Very informative.

God Bless, Ward.

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

Post  Jay Bird on 5/14/2010, 10:46 am

Thanks Ward, But I joined it yesterday been looking at ithe forum for awhile now and since this forum is so interesting I decided to join the Guinea one.

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Re: Guinea Hens in the garden

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