Preparing for, raising, & releasing guinea fowl

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See Also: What to feed French Guinea fowl

Be sure to have the following ready before your keets arrive:

Housing – a cardboard box or metal or plastic tub.  A 16×28 egg box works well for 15 keets.  A larger box will be needed as they grow.

Bedding – clean pine shavings (NOT sawdust), textured shelf liner, hay or straw chopped fine, or artificial turf.  Do not use newspaper unless you cover it with paper towel.  A smooth surface like newspaper can cause spraddled legs.

Heat Lamp – heating bulb to clip onto box or hang over box – careful not to put it to close to anything combustible! You don’t want to start anything on fire.

Thermometer – placed on floor of box to monitor temperature

Watering device – Mason jar waterer with metal or plastic base

Feeder – large flat tray in which they can run through to easily find and peck at the feed

Feed – turkey starter, wild game bird starter, or chick starter with high protein content (see more here: What to feed French Guinea fowl)

Electrolytes  – Sav-A-Chick Electrolyte supplements are available at Tractor Supplies or available online here.

When your adorable new keets arrive:

Have your box prepared with bedding and heat.  Guinea keets need to be kept very warm night and day.  The temperature in their box should be at 90-95 degrees the first week.  The temperature can be dropped about 5 degrees per week until they are 4 weeks old or totally feathered.

saveachick electrolyteImmediately upon arrival give the keets lukewarm water with the electrolytes dissolved in the water. This helps the keets stay hydrated. Follow the instructions on the packet so you don’t overdose. Sugar can be added to the water for quick energy.  In about 30 minutes, after they’ve had water, offer feed.

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Provide clean bedding as needed to keep the floor of the box dry.

Prevent keets from following the mother, or any poultry assuming the mother role, through wet grass as keets are susceptible to wetness which will prevent proper fecal deposits. This can lead to problems!

As keets grow they learn to run fast and jump very high. It’s a good idea to have some sort of screen to put over your box so they can’t get out.

How to release keets to free range:

When your keets are approximately 4 weeks old, pen them in a cage outside.  Guineas can fly, so be sure to have a high enough fence or a ceiling to cover the pen.  Guineas are susceptible to predators, so be sure your pen is secure.

When they are about 2 months old, release 2-3 guineas from the pen.  They will stay close to the other guineas still in the pen.  If possible, pen up the released birds at night to keep them safe.  Continue to release more and more of the birds until all are released.  To lure them back into the pen at night, offer them food only in the evening in the pen.

Guineas are territorial so they will remain in close proximity to the area  in which they were raised.  They tend to range well over about 5 acres and prefer open rather than wooded areas.

Taking care of adult Guineas:

Housing – Adult Guineas can be left to roam or roost in trees but need a covered roof to stay under during inclement weather. They can survive the winter if they have a shelter. Guineas are social animals and need the company of other guineas or even other poultry. These popular birds are intelligent and monogamous so they will mourn and be distraught when their mate is killed. This is something to consider if you are harvesting Guineas for meat.

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If you prefer to pen Guineas, you should allow 30 square feet per dozen birds (about 2.5 square feet per bird). They will roost on the highest things they can find. No use for roosts lower than 4′ if there are higher roosts available. Don’t clip their wings unless you have them in captivity or they won’t be able to fly away from predators.

Feed – Free ranging adults will consume insects and seeds.  If you want them to control the insect and tick population, do not feed them too heavily in the summer months.  During the winter months, you will need to supplement their diet with a layer feed.  Be sure they always have a water supply.

Be careful with their legs! Guineas, both as adults and as keets, are susceptible to leg injuries due to their thin shanks. Do not catch, handle, or transport them by their legs.

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