Share the Plate
Millie, a French Guinea hen, invited herself into our flock, to a share of the feed and found a special place in our hearts for her. As you give thanks for your good fortune and the abundance in your life, Millie asks that you invite someone new into your flock and share your bountiful harvest with them. You just might find they touch your hearts, too.
Baby guineas are called keets.
Guinea hens generally lay from April/May through August., laying three to five dozen eggs per season. They do not go broody, however, until later in the season.
Eggs can be stored or lie dormant for seven days prior to incubation beginning. Guineas will make their nests in well covered and protected ground locations. Hens incubate the eggs for abour 28 days.
Keets are up and moving around within 24 hours. As guineas are excellent foragers, young keets cover a lot of territory keeping up with their parents. They are susceptible to dampness and need to be well protected by their parents or in safe, dry cages if being raised by people.
Gilroy, a Pearled Guinea cokc keeps a eye out for danger as he helps care for the young keets
Guineas mate for life. The males, called Guinea cocks, are very loyal to their hens.
Guinea cocks are very devoted fathers, too. They help raise the keets, keeping the hens and keets together as a family unit.
Guinea coks have a reputation of being pugnacious. As we've only had one cock, we did not encountered this combative, competitive nature amoung males.
Gilroy, a Pearled Guinea cock remains on his roost
Some Days are Like That!
One morning when I went out to the chicken yard to "let the kids out", Gilroy, our Guinea cok, would not get down off the roost and come to breakfast.
At first I feared he was sick or injured. I nudged him to see what was going on with him. But, as soon as he neared the ground, the guinea hens came him and shooed him back up on the roost.
Don't know what he did during the night, but the girls sure didn't like it! I was a couple of hours before he made his way off the roost and out of the chicken yard.
Hope tomorrow's a better day for you, Gilroy!
Guissie a Pied Guinea hen and Gilda, a White Guinea enjoying a sunny day.
A lone pied guinea feather landed gently in the grasses.
Guinea fowl are very curious creatures! The wild-guinea fowl of West Africa is regarded as the original of the domestic stock. There are two common varieties, the Pearl and the White with a dozen or more breeds developed within the common varieties. Among the breeds, there are two major kinds of guinea fowl - helmeted and non-helmeted.
My Chicken Diaries' guineas are of the helmeted kind because of the little pointed cartilage apendages or helmets on top their heads.
Some of the advantages of adding guineas to your chicken flock are:
Great snakers - catch and kill them
Great guard birds - make noise to warn you and/or scare intruders
Eat ticks that carry Lyme disease
Eat bugs on plants and ornamental shrubs but don't claw and dig
Great at keeping gardens bug free without destroying the garden
Very hardy, independent and require little maintenance
And, they are just funny looking and very entertaining
Guineas can't be sexed as chicks. If you ordered some from a hatchery or hatch them on your farm, you'll just had to wait until our keets grow to find out whether we have males or females.
Once the adults bond, they are they form a steadfast bond for life. If you buy or adopt adult guineas, adopting two who have already paired is best.
What's that thing on top of their heads?
Guineas are very interesting birds. Their bodies are shaped like a disc - big and round, but not very wide. While their body shape makes them appear larger than they are, guineas rarely weigh more 3.5 pounds.
Their feet are very agile and they can run very quickly to catch a bug many feet away from them. They can easily fly over fences and roost high in trees.
Some guineas breeds are helmeted. They have horn like appendage on top of their heads. Other breeds can be crested or without helmets.
Gussie, a Pied Guinea hen teaches her young keet, Sister, to fly high for safety.
Here a Guinea, There a Guinea
Guineas are excellent and resourceful foragers. The can cover several acres a day.
Our guineas are a combination of two rasps - ours and our neighbors. While they started out living on two separate farms, once they met one another the decided amongst themselves to form a combined rasp.
Having two farms - about 6 acres in total, to forage and explore, they are very busy and active throughout the day. They usually nest on our farm and often sleep on the neighbor's farm.
Guineas are very loud "watch dogs". Day or night, they let out volleys of screeches when they perceive a predator. After we were struck my Hurricane Ike, they remained on an ultra-alert status for many weeks after the storm's torrential damages. Must have been a guinea version of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Due to their "watch dog" noisy laters, we personally, we would not recommend guineas for small spaces or densely populated areas. The do, however, co-habitate with other poultry quite well, given they have space to roam.
Gilda, a White Guinea hen and Millie, a Pied Guinea hen, eagerly run toward a papaya peel thrown in the yard
Gardening with Guineas
Guineas are excellent gardeners.
They race after the bugs, clean bugs off plants in a vegetable or flower garden, but do not dig in the soil or destroy your plants the way chickens will.
The screeching sound they make, especially the hens. can be heard for some distance, making guineas probably not a good addition to urban gardens.
How many eggs in a nest?
Instead of guessing how many beans are in a jar, can you guess how many eggs are in this guinea nest?
Guineas prefer well-hidden, secluded locations for laying their eggs. So, by the time we find their nest there are usually a lot of teardrop shaped eggs in it. Eggs vary in color by hen making for a colorful cream colored assortment.
How many eggs were in the nest by the time we found them? Count the eggs in the picture. We found 46 eggs laid in this nest collectively by four different guinea hens.
In a laying season - April/May - August, each hen will lay as many as five dozen eggs.
Getting to Know Guineas
Have some fun while you learn more about guineas with the Getting to Know Guineas word search.
click on the puzzle for a larger, printable image.
Stuck a Feather in her Hat...
Visitors on our farm tours love to find feathers. As Grace shows ' above, there are a variety of feathers to find.
While birds loose feathers all year round, guineas generally molt at the end of their laying season or late August and early September. Molting, or the annual shedding of feathers and regenerating new ones, is a natural process. It also makes fall tours a great time for feather hunting and adorning, as sweet Norah sports.
Guinea feathers with their distinct blackand white dotted patern are also very popular with jewelry makers.
Norah with a Guinea feather in her cap
Guineas are interesting birds. Like any animal, they need care and an understanding of how they live.
Here are a few internet resources we found helpful in learning more about guneas. Hope you find them helpful, too.
Guinea Hen Call (video)
by appointment daily 9-noon & 2-5pm
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Manvel, TX 77578
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