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Questions about Raising Guinea Fowl Options
John Stiles
#1 Posted : Friday, January 18, 2008 5:45:28 PM
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Upstate NY ain't quite Canada but I wondered the same thing about these birds. Thought they might forage for themselves, never be out of season and would hang around with just a bit of corn placed out for them.

 Then I thought about birds drawing in coyote or wild dogs, rabid fox etc. Haven't done it yet. Any ideas?

Frosty
#2 Posted : Saturday, January 19, 2008 2:18:45 AM
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I live in North Dakota, so I think I may be qualified to give you my experience...  My first year with guineas, when the temps dropped I found a few of them frozen.  I locked the rest in with the chickens and they did ok.  My hen house is insulated, but not heated and the pen is covered so I leave the little door open and they can come and go as they please year round.  As long as they have protection from the winds, they'll survive temps as low as -30F.  Unfortunately, they won't go into a shelter by themselves, so you will have to lock them up to keep them from roosting in the trees and either freezing or feeding a hungry owl. 

We have coyotes and fox around here, but no more or less than there were before I got poultry possibly due to the fact that I have dogs. 

If you have somewhere to protect them in the winter, I say go for it, and have fun!

 

SueNH
#3 Posted : Sunday, January 20, 2008 9:05:19 PM
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I'm in the mountains of New Hampshire and I have GF. They take the cold just fine as long as they have a coop where they can get out of the wind and wet. I open the doors during the day all year round and lock them back up at night. They don't go very far in the snow. Mostly they fly from out building to outbuilding and then hang out in the horses big run in. They also head in earlier when it's cold.
The babies don't do cold and wet. In the spring you need to keep the hens where the chicks won't get wet from the morning dew or they get chilled and die. Other than that no worse than keeping a chicken. Just a bunch noisier.
Klorinth
#4 Posted : Monday, January 21, 2008 2:18:24 AM
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This is great! Thanks for the good words Frosty and SueNH. You have said exactly what I was thinking would be the reality. They are basically the same as keeping chickens with large combs. I was already making plans for an insulated passive solar coop for chickens.

How do you find the rounding up? I mean, how do you catch them or herd them into the coop? I have hunted them in the wild with throwing sticks and bare hands. I carried the cuts and scrapes for a month without actually catching one. I came close enough to touch one, but that was it. That was one hell of an experience!

How much do they seem to lay? and how often can you get them to actually lay in the laying boxes? Aren't they prone to laying where they like?
Frosty
#5 Posted : Monday, January 21, 2008 3:27:03 AM
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I have a chicken tractor, and throughout the summer I would put a little grain in a pan beside it.  They were used to going there to get the grain.  In the fall, the chickens would all be back in the coop and I gradually moved the grain into the pen.  Once they were eating in there, I would approach from the door side and close it quick.  They do sleep somewhat at night, if they were roosting low enough I had limited success sneaking up and grabbing them.  SueNH apparently didn't have problems getting hers to go into the coop on their own, my birds were less cooperative.  The one problem that I did have with them is the fact that they loved to pull up little onion plants.  We grow for a local farm market, DH put out onion plants and next thing we knew there were a bunch of GF running around with little onions hanging from their beaks.  Looked really funny, but DH wasn't amused.  They were pretty good layers, but the eggs are darn near unbreakable.  Mine laid where ever they wanted... on the floor in the coop and in the weeds when they were free range.  The mothers stayed with the nest until they hatched, then ran around as usual.  A bunch of the babies had a hard time keeping up, when I was out catching them to put them in a brooder mom was flying at my head.  Just a warning, she never actually hit me... They are more like keeping chickens with small combs.  Around here, chickens with large combs freeze the ends off, never had that happen with the GF.  If you use solar heat, just make sure you don't have huge temperature fluctuations between day and night.  They put a huge dent in the tick population!  But then again, so do chickens.  I bought a bunch of eggs from an online auction (eggbid.com) and had pretty good success hatching them in my incubator.  I need to hatch out more eggs, I am having withdrawal!  Best of luck to you, they are a lot of fun!

Shirley in ND

Miss Martha
#6 Posted : Saturday, February 09, 2008 6:11:05 PM
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I've had my guineas, what's left, for 3 years.  I started with 6 and have 2 left.  I live up the mountain from Rt 97.  That would be the NY-PA Deleware River, zone 4 gardening way.  Can they survive?  Oh, definetely.  Only when there is more than 3" of snow do I feed them.  The rest of the time they are on they're own.  I feed wild game bird crumble, a little grit, and cracked corn to keep them warm.  My original idea was for the wild birds to you know, hang around here.  I did not handle them, they should be on their own, like decoration.  Thats not how it worked, I LOVE THEM!  They are so ugly that they are cute!  I can't leave doors or windows open because they come in my house.  They sleep with the cats, have been seen perched on my dog and follow me everywhere I walk. 

   As to why I only have two left.  One coyote, one bobcat and two eagles.  Hawks and eagles, also harriers apparently eat their brains....ewwww. Then you have a carcus, but still worth it.  We spend summer evenings around the campfire just watching them.  I hope to get more, they are really awesome.  If you handle them, they can be trained.  Don't expect them to be wild if you don't though.  If you come across spares, email me I will take them.

 

Guinea loving in New York, Miss Martha.


Sometimes I'm right.  Sometimes I'm wrong.  But in the end, I'm always right.  :)

TACO!!!

Mare Owner
#7 Posted : Sunday, February 10, 2008 7:57:27 AM
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We're in central Minnesota, and our guineas do fine here in winter.  We have horses and cattle also, with lean-to's and a few barns, so the guineas find their own roosting spot when things turn cold.  They forage after the horses for grain, we don't feed them anything, enough spills from the bins they have plenty to eat.

We've had way too many the last two years, they hatched out a couple batches of chicks on their own and most survived.  We catch the young ones just after they start roosting (catch them at night) and they aren't "wise" to us yet.  The older adults we can't catch at all.  We give the youngsters away or sell them so we aren't overrun with them.

Klorinth
#8 Posted : Sunday, February 17, 2008 7:57:52 PM
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Thanks everyone! This is perfect. Exactly what I was hoping to hear.

I will deffinitely be getting some GF now. There are many things that I must do before I can get to that point. ie Build everything! But you have sealed the idea in my mind.

Miss Martha,
I was also thinking that the wild game feed would be the thing to use during the winter. I was thinking that the GF would most likely have the same needs as the grouse that we have in the fields here. They are similar in most ways to what I saw of GF in the wild. They even have very similar behaviour patterns, reproductive needs, and survival techniques. From what I have seen that is. It's good to hear that you have been happy with yours and how they have done.

The idea of minimal interference in their lives appeals to me. The chickens/turkeys will remain in a more contolled environment, but I want the GF to roam and range. I breed hunting dogs and so need something that can take care of itself. The dogs are kept in their own fenced areas (+1 acre) and the GF would have the rest of the yard to range (+3acres). I guess they could also use the fields as well if they wanted (+32 acres). lol I can just picture myself trying to stop them! LOL
amelia
#9 Posted : Sunday, March 30, 2008 5:56:01 PM
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Just a note - you have to look at your property.  If you don't have somewhere easily accessible for them to roost, they'll leave.  They seem to care more about where the trees are than where the food is.   I've had a lot of friends and neighbors who've meticulously raised tiny gf babies just to have them decide to relocate to neighbors with more trees -- and noisy guineas are just not a gift everyone appreciates. 
We raised our GF babies with our turkey babies and that worked great - the GFs were a little too tough on our chicks (chicken chicks I mean), even though they're smaller they were definitely more aggressive and smarter - and our chicks were too tough on our sweet turkey babies - but the turkey babies and gf babies were a good combination.  The turkeys seemed to make up for their sweetness in size I guess, if that makes sense.  Anyway, all summer the GF pretty much lived with the turkeys in the field, mostly in tractors - they were all let out often and went back in in the afternoon (or when fed) - basically they followed whatever the turkeys did.  But, come fall we had no more turkeys so we had to round them up and put them in with our chickens - coop and enclosed run - and they did fine but were not very happy about it.  On the few nice winter days, here in northern MN that we tried to let everyone out to roam for the day, we had a heck of a time getting the guineas back in (they utilize their power of flight a LOT more than chickens do and are pretty impossible to catch) - and any bird that we didn't get back in at nightfall we never saw again. 
I love having them, they're so funny and have so much more personality than other poultry - but the downside of that is that you care more about the fact that they die off (or get lost, whatever) a lot faster too. 

That's our experience - I think most of this depends upon where you live, how many safe spots there are, and if your particular guineas feel like sticking around or looking for something better. 
Oh, and think about your neighbors - gf are sooooo loud.  We have one neighbor about 1/4 mile away that HATES ours and makes sure that everyone knows it.   I ease my guilt by bringing he and his wife baskets of veggies in the summer and otherwise don't care much - we truly live in the middle of nowhere, in a farming community and he's moving soon.  This is really not somewhere you should choose to live if you don't want to hear animals (hates our roosters crowing too, so what do you do?).   But, if you have any nearby neighbors that you like and who have a reasonable expectation of quiet - and who might mind if a flock of buzzards suddenly surrounds their bird feeders (they seem to look like buzzards to anyone who doesn't know what GF are) - you might want to give them a heads up.
Klorinth
#10 Posted : Sunday, March 30, 2008 5:56:01 PM
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Hello everyone!

I have been thinking about Guinea fowl. I would love to be able to raise GF on my new property. I have loved them for years since I first met them in west Africa.  They are hilarious!

My concerns are mainly do to the fact that I live in the Great White North, ie... Canada. GF are not from the land of ice and cold winds. Can they possibly be raised here? Any ideas???

I would love to here your thoughts on these great little birds.
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