At last, the day arrived to move the Guinea keets from their brooder box on the back porch to their permanent home. They had just turned two weeks old and had started running sprint races around their box. It was time to give them a little more room.
|I moved them in their familiar box, opening one end into larger territory.|
Those of you who have Guinea fowl are familiar with their permanent, seemingly indelible homing instinct; in order for them to stay put, they must establish where home is. This is one of the things stressed in every Guinea how-to I've read. Because of that we carefully considered where we wanted to put our Guinea fowl.
|Ft. William, the buck barn Dan made. After losing all those baby chicks, he|
covered the windows with hardware cloth and made a tight fitting screen door.
We started them right off in their permanent home, the buck barn. It's farther away from the house than the chicken coop, which is a concern. However, this is the area where we've had trouble with ticks, so this is where they need to be.
|The keets have one corner to start, enclosed in a cardboard wall.|
The bucks are in the front pasture for the summer, while we grow our field corn in the buck pasture this year. I'm not sure how well the guineas will like it when the goats move back in.
|These are a very cautious species. They didn't venture out of their corner until|
nightfall, when they came out for water, food, & the warmth of the heat lamp.
I enclosed a corner for them with cardboard, which I can expand as they grow until eventually they can have the entire "barn" and beyond.
I started with 17 keets but lost 6. I found a few of them, just, dead. They looked as though they'd been trampled, which seems to be a problem because the keets tend to pile up. They bunch up and even run as a unit when they're uncertain about something. I also had a few with persistent pasty butt. Some say this is stress related, which makes sense considering what they've been through. What I experienced was that it only happened to the very littlest keets. No matter how diligent I was to keep them clean, none of these made it.
That leaves us with 11, all of which seem to be healthy. I have to say that they are fascinating birds, different from chicks. They run like the dickens if I reach in to add food or a clean water bottle. But I've learned that if I announce myself by softly calling, "Guineaguineaguinas," they don't panic when they first see me.
I'm not planning to "tame" them; they have an important job to do. What I do plan to do, is begin millet training. Guineas apparently love white millet (the kind fed to parakeets), and it can be used as a reward for desired behavior. I'm just going to get started on that and will let you know how it turns out. For those interested, here are a couple of links about that:
Moving Day For Guinea Keets © August 2013