July 21, 2013


Guinea fowl keets are the newest additions to the homestead.

17 straight-run Pearl Grey guinea keets

They arrived last Friday. We decided to get them after having so many problems with ticks last year. They are supposed to be superior insect eaters. They are smaller than standard breed chicken chicks, because guineas lay smaller eggs (2 guinea eggs = 1 chicken egg).  In fact, I worried that the chick feeder would be too big.

We ordered 15 from Cackle Hatchery. They sent us 2 extra. 

That worry turned out to be unfounded. Where there's a will there's a way and all that. They are quicker than chicks and dart around their brooder box like little speed racers.

This is a new species for us, so most of what I know is what I've read.

I can tell you that they are super cute. They are also hilarious when they crash. Baby chicks just squat down and nod off. Keets lay out flat with their legs sticking straight out. Shocking at first ("are they still alive?").

"You lookin' at me?"

I read they grow more quickly than chicken chicks and so need a higher protein starter feed. I got one for turkeys and quail. Our neighbor claims guinea fowl will even eat fire ants, but I'll have to see that one to believe it. :)

Next Guinea post - Moving Day For Guinea Keets

Keets! © July 2013 by Leigh at 


Unknown said...

We got guineas for our tick problem too. They are 7 months old now and we're in winter, so I'm waiting for tick season to see if they do the job. In the meantime they do make plenty of noise and keep the dog occupied (she likes to watch them).

Tombstone Livestock said...

They are also supposed to be good at keeping the snake population under control and they are great watchdog types sending out their alarms, very noisy, alarms. Did I mention they are noisy ..... LOL

The Squirrel Family said...

Oh they are so cute look like little quail hatchlings. We don't suffer much from ticks much in the UK but guinea fowl are on my list for another year, must learn to walk before we run :)

Farmer Barb said...

The Nature Center has them. This is the reason that I will not have them or geese here. It is not that they don't do their job...they are like a pack of nervous old ladies at a picnic. They are always on the move, checking that everything is right. For us, it is the noise and the range. They REALLY like a big range. They know where home is, but we are constantly getting calls from the neighbors to the farm. My book Gardening With Guineas talks about teaching them to come to the shake of white millet in a coffee can. Like clicker training a dog. It would appear to be their special favorite. Ours just seem to come back when my mentor goes after them. Mom, I guess. Good luck!

Farmer Barb said...

By the way, it is not MY BOOK. I forgot the comma. It is a book I bought! ;)

Jocelyn said...

Guineas are great at what they do--we've had dog attacks and the ones to defend the hens were the roosters and the guinea hen. But she is very noisy, and once she gets started, she doesn't stop.

I would caution you about taking care to be sure they know where their home is. They don't "get it" like chickens do. They're still a fairly wild species, so it's not really ingrained in them to go home every night. We did not properly introduce our keets to "home" and lost many of them because they just didn't get it. Definitely spend the time.

Razzberry Corner said...

Hi Leigh,
Oh, the keets are so cute! Ive had guineas & keets for many years and love them. I never had a problem with them returning home. We raise them with the chickens and they always return to the large tree above the chicken area to roost. They like to roost in trees and refuse to roost in a coop, although I've read that other people have managed to get their guineas to roost in a coop. The guineas range far and wide, but travel quickly, covering a huge area and returning to the chicken coop area every few hours to check in. In the evenings they all meetup for a quick guinea head count before flying into their roosting tree. Ours are adults, so they separate into mated pairs/threes and go off to their nests in the woods every day. In the autumn/winter they travel around as an entire flock.

Our guineas don't like anything different going on in the yard. With time they have learned to accept the outside cats, our vehicles (but not strange vehicles), deer, vulture, woodchucks, and other non-predators. When we got new windows put in the house they screamed at the new windows when they sat up against the house before installation, as the windows didn't belong. If I set an egg basket of chicken eggs on the ground, they circle it and scream at it, as it doesn't belong. They keep track of everything and let me know when something isn't to their liking.

Yes, I remember how they like to lay flat as keets. They will keep you laughing for many years, for sure. My guineas are much more entertaining than my chickens. Enjoy!


badgerpendous said...

They sure sound like a handful! (a very cute handful!) But you always do exhaustive research so I can't wait to see how they integrate and become part of your 5 acres.

Anonymous said...

So cute, looking forward to hearing all about your adventures with these little ones.

Michelle said...

I am so jealous!!! Despite all the negative press I still want guineas. LOL! My husband refuses to even entertain the possibility. Maybe someday...

Sandy Livesay said...


Please keep us updated on your live buck/tick eaters. I would like to hear if this helps with tick issues.

They are adorable.

Renee Nefe said...

Darly really enjoyed the pictures of your keets. We're excited to hear about your new adventures. :D

Just keep the rats out.

Hannah said...

They are so adorable, like baby quail. I hope they are not as hyper. Chicks I raise are not very friendly because I don't play with them much but my grandkids' chicks are super tame because of being chased and handled so much. I hope they work out well for you.

DFW said...

Was discussing guinea fowl with husband the other day. My grandmothers were also guard birds. They would squawk & flap their wings anytime someone new would come in the yard. I don't think she had more than 8 or 10 at a time though.

Can't wait to hear how they do with the insects!

Unknown said...

I would really like to get some to put out with the goats. I have 33 acres, but am thinking I'd only want four or five. Let us know how things work out.

Leigh said...

Liz, I've heard they're noisy! Hopefully yours like your dog as much as she likes them. :)

TL, ooo, that would be good too. I've heard peafowl are good for that too. And that both are noisy. :)

Squirrel Family, they do look like quail, don't they? Moreso than chickens!

Barb, I don't have that book but one of the two links is by the same author. Actually I never wanted guineas either, for the reasons you mention, until we lost one of our dogs to Lymes disease. That was the deciding factor. The millet sounds like a good tip.

Jocelyn, I have to say that our chickens are outrageously noisy and carry one at the littlest thing, so I don't reckon this will be any worse. :) I read that they need a minimum of 6 weeks to develop a sense of home.

Lynn, so good to hear from you! I've always enjoyed your guinea posts. We've chosen the buck barn to be their home, which is on the edge of the woods (and farthest away from neighbors), so hopefully they'll like it there.

Badgerpendous, I'm sure they will be a handful, but they are welcome! :)

Martha, I'm sure they'll be plenty, LOL.

Michelle, we wouldn't have gotten them if it hadn't been for the ticks. They've gotten terrible and we want to get rid of them!

Sandy, I definitely will. They are the cutest things, aren't they?

Renee, that's a big affirmative on the rats!

Hannah, so far they're pretty hyper. I read they can be tamed, but I'm not much for taming our animals, except for as how they need to be handled. I'm hoping they work well too.

DFW, my mother used to tell of her aunt's guard goose. Scared her to death as a little girl. That's why I don't want geese, but I'm happy to have the guineas. :)

Karen. I got 15 because it was the minimum order. Occasionally adults are for sale around here, but adults are already programmed to somewhere else being home, so I didn't want to risk them leaving. I do plan to keep mine with some of our goats. I'll keep you all posted on our progress.

Practical Parsimony said...

Oh, how cute! Are they noisy as adults? I have heard so, but living in the city with close neighbors would not work.

Cassandra said...

Oh, they are adorable! I don't have any personal experience with them, but my mom kept quite a few. They're super insect eaters.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I always adore babies of any specie, and these little guys are no different . . . so stinkin' cute! It looks like 5 Acres & A Dream is in for some fun times ahead.

Susan said...

Oh, gosh. Your neighbors will be so happy you have Guinea fowl... :-) They are very good at insect control. Problem was, mine never left the back yard. That was NOT where I had a tick problem!

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

LOL. Guinea fowls are native where I grew up in Africa. The chicks are very cute and funny. Adults make a very unique sound, kinda like the wheel of a wheelbarrrow that needs to be oiled! Enjoy them, they are interesting.

Ron said...

Aww, I want some!

Theresa said...

I am oh so curious to know how these guys do free-range. I am not fond of fowl but would love a semi-wild species that can handle life on its own with a little help and guidance. I also worry about them running loose in a national monument. obviously not a native, but then again, neither are the turkeys.....

Tania said...

Aren't they just the cutest little chicks? Hope they go well for you :)


Katie Z. said...

We love our guineas. They can be noisy, and we worried about their range, but it has all been a wonderful experience this year. The neighbor waits for them to come by every day, and everyone appreciates the "mysterious" lack of ticks we've experienced since the guineas have been out and about. (We had a serious problem; my daughter was a tick magnet!)

Brooklynsheep said...

So...sorry to ask a heartless practical question, but are you planning to keep them just as "staff" to control the ticks or will they eventually be dinner?

Leigh said...

Well, I certainly got behind on these comments!

Linda, I'll have to let you know about how noisy they are as adults after they grow up. I hear they are, but so far they sound like babies. :)

Cassandra, and we have plenty of insects!

Janice, they are so fascinating. Different from chickens.

Susan, I've thought about you! Our neighbor has a huge field (which they keep mowed) next to where our guineas are. I'm wondering if I'll see them over there very often. :)

MTS&M, they're a hoot right now. I love how they function and move as a mob, lol

OJD, I'm guessing they'll be on your "to get" list sometime in the future!

Theresa, it's hard not to be concerned for their welfare, isn't it. Also how they'll impact everything around them, which, considering, isn't bad if it means keeping us from getting lymes disease from ticks.

Tania, thanks!

Katie Z, how fortunate your neighbors like them too!

Brooklynsheep, we didn't get them for meat, but I understand they are tasty. Not like chicken but tasty. I suppose it will all depend on how well these survive and thrive.