Since being moved to the barn, the keets have grown a lot and are doing great. Their feathers have mostly grown in and they are starting to resemble grown guineas…
Half of them are Pearl Guineas, which are the darker colored ones and the lighter ones are Lavender Guineas.
Pictured below is what a grown Pearl Guinea will look like…
(Photo taken from Northrup Photography)
I think guineas are very odd looking creatures. Up until recently, I never really knew that much about them and didn’t really have an interest in having them. It wasn’t until seeing some at the fair and visiting with others that I started to find them interesting. After doing some research, I’ve learned guineas can be useful for many things. The main reason we decided to get some is they consume large amounts of insects and won’t damage your flowers or vegetables in the garden. In fact, when I was researching the best way to get rid of squash bugs, the method that came up the most is to put guineas in the garden. They’re supposed to be more effective than using any type of spray. I really wish I could test that theory out right now and turn them loose in the zucchini, but we have cats running around here. Since they are still small they would easily become lunch for the cats, so I will have to test that out next year. I’ve also heard that they are good at getting rid of ticks. We have a horrible time with ticks in the spring and early summer. In fact this year, I think I pulled more ticks off the kids than I did the dog and cats combined. If the guineas do actually control the number of ticks around here, they will quickly earn their keep. Besides insects, they will also kill snakes and control rodents.
Guineas are fairly inexpensive to keep because they fend for themselves and mostly consume insects, grasses and seeds. Through the winter they will need to be fed commercial food, like game bird feed or if they are kept with chickens they can eat layer feed. Right now ours are eating chick starter. Once they finish up the bag I plan to switch them to a game bird feed because it has higher protein, which will help them grow faster. When they’re big enough and can be turned loose to free range, they’ll share a feeder with the chickens.
For shelter, guineas will roost in trees at night or can be trained to go into a barn or coop. From what I’ve read, older birds are harder to train because they get set in their ways and have been known to try to fly back to their old home. It’s easier and less frustrating to start out training younger ones. We put ours in a room in the barn and are hoping it will become established as their home. Before being allowed to free range, we will keep them confined for about 6 weeks to ensure that they will come back to the barn each night.
One last interesting fact about guineas is they make good watch dogs. If someone drives into the yard, they will for sure let you know by making a loud racket. That can be a good thing, especially for us because we don’t always hear someone drive in. On the other hand I’ve heard that they can be just plain noisy all the time, which can be a bad thing. For example, if a predator enters the area, or something as simple as a garden hose being pulled across the yard startles them, they will sound their alarm. So I’m sure their alarms will be sounding quite often around here. Nevertheless, between the chickens, goats, and turkeys, there’s always plenty of ruckus, chaos and hubbub going on, so they ought to fit in just fine. 🙂
I can’t wait to see if they help to keep the tick and squash bug levels down next spring and summer. I’ll be sure to post an update next spring on how they’re doing.
Do you have guineas? Do you find them helpful at keeping bugs down or are they more of a nuisance with all the noise they make?