Monday, July 6, 2009

Surprise babies...............

We have had guinea fowl on our farm for many years. They are great tick and bug eaters. They will kill snakes, spiders and eat weed seeds, pods, beetles, all the stuff we don't want around the farm. They patrol through the gardens and pick the bugs off the plants but do not damage the plants nor do they "fluff" in the gardens like the chickens do.
The hens will lay in a community nest, depositing close to fifty eggs before one hen will decide to sit the required 28 to 31 days for a hatch. The hatch is the tricky part. Weather plays a huge roll in how good of a hatch you get. Guinea eggs have tough shells and high humidity really makes it easier for babies to emerge. The last three years haven't been good hatch years. I was down to a dozen guineas at the beginning of the year, all males.

Last year a friend gave me three babies (keets they are called) and I raised them in a brooder in the house and then moved them to the chicken house and raised them with my baby chicks. Luckily for me all three were females. This year they began laying in the chicken house and that's how Miranda the chicken ended up setting on guinea eggs and hatching 9 babies.

They are big kids now and roosting with Mother Miranda in the small guinea house at night and grubbing during the day, already doing a good job.

While preparing to open the farmstand on saturday, we heard quite the commotion from the guineas over by the woodshed. As we went to investigate, this is what we found.

A new Mama guinea with 18 babies! She was accompanied by another female guinea and they will work as a team to keep track of all of them and keep them safe at night. When the leaves on our hard shell gourds get huge and grow over the garden fence, that's where they like to hide them at night. For now, they find a safe place in the woodshed. It's fun to watch them move as a unit, looking for food. They are already picking at bugs and seed pods and they are only a few days old. Obviously with all of our rainy, damp weather, the humidity was just right and we had a great hatch. They hatched several different colors and it will be great to see them change as they mature into adults. We will not a tick on the place with all these guineas around! Hopefully our female population will increase. So many people ask for keets in the spring but because of our low hatch rate I haven't sold any in years. I remember not so long ago one year we had 85 babies. Now that was a huge bunch of guineas! We sold most of them - you can only keep so many :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Deb,
Miranda did a great job at hatching the keets.
She had to sit an extra week for those cuties!
Congratulations on all the babies. 18! Wow!

We have guineas here too. The last few years we haven't had a hatch. The females went off to lay and sit, then some bad critter found them and their eggs. We are down to 5, all males.
A neighbor gave us some of his guinea's eggs a couple of weeks ago. We have them in the incubator. Hopefully in a couple of weeks we will have a new hatch, too.
Have a great day.

Paintsmh said...

Oh my gosh I want Guineas SO bad! They are so beautiful. And useful. Congrats on the surprise babies!

Christy said...

We have 5 keets in a cage in the garden right now. I hope some are girls.

kristi said...

I may have to seriously consider guineas as I have plucked off 2 ticks off beagles. Do they eat Japanese beetles too? I love your informative posts Deb!!

threecollie said...

Wonderful! I miss guinea fowl.

lisa said...

My husband has been thinking about getting guinea fowl also, I am now more inclined to get them. I just have heard that they are very loud. I will have to think harder on getting some for our farm.

Sue said...

Oh how wonderful. Babies!! 18!!!
Wow, she'll be one busy momma!

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I've done it for chicks in the past and this Fall I may try to buy some keets from a hatchery. I've bought chicks at a cheap price in the Fall before, winter 'em over, and then they are ready to go in the Spring. Keets may all be sold out though but we'll see. Sure glad you had a good hatch.

Deb said...

Miranda's babies are growing so quickly - now we have another crew coming along. Not sure I'll keep all of them. My guinea house can only accomodate so many birds :)

Hope you get a great hatch!

Have a good day -

They are really cute but not so much when they are full grown!


I hope you get girls as well - it's great when they hatch out babies :)

Yes - they eat japanese beetles and lots of other things as well. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Thanks :) Maybe you should get a few :)

They can be loud, especially when they all get mouthing off at the same time but they generally only do that when they sense danger around. You get so used to them you really don't even hear them. We live in the middle of a pine forest and rarely see ticks on the dogs unless they go into the woods.

She is very busy trying to keep track of all those little things :)

It's tough to get keets - usually the hatcheries have a minimum of 25
unless you can get a few from a local farmer. That's how I started out. Too bad I couldn't send you a few :)

Paintsmh said...

We had them when I was younger. I loved them! They were so darned cool. Now I want more. Actually in all honesty I did anyways.

DayPhoto said...

YEAH! Good for you!


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I have never had guineas, but have heard they are great tick eaters (which are not a problem around here). But I didn't know they are difficult to hatch and won't scratch up gardens and flower beds like chickens -- which made me wonder. Will Miranda teach "her" keets to behave like chickens and scratch?