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Guinea fowl noise crisis

 
Abe Connally
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I love the idea of guineas. They are very self-sufficient, forage extremely well, and keep garden plagues to a minimum. Even without meat or eggs, they earn their keep with very little pay.

BUT OUR GUINEAS ARE DRIVING US CRAZY!

We raised this set of 6 by hand, and they have become so bonded to us that they follow any member of the family everywhere around the property. While they do this, they are constantly calling, no, more like yelling. It is REALLY annoying.

When any stranger, be it animal, plant or human, comes onto the property, they go nuts, and scream like crazy.

At first, I thought it was a feed thing, but they have plenty of feed of lots of different types, and they'll snack on things I give them and then go on to follow me even more. They're not bored. They have plenty of bugs and things they do all day long, they just seem to prefer to bug us.

I don't mind the following, but the constant noise is getting too much until finally, my wife mentioned "when are we having roast guinea?" At first it was joke, but now she is very serious.

Before we get rid of them forever, I want to explore options for keeping them here, if for nothing more than the grasshopper control. So, I've been watching them a lot closer to try and see if there is anything that we can change or do to make it a bit more peaceful around here.

Here are my ideas, please add more:
1. Stop the free-ranging and confine them away from the house. This might make us hear them less, but it won't do much for the grasshoppers around the garden and house. We could try and keep them in a pasture for most of the year, until pest season...

2. After watching each guinea for a long time, I discovered we had all females. They are not very old, maybe 4 months, but we don't get any eggs (not that you really do with free-ranging guineas, anyway), and I'm starting to wonder if they are calling for males...

3. Eat these and try again with a mixed batch. If I knew that all guineas were not this annoying, I might try it, but I have my doubts...

Any other ideas, suggestions, comments to save the guineas from the stew pot?
 
John Polk
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I don't think keeping them penned away from the house will work. Guineas are great flyers. so a typical poultry run will not keep them in, especially now that they know there are treats near the house. Their constant noise is about the only complaint I ever hear about guineas. Nothing else will clear the ticks like they do.

Ain't it feel nice to be loved?
 
Abe Connally
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yes, they are great fliers, but I could definitely figure something out, if I really wanted to go that route. Clipping wings and higher fences are options. They don't actually fly well, but they are excellent gliders. Once they get up in a tree or on a structure, they can glide from that high point for a long distance.

I see this as a great attribute, as they have so far avoided predators here (we've gone through several batches of chickens).

I wonder if I could snip their voice boxes, like they do with annoying goats. (just kidding, or maybe not...)
 
Kris Thompson
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I think I'd just go ahead and eat 'em.

About seven years ago I found the book "Gardening with Guineas" and decided that they would be awesome. We built a chicken coop and got some chickens and guineas.

Guineas is CRAZY. They're noisy, flighty, cantankerous and plain nuts.

Over the following months there was attrition due to predation, and perhaps due to neighbors (I'm sure that if I hated 'em, the neighbors didn't care for them either). And the damned things wouldn't stay on my eleven acres--they had a path they liked that took them off the property every day.

The last one that I had cornered and savagely attacked the sweet-tempered black Australorp rooster. That guinea was stew the following weekend.

I don't think that I'll ever keep guineas again. The chickens (particularly the Plymouth Rocks) are extremely independent-minded and jump out of the run in order to forage and chase bugs every day that there isn't snow on the ground. They do a good enough job, and they aren't a fraction as noisy or plumb crazy.

-Kris
 
Monte Hines
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Funny... Glad, I read this thread... Brought some bright smiles...

I am convinced we're sticking with our dark ruen ducks...

No Guineas for us...!!!

Thanks to all,
Monte Hines
 
Morgan Morrigan
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thought this was about guinea pigs till i saw the thing about the eggs........
 
Abe Connally
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ours don't have an issue with roaming, and they don't roost in the trees, they're just noisy. And like ALL THE TIME NOISY.

Our chickens never did a number on the grasshoppers like these guineas did. They truly exceed at pest control (or ours did, anyway).

I think I heard my wife turn on the oven...
 
                      
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Your girls are looking for mates. Get no more than 3 males for your six fems.
If you have 1:1 ratio and a female dies the males start to steal the next guys wife which can cascade out of control.

also set out some large mirrors so they can see 'other' guineas. Keeping them together is important as a lone bird will keep calling. At night you can try flashing them at night with a powerful spotlight as needed. Will not work if there's real danger setting them off.

From my observations males are very important in guinea flocks:

Best lookouts - Males will stand more erect, keeping alert for dangers.

Feeders - After the males have eaten a bit they will feed the wife. Used to get and hold onto a fem while allowing her to do less work as egg production must be taxing.

Nest builders - Males will scout out nesting sites (shady, brushy) and dig it out, do a unique call (seems a call for inspection) and all the fems check it out. These birds don't like to lay anywhere but where they pick. Harvest eggs daily and keep a half doz or so old golf balls to fool them. They'll move to a new nest if they feel robbed.

Protection - These guys are bigger and meaner than the fems. And don't mess with their ladies. Had one scratch my legs (while running past me at 100 mph) because I was carrying his wife.

I'm going on the fourth year with my guineas. Ordered 12 hatchling keets through the mail. Have 7 of the original 12 left, plus 3 (the three sisters) via craigslist and 6 more from a dozen that hatched last year.
Do you communicate with your birds? Not talk but communicate. I have a few different whistles and noises most variants of 'come' or 'food' but there's one for danger and another for 'calm'.

With the recent new arrivals I've been thinking about how just one or two of these birds are the noise instigators. If the noise isn't about mates it's about danger so limit both those problems help but...
There are some birds that just can't shut up so a bit of selective culling and breeding might lead to a quite variant.

Mine are very quiet, only letting off alarms as truly needed. They're about ten feet away outside and I can just hear one softly clucking. With my Texas healer within a few feet. Hell, he makes more noise than all my birds.

Ape99
 
Abe Connally
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yeah, I will try and find some males, and see if that helps. If not, we may just try and select for quiet ones.
 
Marcella Rose
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Morgan Morrigan wrote:thought this was about guinea pigs till i saw the thing about the eggs........



Hahahahahaha!!! This is so funny because I thought the same thing.
 
                      
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So did you find some male guineas or are did you cull them all?

They do like to pair up and will let you know when they're lonely.

ape99
 
Abe Connally
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I haven't been able to locate any males, but I've got a few leads. They have calmed down a bit, but they're making nest spots all over the place. I don't know if they'll lay without a male around, but they sure want to. They regularly do the "hen mating dance" in front of me, then stop and slightly spread their wings. They are definitely looking for a male.

But, they have gotten better about bugging us, and we're starting to understand each other a little bit, so I think we'll be keeping them for a while.

I saw the first grasshopper of 2012 the other day, a second later it was in a guinea. I haven't seen any since.
 
John Polk
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If you get some males, try breeding some with a mute button...they would be great sellers. LOL
 
                      
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Yeah, they really need a male around. Most times the only adult guineas available are the males.

Might try a rooster until you can find a male guinea or two.

ape99
 
David Goodman
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I also liked the "idea" of guineas, until I had some. A friend gave me some he'd hatched. As they got bigger, they got louder and more obnoxious. They'd fly up on the roof of the barn and scream at us. The noise was incredible. I know they must have irritated the neighbors too.

Finally giving up on my "insect eaters/gardener's best friends," with much difficulty (and with the help of a slingshot - nailed one on the barn roof), I caught and beheaded them all, then we ate them for Thanksgiving.

I have to say, I've never enjoyed killing something so much in my entire life. The meat wasn't great, but it was very emotionally satisfying to consume the little bastards.

 
                      
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Yeah,
Guess I've been lucky as my heard is quite 95% of the time and only really go car alarm loud when real danger is about.

But, I've worked with them from hatchlings (except 3 fems I had to buy a few years back to improve the male/female ratio) so maybe that's why.

Here's a vid of how mine are most of the time...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPSDBkIJPKw

ape99
 
Abe Connally
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another interesting development with our guineas is that they have started to really hike with us. And by hike, I mean walking 1-2 miles in the afternoon with my 2 boys and our 2 dogs. They stay within 100 ft of us, and are constantly foraging.

It is really neat to be walking so far from the house and see the guineas following us. I doubt chickens would ever do this, but our guineas seems to really enjoy the hikes.

 
Tyler Ludens
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That's hilarious, Abe! They must trust you to protect them and possibly to stir up insects for them.

 
Abe Connally
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yeah, it just confirms that they see us as part of their flock. It is funny, cause I don't know what they eat, but whatever it is, it is everywhere, because they are constantly pecking at the ground.

I do think it is funny when you see our group hiking through the hills. There's me, with a 1yr old infant in a sling, then our 4 yr old boy running around looking at everything, and the 2 dogs keeping a distance of about 40 feet, and then a line of guineas happily following us. It must be a truly unique sight to see!

But, I do think it is a remarkable trait of the guineas. Just think about how they could/would have traveled with nomadic humans. And they have no problem hanging around large mammals, as they are experts at getting out from under your feet.

When we feed the pigs, the guineas are there, and they scramble around under the pigs grabbing any dropped morsels. Nothing goes to waste in the pig pen, they make sure of that.

They are amazing birds, no doubt about that.
 
                      
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Glad to hear you're getting in the groove with your girls.

Yeah, used to take mine on walks into the adjacent city park (rough, unimproved part)...now I just let them free range out there and return.
I live in the 'hood' so there have been a few times were me and my flock have walked up on people in the 'throws of passion' out there.

Having a big backwoods looking guy and a dozen plus very curious guineas come out of nowhere and encircle them tends to keep repeat business at a minimum.

Never thought about nomadic people and guineas but I can see that having happened.

Very smart and loyal birds. They are very comfortable around animals they've come to trust. And can tell the part...had a stray dog show up once that looked like a trusted neighbors dog and they went off.
I was thinking it odd until I looked closer and noticed it was a stray.
Took me awhile to realize that they know me from my face. Kinda makes sense as they have such unique facial features themselves.

That's funny about yours snatching food from the pigs, would like to see a video.

Any luck with finding a couple of lucky males yet?

ape99
 
Abe Connally
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no luck on the males, yet. It's hard, because the only guineas I can seem to find anywhere are babies. No adults. I'll keep looking, and I'm sure one will turn up one of these days.
 
Abe Connally
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I'm not going to put a rooster with them. A month ago, a male roadrunner came by the house (he's been here since we moved here, 5 years ago, very tame). He went in the garden, like he normally does, but walked near the guinea roost.

The guineas went ballistic. They surrounded him, and just like coyotes, each one zoomed in and pecked him, and then zoomed back to the circle surrounding him. He got it on all sides one right after the other. Before my wife could jump the fence and get to him, they had picked off all of his tail feathers, and most on his back. 2 minutes more and he would have been dead, no doubt in my mind.

The roadrunner survived, but he won't come around the house anymore. Just a testament on how they defend a territory, and I could see them doing the same thing to a rooster.

It would be interesting to see how they would handle a skunk.
 
John Polk
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I have had people tell me that they have seen guineas chase off snakes.
 
Shawn Harper
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John Polk wrote:I have had people tell me that they have seen guineas chase off snakes.


Really? I have been looking into good ways to get rid of rattle snakes, but most things that eat snakes would also eat my livestock I'm going to have. It's a problem I have a few years to solve as I won't move to the snake infested property for several years.
 
                      
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Yeah, guineas will go after snakes. They'll kill and eat them if small enough and will surround the larger ones and drive them off.

Some patterns set them off...had an old rug with a diamond pattern and for weeks after I tossed it outside they'd go crazy and circle it while sounding the alert.

They'll go after just about anything of the right size and if it's quick moving. Mine have even gobbled up baby rats about the size of a mouse. Great for tick control too.

When they eat something large like that you can tell from their droppings...about 6x larger than normal.

ape99
 
Cj Sloane
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Abe Connally wrote:no luck on the males, yet. It's hard, because the only guineas I can seem to find anywhere are babies. No adults. I'll keep looking, and I'm sure one will turn up one of these days.


Try posting on Craig's List.
 
Abe Connally
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I live a long ways from craigslist.
 
J D Horn
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If guineas are that agile and comfortable around mammals, reckon they would go in pasture with cattle and sheep? I can see the benefits for cutting down on active fly and tick populations for animals on pasture - sort of a permaculture oxpecker.

Shawn,

Since you have a fews yrs to clear up that rattler problem, try locating some king snakes and introducing them to the land. They prey on other snakes.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pahQXSH8Lj4&feature=fvwrel
 
Cj Sloane
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Abe Connally wrote:I live a long ways from craigslist.


Location?
 
Abe Connally
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Northern Mexico, southwest of Chihuahua City.
 
                      
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What about Pedroslista Abe?

Sorry to hear about the road runner. Not as tough as in the cartoons would have you believe...

I think they're just sexually frustrated...a big rooster should hold his own and maybe calm those ladies down a bit.

Could always make rooster soup should it not work out.

ape99

BTW
How's the black solider flys doing? Hope they're taking hold out there.
 
Abe Connally
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I don't think it is frustration, I think they saw him as a threat. And that's why I worry about the rooster, he may not be seen as a male guinea to them, but rather, a threat to their territory.

The BSF are hanging in there. I made a big bi for them last fall and kept them in the house all winter. I set them out a month ago, and I have already seen a dozen adults, though not many grubs in the bin. There are still loads of eggs in the cardboard I set out for the females, so I'm hoping they'll hatch when the conditions are right.
 
                      
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Well, never had a rooster in the mix but did have a nice couple of laying hen (only one at a time).
They got along with the guineas just fine...they were even low to mid way up the pecking order.
And both were introduced into the flock as adults.
Chickens and Guineas have been know to cross breed, but it's rare and the offspring are sterile.

Your girls are hungry for some males and I'm betting they're not too particular right now.

Biggest problem I see would be if you ever got male guineas they'd start to kick the roosters butt.

Could always keep him caged and let the ladies come check him out first...maybe you could borrow one of your neighbors to test the waters.

As to the BFS, just now starting to see the adults buzzing around here. Should have lots of them about soon enough.

ape99
 
Katya Barnheart
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I have 4 acres and tons of ticks here in SE Missouri. Or used to have tons of ticks!!
I got 10 guineas, and 7 got eaten by owls. At the time I was sad but when they grew up and got INCREDIBLY LOUD I was not so sad.

I had two females and one male, and let me tell you, they were STILL super loud. People have told me about the "get a male" thing but Im not so sure...
Anyway, butchered the male and now I just have the two females and it is OH SO QUIET HERE.
I think the key with Guineas is to not have too many. Of course I only have 4 acres so I only really need 2.
The other thing I did was to get DUCKS!! They eat bugs too, (lots of them!) lay more eggs, are also super hardy, and ARE QUIET.

I did a blog entry on all of this... see "Ducks no Chickens"
www.bricolagefarm.wordpress.com
 
wayne stephen
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Guineas are best eaten young , 6-8 weeks like chicken , but will cook well in slow cooker at any age. Closer to pheasant in taste and texture. Our first and only flock met their demise after months of such cacaphone. They had supposed watchdog qualities but went completely berserk with any percieved danger. Bird overhead, freindly kitty walking by ,etc. The final straw was when I moved a wheelbarrow that had been leaning against shed wall for a month , they gathered around it squalling and sqeaking as if the world was ending and I could take no more. Chickens do just as well for bug control , they don't range as far until you have a larger flock.But so much more freindly to the ear.
 
Frank Turrentine
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I'm really eager to get some guineas. For the past two years we've been inundated with grasshoppers - I mean biblical plague numbers of them - such that they've even eaten the leaves off all the fruit trees. Millions of them everywhere. I scattered some of that nolo bait in the garden, but that only works on the very tiny hoppers and crickets. I sprayed kaolin clay on the tomatoes, and that seemed to have some slight effect but nothing like I had hoped. I've heard that guineas will consume grasshoppers voraciously, so I've settled on getting as many of them as I can before I start planting again. I figure I need to build a pen first, and I've been steadily accumulating used pallets from the warehouse here at work for that, among other things.

I could care less how loud they are. Dad is stone deaf, and I love the sound of animals, no matter the volume. Spending my nights in Dallas gives me an appreciation for any noise not mechanically or electronically generated.
 
Abe Connally
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Guineas work well with the grasshoppers, they kept our place grasshoppers free for a long time. They seem to really get ahead of the hoppers, and eat them when they are small and young, and the hoppers never get a chance to build up to crazy numbers.

In my experience, they are much better at pest control than chickens.
 
Frank Turrentine
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I'm gratified to hear it. I imagine I'm going to need to acquire quite a few of them. We'll likely lose some to hawks and owls, but those birds need to eat just as much as we do, and I won't begrudge them a meal every so often.
 
Abe Connally
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we had 6 that we bought as chicks. By the time they were adults, there was never a grasshopper around. If you had a dozen of them, that would be more than enough.
 
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