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Guinea Fowl, Ticks and Honey Bees

 
Judith Browning
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We are all set to pick up a few eight week old keets tomorrow to help with the ticks here. I was reading all I could about them and ran across some folks saying that guineas eat honey bees. I wonder if this is just if they run out of other food or if bees are a preference? We can live with all of their other weirdnesses but can't have them eatting the honey bees...or bumbles for that matter...or lizards...or snakes...now I am having second thoughts again.
 
Judith Browning
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Our beekeeper friend assured us that the guineas wouldn't be a problem unless they stood in front of the hive eatting bees as they came out. He said he could just raise the hive if that happened. I think I would like to replace a sumac (it had died) that was in front also to direct their (the honey bees) flight upwards.
So...we brought home 6 seven week old keets...right now they are penned into a roofed corner of the garden and we gave them our dog's house who just died of something tick related we think My blood work just showed Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever. We are on to our next chapter as guinea fowl farmers...time to get aggressive about ticks in the Ozarks.
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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Judith Browning wrote:Our beekeeper friend assured us that the guineas wouldn't be a problem unless they stood in front of the hive eatting bees as they came out. He said he could just raise the hive if that happened. I think I would like to replace a sumac (it had died) that was in front also to direct their (the honey bees) flight upwards.
So...we brought home 6 seven week old keets...right now they are penned into a roofed corner of the garden and we gave them our dog's house who just died of something tick related we think My blood work just showed Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever. We are on to our next chapter as guinea fowl farmers...time to get aggressive about ticks in the Ozarks.


thats good info.. plus if the if they did go around there picking fallen bugs they could become helpful.. as long as they werent trying to get into the hive or spooking the hive
 
George Meljon
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Good luck! I'll be watching for updates. I am planning on getting some guinea fowl next year.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks Tokunbo and George. So far, I think I like guineas a lot! I am letting them out of their enclosure into the much larger fenced garden and they are busy birds...and really kind of funny. If they miss a grass hopper they go runnin after it. Most of our garden is deep greenery so the only way to find them is to watch for foliage moving. We are herding them back in at night...they were not young enough to eat out of our hand but they talk to us. I have a hearing loss in high frequencies so most of their sound goes right by me. I feel really good about finally doing something positive about the ticks.
And I remember someone saying they 'talk' about new things in their territory...ours exclaimed over the empty space after we removed something from their pen...
 
John Polk
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From my limited experience with guineas, they are extremely observant, and very territorial.
If you go into their territory tonight, after they go to bed, and pick a few flowers, when they go out in the morning, it will be the 'talk of the town'. They discuss every little change to 'their' territory.

They are less domesticated than most other fowl. I believe that their 'flock mentality' is stronger than most other fowl.
They are a tightly-knit social structure that pays close attention to their surroundings.
They owe their survival to this tendency.

 
Judith Browning
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John Polk wrote:From my limited experience with guineas, they are extremely observant, and very territorial.
If you go into their territory tonight, after they go to bed, and pick a few flowers, when they go out in the morning, it will be the 'talk of the town'. They discuss every little change to 'their' territory.

They are less domesticated than most other fowl. I believe that their 'flock mentality' is stronger than most other fowl.
They are a tightly-knit social structure that pays close attention to their surroundings.
They owe their survival to this tendency.


Yeah...I see them moving as a group not individually and definitely chatting as they go...I am afraid this is my 'gateway' into more poultry...we haven't had any in years. We only got six to start with and now wonder if they will accept more of their own kind or if they will always be separate flocks if we get another six next year? A couple more weeks in the garden and we hope they take on the ticks our dog left behind...and thanks, John...it was info you passed on in another thread that got me over my hesitation to get them.
 
Alder Burns
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so you have these guineas actually in your garden, with vegetables growing? Don't they eat your plants? I wonder if maybe most of your plants are big and vigorous....they might be more likely to damage young seedlings.....
 
George Meljon
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I am rooting for your success Judith! Go Guinnea's!
 
Judith Browning
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Alder Burns wrote:so you have these guineas actually in your garden, with vegetables growing? Don't they eat your plants? I wonder if maybe most of your plants are big and vigorous....they might be more likely to damage young seedlings.....


I will let you know...so far it looks like they are just going after bugs and some seed heads on the buckwheat...the peppers and tomatoes are higher and yes, all big full sized lush plants...right now they are in the sweet potato vine hiding...The only thing I am concerned about would be pumpkins if they damaged the outside. I am hoping this will work until they can be let out on the forty and that will be about when I want to plant a fall garden...and, right, I don't think seeds or seedlings would stand a chance with them. this is all aimed at the local tick population ultimately...so I am willing to experiment a little...although my 'Aunt Rosie's pumpkins' are huge and beautiful this year and a big winter food item.....I would hate to lose even one.
 
John Polk
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Guineas seem to have little interest in real plants.
Seeds and new sprouts are a different matter.
New weed shoots don't stand a chance, but as the weeds get bigger, the guineas tend to ignore them.
I'm sure any fresh shoot would be 'fair game' to them.

 
Judith Browning
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We like them. After a month in our garden we let them out and they came back every evening but after about a week, one day only three out of six came back...we think it must have been coyotes even though it was daytime to have taken three at once. So they are back in the garden for now. They ate squash bugs!!! and there is not a grasshopper or stink bug in sight. They seem to like the crab grass seeds and really don't scratch or eat tomatoes, etc. There was one immature pumpkin that was pecked but not the big ones. We even like their talkativeness...they are really funny. We are stumped now on what to do...if we let them out it seems like feeding the coyotes and I hate to keep them confined. The whole reason to get them was for the ticks. Now we are wondering if we get some chickens if the guineas would stay closer Are chickens any smarter?
 
Dan Grubbs
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Sounds to me as if it's time for a protection animal to live with your fowl.
 
Judith Browning
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We are determined not to get another animal that brings in ticks just something that eats them!
So...something besides a dog? I have never felt good about the measures we have had to take to keep out dog tick free...or even mostly free from ticks. No flea problem ever, she was an outdoor dog...just ticks. Without a dog bringing them in we can stay relatively tick free around our home and gardens. Other critters are mostly in the surrounding woods With a dog we either pick ticks off of her every day or cross a line into toxic things that we don't use in any other part of our lives. This last round we both got infected with tick fever and lymes by trying to pick ticks off of her daily...we washed well but it took long enough to remove hundreds of fat small ticks that we were infected and the dog died. The coyotes come closer now that we have birds but can't get to them at night...we did train them to come home every night and they are usually in their corner roosting when we go to lock them in. Protection animal is a good idea but we need one with no hair, I guess!
 
Dan Grubbs
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I don't have personal experience, but I understand donkeys and even llamas are excellent guard animals. I wonder if the minature donkeys work? I assume they would also have ticks, but is that less risky for them than it is a dog? I don't have answers to these questions, but I sure would like to know. I've seen a few postings in the forums about guard animals, but don't know if they talk about ticks.
 
Judith Browning
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We still like our guineas very much....there are only two left but they seem to be doing OK. A third was taken by a fox after a snow which evidently disoriented the birds enough that they did not come in to roost that night. These two are becoming friendlier and more curious about what we are doing. I am always turning around to find them theres...I jump and so do they. Our concern now is that they survive until tick season. As far as we could tell they never bothered the bees or garden crops...just ate lots of grasshopers and squash bugs. I find them eatting fallen vitex seed and lambs quarters and evening primrose seed over the winter I am hoping it is hibernating ticks that they are eatting when I see them pecking around in bare soil. they seem to be eatting rye grass and clovers but not killing them.
I think having six drew attention to the group and I am hoping just two can slip around unnoticed. We dont have any problem with their noise but we have no close neighbors. So far a good experience
 
bob day
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i started with 11 keets garden wasn't much that year, they played around through the fall, dogs and raccoons and by spring two females and a male were all that were left-- but they laid like crazy , i got an incubator, and soon had about 20 5-7 week old babies which the old ones would kill if they got the chance, keeping them separate saved the little ones who flew to safety when dogs came in and destroyed the enclosure (chicken wire and 2x4 welded wire), but i still had lots of eggs and by late summer had about 80 or so at different ages

the little ones ate the squash bugs, as they got bigger they pecked at the vines and eventually killed all the squash

then the bear came in and killed 40some in one morning-- bear kept coming back till i finally got good electrics up (and kept chasing him )

had about 20some survive into the next spring and they did well, eggs everywhere, and one of the hens was able to hatch out a couple babies plus i incubated again and sold lots of guineas

by this time i had cages around everything, squash was next to impossible to protect, they pecked off irises coming up so very few flowers, imposssible for me to keep them totally confined, plus that defeats their tick eating anyway

30 some this past spring turned into 14 by fall--the only incubation attempt failed except for one lone guinea who was still in the greenhouse when the rest were massacred in their coop while i was away

that one is imprinted on me, so for now stays on as a pet (and greenhouse pruner), and i doubt i will get more

if you do get them i would suggest a fence around your garden (they fly well but prefer to walk, and shooing them out a few times closing gates behind them and they might get tired and look elsewhere

i'm thinking now that chickens might be easier to manage and do a pretty good job on ticks also

chickens and guineas get along pretty good
people told me if i wasn't keeping 20 or 30 at a time i might not have had so much trouble in the garden. i don't know

oh, they like jerusalem artichokes and will dig the roots out themselves
 
Judith Browning
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Hi Bob...Great story! I think that depending on the size of your garden it was probably too many birds We found in a fifty by fifty foot area even six guineas tromped things...but they didn't eat my pumpkins. I think I will keep them out when I have a lot of young spring greens growing. They do need green stuff. I am pretty sure chickens would do more damage to produce and they SCRATCH up everything.
 
bob day
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good to know that even 6 seems too many for a 50x50-- my other experience with so many at many different ages from different broods is that males can make your life difficult-- if you are a meat eater that might be an option when there are three birds in your coop with 10 others standing outside afraid to come in and you have to build another coop because a dominant male is standing watch challenging every newcomer

Which is basically the trip if you don't deliberately thin them out. With chickens no one would think of having a flock of roosters, but it never really occurred to me --especially since they were all my babies

so aside from making life difficult in the coop, i believe it was primarily adolescent males who spent so much time destroying squash vines,,sort of like a display behavior, but i'm not 100% sure on that point, just a theory

also, i don't know your sensibilities on this, but i have come to believe that live traps are really only useful to avoid killing something you don't want dead, and if you're not ready to kill a coon or possum, then don't live trap it and turn it loose on the neighbors a little bit smarter, and less likely to be caught a second time,,and i've heard that densities being what they are, displaced animals like that have a very low survival rate in really wild territory anyway

the guineas were fun, and if Lucky makes it to lay eggs and starts nesting behavior, i might buy some fertile eggs and let her set, but i'm not buying any more guineas
ps, tell me how and i'll post a picture
 
Judith Browning
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Bob...here is a link to 'how to post pictures' at permies I just learned how myself.
 
Matu Collins
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I'm seriously considering getting some keets this spring. My husband dress the noise but I got so sick with erlichiosis last summer and everyone but the new baby has had lyme at least once. I want to be able to invite friends and helpers to my farm without giving then a possibly debilitating disease.

There is a weird law that you can only buy chicks by the dozen or more. The keets have to be 15! From what you've written above, 15 seems like too many for my 3 acres. They won't fit in my coop either. I'm going to see if I can get folks to go in on an order with me

 
Cj Sloane
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Put the extras in the freezer.
I haven't eaten any, but one of my favorite cookbooks, The Silver Spoon (aka the Italian Joy of Cooking) has seven pages of Guinea Fowl recipes!
 
Judith Browning
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Matu Collins wrote:I'm seriously considering getting some keets this spring. My husband dress the noise but I got so sick with erlichiosis last summer and everyone but the new baby has had lyme at least once. I want to be able to invite friends and helpers to my farm without giving then a possibly debilitating disease.

There is a weird law that you can only buy chicks by the dozen or more. The keets have to be 15! From what you've written above, 15 seems like too many for my 3 acres. They won't fit in my coop either. I'm going to see if I can get folks to go in on an order with me



Don't hesitate..I feel kind of dumb for not getting them 40 years ago...we have lived around ticks that long and thought we were immune to any tick born disease...not so
The noise is really OK. We began with six and only kept them up for awhile. now we have two left which I think is better because they don't call attention to themselves and are becoming friendlier. i think anything that will eat ticks is bearable. After I tested positive for tick fever and had the rash for lymes and so did our dog and my daughter in law and two of my best friends over the years...i take it all much more seriously. i am thinking about starting a thread for herbal remedies for tick diseases...we are taking cats claw and astragalus with good results.
We only kept them up in the beginning until they were used to their roost and old enough to range our land and now they come in every night and we lock the door.
We find them entertaining...but then we are easily entertained!

 
bob day
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sorry to be contrary, but i do not like the idea of drugs, here is a quick link talking about heartworm medication and one natural alternative http://www.alternativeheartwormcure.com/index.html

offhand i can think of several natural anti parasite agents (garlic is a good first line defense against many things) but have not researched enough to give the best advice for heartworm specifically so i will leave that to people who actually keep or treat dogs and want something better than arsenic or pesticides on a monthly basis trying to protect an animals well being--seems a bit contradictory to me for people who would not use it on their crops but would feed it to their dog---and before i would fall into the trap of the vets who follow lockstep in big pharmas parade, i would do lots and lots of homework. above is the first quick link i found, googling "natural heartworm remedies"

if this affects your pets, a little more research should find a natural alternative that fits your needs specifically

and as for lyme and other tick diseases, i believe i contracted lyme many years ago, classic symptoms, knocked me down harder than anything i had ever experienced-- treated it with chinese herbs and it took a few months but i did recover quite well, last year i believe i had a relapse and once i started using goldenseal i was back up in a couple days.


 
Judith Browning
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I started a thread here for us to discuss herbal treatments and more for all tick diseases Let's share our experiences there
 
Judith Browning
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...and another good thing about guinea fowl
guinea feathers.jpg
[Thumbnail for guinea feathers.jpg]
polkadots!
 
Judith Browning
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they are shy...
guineas 004.jpg
[Thumbnail for guineas 004.jpg]
back to work now that the snow is gone
guineas 017.jpg
[Thumbnail for guineas 017.jpg]
they love the garden shed window
 
Judith Browning
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...and now there are none. A stray dog came through and took the last two birds one by one yesterday in the daytime. bummer.
I don't like the idea of sacrificial birds so this is it...not gonna get any more. I still think they are the solution for ticks in the yard....but having to get a dog to protect the tick eaters seems counterproductive when the dog will bring in far more ticks and start this cycle all over again.....
 
George Meljon
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Darn! Sorry to hear that Judith! Our tick season just kicked off last weekend, and we are looking for solutions like this. Those guineas are easy targets, it seems, especially if they wander a lot?
 
Judith Browning
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George Meljon wrote:Darn! Sorry to hear that Judith! Our tick season just kicked off last weekend, and we are looking for solutions like this. Those guineas are easy targets, it seems, especially if they wander a lot?



Hi, George...We were so hoping for success....These last two were snatched right near the house. Since there were just two they were staying closer and really working around the house, sometimes kind of following us around if we were moving leaves or hay piles and really busy eating what I hoped were ticks! We never saw the dog again either. I would still try them if I were you...they were really fun and maybe your neighborhood has fewer stray dogs, etc. The important thing we found was training them to come inside to roost every night. Then we locked them in and let them our after dawn the next morning...otherwise they wouldn't have lasted this long.
 
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