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Helping my new Guinea Hen chicks (keets) survive

 
ilanna greenfield
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Hi everyone,
My question is concerning raising guinea hen chicks. Here's the back story-

We have a few adult guinea hens on our 2.5 acres in the mountains of California. We get a huge amount of wildlife including regular bear and bob cat this year. We have Lgd dogs that help keep them away for the most part.

Well my female guinea became broody and had been sitting somewhere in the woods for weeks and finally came tromping home with 4 babies today! Absolutely beautiful to see. We were overjoyed and then realized that she had to have been sitting on 20+ eggs and there she was with 4 babies. We decided to take the babes from her and raise them ourselves under a heat lamp until they're large enough to defend themselves and fly in the trees at night like our adults do.

My dilemma is that mom and their dads are going crazy wanting their chicks back and the chicks of course want mom. I feel horrible separating them but feel it's probably best for survival of the chicks.
What does everyone think??

Also, when I go to reintroduce them when they're old enough... Will they most likely fight or accept them? Will I need to wait until they are fully adult size to defend themselves from the other guineas just in case?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! Has anyone gone through this themselves

Thank you so much! -ilanna
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello again Ilanna,

Well, I for one, would not have taken them from the family unit. You have all manner of wildlife there that feed on bird species like Guinea Hen, so good for her, as a first time mother, to even getting 4 raised!!! Bull snakes alone will often keep "free range nesters" from successful clutches...so do not reward her efforts by taking away her chicks...even if she lose them all...she has to learn how to do it correctly.

If you really want to be a "Guinea Hen Mother" yourself...?...follow her and take eggs. She will keep laying till she has a clutch to brood over. You can incubate as many as you would like, and she will get to do what nature intended for her to do.

Good Luck,

j

 
ilanna greenfield
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J,
Thanks for the response. Well being as we made the hard decision of taking them away from her.. Reintroducing could lead to problems. Incubation isn't an option being as I live off grid.
You think letting all the babies die is the best option? Perhaps that is what nature would provide for these little lives.. But we have fucked with nature so much that predators don't have the food needed like they did before we altered forests into tree farms and so on. Mom survived because she has the capability of flying into trees and fighting. These newborns do not have this option. I suppose if we didn't want to increase our flock of guineas.. If/when she sits again I can let nature take it's course. I feel humans influence has messed with the natural cycle so much that these decisions are necessary and conflicting. Permaculture is our way of life.. But we do have expansive tree farms surrounding us.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Reintroducing could lead to problems.


Hmmm...could be...if she is really broody, and a driven mother (which she seems to be) this may not be the case. I would get to really know her, and also perhaps start building ground hid boxes she can defend the entrance to with a good peck (does well in keeping the snakes out as they don't push it when they are faced with a sharp beak peck to there very sensitive heads. I have used these types of ground boxes for several species of ground nesting Avids.

Incubation isn't an option being as I live off grid.


Well...that doesn't mean you can not have an incubator...as there are several both solar cell with deep cycle battery, solar water, and even antique methods that use wood fired modalities. Which I would consider if getting back into Avid Husbandry just to support the core of my mother with "success" in their endeavors to raise there own young....and...to keep my own full range of husbandry skills viable.

You think letting all the babies die is the best option?


Absolutely!...The laws of nature are not always to our human liking or understanding...yet...to anthropomorphise our own efforts in permaculture is to inhibit us from truly understanding all its glories as well... She (or hen Guinea) has a life she is trying desperately to live...you have (unwittingly) brought her as much distress as if she had battled a fox or snake and lost...either way she has suffered a loss...just like any other mother would...this can lead to depression and may even render her a poorer booder because of it. Now some would suggest that I am now "anthropomorphising" yet I believe we all have foundational ethologies and must be "strong enough" to except we do not hold superiority over all the emotions one may feel...or to what degree. Often what we think is "helpful," in the larger scope of things...it is not.

I feel humans influence has messed with the natural cycle so much that these decisions are necessary and conflicting.


Yes...they do seem conflicting at times...sometimes they are...sometimes (often?) we are injecting ourselves and our beliefs...for the better we hope, but not always.

Good luck, and much success to you,

j
 
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