So, I live on twenty acres in mendocino county ca, but its a one or less acre hilltop clearing surrounded by tan oak and some redwood. I have never had birds before but have done a lot or reading, and I want to start with 6 guinea fowl , four layers, and possibly a rooster. I want to raise them together to free range and come into a coup with laying boxes at night. Or hens in a moveable paddock plus mobile shelter daytime, then into the coup at night. I know the guineas would probably lay outside, but the hens ... What size ,dimensions, do I need for six guineas and4 hens, and what about a rooster in this situation? Thanks
From my experience I would just turn the guineas loose and let them free range, once they're old enough. Guineas are boisterous and always arguing amongst themselves, they'll keep your chickens stirred up and flighty if cooped together. On the other hand the guineas are almost as good as a watchdog and very good at keeping the bug population down.
posted 4 years ago
thanks for responding Tracy,
How long have you had guineas and how many?
posted 4 years ago
Haven't had guineas since I was a kid, town encroached around us and the neighbors don't like loud, noisy critters running through their yards and taking dust baths in their flower beds. When we did have them, they had built their numbers up to over 200 birds. There wasn't anything that happened on the place that the guineas didn't let you know about.
I'll share my experience raising chickens and guineas together. i didn't have problems with them housed together in the evenings, or at least not for the most part. I'd do my space considerations for roosting/night housing the same for guineas as standard size chickens. For space on the roost, give them 8-10 inches for spacing/bird. Guineas can probably go with 8 inches of roosting bar space. I don't know your climate/environment, but assuming you plan to have them outdoors with plenty of room year round, they need less confined housing space. I'd go with a very, very minimum of 4 sq. ft./bird for confined housing for night time predator protection. If you think they'll be in more often and have to be up indoors more often, give them more space, like 10 sq. ft. or more if you can. The more space, the better.
Now to my experience with a very similar setup to what you describe:
t started raising fowl with 4 chicks + 4 keets (baby guinea fowl). I raised them all together and held them a fair amount when they were feathering out. I also moved all of them into the chicken tractor together. They all were on pasture in the daytime, and put up in the chicken tractor at night. By raising and training the chickens and guineas together, I found my guineas easily came up to roost in the chicken tractor. Of the 4 keets, only 1 was female. However, that female generally laid in the chicken tractor. She didn't necessarily lay in the nest box, but she would lay in the tractor and then go back out and free range. Maybe I just got lucky. She only was around about 1 year. When the fall came, I guess she was looking for places to have babies, wandered over to the neighbor's place, where she mat the neighbor's dog. The end.
To the raising of roosters and male guineas together, in my experience, I wouldn't do it in that small of a flock. I had ordered 4 pullets and 4 straight-run keets. 3 of the 4 keets ended up being male. The male guinea fowl seemed to work out a "rank and file" type of order and didn't go after each other the way roosters would if 3 were together in a small flock. However, one of my pullets turned out to be a surprise rooster. The whole flock of 8 got along swimmingly until puberty struck. Then, those 3 male guineas chased the cockerel mercilessly. If they caught him, they pecked him, etc. They took out his beautiful tail feathers, etc. They bloodied his comb at times. We tried different strategies to change that behavior, like putting a large plant pot in the chicken tractor so the rooster could hide behind it. It didn't help. We didn't have separate poultry housing and felt like those guineas would eventually run the rooster ragged or kill him. We rehomed the rooster to another family in the country.
I hear of people having guineas loose and how they will roost in the trees...and I also hear of how one by one they disappear b/c of predators. Others may have different experiences, but that is a common story I've heard told from people with some land who raised guineas and let them roost on their own. I think it's wise to have them go up in the coop with the chickens if you want to keep them as part of the flock.
Multiple poultry flocks later, I still have 2 of those original 4 guineas (they are tough birds!). We actually let those 2 guineas generally be cooped up on their own and join the hens in being on pasture in the daytime. While they do well on pasture with our hens (which are not the original flock the guineas were raised with), they are a bit tougher on some chickens than others. Sometimes we house them together for specific needs,but when we do, we make sure the coop space is oversized for those days we may not let everyone out on pasture.
@William Bronson, I originally wanted guinea fowl over other fowl. I'd read how they were great foragers, scratched less on garden plants, and were economical eaters. It was later that we decided to add in chickens, and still later to add ducks. The guinea fowl I have now are hardy, and, yes, they do a great job of being the alarm system for any predators. I just really like them.
I only have my small guinea fowl flock of 4 and some of their offspring for this experience, but I found things got so much easier after the female disappeared. They were calmer. While not "quiet" birds, the males generally only make noise for predators or a purpose. That female made her "buckwheat...buckwheat" sound nearly non-stop. However, she was also the egg layer, so there were obviously pros and cons.
I've got 10 guineas and about 60 chickens free ranging together. While out and about the guineas fight among themselves but leave the chickens alone. The only issue I've had is when they go up to roost. Make sure you have plenty of room to roost because the guineas will peck at the chickens if they feel cramped. I raised them in the coop so they usually go in to roost. In the past two years the guineas have randomly roosted outside in the trees about a dozen times. As for eggs, with a well maintained nesting box I've had almost no chicken eggs laid outside. The guineas never use the nest boxes and prefer the managed grasslands around my property.
I do not like guineas. I see no reason to have guineas either. They did not range as far as my peacocks. In fact, they stayed close to the coop all the time. They were loud. They would pull feathers out of my other birds. Plus they are so stupid they kill themselves at the drop of a hat. I don't know how many of mine died flying into walls and breaking their necks. I'd walk in the barn and poof, fly and dead. Useless birds.
We obtained some guinea keets because we also heard of their skills at feeding themselves and in reducing insect population [specifically ticks] and thought their surveillance skills would also be a nice addition. We raised them together with our chickens and had no issues at all. All of our poultry free range and roost in their coops at night. I did build a different coop for the guineas because of reading about their preference for a taller, more closet like coop. So the only time they were separated was at night and that was by their choice. They would range with the chickens at times, but normally would prefer to range in their own little group. They did not use the nest boxes and preferred to lay them behind the coop or in a hole near the coop. They were definitely bolder than the chickens and would range a lot further than the chickens ever went. Many nights would involve ranging the property and 'calling' them back. One night half of them did not come back to the coop and were never seen again.
But as I said above, no we never had an issue raising them with the chickens. Even with multiple roosters and multiple male guinea cocks there was never any fighting versus each other. They are definitely an interesting bird and nice for diversity, but I am not sure we will replace them once they are all gone. I think their bold ranging issues and our predator concerns make it an unfair situation for them.
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