I am getting guinea fowl and I want to build their coop on a trailer. I have read that they dont need nesting boxes, they just need bars to perch on.
Does anyone have info on the size house I need for them? Im starting with 20 keets but I know they will be thinned out. Where can I find pics of what the inside should be like? They will eventually have run of my farm and I am going to try to train them to return at night.
Hi I don't post much, just read thing, but I have a pretty long history working with guinea's so I thought I would chime in.
Your correct about the perching, but don't build a perch that is multi level, that tends to lead competition and the roosters will definitely start fighting for pecking order over something that simple next spring. The hens not so much but they will instigate the fight to pick a mate and multi teared perched just makes it worse. 2x4's work good for perches. Lean two type structures are really good for a coop but whatever you build make sure they can see outside equally. Think it through and look for competition choke points.
You didn't say how big the trailer was but as they grow older they will want to spread out into there little clicks. Not giving them that room can instigate fights amongst the hens. And they tend to really be the problem. They want to live in trees at night and eventually they will find a good clump of cover and start laying eggs. The rest of the flock will begin to ignore them at that point and if your in a "Wild" zone with predators they'll start disappearing. When they start hitting the trees at night and they will, that is when the pecking order will ensue in the roosters and fights start to break out over who is king. Trees are multi level perches.
The best practice is to start them at a young age by opening the cage door, letting them slowly creep out then come up with a signature call "Hungary Birdies" and clap a bit and coax them back in. Do this daily, so they get that they are supposed to go in. Re enforce as they grow older by doing that before feeding. It doesn't take them long as juveniles to get the picture. This will help some.
Next year when they start trying to take to trees. Make that a bad decision but stay very calm when you do it. Throw pine cones or small object in there direction. As they come to ground use the signature call and clapping to drive them back to the cage. Hopefully you get all them down and back in then keep them locked down a day or 2. Eventually this may not work anymore as they grow older and dumber then rest assured if you have any night predators, Owls especially, they will do the convincing at that point that it is not safe outside at night. Accept the loss and hopefully they decide to go in after that. Well accept for the nesting hens.
With 20 birds your going to have your hands full. They are going to travel. Expect t0 see them at your neighbors house even if its a couple miles away. LOL
One thing a was very big turning point in a guineas behavior was switching them or raising them on organic food. Guinea behavior is dramatically different when fed anything that contains GMO. I used to feed Purina Game Bird and the Fowl would just go crazy and do everything they could to get themselves killed. They would get to a point that I could not do anything without causing them stress, which would lead to bad behavior. Now I feed them a 100 percent organic Broiler food and their disposition is very calm and very trusting. They look forward to that nightly feed and rarely do anything that is not within a predictable nature. They are also real friendly, often hanging around us and the dogs real close just to be with us. It was so different when we were feeding GMO Purina. Just drama 24/7 with them.
Last advice I can give though is do not fall in love. They die a lot. Everything kills them. I had one die who choked on a mouse it tried to eat. They do a good job with bugs and they are worth renewing the flock if needed. They are also very good at being watch dogs for everything that doesn't belong.
Came back an Added this..... You want about 8 square feet per bird if possible. That tends to lead to lowest amount of stress. But then there is financial reality too. Just give them as much space as you can afford too.
posted 2 years ago
Thanks for the reply. I will look into finding the food you suggested. I am not going to get attached to them because I know they will be cannon fodder for everything out there. That's why Im starting with 20. In all honesty, im not expecting to go in to winter with any, that way if some do survive I will consider myself lucky. I live in a very rural area with dense forest, farms, acres and acres of corn and soy etc. so the predators are all around.
I am going to try to train them to return at night and thanks for the tips. I figured there would be competition if the perches were different heights but the window idea is great. I was going to try to use opaque stuff for the ceiling so it wouldn't be a dark cave, since ive read that they wont go into a dark hole. I am looking for the biggest free, or nearly free trailer that I can find. I can also build a temporary run that attaches to the trailer so I can keep them herded when they are young or if there is a real predator problem. Im hoping they will see it as a safe and preferred place, but who knows.
I am guessing a 6x10 foot trailer would work, or something close to that. And one level of perch around 3 sides and a door on the fourth side for access and cleaning and equal windows if I can find/afford them. Would 2 parallel perches running around the upper part of the house be a good idea? How tall do should I make the coop and how high up should the perches be? I also read that there should be multiple entrances because of dominating birds will guard the entrance and not allow lower birds in. Should there be food and water inside the house if I lock them in at night?
I had a few guineas for a year and had good luck with them. Read a tip to keep them locked in their coop for a week once they are ready to head out to help imprint home on them. Seemed to work well as I rarely had to work much to put them in at night, as long as I didn't let it get too dark out first. The other tip I loved was to train them you are the millet treat person. I kept a parmesan cheese container full of millet. Makes a nice rattle when shaken. I could usually call them back from the road with it, eventually they sort of learned a perimeter but it was a lot of time spent calling them.
As for coop dimensions, I only had 8 then 6 in a 8x8x8 shed type building which was tons of extra room.
Good luck, I really liked them and the job they did wiping out ticks.
Boy do I love guineas. Some of my favorite birds of all times.
Good Luck with any plan YOU have.
Guineas will teach you how to adapt to situation faster then any other animals I personally have ever raised.
Guineas will also let you meet all your neighbors. Have cookies, eggs, pies whatever you good at making and giving away ready.
Raise them with Chicken or Duck. This is a must. If they learn to get along with other poultry, this will train them to listen to you a little better. As soon as I have baby keet, they get raised by a Silkie Hen. (Never a guinea hen) This has produced calmer, friendlier guineas.
In your coop play a radio. Not only does this help with keeping wild life out, it also help with the tree sleeping. If they are use to hearing a radio, when they choose to sleep in a tree one night (the night you can't get them out, no matter how hard you try) they will think it's to quiet and return to the coop with a less convincing.
Keets will die 1-7 days to every unknown reason possible. Even under warm silkie butts. Guineas will lay eggs in the worst stops possible. (Having ducks and chickens help because Guineas like to lay eggs in egg piles. So I trick them by adding a few guinea eggs to duck or chicken piles)
Document you adventures with guineas. Trust me, you will learn a lot, and will be shock if you have a video of yourself today, and then look back on what you didnt't know 5 years from now.
Observe your guineas. Understand the whom the leader is, friend him/her. It will make collection of guineas easy. Learn their calls. Each will teach you something about what is going on. From there is a plastic bag floating through your yard, to something is attacking. Different sounds.
I've given (most of) this advice elsewhere. I'll repeat it here.
Guineas like to roost high, so I'd build the coop as tall as possible. A perch height of 6' wouldn't be unwarranted. Higher would be better. (Mine roost at about 8'.) This makes the high roosting spots of trees less enticing, when they can roost under cover but still up high.
Keep them contained for a few weeks, at least, when starting out. I brood mine for 4-5 weeks, then move them to their permanent shelter (a coop on the back of the barn) where they are locked in for 10-14 days. Here they are fed and watered, and thus learn that this is where food and water is. They also learn that this is where they sleep. I imagine a stationary structure helps a great deal in this regard--more on that in a bit.
Don't keep feed in front of them all the time. Be sure they're hungry in the evening, and feed them in the evening. This teaches them that it's a good thing to head back home as it gets late, because there will be food there. (I laxed a bit this year, and failed to do this regularly from the start. The result was that a large number of guineas wandered off and never came back; there was no incentive. This was likely compounded by the fact that they broke into smallish groups of 10-20, instead of staying in one big group.) Then putting them up for the night can be as simple as putting feed in the feeders, stepping back, and ushering the birds in. (They may not all want to go in, at least not yet, but can be convinced with a little gentle shooing.)
If it were me, I'd skip the trailer idea and build a stationary coop. I'd rather gather and spread manured bedding from less than twenty guineas than mess with moving a trailer around. Because they wander so far, and so willingly, a portable shelter isn't likely to result in the guineas exploring new areas as a result of the shelter having been moved. About the only potential benefit, it seems to me, is that you can apply manure to specific spots without the work of picking up a manure fork (but with the work of relocating the trailer), but with no more than 20 birds, the amount of manure deposited is going to be negligible anyway. Because it can be difficult to get guineas roosting where you want them to in the first place, I think you're only complicating the matter by moving exactly where you want them to roost. Make a stationary shelter, and I'd guess you've got a greater chance of making it through the winter still with guineas.
Heavy gauge woven wire is not too much for some raccoons, One orientation I learned very quickly is that I am not trying to keep guineas in, I'm trying to keep predators out. using chicken wire is just asking for heartache.
Nest boxes will rarely be used, but I did once manage to coax a hen in when I moved her clutch to a shelf inside after her mate standing guard was killed the night before. So you'll have to play that one by ear.
I agree with the stationary coop being the better bet. multiple entrances if you have any size flock, and if you are hatching them (which you will have to do if you want to keep your flock numbers up) be ready to cull the males or just leave them to fight amongst themselves outside. too many of them are just about impossible to deal with. competition, especially between males of different ages (as you start to introduce new birds) will become a real nuisance.
The idea of high perches is good too, and of course ventilation in summer.
I would start them early on with the overhead drip type waterers. Water is spoiled so frequently in any man made puddle.
A bruised garlic clove in the water is also a good idea, especially for the keets, and don't forget a dust place that can be periodically renewed with diatomaceous earth, sand , and clay. They will still dust outside whenever they can, but for days when it is wet or snow covered that dust pan will be a popular place, and in the longer run, it will be the best way to treat for ecto parasites. ( I use the bigger size poly cement mixing pan-30"x 40" x 6" A cover for night time will keep most of the poop out of it.
Another good reason for single tiered perches is that they will poop on the birds under them, and buddies can cuddle up together sometimes, but allowing a foot or two on the perches for each bird is a good idea.
And guineas tend to waste lots of food, a "U" shaped trough about 3 inches tall rather than a "V" shaped one, and be prepared to still have them waste it. design your feeding area so roosting birds aren't pooping in it.
and I would make my coop as much of a square as possible as opposed to narrow and long. The 4'x8' coops I built worked, but in retrospect an 8x8 would have been better all around.
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