Life with Guinea Hens – Part 8
We are continuing our series about life with guinea hens that was started on Wag ‘n Woof Pets in the Summer of 2018. Just search “life with guinea hens” in our sidebar if you’d like to read any previous stories!
Flock Dynamics – Guinea Fowl & Chickens
You can read all the books and websites you want before raising poultry, but you’ll learn the most from experience (and your own mistakes). While it can sometimes be frustrating to figure things out as you go – much information found out there is unclear and often conflicting (all chicken keepers seem to have their own way of doing things!) – it’s really the only way to do it!
However, it’s fun to watch and learn as you go, especially to see the difference in the species of birds and how they get along and interact with each other.
Before this year, we had raised our groups of chicks and guinea keets (baby guineas) separately. This year was the first time we hatched some eggs together in the incubator, and then raised them all together in one brooder cage.
We had two hatchings this year; the first were only chickens (4) but the second was a combination. We ended up with 7 chickens and 2 guinea fowl in the second group. It was interesting to see that even when the young birds were integrated with our adult birds and the other pullets, the guineas stuck with the chicks they were raised with.
In the past, when we added the new guineas to the older birds, the new ones joined the older guineas and became part of their group. While all the birds get along and are together in the coop, they still have their own groups, and the guineas cruise the yard all together.
We wondered at what point the two young guineas in this group would join the older group. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t want us to find that out this year. A mink found it’s way through a flaw in our coop one night, and it killed all our young birds from the two hatchings, except one guinea and two chickens from the first hatching of 4.
We were devastated and heartbroken (as many have experienced, 2020 has been such a bad year in so many ways!) not just for ourselves but for that poor guinea who had lost all its friends. The one good thing was that one of the birds from the first hatching (Annie Oakley) had taken to watching over the young ones. Would she watch over this lone guinea now, or what would happen to this poor little guy, the only newbie left?
It was only a matter of two days before the lone guinea started hanging out with the other 6 guineas we had left (two older birds, one guinea and one chicken, had been killed by the mink as well). At first, he was kind of on the outskirts of the group, but as time has gone by, he’s become one of their flock.
That made us happy. We still wonder if it might have gone differently, had he not lost his buddy (especially since that one was a female), but we’ll have to wait until next spring when we’ll try all this again. Will it just take longer for the young ones to join the older, or will they hang out more with the chickens they were raised with?
In our experience so far, while chickens sometimes tend to stick more with whatever birds they were raised with, cliques if you will, the guinea hens join into one group of all ages. That has happened every time we added new birds, but we had never raised the keets with the chicks before. We’ll most likely be doing it that way again though. We will be buying some as well as trying to hatch some next spring and summer.
We are also considering adding a goose (for more protection from predators) or maybe some turkeys to our flock. We’ll do research over the winter before deciding if it seems right for us. I imagine if that happens, we’re going to have a lot more flock dynamics to learn about!
That is so sad! 2020 is a hard year for all of us!
I think we’re all ready to say goodbye and good riddance to 2020!!
I found your new blog but then found this sad news. I’m so sorry.
Thank you so much, KB. It’s been a rough 2020 here, but we have hopes the new year will go better. I know you’ve had some rough times too with all the fires and back and forth between your houses!
I am so glad you found us though! ♥
joann stancer says
I’m sorry about that pesky mink, I had a bought with racoons that wiped out everything.
I remember that, JoAnn, and now I know exactly how you felt. 🙁
I find the inter-bird dynamics interesting. It’s especially interesting that the guinea hens are united in one group – but the chickens separate by age. How does Charlie fit in the picture?
Charlie pretty much sticks with “his girls”, which are the ones he was raised with. He has his favorite “girlfriends”, though when we hatched those eggs we were surprised by some of the colors of the birds – he apparently “spends some time” with some of the older girls too. LOL
Ducky's Mom says
Oh, Jan, I’m so sorry about the loss of the young flock members! I know it must have broken your heart! But I know you’ll figure out some way to improve the security, and limiting their free ranging seems to be the best first step.
Puppy kisses and belly rubs and lots of love to Luke from Ducky and me!!
Thank you so much, Sue. Yes, we will get this figured out! Sometimes it’s tough to find the balance between keeping them safe and keeping them happy. They are starting to get some free range time now, with so much deep snow on the ground, predators are not as much of a worry.
Luke sends kisses back to you and Ducky! ♥
I still love them, they are the most amazing berds ;O) it’s so sad that you had an attack from that mink, they can cause horrible damages…
I never really believed that such a small animal could do so much harm. That thing was vicious!
We still love our guineas so much, crazy as they are! 🙂
Tails Around the Ranch says
Fascinating! Who knew fowl engaged in cliques?!
There is so much more to bird keeping than I ever imagined there would be! 🙂
That is so sad. Wildlife can be so cruel sometimes, but it is nature. Hopefully you will have better luck next year and those mean wild creatures won’t come in and kill your birds. Maybe you need a real watch dog to defend the birds, but I don’t know if dogs defend birds.
There are specific breeds of dogs that do guard flocks, maybe that will be in our future too!
Nature can be tough, but it is the way things are….so we won’t give up!!
Ellen Pilch says
I am sorry that you lost some of your chicks, that is awful.
I think it is funny that birds form cliques like they are in high school.
Thank you, Ellen.
Yes, it really is something to watch the birds and how they interact in similar ways to people!
Susanfrom Bucks County PA says
I am so sorry about the loss of the birds. That is just so sad.
Thank you so much, Susan. ♥
I’m sorry about the younguns, but it sounds like things are looking up.
Thank you. We will not let these setbacks deter us, we do know things will get better – we always come up with a new plan!
The guineas have such beautiful speckled feathers. It’s so sad when you lose any youngsters
They really are such pretty birds! We’ve had our losses, but I think losing these young ones was the hardest one yet. 🙁
Brian Frum says
That’s so sad you lost the little ones and hopefully you’ll figure out a security force for them.
Thank you. We’ll just keep working on it! We think – fingers crossed – that things have at least settled down for now. They are only allowed to free range when we can keep a close eye on things.
Only birds we ever had were chickens so that’s about all I know about. It’s good that they flock together.
Have a fabulous day and week. Smooches to Luke. ♥
The guineas are far different than chickens, but we’re just glad that they all (mostly) get along!
Luke sends smooches back, and said to tell you he’ll be featured in our next post! ♥