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Raising and owning guinea fowl can be an entertaining activity. Today we’ll break down the basic points you need to consider when deciding to raise guinea and also how to care for the baby keets for the first 8 weeks.
While we do not anticipate a loss, Meyer Hatchery does cover losses of properly cared for birds that arrive deceased or that pass in the first 48 hours after their arrival. Losses must be reported within 72 hours of arrival. To report a loss with a recent order, fill out our Loss Reporting Form.
Guinea fowl are originally from Africa, so warm summers are not an issue for them. They can be kept in a wide variety of climates but if you live where winters are very cold they will need good, draft-free housing for protection. Guinea keets are raised in a manner similar to chicken chicks; they need to be in a draft-free brooder for the first 8 weeks, kept warm, and with access to fresh water and gamebird or turkey starter feed at all times. The temperature of the brooder should start at 95 degrees for the first week of age, then decrease the brooder temperature by 5 degrees each week. Once the keets are fully feathered by around 8 weeks of age, they can be allowed outside to acclimate to their permanent housing.
Special notes when using a brooder plate
- Place your brooder plate on the opposite side of your brooder space away from waterers.
- Set the height of your plate making sure there is a minimum of 1 1/8" space between the brooder plate and your bedding
- Allow enough space for your poultry to be able to move freely from underneath the brooder plate. Some brooder plates give you the option to adjust one side of the plate a bit higher than the other giving your poultry the option to choose their preferred height.
- Turn your brooder plate on 24-48 hours prior to the arrival of your poultry
- When your poultry arrives be sure to encourage them to go underneath the brooder plate showing them where warmth is.
- Brooder plates mimic a mother bird using warmth and touch so using a thermometer to measure the temperature is not reliable. It is important to watch the behavior of your poultry to determine their comfort level. If they are peeping and huddled together, adjust the plate lower, as this is a sign they are too cool. If they are avoiding the heat plate altogether it may be too low, therefore providing too much warmth.
- Brooder plates are ideal for indoor brooding. If the temperature of the room falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit your brooder plate will not provide enough heat for your new hatchlings.
- Learn more on how to brood poultry using a heat plate here: Brooding with the Brinsea Ecoglow Safety 600 Brooder Plate
Guinea keets require a bit higher protein ration than chicken chicks do. For the first 5 weeks of age, feed guinea keets a 24-26% protein turkey or game bird starter, then after 5 weeks of age, they can eat standard chick starter feed. Medicated feed is OK to use for guinea keets, especially if the weather is hot and humid which encourages the growth of coccidia in the environment. Begin feeding a layer ration once the keets are 12 weeks of age.
Guinea fowl are generally not big fans of being confined. They are happier if allowed free-range of your farm. However, if frequently handled as keets, the adults can learn to accept being handled and confined within a coop and yard similar to chickens. Guinea can fly up into trees and onto buildings quite well, so any yard enclosure will need to have a top if you do not want “fence-jumpers”. Many times, guinea prefer to roost in trees at night, and can become difficult to get into a coop at night for safety. Roosting outdoors makes them vulnerable to nocturnal predators such as owls and raccoons. Guinea can be kept with chickens, and often do very well, especially when raised together. The guineas typically return to the coop at night with chickens present.
We hope this information helps with your decision to raise the entertaining and beautiful varieties of guinea fowl that we offer at Meyer Hatchery. You can read more about how to care for guineas on our blog. We are always a chat, phone call, or email away if you have further questions!