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How do I release guinea fowl so they stick around my farm?

how to properly release guinea fowl so they stick around

How do I release guinea fowl so they stick around my farm? 

Guinea fowl are territorial birds and will free range well over a 5 acre area. This is great, you may say, but my stupid guineas just sit on top of my barn and get eaten by owls. Adult guinea fowl are some of the hardiest fowl around. They don't struggle with Marek's disease and they handle a wide variety of climates. However they aren't the most intelligent birds, admittedly. My brother (who lives in Alaska) claims that guinea fowl spend most of their time trying to figure out creative ways to die. I think he's just bad at farming. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between. At any rate, there are benefits to getting your guineas to sleep inside a coop or pen of some sort during the night. It's not always possible to get guineas to do what you want them to do. They have stubborn, wild personalities and will likely just squawk loudly at your attempts to herd them around. 

Here's the best way we've found to get guineas to come inside during the night.

 It's nearly impossible to get juvenile guinea fowl trained to know where their new home is. It's best to start with day old keets.

When your keets are about 2 months old, move them outdoors in a pen or coop, weather permitting. Remember not to let them get too cold during the evening. You may have to supplement their heat with a heat lamp or ceramic heater.

After they've been in that coop or pen for about a month, release one keet outside during the day. Make sure the other keets in the coop are visible through netting or chicken wire. Guinea fowl stick together and have a herd mentality. This means the one free keet will not want to fly away, rather he'll stick with his buddies up against the coop. Mark his leg with a zip tie or permanent marker so you can tell which keet has been released. A little before dusk, stick him back into the coop.

The next day, find that keet and release him again. This time give him a buddy to hang out with. Mark the new keet. Put them back inside the pen at dusk.

Over the next few days, repeat this cycle adding one new keet each time. This should help imprint on them where their home base is.

Add a nightlight to the coop you're using. Guinea fowl are instinctually scared of dark, confined spaces. A little light (not too much, don't use a 40 watt bulb or anything that powerful) can help lure them into the coop at night. 

Also, don't feed your guineas too heavily, especially during the summer months. This means they will forage more actively while eating more ticks and other insects. In the evenings, offer them some ration inside the coop. This will help reinforce the habit of coming back inside the coop. Obviously, during the winter months you will have to supplement their diet with rations more heavily since insects, seeds, and other critters won't be as plentiful.

Should you have to catch adult guinea fowl, wait until it's dark and they've roosted. This only works if they roost low enough, but wear a head lamp and shine it in their eyes while running up and grabbing them. If they have a light in their eyes, they can't see their surroundings and aren't as quick to try and fly off. French guinea fowl are heavier than your common fowl and so it's not a good idea to grab them by their legs. Try to pin their wings to their sides and lift them up that way although  this method works well for people who are watching the whole thing because they can laugh hysterically at all the cursing and squawking.

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