How to Raise Guinea Fowl
Be sure to have the following ready before your order arrives!
Housing – a cardboard box or metal or plastic tub. Anything that has sides high enough to prevent drafts and to keep the family dog or cat out will work. A larger box will be needed as they grow. Plan to keep the keets in a building where the temperature stays consistent and they are protected from the elements. You cannot just throw keets that are a few days old into a chicken coop and expect them to make it.
Bedding – clean pine shavings, textured shelf liner, hay or straw chopped fine, or artificial turf. Do not use newspaper unless you cover it with paper towel. A slippery surface like newspaper or bare plastic can cause spraddled legs. This is because the leg muscles aren't yet developed and the keet may develop deformed legs.
Heat Lamp – You need a heat bulb or Ecoglow brooder hen (or an imitation brand). A good rule of thumb for the heat bulb is to start out at about 18" above the bedding, leave it sit for 2 hours, then check your temperature and adjust the height as required.
Thermometer – Temperature is very important to day old baby keets. You need to monitor the temperature in the brooder closely. (More about proper temperature in the following section).
Watering device – Something like a Mason jar waterer with metal or plastic base. Any chicken waterer will do.
Feeder – A large flat tray such as a cookie sheet in which they can run through to easily find and peck at the feed is helpful. This helps nurture a foraging nature.
Electrolytes – Sav-A-Chick Electrolyte supplements are available at Tractor Supply stores, local farm stores and feed mills, and even Amazon.com. Electrolytes help hydrate the keets after their long journey.
When your little pearl colored French guinea keets arrive...
Have your box prepared with bedding and heat. Guinea keets need to be kept very warm night and day. The temperature in their box should be at 90-95 degrees the first week after arrival.
The temperature can be dropped about 5 degrees per week (after the first week is up) until they are 4 weeks old or totally feathered.
Tip: If the guineas are all huddled under the heat lamp, they are too cold. If they are all on the edges of the box (or brooder) they are avoiding the heat lamp because they are too hot. Adjust the height of the heat lamp accordingly.
Immediately upon arrival give the keets lukewarm water with the electrolytes dissolved in the water (electrolytes are optional). This helps the keets stay hydrated. Follow the instructions on the packet so you don’t overdose. It is possible to overdose on electrolytes. Keets that drink too strong of an electrolyte mixture will develop seizures and die. If a keet has seizure it will lie down with it's legs out, roll back it's eyes, and have quick little convulsions. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions for poultry applications on the electrolyte packet. Sugar can be added to the water for quick energy. Don't give them more than one serving of sugar water. In about 30 minutes, after they’ve had water, offer feed.
Provide clean bedding as needed to keep the floor of the box dry.
As keets grow they learn to run fast and jump very high. It’s a good idea to have some sort of screen to put over your box so they can’t get out.
How to release keets to free range
When your keets are approximately 4 weeks old, pen them in a cage outside if the weather isn't too cold. Guineas can fly, so be sure to have a high enough fence or a ceiling to cover the pen. Guineas are susceptible to predators, so make your pen secure! Keep them in this pen long enough that they learn it's home - maybe three weeks or a month.
When they are about 2 months old, release 2-3 guineas from the pen. They will stay close to the other guineas still in the pen. If possible, pen up the released birds at night to keep them safe. Continue to release more and more of the birds until all are released. To lure them back into the pen at night, offer them food only in the evening in the pen.
Guineas are territorial so they will remain in close proximity to the area in which they were raised. They tend to range well over about 5 acres and prefer open rather than wooded areas.
Taking care of adult guinea fowl
Housing – Adult Guineas can be left to roam or roost in trees but need a covered roof to stay under during inclement weather. They can survive the winter if they have a shelter. Guineas are social animals and need the company of other guineas or even other poultry. These popular birds are intelligent and monogamous so they will mourn and be distraught when their mate is killed. This is something to consider if you are harvesting Guineas for meat.
If you prefer to pen Guineas, you should allow 30 square feet per dozen birds (about 2.5 square feet per bird). They will roost on the highest things they can find. No use for roosts lower than 4′ if there are higher roosts available. Don’t clip their wings unless you have them in captivity or they won’t be able to fly away from predators.
Feed – Free ranging adults will consume insects and seeds. If you want them to control the insect and tick population, do not feed them too heavily in the summer months. During the winter months, you will need to supplement their diet with a layer feed. Be sure they always have a water supply.
Be careful with their legs! Guineas, both as adults and as keets, are susceptible to leg injuries due to their thin shanks. Do not catch, handle, or transport them by their legs.
Don't have any guinea fowl? We'd be delighted to send some to your local post office. Shop French (Jumbo) Guinea Fowl here.