Guineas originated from West Africa where htey were domesticated from wild fowl. The most common varieties are Pearl and White but both birds will interbreed with the other. Most birds are under four pounds, small boned, so they have a high carcass weight that produces a lot of meat for the size of the bird.
The meat has a game flavor to it so there is a market for the meat from large hotels and top restaurants. The eggs are small as one would expect from a small bid and the hens are known for hiding their nests. The male birds, called cocks, tend to fight amongst themselves but generally won’t bother chickens.
Guineas are wonderful watchdogs especially at night where they will scream if they are disturbed and they retain enough wild instinct that they are good lookouts against hawks.
Along with the small egg comes small chicks and the Guinea hens are poor mothers. The hens will start laying in April and May but won’t become broody till much later in the summer. A hen will lay between 36 and 60 eggs per season
Male Guineas have slightly larger heads and the females aren’t as vocal as the males. Once mated the pair will remain a pair.
They are very hardy creatures and will forage most of their own food and are excellent at finding ticks. As long as the weather is warm they will feed themselves if they have plenty of area to free range. In colder weather and at the beginning of summer where there might not be as many bugs and other forage you can supplement their foraging with any sort of chicken feed.
In rural areas Guineas can simply be set loose to roam as they have enough wild instinct to roost and survive on their own. You can coop them at night but unlike chickens which quickly learn where home is a Guinea might take 8 to 10 weeks to become accustomed to sleeping in a coop. Providing feed each night is a good method of ensuring they continue to return to the coop. Releasing half of the birds in the first few weeks is helpful as they have a very strong flocking instinct. Guineas are known for harrasing chickens, especially roosters. They seem to enjoy startling hens and knock hens off the roost at night.
Guineas are excellent flyers that can roost in trees at night and if you don’t coop them and feed them at night they will become wild. The hens are vulnerable while nesting and they are such bad mothers that a lot of the keets will be left behind as the mother forages. You are better off catching the keets and penning them up till they are big enough to keep up with their mother.
During cold weather Guineas will use a barn or other shelter if one is available. Males will have larger wattles and heads than the hens but the surest method is to listen to their squawks. Females will have a two syllable call and a one syllable chatter type sound but the male can only make the single chatter type sound, like chaa chaa chaa. The female call is more like a raspy ree onsch, ree onsch, ree onsch
Keets will begin to breed in the spring after they are hatched. The eggs are brown and quite small, about half the size of a normal chicken egg. The hens are good at setting but poor mothers once the keets have hatched. The eggs can be incubated but the length of time is a bit different than chicken eggs. Once hatched the keets are fairly delicate and must be kept at a constant 95 degrees F until they are completely feathered out. They tend to drown in water dishes so add rocks or use shallow pans. ..
Guinea keets are very active young birds. They are rather delicate though. That is why the mother often loses a lot of them if allowed to raise them herself. I brood mine in a simple chicken brooder box. I have raised them with chickens from birth. Some people would probably disagree with that so use your own judgment. You do need to make sure that the keets will not drown in the water. They are smaller than chicks and can more easily. I have heard that you should put rocks or marbles in the bottom of the water container so it is not deep enough for them to drown. rooster0209 said Another important fact! Keets must stay 95F until they are fully feathered or they die.
Thank you rooster0209 for your information!
Will guineas hatch their own eggs?
Yes. They are supposed to be fairly good setters but poor mothers