After my dream of becoming a chicken momma, I was slowly starting to want guinea hens as well. I became tired of having to pick ticks off of my family and animals. Guinea hens are notoriously known for scavenging your property for insects and can be especially helpful in managing ticks. The problem I faced though, can guinea hens coexist with my chickens peacefully? Can chickens and guinea hens be raised together?
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How to Raise Guinea Hens and Chickens Together
There seems to be mixed reviews on whether or not guinea hens and chickens can sucessfully be raised and live together. Some say that guinea hens are aggressive dominant birds that will bully your chickens to death.
While my experience with raising chicken and guinea hens together may be different then someone else’s, I’m here to tell you yes you can do it. Will you want to? Well that’s up to you.
Caring for chicks and keets
Like chickens, guinea hens need most of the same basic care that chickens require. Food, water, shelter are all just as essential to guinea hens as they are chickens. I raised my chicks and keets together because it was easier to just do it all at once and I knew I’d have better chances of peace if they were raised together.
Brooder temperatures do have to be carefully monitored because keets are more sensitive to temperature than chicks. I initially maintained a higher temp in the brooder than I would have if I only had chicks, but the brooder was spacious enough for the chicks to get away from the heat source should they become overheated.
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When I bought my day old keets my chicks were 2 weeks old so it was amazing to see how small keets are compared to chicks, then all of a sudden their growth surpasses that of the chickens! It is said that keets need more protein than chicks but I’ve raised them both on chicken starter feed-makes life easier.
Sleeping in the Coop
So prior to getting guineas I’ve read they are notorious for sleeping in trees and not returning to the coop like chickens do. I didn’t want this scenario to happen because there are numerous predators in my area that would love to have a guinea meal. I did not let my chickens and guineas free range for about 2 weeks when I first put them in the coop. They had access to the run but I did not let them out so they knew where home is.
Guinea hens are birds that don’t like to be on their own, even when their out free ranging. I’ve taken notice that they like to stay in a group when out and if one is far away from the group you’ll be sure to hear them calling each other. You can use this to your advantage in getting your flock to go where you want them to, especially if you have to get them back into the chicken run before dark for whatever reason.
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When it was time to be let out I’d coerce them back in the run with treats. They love chicken scratch and I’d throw some of that in the run and in they go-no problems! Now they just go in on their own at dusk-no treats needed.
So up until the chickens and keets reach adolescence so to speak, life will seem like a breeze. You’ll be thinking “my guinea hens and chickens get along great, what are people talking about?” Well sadly that’ll most likely come to an end soon.
For me it started with my Silkie bantam chicken. You see silkies are somewhat flighty and afraid of their own shadow more or less. My guineas started to take notice of her frightfulness and began bullying her.
They often chase her in the yard or around the chicken run. My silkie even seems apprehensive about coming out of the chicken coop to get water and when she does she’ll cluck around even when no one is chasing her, which prompts them to chase her! So really it’s a vicious cycle.
My other bantam a Porcelain d’uccle, gets chased as well by the guineas but her behavior is nothing like the silkie’s. The rest of my chickens are the standard size and for awhile there never was any problems with the guineas. All this had me thinking that size had to do with the guineas bullying. On occasion now I will see the guineas peck or give a quick chase to the bigger girls, but not as often as the bantams.
Luckily I only have three guinea hens and it’s only two of them that give me problem. The third guinea gets chased around as well.
I am not trying to paint a bad picture of guineas by no means, they have never injured one of my birds. At a time I thought that maybe I should get rid of the guineas, but they have proven their worth. At any signs of danger the guineas have sounded the alarm.
One morning I heard the guineas making a ruckus and it was unusual for them so I investigated to find a fox circling the chicken run. Another time they alarmed when a hawk attacked my flock. Had I not had the guineas I believe many of my chickens would be a nice meal for the predators in the area.
Although my guineas will play top dog in the pack, the key to having guineas and chickens coexist together is to raise them together and to buy them as keets. I would not integrate an adult guinea hen into my already established flock. If you already have chickens and want guinea hens then I would integrate the guineas as you would introduce any other new poultry. My husband and I always joke around that our guineas think they are chickens!
Looking forward, would I get guinea hens again? Not sure. I would really need to think long and hard on that one. Can guinea hens and chickens be raised together sucessfully? Absolutely. After reading this, would you get guineas?