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Part 1: my intro and situation (General Discussion)

by Trillium, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 16:37 (172 days ago)

Hi everyone. First-time guinea owner here, and it surprised me how much I love them. Everything seemed fine at first, but it's all gone crazy recently. I need help! In fact, I need SO much help, that I'm going to write a "part 2" as a comment on my own post, just to break it up.

My family has a few acres in eastern PA, mostly wooded, right next to a nature preserve. We love it, but our tick situation is bad. A neighbor suggested we get some guinea fowl to help keep them off our kids/dog. In March, we bought seven French guinea keets. We loved them! The kids named them and handled them all the time. We built a coop/run in the backyard, and they seemed fine. We started letting them free range for a few hours a day, and it was so fun watching/hearing them around the yard. But after only a couple weeks, they were attacked by a predator. One bird was killed, and the rest disappeared into the woods. We searched, but only found "Bill." He seemed unharmed. They were ~3 months old.

I felt terrible. I knew there was a risk of predators, but I never thought we'd lose so many, so early, and in the middle of the afternoon. I didn't feel ready to start from the beginning again, but there are still ticks, plus we had the coop now, and Bill was alone. So we bought seven more keets. (Not sure if they're the same breed, but they look about the same.)

That's when I decided to join this forum, so I could get advice and run things past you guys. I don't know if I could have prevented what happened. Were they too young to let out yet? Should I never leave the yard while they're outside? I really want to do better with the new batch. They're about 3.5 weeks old now, and the weather is so warm (consistently in the mid to upper 80s) that I've been hoping I could get them into the coop earlier than the last ones. The kids haven't been as attached to the new keets, and they're nowhere near as tame. I don't know if we can fix that at this point, or even if it really matters.

Any advice on what I should have done better with the first guineas? When do you think I can let the next ones outside into the coop/run? I'm sure they couldn't climb the ramp inside yet, but it seems so warm that they'd be all right outside anyway. But maybe not? Nighttime lows are in the mid to upper 60s. We were very careful with the first batch, because the weather was so cold. I feel like I should know now, because I did it before, but the weather is different. What do you think?

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