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Guinea frustrations (General Discussion)

by amarcoux, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 11:57 (198 days ago)

Please help me understand why guineas seem to all of the sudden target one of their own and boot them from the flock? I've had a couple of guineas relentlessly picking on one of my hens, to the point of a leg injury and not letting her in the coop at night. I couldn't find her last night, and no sign of her this morning. Most of the time I love and enjoy them, but this is when I'm ready to be done. I can't stand to watch the fighting, but realize this is probably just normal flock behavior. They free range all day and have plenty of room in their coop for night roosting. I guess I'm looking for reassurance that this is just the norm???

Guinea frustrations

by Heritage Hens @, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 12:35 (198 days ago) @ amarcoux

Hi, Amarcoux
how old is that hen and has this happened before? I hope we can help you out with this so that you don't decide to quit.

I have had this happen with a male after it injured its leg and I had him in isolation for three weeks or so while his leg set and healed. While he limped slightly and the treatment was a success, after reintroducing him to the flock he was forever the odd man out.

Recently I found a perfect home for him with a family who lost their only rooster and wanted another one for their hens. They update me and let me know that he has adjusted well and in quite the king pin with the ladies. Otherwise, I never rehome a solitary guinea. Too painful to let one go alone.

Perhaps others who have had this situation with a female can be of more help to you.

Here the mating season is in full bloom and the hens are battling over the males they want for their mate. All I can think of is that perhaps they don't want your hen to interfere with what they are doing.

Please keep us posted... g:l

Heritage Hens Homestead

Guinea frustrations

by amarcoux, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 13:29 (198 days ago) @ Heritage Hens

She's just about a year old. Now you have me thinking...I assumed it was males that were attacking her, but would other hens do this because it's mating season? And her leg injury was caused by them. One actually cornered her in the coop, and if I hadn't stepped in, I think he/she would have killed her. :(

Guinea frustrations

by Heritage Hens @, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 16:52 (198 days ago) @ amarcoux

Yes, it took me a couple of years way back when, after I witnessed the first year or two of the crazy behavior in the spring. I couldn't figure out why the females were running the males ragged! :-/

Just a few minutes ago one of my females caught up with the guinea she was chasing and caught a bunch of feathers on his back, then twirled him around, pummeled him with her feet. I am not sure it was a male because it was quite a distance and I did not see the one in front before the pounce.

Does she show any interest in choosing a mate or is she too discouraged?

Heritage Hens Homestead

Guinea frustrations

by amarcoux, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 10:35 (192 days ago) @ Heritage Hens

So I've come to the conclusion that this is just what I have to expect during mating season, especially the beginning of the season seems the worst. It was the same time last year we lost 4 guineas and so far 2 this year. So we're going to try to keep them as safe as possible and hope for the best. It seems to be Mother Nature at work. I plan on getting some new babies soon. Once your hooked on guineas, it's hard to imagine my yard without them. :-/

How did you lose them?

by BennieAndTheJets, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 14:28 (192 days ago) @ amarcoux

To predators? Or from fighting?

Please do ask more questions if you are losing them from injuries to each other.

There are many members who can help - my situation may not apply to you - but I am reasonably sure they should not be killing each other and someone may have suggestions that can work for you!

g:r :a: g+w :a: g:f

Bad behavior

by Barbara, Friday, May 12, 2017, 11:12 (196 days ago) @ amarcoux

Unfortunately, it is normal for the guineas in a flock (males and/or females) to pick on one (or sometimes two) guineas. There is lots of speculation as to why that happens, but the most accepted explanation is that having an "inferior" member of the flock sets that bird up as a potential victim when a predator arrives on the scene, hence giving the rest of the flock a better chance of survival. If something happens to the "sacrificial" bird, the flock will almost always start to pick on another guinea to take its place. Personality seems to be a factor in which bird assumes that sacrificial role. Those that are more easily intimidated are likely to be placed low in the pecking order. I don't know why dominant behavior can go too far and result in injury to a "low bird." I do know that less of this behavior happens in larger flocks than what is seen in smaller ones.

I'm so sorry to hear about the incident with your flock. Can you provide a good hiding place and a separate feeding station for the injured one?

Bad behavior

by ZoeTX, Monday, May 15, 2017, 14:45 (193 days ago) @ Barbara

I have heard about this behavior and I have seen it. I hate it. As Barbara says, it happens most frequently in smaller flocks. I currently have 32 guineas and of those 32, I have 3 sub-flocks that get along in the pen at night, but go their separate ways during the day.

Often the chasing behavior is 2 males. I've never been able to ascertain the cause of this behavior. Sometimes guineas are just strange....but I love them. LOL

Guinea frustrations

by BennieAndTheJets, Friday, May 12, 2017, 16:21 (196 days ago) @ amarcoux

hi amarcoux,

so sorry to hear you're having this heart-ache and your hen is suffering

good advice from HertiageHens and Barbara: you could re-home the victim, maybe, or try adding more birds (not likely if you are unsure of liking them now, I guess) or add **a lot** more hiding places and feeders and waterers (not sure if that would work for you, since they are already picking on her, and you say they do it free ranging, too)

for us, we have 26 birds and the lowest position changes - I always feel terrible for birds that get picked on, but there are so many here, that they usually can hide and some distraction from other birds grabs the stronger birds' attention

I have 9 feeders for the birds and still put food out on platforms and ledges that I clean up again at night, so there are lots of distractions and desirable areas and the weak ones can get away and still find some food

our run started out nice and open, and looks more like an adventure play-ground now, with lots of platforms and ledges and nest boxes and divisions

people who see it say: oh this is nice for them - little do they know that this was all built out of necessity to keep a minimum of peace

it is important to leave more than one exit from each area of prevent cornering - if one bird cannot escape the attacker does not understand that and thinks the weaker bird is challenging by not moving away - that's when injuries are most likely to occur

I try to think like a bird and see if I can get out of each area, if I were to walk in and someone came in behind me =]

sometimes extra roosting bars can help for a weaker bird to be chased off the floor and get some rest there - if the stronger bird is defending the floor as a desirable area for him and his mate, maybe - I know some of our weaker birds are 'not allowed' in certain areas and they stay away and avoid conflict, but they need to have a space they can stay in and stay away from the other bird, even if it is just a perch

also, I should add - not sure if this applies to your birds or may help - I have seen terrible fights going on for 2-3 days, usually between males, though, and then it is over!

the aggressor drives the point home long after the loser has given up and way too long for my taste, *but* ours did, in several severe cases, suddenly stop and get along again as if nothing happened, with shoulders touching at the feeder and nobody taking offence

it was amazing - it seems like they challenged each other and when the order was no longer contested, peace resumed

not sure about the omega role behavior Barbara mentioned - that may not go away as easily

how many birds do you have and how many males and females? if this hen could find a male interested in her, he may help to defend her

adding more birds can be difficult but it may be one solution

I would try a load of hiding places and perches first and "adult supervision" - ha ha - I sit with them and think about it and intervene until I can think of something - the forum has often helped me, too, like you, I would ask for help

I'll try to post some pics of our set-up if I can get them, in case any of this may help

img: Pics of our "hiding places"

by BennieAndTheJets, Friday, May 12, 2017, 16:48 (196 days ago) @ BennieAndTheJets

high platforms:


Note that the birds can't see each other behind divisions or under/over platforms, so they can get out of each other's sight


here, Lillibud is "hiding in plain sight", another strategy: no-one is following her onto this thin branch and she used it many times to get away - will clean her feathers and relax a bit, even though it is not a great luxury spot - she is not attacked when she retreats up there


ply-wood is a great visual barrier and they do well with it - just do not make one-exit areas with small entries


These are great photos - wonderful examples!

by Barbara, Saturday, May 13, 2017, 12:21 (195 days ago) @ BennieAndTheJets

You've done a great job setting up your coop and also in explaining some of the techniques that have worked for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to do that. I'm sure many (especially those new to guineas) will find this information VERY helpful. Your birds are so lucky to have you to care so much about them!

Great pictures for demonstration of how to help them hide. THANKS!

by ZoeTX, Monday, May 15, 2017, 14:49 (193 days ago) @ BennieAndTheJets

- No text -

about coming home at night

by BennieAndTheJets, Friday, May 12, 2017, 17:09 (196 days ago) @ amarcoux

Cindy has several suggestions in her article on "training" (see articles)

I can add to that, that I had to intervene and change things when I saw what our birds did: the weaker ones got attacked coming in through the door

what can help is if you have more than one door or a very wide door

or I put millet in the far corners of the coop/run when I call them in, so the stronger birds do not stand by the door

sometimes, still today, I have to go in first and keep the stronger birds at bay and then the weaker ones will come in behind me - they know

yes, that is quite normal =]

but I would draw the line at injuries - sorry this happened to you and I hope you can resolve it and enjoy being around and thinking about your flock again! :a:

about coming home at night

by Heritage Hens @, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 10:38 (192 days ago) @ BennieAndTheJets

Thank you for the wonderful pictures, Bennie.
I have found that it is good to have hiding places, as long as there are two openings, to get in and out of.
My converted pole barn is so large that I have made several "rooms" in it, some literally rooms with fancy paneling and roosts, but there are always two or three ways to get in and around.

I think having a light inside the barn that goes on at dusk as well as a spotlight shining a path into the barn doors, (mine have a door on either side of the barn to go in. The meanies can't guard them all.

When there is a light on inside, the shy Gs coming in late or who are afraid, don't stand out in the sharp contrast between a dark inside room and the lighter outdoors.

Heritage Hens Homestead

"The meanies can't guard them all." Ha ha!

by BennieAndTheJets, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 14:30 (192 days ago) @ Heritage Hens

- No text -

"The meanies can't guard them all." Ha ha!

by ZoeTX, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 19:09 (192 days ago) @ BennieAndTheJets

I thought that was a great description too. Way to go HH

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