Guinea Problems

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Quinn
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Having finished my new guinea shelter, I was anxious to get the guineas moved in – and out of the coop, which they were now sharing with a cage full of 6-week-old chicks. The chicks really needed to be released, plus I had nine more in the house that I was anxious to relocate.

Two of my wonderful neighbors came over that evening after dark to help me catch the guineas and move them. Jean and Jake (not their real names) raise lots of poultry and other animals and are quite experienced at this sort of thing.

“This isn’t a difficult job for us,” said Jean, adding that Jake in particular is good at catching birds. I tried to catch one of them but couldn’t – as soon as I grabbed it, it pushed off with its wings and took off across the coop. Jean amazed me by holding one under each arm while Jake carried the other.

I had decided only to move three of the five at this time because one had been hanging out by him-or-herself all the time and seemed upset and distracted. He would run back and forth in front of the windows when I came in, and wouldn’t eat unless I brought some feed over to him.

According to what I’ve read, guineas are supposed to pair off if there are an equal number of males and females. Though it’s very difficult to tell the sexes apart at this stage (six months) – or even as adults, some say – I had tentatively determined that I had three males and two females, based on the number of eggs and the fact that I never saw more than two of them giving the female’s buckwheat call at one time. I finally concluded that this was the extra male, who was frustrated because the others seemed to have paired off and he didn’t have a mate. I had read that guinea cocks will race each other with their wings held up when they’re competing for a mate, and that kind of looked like what he was trying to do.

Then one day I noticed another of the guineas hanging out with him. This went on for a few days, and I assumed he had acquired a mate. But soon I found that one huddled in a corner, hiding its face. When it did emerge I noticed its head was bloody, and soon one of the other guineas was chasing it and pecking at it. Whenever it wasn’t hiding in a corner, the little loner would hang around it protectively, confirming my theory that he was her new mate. Once I saw the injured one take a blade of grass out of his beak, and he didn’t even object.

So I thought it was best not to move them with the others, for the time being, at least.

Part 2: A Guinea Disaster

Pg 3: Chickens Disappearing

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