Sunday, August 31, 2014

Guinea keets born in the woods!

Our guinea keets are about 2 months old now and ready to be set free.  They live with the chickens in the chicken pen and roost at night in the trres in the chicken pen.  One day 3 weeks ago we let them free outside, but that very day a fox attacked the guineas and killed one of the adult females.  The young guineas were just a few yards away and they wouldn't know what to do if a fox attacked them, they'd be easy to kill.  That day my husband wasn't home, I ran outside armed with my gun and chased the fox off and found the adult guinea he attacked.  She was still alive but died soon from her injuries.  I was mad and searched for the fox, but couldn't find him.  I thought possibly the fox would return for food, it never got to eat the guinea it killed, and I didn't have all day to stay outside and protect the birds.  So that day I herded the baby guineas back into the chicken pen to protect them.  I didn't want one of them to die.  I buried the dead guinea in our pet cemetery.

That left us with 6 adult male guineas.  Just 6 left.  One by one they've all been disappearing.  We always search for the bodies when one disappears.  Only once we didn't find a body - a female disappeared and we found no body, no feathers showing a kill site, nothing.  We always wonder if a female goes broody.  If they sit overnight on the nest in the woods there's a very good chance they'll be killed overnight by a fox or owl.  Anyway, about a week ago Randy swore he saw the missing female guinea with the 6 males.  He said he counted them many times, there was an extra bird.  But later in the day she was gone.  Just yesterday he and I went out hunting for a guinea nest, or for signs of a previous guinea nest.  Nothing.  He figured he must have miscounted the guineas that one day.

Today, the female showed up in the field------with 17 or 18 newborn guinea keets!!!! 

The newborns evidently just hatched overnight and mama was walking around in the heat of an open field.  The babies could hardly walk. Guineas are known to not be good mamas.  We've always raised our guineas keets by chicken hens, because chickens are better protectors.  We always take guinea eggs and place them under a broody chicken hen, the chicken never knows that the babies are guineas.

How very exciting - this is the first time one of our guineas has survived sitting 28 days to hatch a clutch of eggs.  In the past females tried this and always were killed during the first few nights.  Amazing.  We found the nest, it was well hidden.  We walked right by it yesterday and missed it!

And so, we have newborn baby keets again.  It's not a good time of the year for keets - it will be cold soon.  I think it will be too cold for them to spend nights outside in Oct.  But who knows. First things first...

The keets were easy pickings for hawks, blackbirds, jays, any bird that would want a snack.  There was a hawk nest not too far away from where they were standing when we found them.  Plus, there's that fox.  Just 2 days ago I saw the fox in the field, he was hunting the adult guineas.  We didn't think the keets or their mama would make it through the day today, not to mention the night tonight.  And so, for their own safety, the keets and mama were collected and placed in the chicken coop, in the chick/keet/infirmary side.  We had a brood of chicks (chickens) and their mama hen in that coop/pen, and so they got pushed out into their own pen and are not allowed inside the coop right now, the little sliding coop door is closed locking them outside.

The mama guinea was not too happy about being caught and placed in a coop.  We made it pitch black in there until she calms down.  All the babies tucked themselves under her wings.  They all needed to cool down, all the keets were overheated after being in the blazing heat of the field.  The mama guinea hen needed to calm down.

Later today we'll put the mama hen and her chicks in the pen with the adult chickens.  They'll have to manage with the adult chickens.  A friend gave us some pure-bred Brahma eggs to hatch.  We are going to split the babies with them after they're big enough to be on their own.  I wasn't too keen on raising chicks to give away, and I'm not a big fan of the Brahma breed.  They're large birds.  But my husband made the deal when I was away on travel for work.  The real problem with the Brahma chicks is their feathered feet - the other chickens peck the chicks' feathered feet.  None of our other chickens have feathered feet, and I guess our chickens don't understand it.  But the Brahma chicks are getting big now.  And the guinea mama and newborn keets definitely need the protection of their own coop right now.

And so we now have teenage guineas living with the adult chickens, and newborn guineas with their mama guinea hen, and young Brahma chicks and their mama hen.  Things are kinda hectic here at Razzberry Corner these days.

Happy Labor Day to all!