We hatched 24 guineas from eggs on June 29. They did well in their brooder and grew too large to be comfortable, plus they feathered enough to no longer need supplemental heat. So, we moved them to our mobile coop where we previously kept chickens. It’s quite large (at one time it housed 200 chickens at night) and the guineas had room to fly, which they did! Our hope was that they would return to the coop at night to eat and we could lock them in to keep them safe from predators, like we did with our pastured chickens.
But, alas, guineas are not chickens.
Once the guineas had their speckled camouflage feathers, we opened the coop door and kept our fingers crossed. It took a day for the birds to venture outside, but when they did, they immediately started to forage for insects – just as we hoped! However, when night fell, the guineas didn’t return to their coop.
Over the next several days, we had “guinea sightings.” Here they are foraging with the donkeys, who didn’t even seem to notice the little birds.
As the week progressed, sightings became rarer and the numbers of guineas became smaller. Finally, Laura and I saw a group of only 5 guineas next to the coop and we decided it was time to try to catch them. Using a bird net, we managed to trap two of the birds and locked them in a nest box in the coop. The other 3 birds ventured inside to find their friends and so we now have five guineas back in their coop.
After talking to fellow guinea owners and doing some online reading, we have decided to keep them in the coop, only feeding them at night, until they come down from the roost to eat when we are still nearby. When we put the feed in the coop, we call them: “Guinea, guinea, guinea, dinnertime!” With repetition, they should start to recognize the call and associate it with food and come to eat even when outside ranging.
Keep your fingers crossed!