Here at BlueLand Farm we have introduced a new animal to the mix and I am so excited about it!! We bought some guineas!!! Guinea Hen Keets to be exact, Keet is the term for the babies. Guineas are an African game hen, we call them our African Attack Chickens!
They have faces that only a mother can love, and what I mean is that they are so comical looking they end up being actually quite cute. They make a TON of noise pretty much all the time, and they are very bossy about who comes up the driveway. Why get these creatures then you may ask? One word, TICKS! These little creatures eat ticks like it’s thier lot in life, which is fitting, because here at BlueLand Farm, that is their lot in life!!
And I have to be raising some kind of baby fowl, it’s one of my favorite thing to do in the spring. We got them in the end of July, so there wasn’t much to be worried about as far as keeping them warm, so we started them outside (Also, guineas are super hearty). So we set up “Keet TV”. A dog crate that I lined with hardware cloth to prevent tiny escapes and then added a mama heating pad.
Mama heating pad is my preferred method for raising chicks for two reasons: it uses less electricity than the big warming lights and it is more natural that those big bright bulbs!. The chicks are exposed to light and dark as they would be normally and feather up a lot faster. This makes them ready to go out of the brooder faster too! There are several ways to accomplish this. You can purchase one of the fancy ones like this one from Premier 1. These are convenient because they are easier to clean and change height for you growing chicks. Or if you are more of a do-it-yourselfer like me, you can build one! I just used a sturdy metal form (I used a leftover piece of hog panel) draped with a heating pad and towel. Just make sure that the heating pad doesn’t have an automatic auto off feature. I use this one because it is cheap, the cover is washable, and I like that the indicator light is a quick way to check if it’s on or not. You want to check that it is still warm at least twice a day.
The keets grew quickly and we are just finished coop training them. We had an extra empty chicken coop so I put all the keets in there for three weeks to let them get used to it. Then I let out half of them at a time to wander around. They are very flock bound and won’t wander too far from their buddies that are still locked up. Every night we closed them in. After another month of this, I swung open up the coop door an them them all out to roam. I haven’t closed the door since then and they all come back every night to roost in the coop! No one has been taken by predators or wandered too far!
Questions about Guineas, mama heating pads, or farm life in general? Post them below!!
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