Keeping Guinea fowl can become as addicting as any pet. They are fun creatures to watch. Not to mention they give you great-tasting eggs and pest control. So it’s only a matter of time before you try to add new Guineas to your flock. But you don’t want to do this in just any way. Today we are going to talk about how to introduce new Guinea fowl to your flock safely.
Checking The Area Size
Before you get too far into getting new Guineas, you should first survey the area. You need to make sure that you have enough space for your growing flock. In your coop, you will need 3-4 sqft of space per bird. And your run will need 10 sqft of space per bird as well.
If your space isn’t large enough, you will need to expand. Putting too many birds in a small area will lead to fighting and competition for space and food. However, if you can’t increase the living areas, then you shouldn’t add more Guineas.
What To Look For
Now that you have prepared your Guinea fowl coop, it’s time for Guineas! You can get as many hens as you want, but there are a few tips for success. The first thing you should consider is adding at least 3 Guineas at a time. Adding fewer than this will likely get the new birds picked on with no one to turn to. The new birds will group together and find comfort in each other until the flock accepts them.
It also helps if you get Guinea breeds that are similar colors. If you have darker colored birds and then add a Guinea fowl white, it could cause problems. The older birds will easily pick out the new Guinea and bully them.
And lastly, you should only add birds that are relatively the same size as your existing flock. Adding Guinea fowl chicks to an adult flock won’t go over well. The smaller birds won’t have the ability to defend themselves. So it’s best to keep them in a separate brooder until they grow up.
But don’t go adding your new Guineas to the flock just yet. It’s always good practice to quarantine your new birds first. We recommend at least two weeks, but the longer you quarantine, the better.
Most experienced keepers will tell you to quarantine for 30 days. The reason you need to quarantine is to prevent diseases from spreading to your flock. Two weeks is usually long enough to catch things like mites and respiratory infections. However, there are a few diseases that could take longer before they show symptoms. For the safety of your flock, the longer you wait, the better.
Step One: Cage The Run
Now that you know your new Guineas are healthy, it’s time to add. One of the best ways how to introduce new Guinea fowl to your flock is by slow introductions. Having a small tractor coop is excellent for these slow introductions. You can start by putting your new Guineas in the tractor and slowly move them closer every day.
In this step, your flock is getting used to the smell and sounds of the new bird. They can see each other and maybe even become slightly acquainted through the fences. And everyone will stay safe with minimal risk of injury.
Step Two: Dividing The Run
Now that your Guineas are acquainted with one another, it’s time to get up close and personal. If your run is large enough, you can place a bit of wire to divide it. Letting your flock share the space not only gets them used to the idea of newcomers. But it also allows the new Guineas to see their new homes.
However, you will need to keep a close eye on your birds. If your Guineas start to peck each other through the fence, it could end disastrously. Only allow your birds to do this under close supervision. After the first day, switch which sides your new and old birds are on to level the playing field a little.
Step Three: Nighttime Introductions
The best time to introduce your new Guineas to the existing flock is at nighttime. In the dark sleepiness of night, your flock won’t be as willing to pick a fight. They might not even notice the newcomers at all. Once morning comes and they see that they have new mates, they might not even care.
To do this, you don’t need to do anything fancy. All you have to do is put your flock up in the coop and wait for them to settle down. Then in the quiet of the night, slip your new birds in for sleep. You might hear a little ruckus from the birds finding a place to sleep, but they shouldn’t fight.
Step Four: Enrichment
We are almost done with this tutorial on how to introduce new Guinea fowl to your flock. The most crucial part of introducing new birds to an established flock is to give them plenty of enrichment. Guinea hens can be particularly nasty when they think that their pecking order is in jeopardy.
Giving your integrated flock plenty of things to do during the first week is imperative. Things like fresh mealworms, hidden treats, hanging cabbage, and other enrichment will keep your birds happy. If they are happy and busy, they are less likely to peck at the newcomers.
Adding things to do will help your flock get nutrients they wouldn’t usually have. In some cases, new Guinea fowl might be a little too stressed to lay eggs. However, with the tensions broken, your Guinea fowl eggs might come sooner than you think.
What To Do About Fights
Quarrels are bound to happen no matter how docile your flock is. It’s only natural for them to bicker over who is above who. For the most part, you shouldn’t interfere with this. Let them decide who is boss and where they lie in the pecking order. The only time you should intervene is when they draw blood.
In case one gets injured, you should quarantine them until they fully heal. Guinea hens are notorious cannibals. So if they see weakness, they will keep pecking at that hen. And if more than one Guinea gets injured, you should quarantine them separately.
When Can New Guineas Start Free-Ranging?
If you let your Guinea flock free-range, you might be wondering when to allow the new ones. Once your flock has calmed and well-integrated, you should be able to let your entire flock free-range. Guinea fowl are very close to each other and don’t stray too far. Since you have a trained flock, the new ones will gladly follow.
Does This Method Work With Chickens?
If you keep Guinea fowl with chickens, you might wonder if it still works. This method for introducing new Guinea fowl into your flock works just as well with chickens or any other type of bird. In fact, it’s the same methods used to integrate any bird species. It is slow and stress-free to all the birds involved, and you will have the best success. So no matter if you have ducks, geese, or Guinea fowl chicken, it all works the same.
How To Add Males
We all know that male birds are proud and protective things. Adding males to the flock can be a little tricky, and sometimes it won’t go over well. So only attempt this if you have plenty of experience and have plenty of females.
Your biggest concern is that your Guinea cock will run off your rooster. They will keep food, water, and females away from him until he becomes malnourished. In some cases, it can even lead to fights to the death. To prevent fighting over females, you want at least five females per male. That goes for both the rooster and Guinea cock.
You might also need to go a little slower than when working with an all-female flock. You can use all of the same steps, but it isn’t as fast as you might like. It might take days to weeks to integrate males of different species. But slow and steady wins the race.
What To Do With Babies
Our last point is what to do with a Guinea fowl baby. You never want to add young keets to a flock of established females. Your Guinea hens will pick incessantly at younger females that they see as a threat. Instead, you should raise keets in a brooder until they are large enough to go outside.
Once they can live outside, you can put them in a separate coop. Tractor coops are great for this because you can use them for integration as well. And when your young Guineas grow to be the same size as the flock, you can start introductions. Since your keets have been out there for a while, the introductions should go smoothly.
Now You Know Everything
How to introduce new Guinea fowl to your flock isn’t as hard as it seems. With a little patience and knowledge of the bird’s mind, you can get your dream flock.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!