|An adult Guinea fowl, very weird looking but|
they certainly earn their keep (Wiki Commons photo)
|One of Valhalla's Guinea keets at|
two weeks. Incredibly difficult
to catch at that age since they
were terrified of everything!
|The Guinea's training|
bell with a handy lanyard
made by MSG Mike King.
Thanks Mike, it's perfect!
Our five week old keets have now spent almost two weeks in the large pen on the deck outside our bedroom. It originally measured 6' x 4', fabricated from 1" x 2"s and covered with 1/4" mesh wire. Plywood sections formed a roof. Last week we added two 2' x 2' modular sections to each side and pushed out the area to 6' x 6', thereby giving the 18 birds about 2 square feet each to run around in. We put a lattice cover over the new section and opened it up to some sunshine and (thankfully) rain. Might as well get them transitioned into what they will be living in full time soon.
|Valhalla's five-week-old Guinea fowl keets in|
the corner of their nifty outdoor pen. Located
high above the front yard on a bedroom deck
they're able to spend their days observing the
wildlife and acclimating to the local environment.
They treat the fresh greens like candy. We'd read extensively about poultry raising (and Gordon has had chickens and Guinea fowl in a past farm incarnation) but no source ever mentioned fresh greens for Guineas whereas it is commonly accepted that chickens and turkeys derive a significant percentage of their food, if free-ranged, from greens (20% and 50% respectively).
Anytime one keet gets ahold of an extra-long piece it runs around like crazy encouraging others to chase and try to steal it away. Good exercise and lots of fun to watch. Just for grins we cut a large bunch of all long pieces the other day and tossed it among them. Now each one had a long piece of his or her own and the resulting Chinese fire drill was highly amusing for us and it seems the keets as well.
Within a couple of short weeks they will need to be moved to an outside pen for a few days pending release to free range. We plan to make a highly rustic but effective pen from small diameter cut timber and saplings covered with a corrugated plastic roof and poultry wire with a gutter to capture rainwater. Got the plans already drawn up and need some help putting the thing together. If anyone wants to drop by after we return from Fort Leonard Wood next weekend to assist in construction please give us a holler (Keith and Charles will be here throughout the week while we're gone to watch over the keets and secure the premises).
Once the 18 keets are relocated we'll transition the small ones from the loft to the larger coop on the deck until they are ready to move outside permanently. The nine keets upstairs are two weeks behind the larger guys, and when we move them to the permanent nighttime roost outside we'll probably pen them inside of it for a few days to let both groups get to know and accept each other.
The 18 are just about fully-feathered now and highly adaptable to temperature fluctuations and all but bulletproof. The younger batch are growing their feathers and rapidly losing chick down. They'll be ready for the outside pen as soon as it can be built. There's so much to do here on a daily basis that we would like to solicit any help we can get as preparations for the first Valhallans continue!