Keeping Guinea Fowl with Chickens: 9 Things You Must Know

Keeping Guinea Fowl with Chickens 9 Things You Must Know Blog Cover

It’s becoming more and more common to raise Guinea fowl with chickens. So we have put together some useful information for you regarding these birds and what sort of room-mates they make for your chickens.

It’s important to know that Guinea fowl and chickens are vastly different in their lifestyle and habits. This may sound like stating the obvious but it does need to be understood that they are very different birds indeed.

This article will help you understand the dynamics of these two very different birds.

It is possible to keep the two together but it will take some adjustments on your behalf. If you expect that the guineas will just ‘fit in’, you are in for a big surprise.

Domesticated and Wild Birds

Guinea Fowl

Guinea FowlThe Guinea fowl still runs wild in its native land of Africa where it is quite prolific. The Guinea fowl has resisted all attempts at domestication.

The Guinea fowl has not been ‘improved’ much by mankind to any great degree, this makes them incredibly hardy and relatively disease free.

They do not need people to thrive – they can manage well on their own. They feed themselves very well and although a good percentage of the flock may succumb to predators or disease, they continue to breed in sufficient numbers to maintain flock integrity.

Chicken

The chicken that we all know and love is to a great extent a very domesticated creature, even the flighty breeds that would prefer no humans around.

The process of domestication has been centuries in the making – a slow progression to the point of ‘farm bird’ and pet.

We have changed the chicken in many ways and the chicken has come to rely on humans to a great extent. After all, we feed them, house them and care for them. It is a somewhat symbiotic relationship.

Introducing them to a Coop

If you intend to keep the guinea fowl from wandering off it is best to raise them in a house that will be their ‘forever’ house. If you move them from one place to another you run a very big risk of having them wander off never to return.

If you raise the keets (babies) with chicks you will stand a better chance of them not wandering off as they will bond with the chicks.

When they are ready to be let out into the yard, there is a whole process to follow if you expect them to come home.

Most agree that you let out only one keet at first. It will wander around a bit but won’t go far because of the flock mentality. It will learn its’ way around the coop and surrounding area but will not stray far from its flock-mates.

The next day you let out two and so on. The reasoning being that they have now imprinted ‘home’ on the coop.

At roosting time, they dislike entering dark places so a small night light in the coop will entice them in – along with some ration and cracked grains.

Don’t be surprised if your guineas start roosting in trees or on top of the barn, it’s what they do frequently. They can fly very well for about 500 feet, so high places are well within reach.

Feeding and Dietary Differences

Wild Guinea FowlTurkey starter (21-23%) for the first 4 weeks and then 18% feed should be given as needed, this is assuming you are incubating eggs or have managed to corral some very small keets.

Medicated feed should never be given to Guineas since it is highly toxic to them.

Maintenance feed can be regular chicken ration. However guinea fowl are incredibly self-sufficient when it comes to food, gathering much of what they need while ranging, this makes them very thrifty fowl to keep.

They will rid your property of ticks, small snakes, small rodents and insects in short order. They are known for eradicating ticks very effectively. They also eat weeds, seeds, and other undesirable things.

The Pecking Order and Assertiveness

Male Guineas can be very assertive, especially if you have roosters in your flock. The Guinea males will run off the roosters in short order. They may harass him, deprive him of food and fight constantly. It is not a harmonious relationship.

They can also be pushy with smaller birds too, although some of this behavior is modified if they are raised with chicks.

Although Guineas are monogamous, there is the occasional mating of Guinea and chicken, which can result in sterile offspring.

In a small farm/back yard set-up many folks agree that a ratio of one male to five female Guineas is acceptable.

Intelligence Levels

When it comes to intelligence the guinea fowl was last in the line and the bucket was almost empty. Many owners have said that it is a wonder the birds have survived at all given their intelligence levels.

They will roost in places where they get picked off by owls or raccoons, nest in dangerous spots and do other suicidal things too like crossing roads when cars are coming; they are definitely not bright.

In Australia they are known as Goonie birds – very appropriate we think!

Flocking

Chicken with Guinea FowlWe tend to think of chickens as a flock, which they are. They range out together and spend time with their companions, but they also can do things independently.

Guinea hens can function well as both an independent unit or as a flock – this behavior is natural to them in the wild.

The guinea takes ‘flocking’ to a whole new dimension – where one goes, they all go (a bit like sheep)! It’s like watching a small, gray wave cross the lawn.

Apparently if one gets separated from the flock it will make a lot of noise until the flock comes to find it!

Roaming and Free Range

Guineas can be difficult to confine. They fly well so fencing really doesn’t stop them, you would likely have to build a total enclosure – but then guineas don’t thrive if confined.

Their natural behavior is to wander and roam at will and they do. As we already mentioned, if raised with chicks they are more likely to return to base, but this is not a given.

Enticements such as feed and water in their shelter area will encourage them to come home, but doesn’t always work.

Noise Levels

Two Guinea FowlAll guinea keepers will tell you – guineas are LOUD!

This can be annoying for your neighbors, especially if they are close; in fact if you live within city or town limits they are likely banned.

Kindly folks will tell you they are great ‘watchdogs’. Other, perhaps more realistic folks, will tell you they will alarm for a plane flying over, the neighbor’s dog barking or because a leaf fluttered by.

Initially this will startle your chickens, it might even put them off lay for a short time, but they should adjust eventually.

Egg Laying and Mothering Skills

Guineas tend to lay eggs communally – where one lays, they all lay. A clutch can be as many as forty eggs!

Mothers may brood communally, each taking turns in sitting on the eggs.

The mother will sit for 28 days assuming she didn’t nest beside a raccoon den or other such hazardous spot. She will be guarded by her mate who will keep an eye open for danger during the daytime, at night she is on her own.

When the keets hatch she will march them back to the flock – over hill, down dale, through water…it’s a small miracle that any survive since the keets are susceptible to cold and damp. In fact, when raised in the wild a large percentage of keets succumb to Mother Nature.

Once back with the flock she is just as likely to forget she now has babies and will run with the flock.

If the keets cannot keep up with the flock they will be picked off by any predators – I suppose this is what makes them so very hardy.

Summary

Many folks have kept guineas and hens in a relatively peaceful co-existence, other folks have given up on the Guineas and either sold them off or the birds simply wandered away.

Remember, chickens will naturally go to roost at night whereas Guineas are very independent; they will not go to roost in the coop because you expect them too. You may succeed to some extent if you are prepared to put in a great deal of time and effort to caring and working with them.

Guineas are known to be relatively long-lived – they can live 10-15 years. We found that rather surprising given that they are not the smartest bird out there.

Many owners have said they would not be without these odd creatures as they are not only great for the garden, but they are also quite tasty as table-fare and have very rich eggs too.

Do you keep Guineas? Let us know how they get on with your chickens in the comments section below…

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Comments

  1. Danny Roberts says

    I have 5 Hens and 4 Guinea’s. They get on together famously. I have the reverse, my Guinea”s will not wander, where the Hens go the Guinea’s will follow. At night the G’s will roost on the Hen house. I can sit and watch them for hours, they are the funniest Bird I have ever seen. I would recommend them to anyone who has Chickens. Cheers Danny Roberts.

      • Sharon ODONNELL says

        My chicks and Guineas grew Up together.. .
        Along with Their food .
        They love Treats .Like Dry and canned corn.
        They will Eat Watermelon slices out of my hand .
        But No touchie. 😀
        Pet your Chicks Daily ,When small
        ,then they get used to being petted.
        .

    • Queen Bee says

      I was wondering when I can let my Keets out in the chicken coop with the older hens and the roosters I don’t want anyone to get hurt but I did have four guinea fowl and three regular chickens that are in the house. May 11 19 they were a week old. Just over a month old.

  2. Eyvonne Maree Morgan says

    I now have 13 guinea Fowl reared over about twelve months by Cochin Bantams. They dominate their mothers and will hang out with them for months longer than their own chickens would. They range over about five acres to eat insects and seeds. When they are a few weeks old the keets fly into a tree to sleep but find their mothers the next morning for foraging. I rarely see snakes in the yard now and as a group the Guineas will even challenge quite large sand goannas and send them on their way. Quite enjoying their company and they get on well and feed with the visiting Pretty Face Wallabys, and resident Pilgrim Geese and Cochin Bantams

  3. Emily says

    We have Guineas and we love having them. We have chickens sit on the eggs and raise them, which works out wonderfully. We have found that our bantams make the best moms.

  4. gruntgrunt says

    Guineas are an independent bird. They eat with my chickens, but roost in trees at night. They go off into the woods to lay eggs and hatch their young. I saw a hawk attacking a mother and her chicks. the chicks dove into the grass and hid until mom called them out. Great for letting you know when someone is coming up the drive. Very loud

  5. Jack says

    I have 5 hens, 4 guineas, and 2 roosters. Right now I have 1 hen and 2 guineas sitting on about 25-30 eggs mixed in one laying box (actually a horse corner feeder). The box is about 3 feet off the ground in the barn and I’m not sure what to do. I was going to put some straw bails under the box to lessen the height for hatch time but never is the nest left alone. Any suggestions? 1 week left till the 21 day mark.

    • Sally says

      We have two Guineas (both boys!) 3 hens and 5 week old chicks. The two boys scrap over breeding rights. The older chap doesn’t isn’t interested in the ladies, the young pretender is enjoying the company of one of our hens. The chicks are just developing their wattles and sadly the welsummer that we really wanted to keep is a boy 🙁 should i risk keeping him or will it all end in blood. They are not free ranging yet (chicks) still in run with momma hen.

  6. Chicken Mom says

    I have production red chickens (hens) and two guinea fowl who are 18 weeks old now, and I think I have made a mistake by making them into pets. I let the chickens and guineas free range twice a day, at least for an hour at a time. I have two runs for them to stay in during the day and two coops for night. The guineas won’t eat bugs and won’t leave my patio unless they follow us out into the yard, to the barn, or to the field. I can pet them as easily as I do my chickens. BUT I need them to start hunting for bugs and not just sit on my patio furniture!! Are they just too young? Or have I spoiled them rotten?

    • Simply Sharon says

      Wow, sounds like you feed them on your patio? That could be a sticky walkway, eh? Lol
      I have a mixed flock of Gunieas and hens that have a love/hate relationship, to say the least! Ten Guineas, eight chickens and one Rooster. Most of them were eggs together.
      Male guineas will chase off the little fluffers by stamping a foot a them and a hiss click noise. If the fluffers we’re just cracked out of an incubaitor, they will need a lot of attention from you, or an older female hen or Guinea to adopt them.
      The first spring/summer I had my flock, I made the mistake of giving them a piece of bread outside my back door. Suddenly, I had a screeching awking gaggle that crapped everywhere, living on my back porch!! WTD? WTD?
      I added a yard attached to their hutch that is big enough to feed my flock in during winter or yucky storms. I started tossing out a few meal worms to entice the guineas, and the chickens love them!!
      Anyway, everyone runs into the enclosure (we call the netted enclosure the coop) as soon as they see me or hear me rattle the worn can. It only took once, and they are usually in the coop an hour before sunset, waiting on me.

  7. Leonard Belsher says

    We purchased 10 keets in the early summer and introduced them to an established flock of layers, a rooster, and a pair of ornery Chinese geese. Unbelievably, all get along, or I should say – tolerate one another. The sole rooster (Ameraucana) is not the least bit put out by the Guineas, nor are they by him. However one female Guinea appears to have been shunned by the rest of the Guineas so she tends to hang out in the coop with the layers (Ameraucanas and Barnevelders). However she does return to the Guinea shelter at night, which is separate from the coop. Recently, the Guineas discovered a porcupine traversing the property so they began harassing it! Had to separate them from it so it could escape. On another occasion, 8 wild turkeys showed up and the Guineas were so taken with them that when the turkeys departed, the Guineas accompanied them! Had to retrieve them after following their calls through a wooded area to track them down and turn them around. Needless to say, it has been an interesting adventure…so far!

  8. Lori says

    We have 4 birds, 2 female and 2 male. A few weeks ago I heard them sounding off, and looked out the window. One of the males was standing up nose to nose to a very bewildered coyote at our mailbox!! He ended up chasing that coyote back where it came from! These birds are simply amazing…very loud, but would not want to be without them. And yes, they do not do well raising keets.?

  9. Kim says

    We raised 4 guineas with four chickens. Just lately, this Feb 2019, I notice a male guinea roughing my chickens, pecking at them and rushing them. Is this normal? Should I separate them? The were raised together and all go into the hen pen at night. But I am worried about my chickens being bullied.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Its territorial pecking order, give it a little more time, but keep a close eye. They should find a balance in no time.

      Claire

      • Simply Sharon says

        I forgot to mention he might just be trying to get her to mate with him. Guineas are monogomous-typically one male has a harem of up to five fems that are His. Lol Male guineas don’t sneak next door to have flings with pretty hens, like roosters do.

    • Simply Sharon says

      Yep, your chickens are being bullied.

      With mine, it progressed to chasing and pulling feathers out to holding them down and pulling multiple feathers out! I had sprayed my hens to keep guineas away, but the only thing that worked was booting my guineas out of the hutch and coop. They prefer to be outside and were only frustrated because it had been so cold. I fed them, but… Now, they go in n out of the coop and hutch, will come when I call, no bully’s, and they roost on top of the hutch and coop netting. Sometimes, when you’re a wild thing, frustration at being cooped up is let out on rest of flock.
      In my experience, Guineas don’t participate in the pecking order of chickens. They have their own rules and while they can walk n talk chicken, they are still guineas!!

  10. aliasi silver says

    I have just started the project of guineas fowl by giving two sitting hens the eggs of fowl and they hatched all as I gave each hen ten eggs now I have twenty guins that I hope to monitor and learn the behavior very well but so far they are fairing very well.

  11. Heidi M Darling says

    I have 13 hens and one rooster, I want to get some guinea hens. How do I introduce them to my older chickens? Can I put them in there as babies? Will the rooster hurt them?

    • Claire says

      There will be pecking orders taking place with a rooster on hand, and the hens may also conduct pecking order but with a rooster it may be more formal. I would use the cage method and put your guinea hens in a cage inside the run and have the flock get used to them for a few days and then slowly introduce them physically.

  12. mary merrifield says

    Is it necessary to keep adult guineas away from newly hatched keets & should hen & keets be kept in coop for a while

  13. Jacqui Myers says

    I just picked up 28 Guinea Geets this morning – they are 2 days old. I have them in a brooder, and I’m wondering when I should introduce them to my other chickens. I have 15 five-week old chickens, no adults. I don’t really know what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jacqui Myers

  14. Carson James says

    Hello, I just hatched both Guinea Keets and Bobwhite Quail Chicks. I’m brooding them in separate stock tanks but when they’re 3+ weeks old, could I coop them together? Unfortunately I don’t have separate coops, only one, which is a 12’x32′ old enclosed shed. I was hoping that with 384 sq. feet there would be plenty of room for 20 Guineas and about 50 Quail. I plan to release the Quail on our farm when they’re 6 weeks old and would keep the Guineas cooped up til’ they were 8-10 weeks old.

  15. Oshoseh Henry Garba says

    Interesting. I have 3 guniea fowls. 1male 2 females in a 12 m² area. Would they thrive & can I leave them to free range. What are the consequences of confining them

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Guinea fowl prefer free ranging and scavenging, they would survive being confined, but would thrive as free range.

      Claire

  16. TOM SAWYER says

    I picked up 3, 6 month old guniea hens (1F 2M). They had “bloodied” the ducks they were living with. So I was concerned of introducing them to my 5 chickens (speckled Sussex). It turned out the chickens were the ones to chase them at feeding time. I put them in a pen for a week then let them out, they never cam back to it but spend there nights in spruce trees, but come to feed every day. They lived the winter (Maine), now I have 5 keets hatched by a chicken. The guinea hen and chicken fought over the nest for weeks,sometime sitting on it together. But the chicken won out and the female Guinea has gone of to another nest. No roosters.

  17. Connie S says

    We now have 7 adult guineas, 9 chickens, and 39 pullets/cockerels. Our guineas were raised with our chickens and have done great. They are flighty still but when I give them dried worms they recognize the cup and come running along with the chickens. I have been trying to test everyone out to see how safe my chicks will be with the older ones. So far the guineas seem to be just curious about the chicks. I haven’t left them alone with the chicks yet.

    • Connie S says

      This is an additional note about my guineas. There are two guineas taking turns sitting on eggs inside the coop. There have been some very hot days when they have not been sitting on the nest but then they will go back to it later. Is this normal? Wondering if the eggs will hatch at all! We have quit letting our chickens/guineas outside to roam because we lost a lot of them last fall. We have a very big barn and the guineas roost in the rafters now.

  18. Morgan Hanson says

    I have one male guinea with 6 hens and a rooster that was “gifted” to me. He is the funniest bird I have ever had. He walks on my porch and looks through the window and calls for me for treats. Recently two of my hens became broody and my guinea would actually sit on the eggs next to the hen. When the first baby was hatched he flapped his wings at my dog when she’s got too close to it. Another baby was just born today and he was sitting on it next to the broody hen. I have had some guineas in the past with my chickens l, but they have never acted like him. It must be because he is the only guinea.

    • Pixie says

      I have 4 males and 1 female. She disappeared for a while and then reappeared with tiny keets! For safety I caught her and the babes up and put them in a large 6 ft cage inside my enclosed chicken run. (Our last keets got eaten by feter male cats).
      As soon as I open the coop/run in the mornings the male guineas come in and spend the day around the cage. It’s like they are protecting them. In evenings they go roost in their tree. They come back the next day. I’ve never seen anything like it.

  19. Joelle says

    I had 6 chicks and 6 guineas together for about 2 monthes. I have found 2 cannablized (dead) chicks. I think its the guineas. Time to let them out?

    • HappyChicken says

      This can happen and at times it is because they are protecting their space, the chicks would have had to stay away from the guinea’s laying nest. If you are not wanting this I would look into rehoming them. Guinea’s can be unpredictable with what shenanigans they get into given they are kept to keep small pests out of your coop.

      Claire

  20. Jenna Johnson says

    Hello! This is a great place for information, and I’ve been trying to find out everything I can about Guineas since I wound up with one in my chicken flock.

    The first week of June, I went to the feed store and got 8 chicks (mixed flock), then got 2 more the next week. A week or so after that, I heard a strange call in my yard and went out to find a single Guinea keet (about 2 weeks old, I think)! No idea where she/he came from. Put her/him in with the chicks and she/he immediately started eating and made what I assumed were happy sounds.

    Fast forward to about a week ago and I noticed my 11 week old keet was chasing one of my pullets. The keet (Victoria) would chase her and peck her once on the back, then chase her back another way and peck her again. I only witnessed this happening twice that day, and only two chases and two pecks, nothing incessant. The next day there was a bit of chasing and just running around – not too much, a sprint across the run then back again.

    Naturally, I got worried thinking my keet might be turning aggressive. I posted my dilemma on another chicken forum and most people told me to re-home my Guinea, but I’ve also read that sometimes they mellow out.

    Of course, I’ve been torn and a nervous wreck ever since. The chasing/pecking only seemed to happen when I went out there with them (I go out in the morning and late afternoon. I work from 12 – 5:30, but I would peek out there from the window in the morning and never witnessed any chasing or crazy behavior, but who knows what goes on before I get home).

    I’ve been checking the pullet each day and she doesn’t have any wounds or visible missing feathers. Just today, Victoria the Guinea chased the pullet again and pecked her, but just the once, and Victoria also pecked at two other chickens this time (and later saw her pecking gently at the face of one of the other pullets).

    Victoria is pretty tame – I can hold her and pet her, even though she tries to break free at first – and she’s only ever known the chickens. I’ve also seen her sticking her head under one of the chickens as if cuddling under them like a chick under a mother hen, and she pants when I pet her neck (saw a video of someone petting a Guinea hen’s neck and the hen started panting, so I was wondering what that means).

    I’ve been told my keet is probably a male (based on the behavior) but is there a chance Victoria really is a pushy female? I heard they are hard to tell apart. She started calling a few weeks ago, and she’s been making alarm sounds and the single-syllable call (I think) – no ‘buck-wheat’ sound yet, but it isn’t constant and she’s actually been pretty quiet compared to what I’ve read, even when birds fly overhead.

    So, I’m wondering if I’m worrying too much (that this is just normal behavior and so long as no one is getting injured it will pass) or if re-homing is the best thing to do. I’d really like to keep her/him because I’m really attached, but I also don’t want my hen to end up hurt or worse, dead.

    I have a side compartment built inside the run area (about 4′ x 8′) that is currently housing my one older hen who is still getting used to the new chickens. If things got bad, could I just keep Victoria in there – so she can still see her flock but not cause any harm – or will she cry when it’s roosting time? They are currently in a coop/run set up that is about 150 sq. ft. and my dad and I plan on adding another 190 sq. ft. and I’m planning on building a chicken jungle gym. I have a few compartments attached to the coop/run, all adjacent to one another, so if I put her in one of those, she would still be within sight of her original flock of chickens.

    Sorry for the long post, but since this is my first experience with Guinea fowl, I am trying to educate myself as best I can. Thanks for any advice/personal experiences you can share with me!

  21. D.Shales says

    I don’t have a comment, more of a concern. Three months ago, a Helmut headed Guinea hen arrived in our yard. We live in central Oregon, high desert. The weather is great for the bird now, but I am worried about the winter. Last year we had about 3 feet of snow in February lasting for about a month. It can get to 0 degrees, but not often and not for extended periods of time. We asked around the neighborhood if they know of someone who lost a guinea fowl but no one has claimed her. I am concerned about her living in cold weather. What should we do? Will she go away and find a warmer home? We really should not have her based on own home owners association. Any suggestions welcomed.

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