I have to have silence when sleeping. Ranae and I often joke that I can hear a cat walk across the yard 200 paces away from the bedroom window and it will wake me up. This sleeping issue of mine is, in no small part, a major contributing factor as to why we live in the country. I could never tolerate the noise of the concrete hell known as city life. If I lived in the city I would be back to countless sleepless nights in a row until I finally pass out due to total exhaustion. Been there, done that. No thanks.
So what in the world are we doing but getting a flock of guineas? We must be off our rockers. Hopefully it won’t be too bad, but guineas are some of the loudest birds ever. The good thing is, they are typically quiet until something startles them. Then it’s one bird screeching that sets of a different bird that sets off another and so on. Once they start screeching, it can take a long time for them to calm down. Which probably means, I will have the pleasure of working many sleepless nights and asking myself “What have I done to my peaceful nights?”
Like anything else, we have done a significant amount of homework on raising guineas. We have talked with many flock owners and done more than a little reading and studying. I think we’re ready to get a flock and see if we can’t get control of this year’s tic and spider population. Hopefully we aren’t sacrificing a good night’s sleep in exchange.
With the warmer than usual winter this year, Texas is expecting a higher than normal population of all types of outdoor creepy crawlers. That’s where the new flock of guineas comes in. Guineas are relentless hunters of beetles, locusts, spiders, scorpions and tics. They are also great at killing ants, cockroaches, flies, wasps, termites, cutworms, grubs and snails. They are really amazing at eradicating these pests from their area of patrol.
Unlike chickens, guineas won’t typically destroy a garden in the process of their hunt. They will scratch the soil to uncover their prey, but they usually leave the plants in good health. I certainly hope so or the Master Gardener I am married to may just plant me… six feet under.
It’s really best to allow your guineas to free-range. They will spend most of their day foraging. They work as a team and devour anything they find as they walk through the grass. When they discover something special like a snake or a rodent, they close ranks, circle around their prey and move in for the kill.
This flock instinct is why you shouldn’t have just a few guineas. We are starting our flock with a dozen birds. Most flock owners will tell you that any less is not a normal environment for the guineas and should not be considered.
As they tend to nest on the ground, you will need to do a few things to keep them safe. When a guinea builds a nest on the ground, this is when they are most vulnerable to predators like foxes, coyotes, and owls.
The best thing to do is to train your guineas to come home at night and lock them safely away for the evening. In order to do this, you will want to get your guineas when they are just a few days old at most. Then it’s a few weeks of brooder lights and feed much like you would raise chickens.
After they get big enough to free-range, you should feed them once a day in the early evening right about the time they would want to roost. Guineas will naturally want to roost in the trees but if you provide them with an alternative along with food (even though you are letting them free range), then they will return home to the safety of your enclosed area most nights.
Guineas are delicate birds so next week’s article will talk a bit about raising guineas and the differences between raising them and raising chickens.
Until next week…
Vern Six is a freelance computer programmer and entrepreneur. He is a United States Army certified survival expert and former Christian missionary. Vern has been a hobby blogger for nearly five years and now has his “According to Vern” blog published in numerous newspapers around the world. You can learn more about Vern by visiting his website at http://AccordingToVern.com