Guinea fowl are such fun and exciting creatures to own. You will love how fascinating they are to watch and their silly personalities. Some of you might even want to add a few to add to your chicken flock. And with so many benefits, we don’t blame you. But one of the most common questions new owners have is, “When can you let Guinea fowl free range?” After all, we know how important it can be for our hens, so can Guineas have the same?
When Can You Let Guinea Keets Go Outside?
In answering when can you let Guinea fowl free-range, we first have to look at appropriate ages. Just like with chickens, you have to take special care of baby Guineas. Your Guinea keets should be in a brooder for the first four weeks of life. This is when they are at their highest risk of infection and becoming someone’s dinner.
After four weeks old, you can start by moving your Keets to the coop. But you don’t want to let them free range at this time. They are still very vulnerable and need training. That is what the next four weeks are for.
When Can You Let Guinea Fowl Free Range?
Over the next four weeks, your Keets will begin to imprint on the coop as home. They will also start to form bonds with your chickens to recognize them as apart of their flock. Keeping them locked in a coop for that long might seem cruel. But you have to remember that Guinea fowl are not domesticated and need some form of training.
After a week of staying in the coop, you can start to let your keets out into a covered run. Covered runs are essential at this stage because your keets are more likely to get out and get lost. When can Guinea keets fly? Most start by four weeks old. But if they are locked up, you might not have noticed this new skill.
Over the next three weeks, use this time to train your keet to go in the coop at night. Most owners find that they have the best luck doing this by feeding their keets at night in the coop. Your Guineas are very food motivated, so feeding them in the coop encourages them to go inside stress-free. By the time your keets are eight weeks old, they are ready to head outside the coop. But, is there a particular way to do this?
How To Free Range Guinea Fowls
As mentioned above, Guinea hens are not domesticated animals. They tend to get lost, fly away, or picked off by predators often. So letting your Guinea fowl free range is risky business if not done correctly. And even if you do everything to a T, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t lose a few over time.
Tip #1 Don’t Attempt In Urban Areas
Most urban and suburban areas don’t allow people to keep Guinea fowl for several reasons. One reason is that they are extremely loud. Another reason is that they can fly 400-500 feet away without an issue. Your Guinea hens will continuously be in the neighbor’s yards.
In suburban areas, there are so many places your hens could disappear too. They could quickly fly into a neighbors tree, get eaten by a dog, or hit by a car. Unless you want to lose your entire flock, never let Guinea fowl free range in urbanized areas.
Ideally, Guineas stakeout about 5 acres to claim as their own. We aren’t saying that you need 5 acres to let Guinea fowl free range. But it does help give you an idea of the type of area that they do need.
Tip #2 Start With Keets
The younger the Guinea fowl is, the easier it is to train them. Free-ranging doesn’t just depend on age, but also when they are trained. Molding the minds of keets is easier than attempting to train full-grown Guinea fowl. Older Guinea fowl are also less likely to imprint on chickens if they have only known other Guineas. The younger you start, the better.
Tip #3 Only Free Range In The Daytime
Another crucial factor is to only free-range during the daylight hours. If the sun starts to set before the Guineas go in the coop, they will seek refuge in a tree. And once they get up, you will have to wait it out before they come down.
For some people, this might not seem like a bad idea. But there aren’t many people who can say that they live in a predator-free area. If Guineas don’t go into a protected coop, they might not all make it home. So about an hour before the sun sets, you should start your evening routine to put them away.
Tip #4 The Right Guinea Fowl Coop
The key to your Guineas liking their coop is to get one according to their needs. Guineas like to roost in high up places with natural roosts. If you put your Guineas in an average chicken coop, they are likely to feel uneasy. But you can make small adjustments with new high perches for more comfortable sleep.
And you don’t have to worry about Guinea Fowl nesting boxes. Guineas make a large communal nest in a shallow hole in the ground to lay their eggs. As long as they have a place in the run or yard, you won’t have to adjust the coop.
Tip #5 Feed At Night
When can you let Guinea Fowl free range? While eight weeks is a minimum age standard, the better answer is when they come when called. The best way to do this is to feed your hens every night in the coop. Enticing them with feed and mealworms is a great way to get them to come running.
Guinea fowl are a creature of habit. And once they start to remember the routine, they will gladly come running to the coop for a treat. When you can do this without stragglers, you know it’s time to start letting your Guinea fowl free range. For some birds, this can take a few weeks; others might need longer to catch on. There isn’t an exact timeline, but you will know when they are ready.
Tip #6 Let Out One At A Time
Guinea hens are flock birds. When they get separated from the rest, they send out the alarm and try to find the others. But when you let your hens out for the first time, you don’t want to let them all out at once. It will only cause mayhem and chaos.
Instead, what you will want to do is let them out one at a time. Your Guinea hens won’t stray far when the rest of the flock is closed in the run. Over the next few days, you can release a few chickens and another Guinea until your whole flock is out roaming. This is a perfect training technique for your Guineas to imprint on chickens as well as their own.
Tip #7 Never Chase
No animal likes when you chase them. But this is especially true for Guinea Fowl. When you pursue a chicken, they can’t get away as quickly. But if your Guinea hens are free-ranging and you try to chase them, they will seek shelter up high. They will go into the trees, neighboring houses, or on top of your home.
You never know where these guys will end up. If your hens won’t go back to the coop, it is safer to leave them be. They will likely come back for the rest of the flock. But if you continue to scare them, they will get hurt.
How Many Guinea Fowl Should I Get?
Guineas do best when kept in flocks of six or more. But if you have a mixed flock, you don’t want to have this many Guineas. For the mixed backyard flock, you should have about three Guinea hens.
Three hens are perfect because it allows the Guineas to imprint on your chickens. If you have more Guinea hens, they will form a separate flock and not rely on your chickens. You might be wondering why this is a bad idea.
You want your Guinea hens to imprint on your chickens because they have more sense of boundaries. Your chickens might not always act like they have any. But they know when they are in someone else’s yard and when to go home at night. Guinea fowls might be fun to have, but they aren’t always the most intelligent.
If you have more than three Guinea hens, they will separate from the rest and do their own thing. You will find that they hardly comingle with the chickens, and they might even try to avoid them. So they won’t have a guide in what to do next.
So Get Out There And Start Free-Ranging
Having your Guinea fowl free range isn’t as easy as chickens. But with a little time and patience, you will reap the rewards. Your Guineas will irradicate pest problems and maybe even give you delicious eggs.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!