Update on Farming Friends’ and Cottage Smallholder’s interblog guinea fowl breeding eventPosted by Fiona Nevile in Guinea Fowl | 5 comments
Mrs Boss is a bantam that is extremely prone to broodiness. She is also bottom of the pecking order, so her days are lonely. She spends her time running away from Carol, our Maran hen, or spending long sojourns in the anti broody coop. Both of which she hates.
When Sara at Farming Friends offered to send some guinea fowl eggs for a broody Mrs Boss we jumped at the chance. This could be the break that Mrs Boss would enjoy. She would be allowed to be broody, and hopefully have some keets (guinea fowl chicks) to care for. If some keets do hatch out I have no idea what sort of mother she will be.
Guinea fowl eggs take 28 days to develop and hatch. This is day 14 and all is going well. Mrs Boss is living like a queen in a separate apartment with its own handkerchief garden. This tiny castle is within the main chicken run but she is totally protected from Carol’s sharp beak. The castle garden has a small gauge wire fencing from ground to roof. When the keets hatch out they will have a separate secure place for the first few weeks.
Every morning and evening, I give a large handful of wild bird seed to the rest of the flock to distract them while I attend to Mrs Boss. I put a little of the seed in her run and gently lift her off the nest. This can be a bit tricky for me as sometimes she looks quite aggressive. Like Mrs Boss, I don’t like being pecked so I gently touch her far side to distract her and this gives me a few seconds to lift and propel her through the castle door towards the corn.
I check that the nest and eggs are clean while she scratches about. I wipe the eggs quickly with a piece of damp kitchen roll if they are dirty and remove any fouled hay. Mrs Boss doesn’t linger in her garden. She is back sitting on the eggs within a couple of minutes. She does a sort of shimmy to get the eggs in the right position underneath her breast and watches me with an unblinking stare as I give her fresh water and top up her feed. This continues until I replace the side of her castle wall.
Although we have a wire screen underneath the castle, I check all wooden bits for signs of rat attack. Developing eggs are caviar for rats and they could chew through the wooden walls within a few days.
The reaction from the rest of the flock to Mrs Boss’ rise to glory is marked. They seem to be less of a gang now. No chicken has been demoted to be The Bullied One. I am on tenterhooks to see what happens when the keets hatch out.
I was working on an estate a few years ago and heard small, piercing bird like screams from the loose box that had been converted into a hen house. Every one was out and I carried on working. The volume intensified to an unbelievable level.
After about half an hour, I climbed down from my ladder to investigate. A tiny keet had hatched out in a nest of eggs. The mother hen was nowhere to be seen. When the frightened keet spied me it took off and flew around the loose box. It was a strange wild bird to me.
Chicken chicks don’t fly. I need to devise a method of attending to the keets in the castle without removing an entire wall of the nesting box. They could easily fly out into the run.
Meanwhile Farming Friends is teaching me how to tame guinea fowl keets and essential life saving care for keets. Farming Friends is a great resource, the guinea fowl cateogry can be viewed here. The information in this blog is really accesible. Gently, I have been taught so many things about guinea fowl and a lot more besides, such as the ideal spot for my composter. Thank you so much Sara.
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