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Old 05-07-2007, 03:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hi there-

i posted a thread looking for solutions to our tick problem in our new home in the woods of connecticut. i am trying to gather as much information as i can, because i am officially freaked out by the number of ticks we have on our property and the prevalence of lyme disease in this part of the state.

our neighbor has guinea fowl, and i had always written them off as a no-go for our family, because we have brittany spaniels, dogs traditionally bred to hunt birds (not as bird killers, per se, but as company for human bird hunters). my dogs, though they aren't the hunting sort, bark at everything that moves, and i have figured there was no way we could swing it with any kind of fowl.

but now i'm curious as to whether there is some arrangement we could work out wherein some sort of tick-eating birds could do their business in our yard and yet be safe from our dogs.

and are there other birds that would be effective with the ticks? i have read that chickens also might do the trick. please, please enlighten me, all ye who love the woodsy livestyle.

i am really, very, terribly, absolutely awfully stressed out by these ticks.

many thanks,
hcm

p.s. we have cut the grass short and beat back the woods a bit and sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of our lawn in the meantime...

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Old 05-07-2007, 06:58 AM
 
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My parents were in the same situation- they had an brittany that was not trained (to hunt or really much in general), but she still chased down the guineas. The guineas were pretty good about flying to get away from her, but my parents still lose one or two a summer, even though they have a secure place to roost at night. How well trained in general are your dogs? My husband and I also had a brittany who was actually trained to hunt and generally better under control. And when that dog lived at my parents for a while we managed to teach her to just leave the guineas alone. So, it might be possible.

Would ducks or geese be a possibility? They are good at eating pests too and you could put them in some type of chicken tractor (or portable electric fence) where they'd be safe from the dogs. Guineas would almost certainly escape from something like that.
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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my dogs, trained? hah! they're great with the kids, and they know a lot of tricks, but i would hardly call them "trained." they're incredibly high-energy dogs, and i think that's the best way i can describe them. just very jumpy. i don't know if they would actually go so far as to catch or kill the birds, but i don't know that they would ever stop barking. barking dogs + yelling guineas... hmm...

still, i am interesting in exploring the idea of doing ANYTHING to help with the ticks.

i guess it would be good to mention that there's probably an acre to 1.5 acres that we're hoping to manage here- not tons of land. we're surrounded by woods all around, though. we are very soon going to have a fence up for most of the area that we hope the dogs and kids will play in (i'm particularly concerned about ticks in this space) along one side yard, but i'd also like tick management behind the house, where i spend a lot of time, as i have a water garden back there. so i'm wondering if we couldn't make it happen using creative space management and moving the birds around throughout the day. (or am i just creating too much trouble for myself?)

i really don't know if it's a good idea for us or not.

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Old 05-07-2007, 03:23 PM
 
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Guinea's would still be the best in this situation. The dogs will get used to them. You could teach them at the same time that the guinea's are to be left alone. Even if the dogs caught one of the guinea's it's not a big loss. Just get enough in case that happens. The guinea's otherwise are pretty good at getting away from dogs esp. if you have a lot of trees in your yard.

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Old 05-08-2007, 12:53 AM
 
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I am getting some Guineas. They are loud as sin from everything I've heard from friends, and read. But still, I cannot take the ticks!!

If the nieghbors complain, ok, I'll give away the Guineas. But until then, eat away, girls!
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Old 05-08-2007, 03:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i'm going to check out our neighbor's setup tomorrow. i have a lot of questions to ask her about her guinea experience, and hopefully, i'll have a clearer picture (or at least a decent vibe) about whether or not they might work for us.

when and where are you getting your birds, UUMom?

-hcm

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Old 05-08-2007, 05:54 AM
 
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Are you familiar with Plum Island OP?
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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no, please do share...

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Old 05-08-2007, 11:55 AM
 
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i'm going to check out our neighbor's setup tomorrow. i have a lot of questions to ask her about her guinea experience, and hopefully, i'll have a clearer picture (or at least a decent vibe) about whether or not they might work for us.

when and where are you getting your birds, UUMom?

-hcm
I want to get them from someone local, not a hatchery, and I'm told that they aren't usually available until the end of May or June.

I am not sure who I am getting them from yet. I went to a polutry show the other day and got a few cards from folks.
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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From what I have heard, you need a pen to put them in at night, to be safe (at first) then when the get older they roost in trees!
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:26 PM
 
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Well, It is kind of on the subject of conspiracy and the government. If anyone wants to know more private message me, as i dont want to steal the thread. Let it suffice to say that ticks were experimented on in america before the lyme explosion.
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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aah, a little poking around on the internet, i see the sort of direction your conversation would head.

at this point, i'm interested in talking about how to get rid of them. i'm too worried about having them in my yard for the time being.

i bet looking into such a conspiracy is exciting- i just don't think it adds any value to my situation right now. thanks, though!

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Old 05-08-2007, 06:22 PM
 
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From what I have heard, you need a pen to put them in at night, to be safe (at first) then when the get older they roost in trees!
I've been told that they will come in at night if they are kept inside as keets for a couple of months. I also know people who let them roost in the trees at night, but there is a very high mortality rate, for the total free rangers & tree roosters. They eventually get eaten by other animals. Although, if they roost in the trees and free range, they need no care, basically. Not even food.

I wouldn't like to loose them, I don't think, so I am going to keep them in the barn for a while before I let them out at all. I want them to know home.

And I've told the children to try not to get too attached to them. They are flyers!
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:40 PM
 
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Although, if they roost in the trees and free range, they need no care, basically. Not even food.

I wouldn't like to loose them, I don't think, so I am going to keep them in the barn for a while before I let them out at all. I want them to know home.

I would feed them though just to make sure they stick around.

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Old 05-08-2007, 07:54 PM
 
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I would feed them though just to make sure they stick around.
Oh, I plan to not let them be total free range. I want them to know they have a home.

Friends with fr GF have told me that they just don't eat all the offered feed because the get all the want/need from going about the property...and beyond. lol.

Hopefully, they will know I don't mind if they 'over-eat'.

CAthy-- how many GF do you have, and what rate have you lost (if you have) any? It seems everyone who has GF looses a couple. They seem to want to be out and about. I 've been worried about the kids getting attached to them. They are such flyers!
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:32 PM
 
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CAthy-- how many GF do you have, and what rate have you lost (if you have) any? It seems everyone who has GF looses a couple. They seem to want to be out and about. I 've been worried about the kids getting attached to them. They are such flyers!
I don't have any, but the neighbor next door does. For the first two years she said she didn't lose any. Now, she loses about 1 or 2 a year. I saw some crossing the road to our property and one got decapitated by a hawk. : They come to our place when she starts to get too many. She breeds them. She is the "Guinea Lady." They live in her oak trees and do very well there. She is only there on the weekends. I wish more of them would come over, I really need to get some to put in the pasture. The ticks are really bad out there. I just don't know if they would stay there or not, they may just wander back home whether I coop them for a couple weeks or not.

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Old 05-09-2007, 03:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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cathy- can i pick your brain? you're the rural, farmer type, and you seem to have a good mind for this stuff...

i have 2 acres. 1 acre is my yard, mostly grass and a rocky wooded hillside. the rest of the land is dense woods. the neighbor behind me up the hill has guineas and chickens, but she has lots and lots of land. there is woods across the street from me. the nearest neighbor on one side of my property is a good 1/4-1/2 mile away. there is a home across the street and up a bit, but they have a really big, noisy dog. my neighbors on the other side of me aren't very close, but i can see their home through the trees. we live on a quiet street on a wooded mountain. it doesn't see a lot of traffic, but cars and trucks DO come by at a good clip. there are trees lining the road, except for my driveway, and a decent stream the birds would have to cross to make it to the street.

do you think it is a good idea for me to get guineas? i have been researching them like crazy for the last 48 hours, and i would really like to make it work. i'm afraid, though, that if i get them with the intention of letting them free-range in my yard, they're just gonna wander off and eat ticks elsewhere. i would plan on being very nurturing with them as keets, so that they are comfortable with the family (and to whatever extent, with the dogs), and at ease in the yard. i also wouldn't get too many, so that there's not too much competition for food. but if i can't count on them actually eating ticks on my 2 acres (particularly the 1 acre of grass), i have a hard time convincing myself it's worth the effort. would chickens be better/easier in this situation? i wouldn't get chickens just for the sake of having chickens- i really, really need tick control, and i'm not sure chickens can deliver it. but i also don't know if guineas will stick around enough to do the job.

thoughts?

thanks,
hcm

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Old 05-09-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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I don't have any, but the neighbor next door does. For the first two years she said she didn't lose any. Now, she loses about 1 or 2 a year. I saw some crossing the road to our property and one got decapitated by a hawk. : They come to our place when she starts to get too many. She breeds them. She is the "Guinea Lady." They live in her oak trees and do very well there. She is only there on the weekends. I wish more of them would come over, I really need to get some to put in the pasture. The ticks are really bad out there. I just don't know if they would stay there or not, they may just wander back home whether I coop them for a couple weeks or not.
Oh, yeah, May is hawk month!

How loud are her birds? Do you hear them much? Does the sound bother you-- or the other neighbors. I don't want them (neighbors) to hate me. But omg, the ticks!

I just made arrangements to today for 4 keets. I can pick them up in a week. My fingers are so crossed it works out.

We have other chickens-- black australorps, silkies, a leghorn, and a couple of Rhode Isalnd Reds. I love my girlies. They are so cute and fun! I wonder if one gets as attached to the more independant gf?

Thanks for the link!
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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cathy- can i pick your brain? you're the rural, farmer type, and you seem to have a good mind for this stuff...

i have 2 acres. 1 acre is my yard, mostly grass and a rocky wooded hillside. the rest of the land is dense woods. the neighbor behind me up the hill has guineas and chickens, but she has lots and lots of land. there is woods across the street from me. the nearest neighbor on one side of my property is a good 1/4-1/2 mile away. there is a home across the street and up a bit, but they have a really big, noisy dog. my neighbors on the other side of me aren't very close, but i can see their home through the trees. we live on a quiet street on a wooded mountain. it doesn't see a lot of traffic, but cars and trucks DO come by at a good clip. there are trees lining the road, except for my driveway, and a decent stream the birds would have to cross to make it to the street.

do you think it is a good idea for me to get guineas? i have been researching them like crazy for the last 48 hours, and i would really like to make it work. i'm afraid, though, that if i get them with the intention of letting them free-range in my yard, they're just gonna wander off and eat ticks elsewhere. i would plan on being very nurturing with them as keets, so that they are comfortable with the family (and to whatever extent, with the dogs), and at ease in the yard. i also wouldn't get too many, so that there's not too much competition for food. but if i can't count on them actually eating ticks on my 2 acres (particularly the 1 acre of grass), i have a hard time convincing myself it's worth the effort. would chickens be better/easier in this situation? i wouldn't get chickens just for the sake of having chickens- i really, really need tick control, and i'm not sure chickens can deliver it. but i also don't know if guineas will stick around enough to do the job.

thoughts?

thanks,
hcm
Chickens won't get rid of your tick problem and they can't fly out of the way like gf would. I think they would be fine esp. if you got them as keets and kept them in for 12 wks until they are big enough. As long as you don't get too many they will stick around. My neighbor had about 30 or 40 last yr so that is what made some of them wander. They were breeding like crazy. If you get about 5 and maybe let one clutch hatch and after that pick up their eggs. I wouldn't worry about your road. One might get hit if they are trying to cross it, but I wouldn't worry too much. As long as you don't get too attached to them you won't be too upset if one or two come up missing. It happens. It would be about now that you might be able to get some keets from your neighbor if she'll sell them to you.

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Oh, yeah, May is hawk month!

How loud are her birds? Do you hear them much? Does the sound bother you-- or the other neighbors. I don't want them (neighbors) to hate me. But omg, the ticks!

I just made arrangements to today for 4 keets. I can pick them up in a week. My fingers are so crossed it works out.

We have other chickens-- black australorps, silkies, a leghorn, and a couple of Rhode Isalnd Reds. I love my girlies. They are so cute and fun! I wonder if one gets as attached to the more independant gf?

Thanks for the link!
Yeah, they are little loud at times, esp. when something upsets them. They are also loud for a couple weeks after you first let them out. They are just getting used to everything. The noise they make has never really bothered me, I guess its kinda like my hens clucking all day after each egg laid, except gf do it at night too. I can hear some right now, but it usually only last for about 30 seconds at a time unless there is something really upsetting them. If I get some for the pasture I'm hoping I can keep them roosting far enough away from the neighbors on that side. They have considered getting some over there, but I think the noise they make is making them reconsider. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and do it.

Good luck w/your new little guys. I just love any kind of fowl, esp. my cochins. :

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Old 05-10-2007, 02:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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woot! we had "the talk" about guineas tonight, and decided we would pursue the idea further. i guess that means we're kinda "going steady" with the concept of getting some. next stop = engagement?

i've ordered a copy of "gardening with guineas"- it's supposed to be THE BIBLE on all things guinea, and should answer the rest of the questions we have before we make the commitment to order some. we have a lot more learning to do!

in the meantime, i have found a wealth of online resources, if there's anyone following this thread who is interested in learning more (websites, message boards, etc). PM me if you want any more guinea fowl info, and i'll send you some links.

off to bed!

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Old 05-10-2007, 08:24 PM
 
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does anyone have a fav place to order guineas that ships through the mail? I just looked at McMurray's, and I wouldn't be able to get the keets 'til August...

Oh, and how do they do with serious winter conditions? Should I be training them to an indoor roost since I live in VT?

tia!
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Old 05-11-2007, 05:48 AM
 
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Hey Everyone!

We have almost 3 acres and I picked 4 ticks off of my 2 boys in 2 days. Not great for me! I have about died with the tick fear! My dd has been lucky, so far. Thank God! Anyway, after that happened, I talked to a ton of people in my area and the number 1 recommendation was GF. However, #2 and #2, chickens and ducks. We have had them for about 4 weeks now and I have see a difference. So much so, I just picked up 6 more chickens today. We started off with 12 chicks and 6 ducks and now we have 8 chicks (plus the 6 new ones) and 4 ducks. Lemme tell ya, them ducks are eaters. They eat any kind of bug in our yard except caterpillars. I am just hoping that the birds can keep up the good work because I AM TERRIFIED OF MY DH OR DC getting sick. I have the dogs pretty covered and they should be okay. Hope this helps and if anyone has different thoughts, please post.
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Old 05-11-2007, 12:31 PM
 
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Guineas RULE!!!!! WE absolutely LOVE our guineas, and so do our neighbors. We were a bit nervous because we just had a new family move in next door, but they welcome our guineas.

I absolutely recommend that you start w/at least a dozen keets. And keets they should very well be. Best bet is to start them off in a coop and shut them in there for a couple of weeks. Feed and water them inside the coop. Get turkey starter for them, if you can find it. They need the higher protein content. If not, then chick starter is fine. Make sure to put some little stones and pebbles in their waterer so they don't drown. Keets are TINY, and can drown so easily. After a couple of weeks inside the coop, let them out a couple of hours daily in a 'babyproofed' area (sometimes chicken wire is too big, so rabbit or turkey wire work better, imo). When they are 6 wks old, you can let 'em go all the time. They should come back to roost at night just fine. You will not lose as many this way. You can train your gf to come to you by using white millet. That way, if you feel they have gone too far and may be bothering someone, you can easily get them back. ONLY use white millet for training and getting them back. It is a major treat for them!

We have very few ticks so far this year. We have about a dozen gf, at last count. I just found a pile of feathers a few days ago. Not sure what happened, but I suspect an owl or raccoon or skunk. We found a nest of eggs by our garden, and so at least one of the hens is sitting on it all night. BTW, gf all lay their eggs in one spot, and get a clutch of 30 or so eggs before they go broody and sit on them. Then they take turns and sometimes there will be several hens on the nest at once.

They do not always make the best mamas, so we usually move the whole nest into a coop when it's close to hatching time and shut them in for at least 3 wks. That's if we find the nest. We are having a problem w/our dogs (Labs) getting the eggs and eating them before the gf even have a chance to sit on their eggs. This new nest is outside our dogs radiofencing boundary, so it should be ok, provided other wildlife don't get them.

BTW, we have 5 acres, and I don't intend to let the gf population get much over a couple of dozen before we start eating some. My mom started w/24 and at last count, there were well over 100 gf!!!! Eeek! LOUD.

Guineas also help control snakes.

HTH! I think dogs can be trained to leave them alone.

A good way to find guineas is to visit several area feed stores and just start asking. Many have bulletin boards where you could post a want ad.

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Old 05-11-2007, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my copy of "gardening with guineas" just came in the mail today. i'm really excited- i hope we make plans for the coop and order some keets soon.

it's too bad, though, that they won't be ready for ranging till the end of the summer. i was really hoping they could help out sooner rather than later, cause the ticks are awful here. but i know that getting them as keets is really the only way to go.

i've also had a lot of support from the folks over at guineafowl.com. there's a message board there and a really kind community that helped talk me through a lot of the issues of my particular situation (dogs, pond, etc).

-hcm

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Old 05-14-2007, 02:30 PM
 
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YAy!!! I hope you enjoy your guineas as much as we do!

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Old 06-03-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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Hello!
I'm a CT mama, too and we are in the "seriously dating" phase with guineas, too. My four year old has lyme disease and we have to do SOMETHING! I had a natural pest control guy come and he chuckled when he saw our yard- surrounded by woods and peppered with stone walls and all, and said he couldn't help. He recommended guineas. So hardcoremom, I'm curious about what you have decided. I'm also wondering if you can just have females and if they will still lay eggs. I'm vegan, my dh isn't and I told him I'd only let him eat the eggs if they weren't fertile. Plus- I don't want lots of babies! Guineas, that is!

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Old 06-03-2007, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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where in the state are you? we are in litchfield county, and the ticks here are simply awful.

i will try my best to answer the few questions you have here- i bet you have a lot more in-depth questions, as i had, too. i know of some good online resources where other guinea owners can answer the nitty-gritty questions, and i can't recommend enough the book "gardening with guineas." pm me if you want more info. there's a lot of help out there.

do you know anything about keeping chickens? i don't mean to generalize, but there are a lot of similarities, especially in terms of the breeding. no, i don't believe you need a male in order for the females to start laying. and the chicks don't actually start to grow, even if the eggs are fertile, until the hen goes "broody," that is until she starts to sit on them (after laying more than a dozen, which takes a few weeks). so if you don't want keets, or fertile eggs, it's best to collect the eggs frequently. (this can be a problem if you live in the woods and let your guineas range for many hours of the day, because they may choose to lay eggs in a hidden nest, rather than in the nesting box in the coop. that's why a lot of people keep them cooped till about noon, so they get used to laying inside.) does this help answer your eggs question?

the only problem with wanting all female guineas, is that they can't be sexed until they are at least 8 weeks old (sometimes older). by then, they're not exactly babies anymore. and if you wanted to have guineas that stayed close to home and were fairly calm around people (they tend to be excitable/wild), you *REALLY* need to get keets, and put in the effort to socialize them. but if you have tons of acres and don't envision much interaction with them, perhaps getting adult (sexed for females only) guineas and trying to keep them on your property would work.

good luck! we're making our final plans for a coop and i'm narrowing down the breeders on my life.

-hcm

HCM- gentle, all-natural, unconditional mama to three boys (8,6,4) and new baby girl! baby.gif  goorganic.jpg bfinfant.gifhomeschool.gif

 

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Old 06-03-2007, 09:12 PM
 
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Thanks for the info! We are in Fairfield County. Lots o' tics here, too.
I've been reading about how important it is to get babes and that is what I will most likely do because I do want to socialize them and keep them around! What breeders have you found? Our local Agway sells them but the woman I spoke to didn't know where they were from and I'm not comfortable with that. I was thinking that once they are old enough to tell their sex I could maybe trade males for females, but I'd probably be too attached to them by then. I'll have to ruminate on that issue for a while. I really don't dh to eat fertile eggs if there is even the slightest chance they could turn into little babies. Moral dilemma for me here! hm. I'll get the book you recommended. Thanks!
Oh! If they get into my veg garden will they eat the plants? I'd love them there for organic pest control, but don't want them pecking our strawberries and peas!

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Old 06-03-2007, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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no, they are prized by gardeners because of their ability to delicately pluck ticks, aphids, ants, and the like from fragile leaves and flower petals, without damaging plants (unlike chickens, who scratch up the lawn and everything under their feet). for the most part, guineas don't mess up your landscaping or gardens.

i know of a couple of breeders in your area, one in huntington and another in woodbridge. you can find others through internet searches, but i've contacted both of them through the Guinea Fowl Breeders Association, and i know these are folks who are very committed to the breeding and care of guineas, versus the situation you described at your local agway. it's important to me to have guineas that come from well-socialized stock. http://www.guineafowl.com/GeneralStore/breeders.html#

how many are you thinking of getting? if you have a lot of land, and are considering at least 12 guinea keets, you can mail order them, as there are some very high quality guinea hatcheries around the country, with lots of varieties to choose from. you generally need to order at least 1 dozen, because they keep each other warm in transit, and any fewer than that would jeopardize their safety. since we only have a few acres, we are just going to get a couple, and we need to buy them from someone in-state, so we can pick them up in person. it provides us with less flexibility (we need to get them the day after they hatch, we only get whatever variety the breeder has), but i think it's safer for the keets that way.

i have found the book to be really helpful. hope you do, too.

hcm

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Old 06-03-2007, 10:08 PM
 
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hcm,
We are on one acre, but surrounded by BHC land so it's like many. I was thinking maybe six. I like the idea of having different varieties just for fun, but I suppose I'll take what they have to offer! I wouldn't want to have them shipped unless there was no other choice. My farmer neighbor gets baby chickens that way sometimes and there are always those that don't survive the trip. It's so sad!

I'll check out the link and the local breeders. I wouldn't mind making a trip somewhere. We have friends in ROxbury that we visit often. Are you near there? Are any of the breeders you found near there?

I'm thrilled to hear they are so gentle with gardens! We have pretty bad aphids and a horrible infestation of squash or potato beetles. I think my gf will be very happy!

Have you considered hatching your own? My neighbor hatches some of his own turkeys and it's so exciting!

Mom to three and owner of Earthetarian Happy, healthy and handmade.
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