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Guinea Hens....how many to make a difference?

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  • Guinea Hens....how many to make a difference?

    So one of my neighbors apparently picked up some guinea hens recently who have adopted my farm as a new home. They're making the dogs go crazy (which is driving us crazy), spooking the horses, and are just loud enough calling to each other to be annoying (as uninvited guests anyways).

    My question is.....can 3 guinea hens make a difference in the bug population on my 5 acre farm? They're actually kind of cute, and I know that given time the dogs will calm down and it's never bad to get the horses used to something new (though I'm a bit worried about how often the hens dart underneath their legs). I'm trying to decide if it's worth having them around or if I should make a point of talking to my neighbor....though I'm not sure there's much he can do since I do have a much more inviting property (well, I think it's more appealing to guinea hens....his is pretty densely wooded).

    Should I just embrace my new guests and feel lucky that they've adopted me?
    Flying F Sport Horses
    Horses in the NW

  • #2
    I don't know how well they will reduce the bug population, but guinea hen eggs are the perfect size for deviled eggs. No awkward half eaten egg in your hands with the filling splooging out.

    Personally, I am not a fan of loose fowl. I know they are good for bugs and breaking down manure, but I find them messy, JMHO.
    Originally posted by The Saddle
    Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.


    • #3
      The farm I rent has 7 of them. They cover and peck from about 30 acres area. I have 17 horses on the property and have never found a tick, while friends around me are pulling ticks off their horses daily. Yes they make a difference and are worth it. They get used to you and don't cackle as much. They dart in front of your car, horse, etc, but I've not hit one yet.
      Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
      Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
      & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


      • #4
        haha they will never stay away from your horses, at least ours never did, but eventually your horses will stop trying to step on them


        • #5
          Love them and their little yellow tennis shoes! I have peacocks myself but would enjoy guineas too. With the neighborhood being more developed I've resisted so far.

          Yes, loose fowl spread manure, eat bugs, and provide entertainment. Some will also chase away snakes! You will get more accustomed to them ...I hardly hear my peacocks though they are gorgeous lawn ornaments! Enjoy them.
          Last edited by birdsong; Jun. 3, 2011, 06:58 PM.
          "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


          • #6
            Guinea hens are very useful, but don't grow too attached to them. While perhaps not actually suicidal they have little or no regard for their own lives. My neighbor accross the street started out with about 18 and within a summer was down to about 5. I haven't seen any this year at all.

            I understand that they will "wear out" the tick population and that's a Good Thing.

            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


            • #7
              Originally posted by mitchfromtimco View Post
              haha they will never stay away from your horses, at least ours never did, but eventually your horses will stop trying to step on them
              That's because horses attract bugs.

              They are a great early warning system.


              • #8
                And keep in mind some horses dont get used to fowl. Do a search on the Hallmark card thread when horses smooched neighbors roosters. Hysterical, if sad for the roos.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                  Guinea hens are very useful, but don't grow too attached to them. While perhaps not actually suicidal they have little or no regard for their own lives. My neighbor accross the street started out with about 18 and within a summer was down to about 5. I haven't seen any this year at all.
                  A dirty little secret - By the time they're all gone, you're actually glad.
                  "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                    Guinea hens are very useful, but don't grow too attached to them. While perhaps not actually suicidal they have little or no regard for their own lives. My neighbor accross the street started out with about 18 and within a summer was down to about 5. I haven't seen any this year at all.

                    I understand that they will "wear out" the tick population and that's a Good Thing.

                    True and true! Really it's not just ticks, it's just bugs. They aren't as good with flies. Flies are fast and their larvae stay well hidden, better territory for chickens. I've seen them gang up on a snake before. It was not pretty for the snake.
                    They are absolutely not in it for the long haul. Moreover, you cannot rely upon them to raise young. It's as if they just forget what they were doing every few minutes. They do get smarter in greater numbers, however, and the thinning is noticeable. My population has been cut in half since last summer, but we have a known coyote problem. Honestly, I don't how these creatures survive in the wild.
                    My ideal small flock size for our 3 1/2 AC farm would be 6-7. It's hard to just get the hens; you'll get a few roosters. For their societal model to work easily, they need more females than males. They do mate long term, some say for life. I have seen a roo woo a hen into his group before, though. Males with no mate are chased relentlessly. Sometimes the male with females who chases the mateless bird, is so distracted, so frequently that another harem-having male steals his girls. They are fascinating critters.
                    "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                    • #11
                      They are SOOOO STUPID!!

                      They get smarter the more you have because they each have ONE brain cell to contribute to the communal brain.

                      If you can handle the dumb, ie; won't move out of the way of a car they see MULTIPLE times a day dumb, you may just appreciate them.

                      So dumb!!

                      I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

                      R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed


                      • #12
                        Ironically, I had to avoid 3 on the road this morning. They belong to a neighbour and I see them everywhere...except the neighbour's property!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kinnip View Post
                          Moreover, you cannot rely upon them to raise young.
                          Yes, but don't try to catch the babies! The parents are fiercely protective.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for all of the replies.

                            After watching them for 5 or 6 days this is what I can contribute to the conversation.

                            Oh. My. God. They are SO DUMB!

                            Two of them seem to do okay, but the white one (there's one white, one with the typical black/white/spotted coloring and one blue) has to be the dumbest creature I've ever seen. It keeps getting stuck on the wrong side of a no-climb fence. So it will be 10 feet away from the others and suddenly have a complete and total freakout that it can't get to its friends. Note, the fence is about 30 feet long and has space on either end to walk around.....and, oh yeah, it COULD FLY OVER. It usually gets stuck about 2 feet from the gap on one end or the other.

                            Every morning we're awakened in the 5-6am range by one of the white bird's freakouts. I pray one of the horses decides to take it out. The other two are fine.

                            I was initially thinking that maybe I was lucky to have the free bug control. But we don't have ticks and the only real issue around here are the skeeters and the flies. Doesn't sound like they're great control for either. We have a pretty big swallow and bat population, so I'm thinking they're still my best bet.

                            I've decided that my neighbor must have picked up the guinea hens because he hates us.....
                            Flying F Sport Horses
                            Horses in the NW


                            • #15
                              Fences will totally confound a guinea, even if they've flown over the same fence before. We invariably have one or two who get stuck in the goat pen all day, then suddenly when it's time to roost, they figure it out. If it's mosquito and fly control you're after, ducks are great for both.
                              "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                              • #16
                                Yes, they are suicidal and dumber than dirt. We started out with 5 and we're down to one hen now who had her leg broken when my gelding stepped on her. She still hasn't figured out NOT to bed down in his stall. The scary thing is she is the one lone survivor, which makes her probably the smartest of our original flock of five!
                                She goes out to graze with th horses everyday ( I thinkshe think she's one of the herd). She's amusing and she does eat bugs, so I wouldn't turn down a free flock of five if I were you.


                                • #17
                                  They are really wonderful if you need to get rid of Japanese beetles.


                                  • #18
                                    Five years ago I started with 7 keets. I am sadly down to 2 hens. I have a fox that is relentless. My 2 males tried to defend their mates and lost their lives. I got them for tick control we have had lymes and ehrlichia, horse, human and dog. They did a great job but it is too sad losing them they do range pretty far.

                                    Riding with them is challenging- they love me and the horses so they fly to us- one horse always freaks. My mare puts her nose down and pushes them out of the way. I am thinking of getting bantams anyone have them?


                                    • #19
                                      The farm where we rent the barn has a small flock of 3 Chilean hens (chickens). 2 hens and the rooster (got beat up by another rooster and missing an eye) ended up being fox food. We found a silkie bantam rooster on Craigslist who is now the leader of the band. Now that he's gotten acclimated to the girls he follows them around. They do a good job of breaking up manure and cleaning up grain from the horses. They will even go into the stalls when a horse is in there to clean up the scraps. We just ordered a box of babies from Texas - got here Friday. 12 of the 16 made it and are in their own protected area until they get much bigger. The chickens are not the brightest bulbs but way smarter than the guinea who ended up as fox food as well. The farm I used to work at had 2 guineas, down from a much larger flock. They like shiny objects and would chase car bumpers. The farm owner used to say that the little thing on the top of their heads contained their brain.

                                      The swallows and bats do an awesome job with the bugs.


                                      • #20
                                        My chickens are gone now, but if I ever get young horses again I will for sure get more.

                                        They are the absolute best way to bombproof a horse.

                                        I used to look out at my herd and they wouldn't stop grazing even when caught in the middle of a chicken squabble. Even when chickens crashed into their sides they kept their cool after becoming used to them...

                                        I just rode in a park and a pheasant exploded right under our feet. My friends horses spooked and whirled and my ARAB simply kept trotting on without a second glance...