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Guinea Winter Training

Dumb and Dumber, our remaining male guinea fowl, are far too proud to come in out of the cold.  I say “proud” in place of “stupid” or “moronic” because I am now a Southerner.

Josh built them a really lovely house and they use it frequently but enjoy roosting on top of it or in the uncovered portion of the thing while frigid rains pour down upon their odd brainless Mowhawked heads.  And you thought I was mean by calling them dumb.  It’s freezing out there!

Josh and I captured them, locked them in the red chicken coop (very warm), and then began constructing a covered run so they might enjoy the fall days.  Josh used chicken wire around the coop with blueberry netting over the top so that the guineas wouldn’t be able to fly over the fence.

Have you ever seen guineas fly?  It is really quite a sight.  I mean, seriously — those jokers can fly!  One could easily spend the entire day sipping Co-Cola (as the locals call it) and watching those silly prehistoric looking birds walk into the fence, back up a few paces, and walk back into the fence before suddenly figuring out that… Imagine!… they have wings and can fly over it with relative ease.  In fact, guinea fowl are excellent fliers.  When, of course, they remember that they can.

We are hoping to train the guineas (Lloyd and Harry) to actually put themselves to bed once it is dark and below fifty degrees.  So far, we have had to catch them and force them into the red coop which they are then reluctant to leave when the coop door is opened and sunlight is streaming in.

The chickens are much easier to negotiate with.  Wherever a chicken sleeps is its home and it will return to like clockwork to roost.  Like that Metallica song… anywhere I may roam where I lay my head is home.  Why can’t Lloyd and Harry be so logical?  Am I really asking for birds named after Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne to be logical?  Shouldn’t the real question go something like:

Why on earth does Lacy know both the first and last name of the lead characters in Dumb & Dumber?

Really. What self-respecting person freely admits to knowing stuff like that?

Anyway, the guinea winter training continues for at least a week and then we hope to be able to take down the unattractive fencing to let the guineas become vagabonds (free range birds) once more.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Promise.  Triple stamp, no erasies, touch blue make it true.  Any advice?  Any closet Dumb & Dumber fans out there?

So, I know you’re wondering why on earth we have guinea fowl if they are A.) dumber than rocks B.) dumber than spit… find out why we’re not totally insane here.  Just in case we really are crazy: it’s the cracked ones that let the light in.  Love, Lacy

  • Kath - No advice whatsoever for you on Lloyd and Harry. Looks like a great setup to me.

    Yes, I like that dumb movie. The very first time we watched it was with some friends and thankfully it was on video rather than in the theatre. We would of been kicked out as we were having a ball watching it. The guys were literally rolling on the floor laughing.ReplyCancel

  • Julie at Elisharose - We actually have some guineas that run around our neighborhood. We only had 4, but it appears that we lost 2 in Ike. I have only seen 2 running around since the storm. I have never seen them fly, but I have seen them on top of the neighbor’s house. I didn’t see them get up there, but it is a 3 story house, so they had to fly to get there!ReplyCancel

  • Michele - I didn’t even know what guineas look like much less the flying & stupid thing. Can’t help you with the training.

    What are you going to do with these guys? Do you plan to eat them? Do they taste like chicken? (Not that I remember what chicken tastes like but I could pass the info onto my husband.) Are they great garden clearers like chicken and ducks?ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Well, I haven’t really heard of anyone trying to ‘train’ one before! If you succeed, you can go on with new ‘tricks’ and then hit the big shows! That could be fun to watch!
    Will they NOT really go inside on their own if they so decide it’s time?
    Hope your week is going great, and bet you are working hard on your FAV time of year only a few days away!
    ~Hugs Lacy~
    Momma BarbReplyCancel

  • Rosa - They look so cute, although they might be the dumbest birds on earth ;-P!



  • The Holly Tree - Well g’mornin’ to you too, Lacy! 🙂 And are you kidding me? You should be getting paid – you work your hiney off to keep things looking smart and professional, and personally, I think it’s long overdue for that to be recognized. Honest to god, Lacy, looking at your site and browsing through the pages is like looking at a magazine – it’s that awesome. So, when you do hit the big time with this, I’ll be right there congratulating you and cheering you on. 🙂 *hug*ReplyCancel

  • Dirkey - We had about 30 Guineas at my parents and they never “got” the whole thing. To this day I call Guineas the stupid bird 1. cause they are stupid 2. cause they woke me up at 5am. I think if we lived out in the woods again I would forgive them because of their tick eating abilities.ReplyCancel

  • Tipper - A fellow on my road use to have a whole herd of guineas-they were always in the road!ReplyCancel

  • Laurie - I just love my guineas. Mine fly in and out of the chicken yard at will. They roost in a tree that overhangs the yard. It gets really cold here at times but I don’t worry too much about them or the rooster that roosts in the tree too because after all they have feathers. I say that because I know how warm my feathers (comforter) are in my cold bedroom in the winter time.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - We don’t have guinea fowl here but they sound as smart as turkeys. I didn’t even know the first names of the dumb and dumber guys and haven’t watched the movie in full but I don’t think watching it is something that needs to be kept in the closet;-).

    We have a few chickens who gather in a corner by the outside of their coop every night and bunk down there. The others are in roosting, but these 8 or nine are huddled outside as they did from the beginning. It has got down to -10˚C here at night and I know it has been at least -5˚C when I have seen them out there at midnight (just checking when I arrived home then). They seem to be able to handle the cold more than we think. I am sure they will eventually learn. I think chickens might be smarter than guinea fowl so they don’t need to be trained. Perhaps that is why we don’t have guinea fowl here; because they wouldn’t come in from the cold;-).ReplyCancel

  • gingela5 - Haha…can I tell you how much I LOVE the names Harry and Lloyd! That has me cracking up!ReplyCancel

  • Momisodes - Wow! He did a great job building that.

    I had no idea they flew much. I can just imagine what a sight it is 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - I’ve heard that guinea’s keep snakes away.
    Do you know if that is true?ReplyCancel

  • The Holly Tree - Hiya Lacy! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 😀 (I’d paste my tag here, too, but I don’t think posts allow for images) Have an awesome night my friend! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Ann - Had NO idea guinea fowl were so ditsy…this could really get entertaining then…ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - I love my guineas! They aren’t the smartest, though. They stay on top of the chicken run in the cold pouring rain instead of getting inside where its dry and a little warmer. Good luck with the training!ReplyCancel

  • The Holly Tree - Thankyou, Lacy – I hope they come true, too, my friend. *hug*ReplyCancel

  • Jason - I found your site by searching Alaska family farms. I think it has to do with the Alaskan television show that you mentioned in one of your blogs… anyway, we are looking at becoming more self-sufficient as we kick around the idea of chickens, goats, and sled dogs. We live in the bush where milk is around $10 a gallon and eggs are expensive (don’t look at the price, just put them in the basket)…
    So, I see that you insulated your chicken coup. What temp are you good down to? We’re in the interior and it gets COLD. I think the lowest was -50 here last year. We’re building our house this next summer and so chickens maybe the next year. Just planning ahead.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Sue - Ah guineas – so useful, so amusing so freakin dumb! Hope your “training’ is greatly successful – we never could make them come back and roost despite raising them from tiny keets ours went quite wild. BUT we are not as persistent as y’all .ReplyCancel

  • Paul Camilli - Hi Lacy,

    After my experience with guinea fowl http://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/peasant-cooking/ I’m converted and can’t wait to get some but they’re a little thin on the ground up here though a friend who used to keep them thinks they’d do well on our croft. We’ve no real predators well apart from golden eagles, sea eagles and buzzards but they’ve never bothered the hens or ducks so I can’t see them being interested in guinea fowl.

    Best Wishes, PaulReplyCancel

  • raisinroses - Came across your page because I too was looking for help training my guineas. I have 15 that I raised from keets. Every night I lock them in to protect them and every a.m. let them out. I want them to jump over the fence and go in on their own instead of me leaving the gate open so that if we take a vacation sometime, someone will only have to feed them, not do this ritual. Well 13 go in like clock work and 2 (my dumb & dumber) just can’t get it! They went over the fence one nite, and the next in the tree above the shed. Sometimes they will crouch on the ground. They fly out every morning but can’t fly in? I’m gonna continue the tuff love until I win!! Maybe i’m dumb! ha ha.ReplyCancel

  • Thomas Haulk - We have 2 male guineas and they seem to roam the neighborhood. A couple came by this evening and said they were roosting at their place and leavung a horrible mess on their porch.
    They would like for us to catch them and keep them away from there. How do you catch a grown guinea??
    Is there anyway you could send me an answer, please?!?!

    Thank you, ThomasReplyCancel

  • Pat Super - I just love my guineas! I first got three 4 month olds, kept them in a stall in my barn for six weeks. The second day they were turned out, I lost one. The remaining two males have adjusted nicely for the past year. They roost over the horse’s stalls at night and roam the farm during the day. They visit the house and stand at the glass door to the kitchen and peep and talk to the dogs for hours. (I keep a “Shark” battery operted sweeper by the door outside to keep the door mat clean from their droppings). They come running to greet me in the morining. Their sweet peeping is soothing and makes up for the loud squawking when they are alarmed or just enjoying their own noise.
    This year, I got six more day old keets and they had been turned out after two months and were doing so well. One morning I discoveed that five had been slaughtered and eaten (probably by a marauding raccoon) who left only feathers and some entrails. I guess I was too complacent since my other two had survived so well. The difference is that the babies roosted on the four foot panels outside the stalls. Why they did not fly up onto the roof of the barn or into the stalls, I can’t figure. I plan to completely cover a stall which I will close at night and next spring will get more babies. They are amazingly entertaining and clownish. When I drive out of the yard with the horse trailer, they follow me down the road. I have to speed for the first hundred or so yards to prevent them from following all the way to the highway and it is so funny to see them running as fast as they can (and they are fast) before giving up and going back into the yard.
    Did I say before….I LOVE MY GUINEAS!ReplyCancel

  • Debra - My husband and I love feeding wild birds and we do so all year round. We never had any livestock, only dogs and cats. One day I looked outside and there she was. The funniest looking bird I had ever seen. She was limping and wouldn’t let me get too close, but days later she was still out there. It took me a week to find out what it was. A Guinea Fowl. I went and bought her some corn and oat mix. I put out a bowl of water and a bowl of the corn mix and she went right for it. I opened the shed door and put the dishes in there and she freely went in to eat. She slept up in the trees in our fenced in yard for a week and we started to worry about pedators. Since, my husband has built her a coop on the back of our shed with an outside fenced in yard. She seems happy enough but we’d like to get her a friend. We also worry about this coming winter. Will a warming light be enough to keep her warm with hay and some pine shavings?



  • Debra - Almost forgot…..we named her Ruby even though we have no clue about her gender. Also, do they prefer pine shavings or hay? She seems to like the shavings, but boy are they ever messy.

    Thank you,

  • Simple Livin' gal - Hi Debra!

    Congratulations on your new guinea!! First, let me tell you that guineas are the least particular birds in the world and will happily ignore all of your best efforts to make them comfortable to roost in tall trees or on top of the structure you built for them.

    In winter, we force our birds inside. They do not like it one bit. We use pine straw as bedding but they are equally enthused over straw, pine shavings, or shredded paper.

    Guineas love to eat any kind of feed. We use game bird feed but they also help themselves to layer pellets.

    She will be warm enough with the bedding you have provided.

    Blessings and thanks for your comment & readership,

  • Nancy - Anyone want three guinea hens? I confess to being unprepared. Friends told me I only needed to keep them confined for two weeks, and they’d stick around. But when we let them out, they headed up the road, and we were lucky to get them back. I’ve been afraid to let them out since, and their run is really not large enough for them to live in long-term.

    I’m in South/Central New Hampshire. They’re neat birds, but I think they’d do better with an established flock, so they know where home is.ReplyCancel

  • izzy - hi, i know its way later but maybe someone will read it! i am a first time guinea raiser and i have trained mine to where they know their names and follow me where ever i go. they are like dogs! its possible to train them! when i want them to go back inside the coop i say ‘go home guineas’ and they run all back home no matter what time of day.ReplyCancel

  • Pat Super - I had two aadult male guineas and after losing five of my six babies to a predator, I ended up with the two males and the surviving female chick. They all survived the winter roosting over the horse’s stalls.
    Sadly, one of the males was flatened under my horse trailer leaving just the pair.
    I enclosed one of my horse stalls for them and planned to use it as a nursery for day old keets which I had planned to purchase this spring.
    Two days ago, when placing hay in the manger of my horse trailer, I discoved two eggs in the manger. I moved them into the manger of the barn stall and the next day there were three eggs. Today there are four.
    A friend told me that she will continue to lay until she is ready to sit on all of them. Then I plan on closing her in for the duration til the babies are hatched.
    Does anyone out there know anything about this brooding process? I would appreciate any advice or suggestions.

  • Paul d - There are about a dozen Helmeted Guineafowl that prowl route 114 north of 103 in Bradford NH. They must be suicidal. They will group in font of oncoming cars and just hang out there in spite of honking. Kept me hostage for five minutes this morning. I’ve heard they are delicioius.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy FL - I happened upon your site and was so thankful that someone FINALLY acknowledged how crazy dumb these birds are! No one told me about that aspect of guineas and so I thought I was the crazy one as I’ve tried to keep them safe, keep them warm, keep them fed, etc. I love them and enjoy watching them from my kitchen window as they run around in their pen, which takes up almost my whole back yard. My first four, raised from keets, used to follow me in the garden as I picked beans. They had so much fun diving under the bean bushes looking for bugs and grubs, popping up beside me making those funny noises. Unfortunately, they DO love being on the highway and I lost the two girls when they were about five months. The boys just grieved and cried for days. My father finally had to make my huge pen to keep them from returning to the highway looking for the girls. I later found another 10 guineas in an area farm hoping to get more girls, but only two of the 10 were girls! We’ve had a pretty “hard” winter here in FL this year and I’ve tried to provide a nice covered room with heat lamp, bedding, roosting rods, etc., but they would rather roost in the larger pen out in the open! Had to catch them and put them in the heated area for a few days due to the cold (now that was a funny sight) and they fussed at me the whole time they were in there. Finally, I let them out and they immediately went back to doing what they do best…being guineas! Thanks for all the wonderful information and pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Hal - We have 6 older guineas and 14 young ones we hatched over the summer and the older birds are trained and it was quite easy! I built a guinea coop, installed a $30 solar powered light that automatically comes on at dusk and they typically go right in on their own. I then close the coop to keep predators out. I started out by locking them in for a couple of weeks so they realized it was home and gave them feed every evening while making a kissing sound and now, like the pied piper, they follow and come on command. They free range all day and always come home in the afternoon. For winter we have a heated waterer and a brooder lamp that are both plugged into a thermostatically controlled outlet that switches on below 35. Our Guineas HATE the snow! I snowblow a large section of grass and have to force them out to clean the coop. If a couple of weeks isn’t enough for them, it helps to keep them locked in all winter to reinforce the idea.:)ReplyCancel

  • Linda Huff - Whatever you think, guineas are not stupid. What they are is wild. Despite the fact that they have lived around humans for millennia, they have never been fully domesticated. The behavior you see that looks stupid is behavior developed as wild birds living where there are no fences, no coops, and where their primary goals were to escape predators, reproduce, and forage. I am raising a female guinea who I rescued the day she hatched and was attacked by turkeys. She knows her name, responds to the word ‘no,’ and mostly comes when called. I say mostly because initially I tried to keep her wild but because of the guinea fowl’s intense need for company, found that was impossible. She lives in our house, in a cage in the living room but during the day she is in a coop in our yard where I am attempting to introduce her to the neighborhood flock. She has admirers who hang around her but it is too cold to let this juvenile loose on her own.

    She escaped from her coop one chilly afternoon, liberated by her buddies who opened her latch. When they took off to their roost, she followed them to a tree within sight of the outside coop where she perched and started her “I am alone” calling. I was able with a dog clicker and my voice to call her down to me. As she came over to me to be gathered up to go in the house (something her instincts most times tell her to resist) I realized she knows a little too well on which side her bread is buttered. Stupid she is not.ReplyCancel

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