Love ’em or hate ’em, guineas are unique among poultry. Ducks eat a lot of bugs, but a flock of guineas will target and terminate nearly any creature smaller than they are. Ticks are a special delicacy, and the reason most people would even consider having guineas. They are also superb watchdogs, with better eyesight and an alertness beyond any other poultry. They can be very entertaining, in a goofy sort of way. It is amazing how fast they can run when they are chasing each other.

So those are the good things. But you need to know the not-so-good also. They are noisy. Not just a little noisy, but annoyingly so. They wander over great distances. A flock of guineas can easily roam over multiple acres of land looking for food. Since they might spend a lot of time with your neighbors, make sure they are ok with that (mention the tick thing and they might be amenable).

Baby guineas are called keets and are more delicate than chicks for the first few days. After that, they are very active and grow fast. I usually keep them with slightly older chicks because even though they seem smaller, they are more aggressive and only larger chicks are safe with them. Do not keep them for more than a week with turkey poults, I have had turkey poults disfigured by the guinea keets. Once they are mature, they can live together if there is enough space.

Ours often dust bathe or sun themselves in the road. That is not a problem in a quiet farm lane, but next to a busy road, expect traffic losses. They are predator-aware, but vehicle stupid. They are also terrible mothers, though they try and can be quite fierce when protecting a nest.

Some people have reported that they eat honeybees, so if you have a hive, be aware they may consider any bees snacks, even your honeybees. The upside is they like ground nesting yellow jackets too, or at least we have never had them since we’ve had guineas on patrol. Ours often form lines and walk though fields, eating any bugs they find and chattering to each other as they go.


Guineas are very seasonal layers and often don’t start laying until April, sometimes late April. Their eggs take 26 days to hatch, so keets could be available in May, but the bulk of them hatch June through August. This can be an advantage if you intend to free range them, as their insect food is most abundant in late summer and fall. Predators seem less active then as well, giving them a better chance to get settled and find safe roosting places before winter sets in.