Sunday, May 9, 2010

Guinea Hens Stop Laying Eggs

We have 2 Guinea hens here at Razzberry Corner.  They are inseparable soul mates.  They are the best of friends.  Where one goes, the other is sure to follow. 

They think they are chickens, as they were raised with chicks when they were little keets.  They are now the only 2 guineas in a flock of chickens.  They don't really look like chickens.  First of all, they have a horn on their head.  And a big, fat beak. And strange-looking wattles.  And long, skinny necks. 

They are much more vocal than the chickens.  They can make an array of sounds for different purposes.  They make an awful screaming noise when they are scared, which always works up the roosters and terrifies all the hens.  They are the early warning detection for the farm, warning everyone of anything.  Most of the times their warning calls are just false alerts, but they are always watching.

They sing when they are happy ~ when they are soon to receive treats, or when they are soon to go to sleep.  Their happy songs are beautiful.     

The guinea girls appear to be content.  They started laying eggs on March 24 and March 25, respectively.  They were 5 approximately months old when they started laying.  They both started laying regularly, and worked up to 5 eggs from each guinea each week. 

Then suddenly, the eggs stopped.
April 19 was the last day each of them layed an egg.  Tomorrow it will be 3 weeks since they layed.
What happened?    


They are not laying anymore.  I've looked everywhere, the eggs are not hidden anywhere, there are just no eggs.  At first this didn't concern me, but since it's been so long, I'm wondering what's going on. 

The guinea girls don't appear to be broody.  They are not sitting on any kind of nest at all.  They are eating fine.  They are healthy.  They do not appear to be stressed or nervous at all. 

The only thing I noticed is that the weather here got very hot, temps in the 90's every day, back when the guineas were laying regularly.  Then on April 20th it suddenly got colder.  Now the weather has gotten warmer again, but still, no eggs.  Maybe they liked it warm, and are now adjusting to the sudden cooler temps?

And we used to feed the guineas and chickens cooked pasta (spaghetti, noodles, etc) as a treat back in the winter, but since have stopped the pasta in April, as we didn't want them to get fat.  They love pasta, but now they get more grass/greens as everything is growing.  Maybe they miss the pasta.  They also have a never-ending supply of mixed chicken and guinea food, treats of cracked corn, and sometimes even miscellaneous table scraps.  

Today I cooked up some noodles for the birds. Below is a picture of them eating the pasta. 

The Farming Friends website provided the below list of why guinea hens would stop laying:

  1. The age of the guinea fowl hen – as they get older the amount of eggs may reduce.
  2. The health of the guinea fowl hen – illness or parasites can hinder laying.  
  3. The time of year – the length of daylight can affect egg production.
  4. Changes in the type of food given – this may cause problems as the nutritional content of the food may vary.
  5. The introduction of new birds to the flock – this may cause undue stress for the guinea fowl hens as they re-establish a pecking order.
  6. Significant changes in routine – can cause stress for the birds.
  7. Housing conditions – unclean, overcrowded, dark and cold conditions can cause stress and or illness which may affect egg production.
  8. Handling and movement of the birds – transporting guinea fowl hens, overhandling, incorrect handling and sudden handling may hinder laying if this causes stress for the birds.
  9. Vermin and predators – the presence of rats, mice, cats, dogs and foxes may frighten the birds or cause undue stress.
  10. Become broody – the guinea fowl hen stops laying because she wants to sit on a nest of eggs and hatch them .

The only thing I can think of is #4, because we stopped feeding them pasta, and #7, because the weather got colder.  Nothing else has changed, we have not added any new birds to the flock, I have not seen any foxes or anything else around the flock, the coop arrangement has not changed at all.  I truly do not think the birds are sick or have parasites. 
Any ideas?


John Gray said...

I have three guinea fowl 2 males and a female.......
A male and female are the only survivors from 8 that were killed by a badger when still in their coop!

I love them dearly! wounderful characters

your photos are wonderful

Poconoangel said...

Maybe it's the length of the day? That was on the list. -- They looked more closely related to turkeys then chickens. Don't you think so? -My friend's daughter wants a couple of chickens! Her mom is trying to change her mind! -Great pictures of the flock!

Razzberry Corner said...

Hi John - We started with 5 guinea keets, and only 2 survived. They are great, aren't they? What colors are yours? We would like to get more so our girls have company other than chickens.

Barb - Hello! The days are only getting longer, plus we keep the light on in the chicken coop all day, for about 14 hours a day. That encourages egg layng. But the guineas don't lay inside, they mostly used to lay outside in the dirt. Who knows!!


Chai Chai said...

We have 10 Guinea keets arriving early June. I always thought that Guineas were seasonal egg layers, I can't wait to find out what the answer is.

Leigh said...

Clueless here. I don't have any guineas and decided not to, due to the close proximity of neighbors, but I would love to have some. I just have to enjoy yours. Interesting post.

AJ-OAKS said...

Your guineas sound like such characters. Hmmm, the only thing I can think of is the same as you.
Your chickens are all so beautiful.
You have guineas as watch 'dogs', I have donkeys as watch 'dogs'.
One of these days I would like to get some guineas.

Knatolee said...

Oh, I do want some guineas. All your birds are so beautiful.

Do guineas go through a moult and stop laying the way hens do?

Razzberry Corner said...

CC - I can't wait to hear about your guineas!

Leigh - thanks!

Cindy - Yes, they are watch dogs!

Knatolee - Yes, I think they do moult like chickens. But our guineas were only born last Oct, I think it's too soon to moult! They aren't losing any feathers, just not laying anymore.


Anonymous said...

something frightened them that you were not aware of thats all