Monday, May 2, 2011

Future Keets!

Follow the guineas
This past Saturday, after Guinea Girl's disappearance, I searched high and low for her in the woods.  At first the guineas followed me, then I started following Guinea Boy in this frantic search.  With the assistance of Guinea Boy, I found two new guinea nests.  New to me, not new to the guineas.  I was so excited to find the nests, although I was still so sad to know that Guinea Girl most likely had just been killed by a predator.  But this post isn't a sad post, I don't want to mourn the loss of Guinea Girl any more.  This is about a new beginning, many new little guinea lives.

I decided right then and there that I was going to attempt to hatch any guinea eggs I found.  I especially wanted a Guinea Girl baby, one that looked like her.  There are too many predators in the woods that will quickly snatch up a guinea or gobble up their eggs for dinner, and I cannot really help that.  But I can help by protecting the keets and raising them, making sure they at least survive into adulthood.  Guineas lay eggs in a nest until they have approximately 20 to 30 eggs, then the female sits on the eggs for 28 days until they hatch.  During this sitting time the female guinea is vulnerable to any night predator which finds her on the nest.  The rest of the guineas leave the female alone in the woods to fend for herself.  And a guinea in the dark is helpless - they are blind in the dark.  In my woods, I doubt that 20 to 30 eggs would last 28 nights, not to mention the female guinea surviving without the noisy flock, sitting on the ground overnight by herself.   

White Guinea and his nest
The first nest I found had 5 guinea eggs in it.  It belonged to the white male guinea and his coral blue mate.  I first saw White Guinea standing tall in the woods by his lonesome and I knew something was up.  He was standing outside his nest while his mate was in there doing her business, laying her daily egg.  The nest was in a patch of wild old rosebushes, full of thorns.  The guineas like thorny nests.  I took a photo of the male guinea beside his nest, but didn't disturb him or his mate.  Later I returned to the nest after they departed and I saw that it contained five eggs.  I hated to disturb the nest, but I photographed and then took the eggs.  I hope I'll give the babies a better chance of survival.

5 eggs in nest

The next nest I found also had a coral blue female guinea sitting on it.  The male for this nest was a coral blue guinea, too.  I photographed and retrieved the eggs later.  There were 20 eggs in this nest!  I'm sure the female guinea was so upset when she found her super-size stash of eggs was missing!  I am surprised that a 20-egg nest was found in this area - this nest was right beside the spot where I saw a fox a couple weeks ago.  He was standing right beside this nest licking his little fox mouth.  I wonder if he wasn't finishing off some guinea eggs when I saw him.  I guess not, because if he knew about the eggs then he would have returned for more dinner, and there wouldn't have been 20 eggs piled up in this nest.  All I can say is that the guineas were darn lucky to have gotten 20 eggs saved up in this location.  It's pretty far from the house.
20 eggs in nest
The eggs were all collected and brought back to the house.  There each egg was labeled. I candled them, but saw nothing.  The eggs don't start developing until incubation starts.  Incubation starts after the female bird sits on the eggs or they are put in an artificial incubation machine, and then they start developing on the inside.  That way they can be physically laid by the bird on different days, but all hatch on or about the same day.

And so now the fun begins!  In about a month, I hopefully will have the very first keets hatched from my guineas own eggs.  I am very excited to see what colors they turn out to be!  Heck, I'll be excited if they hatch at all!  If a miracle should happen and I end up with 25 keets I'll have to find a buyer for some of them!  But any that look like Guinea Girl will be keepers!

In my next post I'll go over the incubation process for the eggs.  Will it be a chicken, or an incubator????

Decisions, decisions....

Guinea Eggs!


Chai Chai said...

I'm rooting for one of the hens to go broody so she can do the work for you! Can't wait to see how this turns out.

Kessie said...

Oh good! Reading about the loss of Guinea Girl made me sad, so I'm glad you might get to replace her with some of her children, or at least nieces. I guess that's why they have to lay so many eggs, if they get picked off by predators all the time. Keep us posted on the incubation process! There's nothing more exciting than an unhatched egg. :-)

Terry said...

That's a lot of eggs! Best of luck.

LindaG said...

That's real interesting about incubation. I did not know they could just... wait like that.
Good luck hatching them. :)

CeeCee said...

Hooray! Can't wait for updates. :)

Knatolee said...

Can't wait to see baby keets!!

Country Girl said...

How are you going to keep them warm while deciding how to hatch them out? It will be so neat to see the little keets. Are watching for a broody hen or two or three? That's a lot of eggs!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Such exciting news, and such an education on egg-hatching you've given this city girl. I will be patient but anxious at the same time waiting a month to hear more news about your "stash" of guinea eggs.

robin said...

That really cool. I hope they all hatch.

Razzberry Corner said...

Chai Chai - I cannot wait to see how this turns out, either? How are your guineas? What's happening to their eggs?

Kessie - Yes, it's the circle of life. It's a sad circle sometimes. And happy sometimes.

Terry - Yes it is! But I don't expect them all to hatch or live.

LindaG - I always wondered how they were laid on different days but hatched all on the same. Now I know!!! The poor eggs are just waiting to start developing, to start their lives. Amazing...

CeeCee - Stay tuned!!

Nat - me neither!

Barb - I wish we had 3 broody hens, that would be good! before I used to hate it when the hens went broody, but not right now!

CAGrammy - Yeah, I don't like the month wait. I'm impatient! But it gives us time to prepare for all the babies. An entire week has passed and we aren't ready yet. 3 more weeks to go!

Robin - I do, too! But I doubt they all will hatch and survive. Most of these guinea hens (except for Guinea girl) are young and their eggs are small. That makes small babies. We'll see!