Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keets and Chick Update

This is an update on the guinea keets who hatched Thursday.  All keets are still alive and are getting very bouncy.  Mama Charlotte, who is being named just "Charlotte" has 7 keets
Bella has 4 keets
Charlotte II, who is being renamed Cheryl, has only 1 keet
And one white leghorn chick hatched under Jade last night.

All White Keet
The keets were up and bouncing around within hours after their hatching.  They started pecking and eating guinea keet food just a few hours after their birth.  They need keet food that has more protein than chick food.  They love to jump and boink around, stretching out their tiny wings.  They all learned how to drink from the waterer after being shown only once.  They still stumble and fall over a lot when they bounce around, but they pick themselves up and continue their jumping around.  They like to explore everything, even if it means leaving their mama hen for a while.  Then they bounce back to mama hen.  I think they are much more active and inquisitive than chicks (as in chicken chicks, not guineas).

Keets checking things out on Day One, shortly after hatching

The keets were bouncing so much after they were born that one of them jumped out of the nestbox where Charlotte was sitting with them.  We put up a "baby gate" to keep them in the box that first night.  The second day the hens were removed from the nest boxes, and separate areas were made for them to walk around the coop, all partitioned off with the mesh fencing.  The mother hens attack the other mothers and the other babies, so everyone must be separated while they are inside the coop for now.  When they get big enough to go outside then the keets will be more hardy and will be tougher and faster.

Mesh stapled in front of nest box overnight on night one
The guinea keet that was pecked almost to death by Lucy right after hatching was given to Bella.  Bella has been an exceptional mama, feeding the babies, showing them how to drink, talking to them, spreading her wings to keep them safe.  The injured keet wouldn't jump around at all on the night of it's birth.  It only screamed bloody murder if it moved at all.  It was in pain.  It's neck and eyes had been hurt by Lucy.  It didn't eat or move that first night, but by the second night it was walking some, and ate and drank. It's not as boisterous as the other keets.  One the morning after it's birth both eyes appeared to have dried scabs over them, we put antibiotic eye ointment on them so they could be opened. The other injuries have scabs on them, too.  I think the little guy is going to make it. I hope.

Injured keet on the night of it's birth
We have 12 keets.  I don't think anymore eggs are going to hatch, and so we will remove them from under the hens this morning.  We started with 26 guinea eggs, but 3 weeks into the sitting process, 1 egg was cracked and thrown away.  That's a less than a 50% success rate on us hatching our own guinea eggs - not really that impressive.  If anyone is going to do this, make sure to have double the guinea eggs you really want.  We started half the eggs in an incubator and half under broody hens.  About a week and a half into the incubation process, 2 more hens went broody, so all the incubator eggs were put under them.  I think it's better to use a hen than an incubator machine.

Last night one of Jade's white leghorn chicken eggs hatched.  Jade was terrified of the sound of the shell cracking.  Jade did not like the chick at all, she was freaking out and pecked it once, but it wasn't a vicious, trying to kill it peck like Lucy did.  I stayed with Jade and kept her from pecking the chick, and let it stay under her wing.  I rubbed Jade under her chin whenever the baby moved and Jade started to panic - the chin rubbing calms her.  Eventually it got dark outside, and so Jade and her baby went to sleep.  I checked on her this morning, the baby is fine, Jade has accepted it.  The chick is a little yellow puffball.  It's much bigger than the keets, but not at all active like the keets. 

Chick hatching under Jade

Just the beak is broken out!


Gail said...

Dad always used hens to hatch his guineas.

I do hope the new hatch does well and you get the evil monster that has been wrecking havoc with your fowl.

Country Girl said...

It is so neat to see the little chicks and keets! The one just hatching was neat to see! I will give the address of your blog to Mika so she can see it too.

Leigh said...

What a heartbreak! I did love the photos of the keets. I think it's really neat that you can raise guineas.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

What a great post! I love the fact that the brooding hens cared for the keet eggs!

LindaG said...

I'm still learning so 12 seems really good to me. Was this your first time hatching keets?

And I did not know that hens would attack each other and their chicks. I guess that must be some sort of survival thing. Do they ever stop attacking each other or do you have to keep them separate until the babies are fully grown?

Chai Chai said...

That exposed beak picture is precious. The guinea eggs are so hard that I have a hard time imagining the keets breaking their way out.

Hurry for the increased guinea flock, any way to train them to nest in a safer spot?

Razzberry Corner said...

Gail - Tonight's the night - we are going to get the monster once and for all. More details to follow!!! :)

Barb - Yes, let Mika have the blog address! I'd love to get to know her more! :D

Leigh - Guineas are tough little things. They're not hard to raise; easier than a chick.

CAGrammy - I love to see the mama hens feeding the chicks/keets. It's so precious.

LindaG - We bought 1 day-old keets last year and gave them to the hen Bella and she raised them for us. Then this year we collected our own guinea eggs from nests all around in the woods and hatched them.

Oh yeah, hens, especially more dominant hens higher in the pecking order, are ferocious to other birds who come near their babies. After a few months the hen stops being a mama and stops caring for the babies. Then she will stop protecting them. It was so weird last year with Bella- one day she was a great mama, then the next day she ignored her baby keets. The babies still were pretty small and didn't understand. But the keets were fine on their own. They were alot of work for Bella, I think she was truly exhausted. The keets were very headstrong and Bella spent a lot of time trying to feed them and protect them, and they would continually walk away or ignore her efforts unless they wanted food from her. They constantly disobeyed her and rarely came when she called them. Then when she quit on them, they came to her to be fed, and she just ate the food herself, and didn't feed the babies. We were very hesitant to use Bella again this year to raise keets, but we have her half as many as last year. So far she's been an excellent mama, I couldn't ask for a better mother hen.

Chai Chai - the chick with just the beak sticking out had a very hard time getting out of the egg. It almost didn't make it, it was so tired after it hatched that it just laid there not moving for hours. Under the egg shell was a rubber-like membrane that just wouldn't tear. The mama hen Jade didn't understand what the baby was and tucked it up underneath herself like an egg. After a few hours I woke up the baby and jostled it with my finger so that it moved around. I thought it was dead. Normally chicks move around right after hatching. This one moved around just long enough to stand up, then put it's head out in front and passed out. But it's fine today - eating and drinking and happy as a lark.

We are going to attempt to teach the keets to roost in a chicken coop - the side that is now the keet/chick nursery. But then we'll have to close the little coop door every night to keep critters from entering at nighttime. I haven't figured how I'm going to teach them, though.


Genny said...

The guinea meets are adorable! The poor injured baby looks so awful. I sure hope the little guy makes it. It's always so amazing to see the,m hatching out and fluffing up and moving around. Can't wait to watch them grow. I sure hope the guineas can be trained to roost in the coop. Maybe if you lure them in with some food once it gets dark they will naturally roost there.