Monday, June 6, 2011

Chicks and Guinea Keets

Our chicks and keets were a week old last Thursday.  The babies have been staying inside the coop with the mama hens.  We have 4 hens and 4 sets of babies, so the coop has been partitioned off so each mama and baby group has their own section, as they will fight.  The mama hens will fight, that is.  The babies, keets and chicks, all get along fine.  The babies don't know there's a difference between keets and chicks.  Also the babies get confused and respond to any mama hen, not necessarily just their own mama hen.  And some of the mama hens don't like other people's babies and will peck them, so right now we must pay attention to them.  It's like babysitting.

Here's Jade with her 4 Rhode Island Red and 1 White Leghorn chick.

Charlotte and her keets have a window looking out to the chicken pen in their coop section.  All the chickens outside like to check out the babies through the window.  The window is actually a door, but is covered until we are ready for the babies to go outside.

Last week we took each of the mama hens and their respective babies out of their coop area out to the big chicken pen.  All was fine because we only had one mama and her babies outside at a time.  The other chickens were curious, but there were no issues.  The mama hens kicked a few other chicken's butts for coming too close to look, and now everyone knows to keep their distance from the babies.

The keets are scared of the big world outside and all stay close to Mama Bella.

On Saturday we got the bright idea to let all 4 mamas and their babies out at the same time.  Not a good idea!  The babies just need to get a little bigger before I'm ready for that again!  As soon as we let them out, all Bella's keets joined up with Charlotte's keets.  All the keets look similar, we didn't know which belonged to which mama.  So Bella had no babies and started going hysterical.  We knew Bella had 1 white -that's easy, there's only 1 white keet, so we grabbed him from the keet mix and gave him to Bell.  Then we selected the one injured grey keet, which we know belongs to Bell.  Then we just selected 2 more grey and 1 brown keet and gave them to Bell and got her separated onto the other side of the pen.  Then we checked on Jade and her chicks who were on the far side of the pen.  Jade and the family were ok.  Suddenly, there's screaming going on from where Bella was.  Cheryl just kicked Bella's butt for getting to close to Cheryl's chicks, and Bella took off running, abandoning her keets.  The keets joined up with Cheryl's chicks, but Cheryl was attacking the keets.  Cheryl knows she didn't have any keet babies and didn't want the keets hurting her chicks.  I grabbed Cheryl while Randy separated out the keets, who again joined up with Charlotte's keets into a big keet mix.  Charlotte welcomes all the keets back.  Bella started running around like a wild hen screaming.  All Bella's keets know their mama's voice and they were screaming even louder.  But keets don't peep like chicks, they whistle.  Then, to top it off, the adult guineas arrive outside the pen.  They hear the keets screaming whistles, and I guess they recognize their own kind.  The adult guineas start making the same high-pitched whistle call that the keets are making.  It was actually a very beautiful noise, in the midst of the chaos.  All the keets start whistling to the adult guineas.  So sweet, and so sad, knowing we recently lost most of the parent guineas.  After a moment of listening to the guineas, we had to get back to the order at hand.  All the babies had to go back to the proper mama, mama's had to be separated again and let out only one at a time.  It was tough to figure out which keets belonged to Bella and Charlotte- They have 5 and 7 keets each, respectively.  When the keets were with the wrong mother they whistled a distress call.  We had to figure out which ones were whistling and swap them out.  Babysitting is hard work!  I will never have so many mama hens at the same time again - it's too complicated!

Guineas looking in on the keets.  Female is on the left, male on the right.

Bella enjoys a dirt bath!

Have a Nice Week!


Country Girl said...

How crazy was that! Never a dull moment! So cool that the guineas recognized the cries of the keets!

LindaG said...

Wow, I didn't realize hens didn't like other hens' babies and such.
Lots of work!
Hope they grow quickly and things go well here on out. :)

Kessie said...

That was the most hilarious thing I've read in days. Kind of like the riddle about the guy with the boat trying to row the goat, the cabbage and the wolf across the river.

I loved the videos, too. Mama hens are so sweet with their babies.

Razzberry Corner said...

Barb - I never seem to have a spare moment, it seems! I'm sure you don't either!

LindaG- Once the babies get bigger they will be faster and will learn to get out of the way of others. Then they will not need babysitting as much.

Kessie - OK, I'm going to have to look up that riddle now!!


CaliforniaGrammy said...

What a hassle to figure out who goes where? Great post. I'm learning so much about our feathered friends.

Toni aka irishlas said...


How crazy was that! But, it was nice to see how you paused for a moment to enjoy the guinea whistles!

Good thing they grow fast to ease babysitting! said...

Those guineas are so pretty! All of the babies are just adorable. And I got a chuckle out of letting all the mamas and babies out together and the confusion that ensued! I like it best when I get one broody hatching out eggs at a time - it's the same hassle here when there is more than one broody with babies at a time. And they do seriously kick some clucking tail when anyone gets too close to one of their babies! It is not pretty. Hopefully you'll get them all properly introduced and getting along before too long - and before they drive you crazy! :)

Genny said...

Ooh my gosh I know it must have been hard work odor you and Randy , but it made me laugh out loud I was confused just reading about all the babies and their mammas. Sounds like you were finally able to sort it all out so every chick and hen was happy.

Chai Chai said...

The mad cap adventures at Razzberry Corner! This made me laugh and laugh, although I did get a bit sad at the adult guinea part.

Soon the guinea flock will be restored and things will be back to normal.

Knatolee said...

Chaos, chaos in the hen yard! :) Glad everyone got put back together again. I loved all the photos and videos, especially Mr. Rooster peeking in the window for a look at the keets.