Friday, September 25, 2015

Keets R Us

Where do I start. Perhaps back in July when we walked this farm and both of us got ticks. Each visit saw us doing tick checks of our partners "Parts" for the nasty bugs. I would recommend a good spouse to any one living in an area with ticks. Both for the humor of it and the help!

We knew then we had to look into tick control and the very first natural method mentioned was guinea fowl.

We both liked the idea of having a natural  pest control that was also good for the table, reasonably self sufficient and an alarm service all in one.

There is a lot of good information about guinea fowl online and it seems anyone who has had them will talk about them at great leangth be it good or bad. One property we looked at had three resident guinea hens that were very curious as to why we were tramping about their farm

A friend and her husband had guinea's and they were not impressed...they imprinted with their barn to sleep in but every morning at dawn would hike up the road a half mile to spend the day eating ticks and bugs at their neighbors farm. Then just before dusk they would all troop back to the barn for the night.

A neighbor here has them and swears by the tick control. She said this summer when her flock had reached maturity she had not found a tick on any of them, her children play in the yard continually as they have an above ground pool and lots of lawn, the woods encroach to within 50 feet of the home in some places and no ticks to be found.

So we decided to get these strange looking birds.

Not long after we  made that decision one of my favorite blogs "The Dancing Donkey" published a post about her guinea fowl...we followed avidly  and it was both poignant and sad and made us aware of the risk of any fowl that free ranges and the predators around us in the night. Her posts are well worth the read.

Ralph placed the order with Meyer hatcheries and we got a selection of colors. The tiny keets arrived this Wednesday morning and have been a delight and honestly a bit hard on our blood pressure.
One article stated they sleep flat out with feet stuck out behind them....we shrugged this off as chicks do that on occasion. However when you check your new arrivals and the are flat out with heads at weird angles and feet out behind immediatly think dead!
Thye do better with warm water...I think thats because they like to stand in it when they drink. They reccomend long feeders for more than 8 so we got a lovely yellow one and filled it with high protein starter...the keets are so tiny they can go in the holes on one side and out the holes on the other side.

Then just to make us crazier with dread they fall asleep with their heads draped out on one side and their little orange feet sticking out the other!

When they arrived one was dead in the crate, there was also one little brown one that was pretty weak. Ralph used one of my Vitamin B syringes without the needle and dripped water into its beak, it took right to drinking and perked up in no time so Ralph is now "The Keet Whisperer"!

The other recommendation was to use paper towel for litter. We spread out shavings then covered them with Viva paper towels. They made a lovely and easy to clean cover for the tiny orange feet to run around on. Nothing to catch or slide on and really absorbant.

They took to food and water really quickly with the white keets being the first to both water and food.

We are handling them gently when we change the paper towelling to help imprint them on us and gentle them as much as guineas gentle. They are fast and when they go they go...regardless of anything in their way like the feeder, the water or heaven forbid....another keet!

We are amazed at these tiny velveteen keets, they are such fun and a real delight to have. Of course they have a long way to go to be insect control or watch birds but I know the journey will be full of adventures!


  1. I hope you and Ralph have better luck than I did. One thing I did find when they were tiny, was that they are like popcorn! They kept popping out of the brooder box (which had very high sides)! Mine refused to leave the chicken yard - where there were no ticks - to free range outside where the ticks were. They also refused to roost inside at night. I do agree about the tick check bonus with having a spouse/partner. I have to rely on yoga poses and glasses!

    1. We have made a screen to cover the small stock trough brooder. We think we have a couple more days Grace before they can get out. It does seem like they work for a farm or not! No happy medium. As to your yoga poses and glasses....think how limber your staying!

  2. SO cute! Its amazing that they go from that super cute stage to alien looking crazy birds! Loved your description of them sleeping. I can see myself getting up multiple times a night just to check and make sure they were still breathing. I think they'll take to the ticks. Esp if you have the high grasses around and they feel safe to forage. I look forward to reading more about their adventures!!

  3. We have the hay field along the house yard that will be tall at atimes and then the neighbors woodlot has lots of tall weedy growth so they will be busy if we can train then to come in at night!