Hatching Eggs and Brooding Baby Guineafowl: Your Easy Guide to Breeding Guineas
Raising guineas from fertile guineafowl eggs or by brooding baby guineas (keets) is a popular method for starting your first guinea fowl flock. Raising baby guineas by hand can help ensure your backyard guineas are tame and friendly. Lewis Wright (The Practical Poultry Keeper: Public Domain) says, "To commence breeding Guinea-fowls, it is needful to procure some eggs and set them under a common hen." Where to buy guinea fowl hatching eggs: A family member or friend's guinea fowl flock; a hatchery that breeds and sells guineas; online egg auctions and online breeders; your local farm or feed supply store, or the classified section in your local newspaper or Craigslist.
Additionally, Wright says that the guinea hen "lays pretty freely from May or June to about August. She is a very shy bird, and if eggs are taken from her nest with her knowledge, will forsake it altogether, and seek another, which she conceals with the most sedulous care. A few should therefore always be left, and the nest never be visited when she is in sight. It is best to give the earliest eggs to a common hen, as the Guinea-fowl herself frequently sits too late to rear a brood. If "broody" in due season, however, she rarely fails to hatch nearly all. Incubation is from twenty-six to twenty-nine or thirty days."
Additionally, Wright says that guinea "chicks require food almost immediately within, at most, six hours after hatching and should be fed and cared for in the same manner as young turkeys, though they may be allowed rather more liberty. It should be observed, however, that they require more constant feeding than any other chickens, a few hours' abstinence being fatal to them ; and they need also rather more animal food to rear them successfully and keep them in good condition, especially in the winter. The chicks are very strong on their legs, and in fine weather may be allowed to wander with the hen when very young."
Hatching Fertile Guineafowl Eggs with a Broody Guinea Hen: Letting nature take its course and allowing a guinea hen to incubate and hatch her own fertile guinea eggs is the best method for hatching guineas. If allowed to roam, the guinea hen will likely make her own nest on the ground. If you are raising your guineas in a coop or enclosed yard and want to encourage the guinea hen to lay indoors, setup a poultry nest box (such as a chicken nest) and place it in a dark, quiet area of the coop. The eggs will hatch in four weeks.
You may also use a broody chicken hen, such as a silkie hen, to sit on your fertile guineafowl eggs and hatch them.
Additionally, use an artificial, mechanical incubator to hatch the guinea eggs. If you bought guinea fowl eggs from a poultry hatchery, and the eggs were shipped to you, allow the guinea eggs to settle before incubating. Set the guineafowl eggs in the incubator and incubate for 28 days. Turn the eggs repeatedly while incubating, up until three days right before the eggs are set to hatch (e.g. day 23-24). Turn the eggs by hand, or use an automatic egg turner in your incubator. If incubating and hatching guinea eggs and turning by hand, turn the eggs three or five times a day.
Raising keets: Feed baby guineas chick starter as well as cracked grain. Feed them by hand to get them used to eating out of your hand and make them tame. House the keets in a confined coop or pen to protect them from predators. Some individuals choose to allow their guineas to roost in trees, which opens them up to danger from predators such as hawks and terrestrial animals. Feed the keets regularly. When the keets you're raising have reached eight weeks of age, they should be large enough to be self-sufficient and will no longer require brooding. You may brood keets with chicks (baby chickens).