Monday, February 23, 2015

Guineas!



We got guineas!!! 



A few weekends back I made an impulse decision. I saw an ad on Craigslist for a trio of guinea fowl and I just couldn't pass it up. We already had a pen that was ready and empty (former turkey pen), and guineas just sounded like fun to have. Plus, we are already getting EGGS from them!! Yay!

our guinea eggs

We think we have either two males and one female, or two females and one male. It can be difficult to tell the sex of guineas--most people say you can distinguish the gender from sounds they make. We plan to let them free-range in our yard and the surrounding woods once they have stayed in their pen long enough to know it is their home.





I just hope they don't wander off or "go wild," as some tend to do, and I worry about them going into the road eventually and getting hit We may need to breed them every year to keep our numbers up as I've heard they are sometimes easy prey.







As I was reading up more on guinea fowl, I also learned these cool things:


  • Guineas are incredible foragers and if allowed to free-range, will not eat much in feed.
  • Guineas serve as excellent pest control, eating ticks and other unwanted insects. You can turn them into your garden and they will eat the bugs and pests but not the garden crops.
  •  Guineas do not scratch as much as chickens do, and thus don't tear up landscaping when free-ranging.
  • Guineas are great at sounding alarms when something is amiss or there is a predator. (Our guineas are actually not loud at all except when sounding an alarm!).
  •  Guineas make great meat birds. The meat is mild-tasting and they dress out at a nice weight compared to heritage chickens of the same age.
  •  Guineas are entertaining. I love watching large flocks of guineas run around together. They have such a strong flock instinct.




I was worried about them being loud, but so far they aren't loud at all! Just sweet little chirping noises. So far the guineas have been nothing but delightful to have, and their eggs are delicious :)

slightly smaller than chicken eggs, guinea eggs have a more triangular shape


Those of you that have guineas, what advice do you have for me in my new adventure?


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Giveaway Winner!





Congratulations to  DMiller, winner of a $50 Amazon gift card from www.dogfencediy.com!



Thank you for all the entered the giveaway.  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and stays warm!

Friday, February 13, 2015

When Predators Strike: Protecting Your Flock (and a Giveaway!)




This past winter over the Holidays we suffered a tragic predator attack on our flock. A new neighbor's dog who lives down the road escaped its pen and while on the loose attacked our chickens, killing half of our flock in a matter of minutes.

what's left of our flock, plus another rooster

Our next door neighbor, thank goodness, was able to catch the dog (a purebred husky) with his belt before more damage was done. We were out of town at the time and had a friend stopping by to check on our chickens.

We had a temporary electric fence/netting enclosing a portion of our yard for the chickens, but apparently that wasn't enough of a deterrent for this dog. What was left of our flock, only three hens and two roosters, were traumatized.  They stayed inside their tiny coop for days without coming out into the pen onto the ground. I was afraid the poor things would starve.



I'll admit I was very angry. Of all the things, it was the irresponsibility of a dog owner that allowed this to happen. It wasn't the first time that dog had gotten loose and I'm not above calling animal control or even shooting an animal to defend my livestock and my family (especially if my girls happened to be outside at the time).

I've worked long and hard to breed this flock of Dominiques, an endangered heritage breed, and to have it all destroyed so quickly is heartbreaking. Now I'm back to square one because of the hens that are left, two of them I wouldn't of wanted to breed anyway due to breed standard defects. None of the hens have started laying again.



The family that owns the dog has offered to compensate us, but I'd rather they take some extra steps in reinforcing their pen so that this does not happen again. One thing that we are looking into is an electronic dog fence or wireless electric dog fence.

We would ask our neighbors to use this equipment on the dog's collar if we see the dog out again so that the dog could be trained to stay off of our property, or, another option might be to get a livestock guard dog of our own and use the invisible fence and collar to train it instead. I like this particular system because the electric fence wires are buried underground, hence no need for actual fencing, and it be installed yourself (saving a lot of money!). They also have wireless options. If you live in an area where dogs tend to be a problem with your chickens but can't afford or don't want perimeter fencing, this may be the answer for you too.


The sponsors of this post have been kind enough to offer a giveaway for readers. To be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, please share on some form of social media your interest or thoughts on this invisible fence product, make sure to like the Restoring the Roost facebook page, then leave a comment here on the blog telling me you've done so. The winner will be randomly selected and announced in my next post. Good luck!

one of the surviving roosters

This spring we will be replenishing our flock with Dominique chicks from a few local breeders and hopefully next spring we can begin breeding our flock again. Do you have any tips of other successful ways to predator-proof your flock?