Friday, October 17, 2008

Trouble in the Chicken Pen

Long-time readers may remember that back in March we had seven baby guineas (shown in the top photo) who were being raised by one of our red hens. We left for the States at the end of March and returned five months later to find that the guineas were all grown up (lower photo). I think these birds are strangely beautiful with their tiny necks and turquoise heads in contrast to their large and dotted bodies. They are also a good security force; they make a horrible racket when anyone new comes around.

The guineas and chickens had apparently co-existed quite well during our absence. But guineas will be guineas, and as ours grew into adulthood, the troubles began. Guineas can accurately be described as hyperactive (their nickname here is Turbo Chicks), and their frenetic darting around the pen is unsettling to the more staid hens. Worse yet, the guineas have become obnoxious bullies. They chase the chickens and peck at them mercilessly. The guineas bloodied one of the young roosters so badly that I gave the little guy away to one of the workers to save the rooster's life (at least until he went in the cooking pot). Several times a day I hear the hens squawking in terror as one of the guineas goes on a rampage. A guinea will choose one of the hens to pick on and chase her until she runs to a corner and hides her head. It's painful to watch!

We tried separating the guineas from the chickens with a wire fence. The guineas fly up and over the fence right back in. We tried reducing the number of guineas and butchered three of them last week, leaving just four of them in the chicken pen. The abuse continues.

Unique beauty is not enough of a reason for these bullies to be kept around to harass my hens! I think our guineas are headed for the dinner table.

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