I’m always writing about how fascinating it is watching our farm birds – chickens and guinea hens – doing their things around the yard. It’s like a little soap opera at times in how they interact with each other. I thought it would be fun to tell some of the little stories of things that go on.
One funny thing we’ve watched all summer is one of our Rhode Island Red chickens constantly following the guinea hens around. The other chickens will be off on their own or in their little cliques, but that one Mama Red is often seen with the guinea hens. If the guinea hens are parading around the yard – Mama Red will be at the end of the parade.
When the guinea hens emerge from the brush in the lower part of the yard – watch for another minute and next thing you know, Mama Red will come out of there too! And it’s always just the one chicken. You might see other chickens in the area of the guinea hens, but this one really does just hang out with them a lot. Sometimes they leave her behind and she’s left alone, but she seems OK with that too. She won’t follow them if they wander too far (like up the road to the neighbor’s yard as they occasionally do), but she’ll find them again once they’ve returned.
She really just seems to want to be a member of the “guinea gang” as we call them!
When Mama guinea hen is sitting on her nest to lay an egg, surrounded by her guards, Mama Red will be right there in the mix. Then, Mama Red will use that nest to lay her own egg! Some of the other chickens do as well, but most days there is only one chicken egg in the guinea nest, and I’m pretty sure I know who’s that is!
This seems to be fine with the guinea hens. If the chickens use their nest, they’ll still continue to use it as well. The only time I saw a problem was one day when I was checking on the latest nest, and saw Mama Red sitting in the nest defiantly, and Mama Guinea hen sitting just outside it looking a quite annoyed!
To me it’s a good thing if the chickens use the same nest, because we always find out where the guinea nests are, since the females will call the males if they don’t think they are close by keeping an eye on things. The call is very distinct, seemingly only used in that situation and we can get an idea of where to look. The chickens are a little more secretive about their hidden nests.
The guinea hens, however, don’t ever use the same areas as the chickens (and never the coop or nesting boxes so far!), they always start their own nests. The only thing that breaks them of using a certain area is if we take all the eggs out, or if wildlife gets the eggs overnight. Then they will move on to a different location.
Guinea hens and chickens co-exist quite well in our experience. The chickens do get annoyed when Pumpkin Pied or one of the guinea boys pull on their tail feathers, but the guineas do that to each other too. Harm is not usually done. We’ve even see Pumpkin Pied defend one of the chickens when Charlie the rooster was after her! Pumpkin might think he’s the only one allowed to harass the others….or maybe he wants to join the chicken gang? 😊
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