Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Keets progress

Of the 32 guinea fowl eggs which were shared in the corner of the chicken pen, 12 hatched on 31st August. This was a slightly disappointing number, especially as at least another dozen had fully grown chicks inside. I don't know what happened there.

But life as a keet (that's a guinea fowl chick) is tough. Within the first week they were down to ten and then, just when I thought that the weakest had succumbed, I went down one morning and could find only 8. I later found one dead under an apple tree.
I don't know if it's just coincidence, but the same day I unearthed, under the biggest chicken house, a nest of young rats. They did actually look rather cute, but no mercy was shown! I have also raised the house up onto tyres. If the space underneath is big enough, the rats won't burrow under and feel safe.

A cute nest of ratlets.

But the guinea fowl saga has dragged on and on. Not quite sure when they started sitting, as we were away on honeymoon, we had almost given up hope on any hatching from either of the other two nests. But then on Saturday a fluffy little chick appeared next to G'nea, G'nea, the original mother of all guinea fowl who had devotedly sat on a wonderfully concealed nest further down the land.

3 very little keets. Look how much smaller they are than the one from the first hatch.
We left her undisturbed and I expected that, by Sunday evening, she would be attending to a small tribe of keets. But yesterday morning Sue came to tell me that she had moved back to the chicken enclosure, but with only three babies. This was very disappointing, especially as I had actually sold half a dozen keets and was hoping to be able to take three from each brood.

Sue retrieved the rest of the eggs and tried putting them under the third sitting guinea fowl. She also found one alive, half-hatched. She placed that under the girl too, but she showed no maternal instincts towards it and by this morning it had slipped away. however, when she stood up she had another chick underneath her, so I am now waiting with bated breath to see if any others hatch.

Meanwhile, down in the chicken enclosure, all the new youngsters are getting to know each other.

Elvis with her latest family.
ed  Intriguingly tonight, there are nine guinea fowl roosting up on the fence. This only leaves two adults for three broods! My guess is that the three very young keets have been adopted by the hen who has brought up the other eight. Either that, or the weasel who has appeared on the farm (and is most welcome) has had them, but I doubt it as all three were fit and healthy a couple of hours before dusk.

double ed   All three still there this morning, plus four new keets from the third nest!

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