Over the last couple of months we have been expanding our bird population. Now part of this is because we like the eggs we get from our ducks and guineas and would like to have more, but its really because hatching birds is addictive. I write the date on the egg that we put it in the incubator, put it in the turning rack, obsess over temperature and humidity factors for 25 or so days, carefully move the eggs to the hatching incubator, and then practically stand over them for the last 3 days listening for the gleeful peeps that start coming from them even before they break through the shell.
Some birds take their time coming out, but the guineas practically go from first peep to completely out of the shell the fastest. They are tiny little things when they come out and kind of tumble around until the feathers dry. Then, watch out! They are fast. They hop around, they run around, they tumble anything in their way, and if you have anything other than guineas in with them, they peck their feet. Since we have mostly hatched ducks and guineas with an occasional turkey thrown in, that means they have terrorized the ducks. Ducks are fairly unsuspecting birds at best. Not a lot going on between the head feathers if you know what I mean. But they still try to snuggle with the guinea keets and act surprised when they turn on them and peck their feet like a million times a day. So we separate them after a couple days in the brooder.
When it comes time to take them to the aviary at the farm there are two choices. The turkey side or the duck side. We tried the turkey side only to find they escalate the guinea violence. The guineas chase the turkeys around until the tom final can't take it anymore and he turns to fight. Not pretty. Not pretty at all. But if we leave them with the ducks, they peck the ducks. But they tire of the game pretty soon because the ducks always seem surprised and keep coming back for more. So with the ducks they stay.
Yesterday was a release the babies day. We took 4 guineas, 4 ducks, and 1 lone turkey down to the farm. We let the big birds out while we acclimated the babies. The beautiful turkey poult made a place for a dirt bath and then chased flies. The ducks wandered aimlessly and the guineas tried their wings. We left them in by themselves for a couple of hours to explore unfettered. Then we brought the big guys in.
Avian chaos. Guineas do not like change. It makes them question everyone all over again. So it was a peck fest. They even pecked each other. Although they did seem surprised by that and did it the least. The baby fliers found they could run to the back side of the hay bale and hide between the hay and the fence. The ducklings, however, were not that smart. They ran up to the kennel and assumed if they could stick their head through, the body would follow. Not so much if you are on the side of the cage. Which they were, repeatedly. Now just so you know I am not sadistic. We have intervened with things like this before, but have found they need to find their sense of order and it gets better. If we intervene, it just escalates and then some real damage can be done. So we monitor and try not to intervene.
I have even tried to show the ducks where the hidey holes are, but it doesn't matter much. They still think the bars of the kennel will part for them when under attack. They huddle together waiting for the onslaught to be over, and then it is. Cause guineas may be mean, but they just want to establish that they are in charge. And God knows those ducks need someone else to run the show.