Friday, July 20, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here.

Today's FFF is all about baby guineas (called "keets"). Late last month I wrote about when we first noticed one of our guineas sitting on eggs. We decided to just let her take care of the keets once they hatched, but things didn't go according to plan.

One keet hatched out on Wednesday, so we figured the others wouldn't be too far behind. The guinea mama was still sitting on the eggs with her fluffy little keet under her wing on Thursday morning, so we waited to see if any other eggs hatched.

By Thursday afternoon, she was off the nest and proudly showing off her new baby. It was pretty much the cutest thing I've ever seen. The keet followed her around everywhere, and mama would make a noise to show her baby what was safe to eat, and the keet would take little bites of grass. The dad wasn't too far behind (guineas tend to be monogamous, unlike chickens), so it was so sweet seeing this new little family parading around.

As cute as it was watching them, we started to get worried that the mama had forgotten about her other babies. She didn't return to the nest all day, so we made the decision just before sunset to bring her eggs inside and put them under a heat lamp to see if they would hatch.

Many of the eggs had tiny holes in them (the hole is called a "pip") which is a sign that the keets will hatch within the next couple days. Basically the keet pokes a hole in the shell with its egg tooth (this "tooth" falls off within several days of hatching) and starts to breathe in the outside air. It continues to poke holes in the egg until it starts to crack open, kicking its way out.

This is a very exhausting process for the keet. After the pip and before hatching, keets absorb the egg yolk to give them energy to push their way out of the egg and to sustain them for a while after they hatch (this is why day-old chicks and keets can be shipped in the mail without starving).

We took a video of one of the keets hatching so we could share the magic. I've never witnessed anything hatch before, so it was pretty amazing to see this firsthand (as you'll hear in my "awwws" and other comments on the video - I couldn't contain myself).

They are pretty wiped out for a while after they hatch, but eventually they are up running around and getting some drinks of water.

We really wanted to not get involved with the hatching and just let nature and the guinea mama's instincts guide the process, but of course we ended up intervening. I can't believe I fooled myself into believing I'd just let them be.

Egg tooth still intact.

Right now, we have a total of 17 keets with 5 eggs left. Usually not every single egg hatches due to any number of reasons, so I don't expect these to hatch (but I am keeping them under the heat lamp for another day or so just in case). I really can't believe that this many successfully hatched. Talk about an exciting few days!



  1. I LOVED watching that lil' one hatch!! Guineas are cute when they're babies....can you stunt their growth till I get to meet them?

    1. It really is a pretty amazing thing to witness. Guineas are very cute babies! I wish they could be this size forever!

  2. What a wonderful post. I am soooo happy for you and your new babies! ♥

    Sonja of

    1. Thank you so much, Sonja! I'm hearing their sweet little chirps behind me while I type this :)

  3. I finally got to watch the videos. They didn't work at my office. That was so cute but I just wanted to grab that shell of that baby. I'm glad you finally reached in there and took it off him. Poor thing was stuck.

    1. We had to help quite a few of them out of their shells. I think the humidity was too low in the garage so the egg membranes dried out and they got kind of trapped inside.

  4. Replies
    1. No, they never hatched. We gave it a few more days but nothing happened and there was no sign of life. Either they didn't develop properly or weren't even fertilized to begin with. We didn't crack them open to see. I'd hate to find a half-formed chick inside.

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