Train guinea fowl to be friendly

Guinea fowl are not well known for being friendly. I can't even count the number of people who have told me that they can't get anywhere near their guineas. This is the complete opposite as to how my guineas act! Now granted, guinea fowl will never be super duper lovey birds, but they can be trained to be friendly with you.

Trained guinea fowl

Guinea fowl are just naturally more high strung than chickens. Everyone says that they are not terribly intelligent (true) but they can easily be trained or uh, bribed...with treats like BOSS, scratch or millet. Just like chickens, they will quickly learn to come running when you have their favorite treat!

One of the key points to training guinea fowl to not be afraid of you is to never give them a reason to fear you and in fact, become their favorite person. Don't worry, it's super easy!

How to train guinea fowl to be friendly


As with chickens, training guinea fowl begins when they're still baby birds. The more time you spend with guinea keets while they're in the brooder, the more they will understand that you are the one that feeds and takes care of them. They will begin to see you as the source for food and know that you are a safe person to be around. 

Every time I go to the brooder to feed, water or clean I talk to them. Even if I'm just walking by I chat with them. Yes, it feels silly sometimes but they get used to seeing and hearing me around them. I raise them exactly the same as I raise chicks...lots of attention and positive interaction. Try not to make loud noises or do anything to scare them, but if something does happen just keep talking to them and they'll quickly calm down.

It actually helps to raise your guinea fowl keets with some chicks. They take their cues from the chicks who don't get nearly as upset at the human interaction. I believe that when guinea keets are raised along with chicken chicks they grow up more friendly and the chicks are not affected by the keets presence at all. 

If you'd rather skip the brooder, guinea keets seem more friendly when they are raised by a chicken hen versus a guinea hen. You'll still need to give them a good deal of attention when they're little though so they understand that you're one of the good guys! Hang out by mama hen and give her some treats and talk to her. The babies will eat with her and get used to your presence. 

Unlike chickens, guinea fowl tend to go through a personality shift when they get to the adolescent stage. They start to freak out more and struggle to be put down once picked up. At this point I let the guineas take the lead when it comes to our interactions. If they run away, I don't chase them. I keep doing my thing and chatting with them. They will soon realize they're being silly and come back. 

They need to have that interaction with me and other humans without us being all up in their business. When guinea fowl grow up with this kind of positive interaction they are more friendly. The more time you can spend with them the better. This is exactly the same as how you would treat chickens except when guineas get to that flighty stage many people (ok, mostly kids) want to chase them down and catch them. Guineas get upset by this. A chicken will forgive you in 5 minutes but a guinea wont speak to you for the rest of the day! 

Guineas can easily be bribed with treats. As I mentioned in Train your chickens to come when called, chickens and guinea fowl are easy to train with treats and they will quickly learn to come when called if you always have treats when you call them. Just like chickens though, once they learn you're the treat person they will follow you everytime you go outside. Mine are constantly behind me! 

So that's my method for raising guinea fowl to be friendly, but what if you already have full grown guineas and they won't come anywhere near you? 

Guinea fowl that are friendly

Taming adult guinea fowl


Whatever you do, do not try to pick them up! Guineas do not like to be caught and trying to catch them just freaks them out and makes them scared of you. Unlike chickens, most guinea fowl do not like to be held or petted. 

Some people actually have guineas that will eat out of their hands and jump up on their laps! They all say the same thing...quit trying to pick the guineas up. Yes, I've repeated that several times but it truly is the key to making guinea fowl be more friendly. They need to trust you and being chased is a deal breaker for them.

Use the treat method. Call the guineas and toss treats to them. Each day put the treats closer and closer to you till they're eating at your feet. It could take a few days or a few months but they will warm up to you! In fact, they might even start following you every time you walk out the door like mine do!

After they guinea fowl start coming close to you, squat down while they're eating at your feet. Once they accept you at their level, try to feed them by hand.

Tame guinea fowl eating treats

How to catch a guinea hen 


In cases of illness or injury a guinea might need treatment. You'll want to be careful not to undo all the work you've done with them up to this point. If you absolutely have to catch a guinea hen, wait until she is on the perch at night. It will be much easier to catch her and since you're not chasing her around there is no chance of injury to you or the guinea. 

The muscles in a guineas legs are very strong and an upset guinea fowl is a ball of pure adrenaline. It's the thigh muscles of a guineas legs that are strong, but the bone in the bottom of their legs (the shank) is thin. If you chase them they will panic. If you catch them by the feet, they will spin to try to get away. If you have a grip on their legs at this point it could cause a break. Always pick a guinea up off the perch and place in a football hold to keep her calm. 

Between panicking and having sharp nails it's also very easy for you to get injured by a guinea. Plus, they have a tendency to fly straight up when scared and if you corner them you will get a face full of guinea. Trust me, that hurts. I learned my lesson about chasing guinea fowl the first time I had to blood test my whole flock. Since then I've only picked them up off the perch at night. 

If you have a guinea that needs care and you think you won't know which one it is come night time (they all look alike, especially in the dark) mark her with blue kote during the day. I take some treats and a can of blue kote and wait till the guinea gets close enough, then spray her tail. Be quick and she won't know it happened. That guinea will be easy to find in the dark with a flashlight. 


I have been using these methods since I started raising guinea fowl. My first trio of guineas were adults and pretty standoffish when I first got them. It took a few months but they soon were coming right up to me and begging for treats just like the chickens. With a little bit of patience I've managed to tame even the most timid guinea over the years. 


Want to know more about guinea fowl? Check out my collection of guinea articles at: Guinea Fowl 101.

~L 

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