Guinea fowl are well known for being poor parents.  When the keets hatch the mother walks away and they are expected to follow, needless to say many don’t make it and Guineas often lose up to 75% of their brood this way.  Keets are rather soft birds when hatched and will not tolerate damp, if they are on dew covered grass they can die, so it is important to keep them dry for the first few days.

Once I have found a guinea nest, I collect the eggs every evening and leave 3 or 4 rubber eggs in the nest so that the bird keeps laying there. The collected eggs are kept cool and turned daily.

I have 2 incubators, which I use to hatch all my guineas, I find this method to be much safer and the results have been good. As the incubation time is up to 28 days I collect the eggs for 14 days and put a batch in the incubator, after another 14 days another batch go into the second incubator, this way I constantly run 2 incubators and hatch every 2 weeks.

I have found (through trial and error) that many of the temperatures and humidity levels suggested by books are wrong. I have kept careful records throughout the year and have found the optimum temperature to be 99.7 degrees Fahrenheit, I also found that the humidity was best at 60% and not increased just before hatch. I stop turning the eggs at 25 days and most hatch at 27 days, although they can be a day or two either side.

After 27 days the keets began to hatch.  They need careful watching at this point as old broken egg shells need removing from the incubator, otherwise they can get wrapped around a whole egg and give it a double layer, preventing hatching.  Guinea fowl eggs are 4 times harder than hen eggs and only fit, healthy keets will hatch. Sometimes keets need a little help after chipping, under the shell is a membrane which quickly dries out and traps the keet inside, I gently prise bits of shell off with my fingernail until the keet can get out of the shell. I also find that misting the eggs with water helps to soften the shells.

It is worth mentioning that keets have delicate legs and must be kept on a surface with enough texture for them to get a grip, newspaper or cardboard is too slippery and they will do the splits. I find very fine wire mesh, cloth or sandpaper is good.  Once they have spraddle legs they will not walk properly again.