We are still pretty much newbies to this whole backyard farming/homesteading thing, so we don't have too many regrets so far. This is one of our more major ones.
We live in New England. We have ticks. Guineas are supposed to eat ticks. Also, they are supposed to serve as extra guardians around the farm, giving an alarm call when something that shouldn't be around-like a coyote-appears. Also they are kind of neat looking. In a weird, kinda ugly way, I mean.
These are the things I told my husband and myself when we decided to get four guinea keats two years ago. The regret started pretty much right away. I had read Gardening with Guineas and was all psyched up about these little guys. Right away though, it seemed the opinions of the author of the book just did not mesh with our reality.
She says guineas do not smell as much as chickens, that their droppings are drier and less messy.
Our Reality: Oh wow. We brooded chicks with our guinea keats and the chicks were way less smelly and had much less frequent droppings than the keats. After awhile, the kids didn't even want to play with the keats without large amounts of paper towels handy, because they were constantly pooping everywhere. Ick. But they were cute, so we still had hope.
She also says that the guineas can bond with humans and that they will be friendly birds who may even want to sit on your shoulder!
Our Reality: The keats were much more nervous than the chicks. Also, as adults, the guineas were not nearly so friendly as our chickens. They turned out to be very anxious, nervous creatures who would sooner fling themselves into the side of the run repeatedly rather than walk past you to get in the gate. Also, as they got older they picked on the chickens relentlessly, eventually needing to be separated from them. Then the male guinea became very nasty and started charging us when we got too close for his comfort. After he pecked one of the kids and drew blood, he met his end! Coyotes picked off one of the females and we had to put another female down when she developed horrible sores on her legs and couldn't walk anymore. Fun right?
Now we are down to one guinea. And that's totally okay. Her name is "Frog" and she is living with the chickens again and gets along with them fine, but she still has that fatal guinea flaw that I haven't mentioned yet.
Guineas are so loud!! I mean it is "buckwheat this" and "buckwheat that" from sun-up to sun-down. She is louder than the rooster, I swear! She also has a rather annoying habit of getting up on the front porch and tapping at the glass with her beak, all the while loudly squawking. I have to go out probably once a week and chase her away so I can hear myself think! She also has an "alarm call" which is even more obnoxious and only rarely seems to have anything to do with real danger.
So yeah, the guineas were a failed experiment, but in all fairness lots of people love them so perhaps we were just victims of poor breeding?
Either way, you will not find any guinea keats in our brooder this spring!