Guinea keets being raised by hens died - why?

Asked July 4, 2020, 10:09 AM EDT

We had 2 broody hens, so a neighbor gave us 11 fertilized guinea eggs. They all hatched successfully, The hens shared the care of the keets, and have been very good mothers. They are allowed to roam our large suburban backyard with is kept in a natural state - we us no pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer. We have sunflowers that grow wild in the yard. The keets have had access to water since day 1 in a small container that they could access without drowning. We feed our hens organic feed for layers, along with leftover kitchen scraps such as watermelon/cantelope rinds, corn cobs, cooked rice, tortilla chips, etc. It is amazing to watch the hens call the keets to the food and then break the food into tiny pieces with their beaks for the keets. They also gave the keets water with their beaks when they were very little. The hens and keets would go into the coop every night on their own, and we would let them out in the morning. Last night I checked on them before closing the coop - and just like every night, most of the keets were under the hens, I could see several heads looking out. When we opened the coop this morning, the hens and several keets ran out, but not all. We looked in, and there were 5 dead keets. The keets are about 3 weeks old. There were no injuries or blood. Last night we were observing them and they all appeared healthy, and one was even jumping up to a perch about 2 feet off the ground. These keets have been sleeping/resting under these hens since day 1. We live in Austin, Texas. The temperature was 95 at 6 pm yesterday, and went down to 73 by sunrise. Do you know why these healthy keets died? Could they have suffocated under the hen?

Travis County Texas

1 Response

It is unlikely that they suffocated under the hens. With the information that you have given, there is no way that a diagnosis can even be speculated on. It would have been good if you had submitted the dead birds to a diagnostic lab or had at least done a preliminary post yourself.
See https://learn.extension.org/events/3758 for a webinar on how to do a basic necropsy. The speaker uses a chicken, but the procedure is the same for any type of poultry.