Archive for March, 2013
So spring is trying to arrive, but intermittent snow storms (12 inches at a time) are trying to slow it down. All the quail except 1 of 2 Texas A&M made it through the winter. I have been keeping them in a section of the rabbit cage I built. It allowed me to have a single heated water source and provided them some protection from the elements. Suppose to warm up next week so I plan to move them back to the breeder cages and see if I can get them started laying again. It was interesting that after only 2 days of being in the larger cage and no lights they stopped laying entirely. Hopefully they remember how! 🙂 I plan to order some eggs online and hatch them to rebuild the flock, but that will have to wait until I feel like the eggs will stay warm enough during shipping.
Other backyard quail farm happenings:
Chickens: my wife applied to the city for a special use permit to have chickens and we were approved. Secretly I think she hopes this will replace the quail, but I don’t have the heart to tell her. Really the quail are little trouble (less than what I think the chickens will be) and since I can not have a rooster according to the city I am not able to hatch chicken eggs to refresh the flock. I will be setting up a brooder this weekend and hopefully getting chicks next week from the feed store. I am looking to get White Leghorns. Everything says they are good egg layers and lay large white eggs, the kids will never know – shhhhh!
Rabbits: the bunnies made it through the winter as well. Keeping their water unfrozen proved a challenge. The heated bottles I bought were only good down to about 25 degrees. But I currently have the two original bunnies (1 male, 1 female, both flemish giant, new zealand mix) and two of the does first litter does. I breed the original doe a month ago thinking it would be warming by now, she had a litter of 5 over the weekend. The other two does are not from this buck and are now old enough to be moms, so I have breed them as well this week. We will see how they do over the next month.
Garden: the seeds have been started indoors for a variety of items: cabbage, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, peppers. If the snow ever clears I will harden of the cold tolerant plants and hopefully get something in the ground soon. Also, I planted garlic for the first time this past fall. Looking forward to see if that comes back up and makes for a harvest.
I have gotten a couple of questions lately about “free ranging” quail. While this works well for chickens, ducks and other fowl it is not recommended for quail. They tend to fly off never to be seen again. They don’t tend to roost in the same place each evening making free ranging difficult.
If you check my site I recommend a smaller cage for urban quail, about 2X3 foot. If you have more room you could use what is called a flight cage. It is a larger completely enclosed area that will allow the quail some height and distance to fly and exercise. It is usually used by growers who intend to sell their quail for training dogs to retrieve. Quail used in this way need to have strong flight muscles. it could also be used at ground level (as opposed to raised cages with wire bottoms) to allow the birds some ranging. It creates a real problem if part of your intent is to raise the birds for eggs, they are harder to find in such a setup.
Although I have never heard of it being used with quail, I would assume you could also used what is called a chicken tractor (search it). This would allow the birds some ground contact and a chance at natural foods like insects.
I would recommend regardless that you can a small box with some sand in it the cage to allow for some natural stimulation of the birds. Although the don’t need the grit if given a all purpose feed, it cant hurt them.