Posts Tagged ‘backyard quail pens’
Finally feels like summer around here, got a heat wave this week that made both me and the birds a little hot. Not too much activity this summer with the quail, no hatches, no loses, just collecting eggs and maintaining. It’s nice when a system gets to the point where you can run it on auto-pilot and the weather has helped.
So speaking of the heat, just a couple of friendly reminders. I have positioned my cage so that it is under a large pine tree. This provides all day shade in the summer and protection from cold winds and snow in the winter. The other key is that the cage is open (wire mesh) on two sides and the bottom to allow good airflow. Finally make sure your birds have fresh clean water available all the time and replace it twice a day on hot days.
Trying to decide what to do this fall. Just thinking out loud, I will probably get some outside eggs to hatch and retire a couple of hens. I need to get on that soon so they have time to mature before the weather changes. How about you, what are you bird related plans for the fall?
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.
I have received a few questions about my backyard quail pens. I bought these on Craigslist and the story I was told is that the state of Illinois built them as part of a quail restoration project and when the project ended this guy picked up a whole load of them. Cost me a whole $20. It is a great cage, there are six slots (I keep 1 male and 2 female in each section). The cage came with a sheet metal feeding trough on the front and I added a PVC pipe waterer to the back. The floor is angles so that the eggs roll forward and under the feeding trough for collection.
I placed them up on the fence post to get them off the ground and make it harder for varmints to climb. Also added a thin plastic roof to protect from the rain and snow. Finally after learning the hard way that something was attacking them at night (specifically when they stuck their heads out to feed) I added the additional layer of smaller wire covers. If you look closely you can see the Christmas lights I have on each cage, this plus a timer allows me to simulate 12-14 hours of daylight that keeps the birds laying eggs earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Lastly, I keep the ground below the cages covered with straw. This makes it very easy once a week to rake up the mess and add it to my compost pile.
I have a couple of sheet metal brooders I picked up from Craigslist for $25 that I use for the first three weeks after hatching baby quail. Side note, I plan to start saving eggs this next weekend to hatch out for summer grilling.
Finally I have an old two part rabbit hutch/cage I use as a grow out pen for those birds I plan to butcher. I got it on Craigslist as well, but cant remember what I paid for it, maybe $40.