Posts Tagged ‘quail eggs’

Well yes and no!

Like most animals they are in tune with the seasons and during the winter month they will stop laying. It makes sense since any eggs that would hatch or young being born during the colder months would have a smaller chance of survival. This reduction in egg laying is triggered by the shortening of the day, less sunlight means less eggs.

While they naturally will slow down or stop laying eggs in the winter you can trick them by providing supplemental lighting. If you can provide 12-14 hours of light per day the quail will quickly return to laying every day. My recommendation is a simple string of Christmas lights with an inexpensive weather proof timer, both readily available at stores that have forgotten that we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet, but I digress. These lights are weather proof, cheap to run (lower power usage), and easily hung around whatever cage you are using.

I recommend setting your timer based on your sunset time, meaning have the lights come on early in the morning to extend the first part of the day and go off either later morning or early afternoon. This allows the bird a more normal ease into the darkness of night as opposed to a sudden removal of the lights after dark and them walking into walls or something crazy. You don’t need to run them all day, just until after sunrise then they can go off saving even more energy.

Depending on your climate though you may need to collect eggs more often than once a day. Frozen eggs tend to crack and let in the bad bacteria. So make plans to collect at least twice a day or more if you climate gets and stays below freezing for extended periods.

Final thoughts – some people will say this practice is bad for the birds and they need to have a time of dormancy to recovery or it will shorten how long or how well they lay in future years. I believe to each his own. In my system I will use lights to keep them laying into winter and as spring time nears I hatch out new birds and replace all my layers with new stock. So I never know what I may be losing in future years.

Quail

Looking from the railing


It was my never my intent to go out and become anything. It was back at the beginning of the urban chicken movement. While I can remember at least one house in the town I grew up in that had chickens wandering about the yard, it just wasn’t that common at the time I decided to get a few hens. Our town was a suburb of a large metropolitan area and this was back before having city chickens was cool.

Fast forward and seemed like everyone was starting a garden and getting chickens, even the city dwellers. A lot of municipalities were moving to legislate how they would allow or not allow chickens. We had moved a little further out, but still in an urban area at the edge of the suburbs. Our city had decided to only allow chickens if you had at least 3 acres, which didn’t include us. We had more like a 1/10th of an acre, so chickens were a no-go. So I pouted around for a little while. Then I decided to actually read the city code and it put a crazy thought in my head. You see while the code was very verbose on the who, what, where, when, and why of chickens, cows, goats, and horses it was a little thin on others animals. It had a short list of animals that were strictly forbidden – pigs, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl. It allowed for pets, specifically dogs, cats, rabbits. The code had a final general section that required a special use permit for other domesticated animals, “except fowl which were covered above”. Hmmm….. So I thought there were lists of fowl specifically allowed or NOT allowed. One of my favorite sayings is “It is easier to ask forgiveness instead of permission”. While researching chickens I had seen references to raising quail and since they were NOT specifically restricted, I went for it.

There was a lot of good information on the internet about raising quail, but it was spread all over the place and didn’t really address the needs of small back yard quail keepers. So this website was born. I started documented my journey from knowing nothing about quail, to raising, butchering, incubating eggs, etc. It has been a great and delicious trip!

So now that I am “The Quail Man” what can I do for you? Feel free to ask questions in the comments of this post so we can all share in the answers or feel free to use the contact page to get a hold of me directly. If I dont have the answer I will do whatever I can to find out.

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?

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.

Spring 2013

Looking forward to a warmer spring 2013!

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.

1.  Local/City ordinances in your area do not allow or restrict keeping chickens

City ordinances More and more cities are allowing residents to keep chickens.  A lot of the times they place such restrictions on having them that it becomes impossible to comply.   In my case you had to have at least three acres which my small city lot was not even close.  When I checked the city code it specifically listed several types of birds (chickens, guineas, ducks, etc.), but did not include or exclude quail.  In addition to making sure you follow city and county ordinances, some states have restrictions.  My state requires a permit if you are keeping more than 50 bob white quail.  It is your responsibility to make sure you follow the law, but I have “pet” quail, so none of this applies to me.

 

2.  Low cost to start and maintain

It is easy to get started with quail.  For literally a couple of bucks you can get a common breed mating pair of birds, some specialty breeds are much higher.  It is best to start in the spring when breeders are selling them or try late fall for a deal when breeders don’t what to keep the birds over the winter.  Depending on how many birds you have a small cage and ratio of daily food is the only real cost involved.

3.  Simple habitat requirements

If you are not raising the birds to train hunting dogs, then you don’t need a large flight cage.  A simple cage that allows the waste to fall out the bottom to be collected and 1-2 square feet of space per bird and you are all set.  Even a used rabbit hutch will work.  Here is a picture of my six cage setup, can you see the Christmas lights?

4.  Simple care requirements

The birds will need access to food and fresh water at all times.   I feed and freshen water once a day, same time as I collect eggs.  I use straw below the cages to collect the waste and keep down the flies.  Once a week I move the straw to the compost pile and add a fresh layer.  That is really it.  The exception might be in the winter months.  When it gets cold they need to be protected from wind and drafts.  You can completely cover the cages with a tarp or if you have an out building you could move them inside.    Keeping the water from freezing becomes the biggest chore.

5.  Eggs

Quail EggsEnough said!  The fresh eggs are great during the laying season.  Yes quail eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, but for my family it has been about a 5/6 to 1 ratio.  If you assume each bird averages 5-6 eggs a week, then get enough birds to cover your normal egg consumption times 5.  To extend the laying season, in the spring or fall you can provide a total of 15-16 hours of light to keep them laying.  I placed a string of inexpensive Christmas lights around the cages and use an outdoor timer to make sure they get at least 15 hours of light all year round.

6.  Meat

So maybe you weren’t looking to eat your “pets”, but quail meat it both good tasting and nutritious.  They are mainly dark meat.   They mature quickly, 6 weeks, so they are economical as well if you consider chickens mature in 8 or more weeks depending on breed and size desired.  Plus raising quail versus hunting makes sure your finished meat is buckshot free.

7.  Quiet and clean, especially if female only

Compared to chickens and guineas, quail are extremely quiet.  Some make a sound similar to crickets or the distinct “bob white” call.  Even when the male birds crow it is nothing to draw attention.  If you have females only, then no crowing at all.  Males are only needed if you want fertilized eggs for hatching.  When they are raised on wire with the droppings being contained with straw they are both clean and have little if any undesired smell.

8.  Many varieties for your taste

QuailThere are many varieties in both size and color of quail to fit your taste.   Please remember to check your state and local ordinances because some breeds require permits.  Otherwise, do your research and pick something you like.  I prefer Large Brown Cortunix quail as they are in abundance supply, hardy, and good egg layers.

9.  Great as pets or science project

If you are not interested in being a farmer, then get the kids involved.   Quail make great pets or science projects.  Since they require little care outside of food and water and very little space they are a great alternative to larger pets like dogs or cats.

10. Possible money making venture

I say possible because it will require some work and maybe an increase in space requirements.  There are several sellable products with quail: live quail, eggs, meat and manure.  Once again check state and local ordinances for details on what you can or cannot sell.  You may not be able to sell the meat due to FDA or USDA restrictions, but I have heard of people giving away live birds and charging to have them butchered.   Live birds and fertile hatching eggs can be sold easily on Craig’s List and E-bay.  Finally the manure is high in nitrogen and makes for many a happy local gardener.Cash Money

 

So that is why I think quail are the perfect backyard animal.

 

Don’t tell my wife, but I have a group of eggs scheduled to hatch this weekend. My initial spring hatch didn’t leave me with a good ratio of male to female, so when she wasn’t looking I put another batch in the incubator. Just hope she doesn’t read this blog. 🙂

UPDATE: 22 new additions to the flock. Told the wife, she was okay with it cause she thinks the new hatches are cute.

20120618-063957.jpg

So the weather has improved and the birds are producing eggs on a regular basis.

I saved up a group of quail eggs and put them in the incubator this weekend. I had about 50% hatch rate last fall, I need to breakdown and buy an automated turner but they cost more than I paid for the incubator. Don’t tell my wife, but I am trolling ebay and craigslist for a deal on a cabinet unit. 🙂

1.  City ordinances do not allow or restrict keeping chickens

More and more cities are allowing residents to keep chickens.  A lot of the times they place such restrictions on having them that it becomes impossible to comply.   In my case you had to have at least three acres which my small city lot was not even close.  When I checked the city code it specifically listed several types of birds (chickens, guineas, ducks, etc.), but did not include or exclude quail.  In addition to making sure you follow city and county ordinances, some states have restrictions.  My state requires a permit if you are keeping more than 50 bob white quail.  It is your responsibility to make sure you follow the law, but “pet” quail may just what you need.

2.  Low cost to start and maintain

It is easy to get started with quail.  For literally a couple of bucks you can get a mating pair of birds.  Start in the spring when breeders are selling them or try late fall for a deal when breeders don’t what to keep the birds over the winter.  Depending on how many birds you have a small cage and ratio of daily food is the only real cost involved.

3.  Simple habitat requirements

If you are not raising the birds to train hunting dogs, then you don’t need a flight cage.  A simple cage that allows the waste to fall out the bottom to be collected and 1-2 square feet of space per bird and you are all set.

4.  Simple care requirements

They will need access to food and water at all times.   I feed and freshen water once a day, same time as I collect any eggs.  Then I keep straw below the cages to collect the waste and keep down the flies.  Once a week I move the straw to the compost pile and add a fresh layer.  That is really it.  The exception might be in the winter months.  When it gets cold they need to be protected from wind and drafts.  You can completely cover the cages with a tarp or if you have an out building move them inside.    Keeping unfrozen water becomes the biggest chore.

5.  Eggs

Enough said!  The fresh eggs are great during the laying season.  Yes quail eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, but for my family it has been about a 5/6 to 1 ratio.  If you assume each bird averages 5-6 eggs a week, then get enough birds to cover your normal egg consumption times 5.  To extend the laying season, in the spring or fall you can provide a total of 15-16 hours of light during the day the birds will keep laying.  I placed a string of inexpensive Christmas lights around the cages and use an outdoor timer to make sure they get at least 15 hours of light.

6.  Meat

So maybe you weren’t looking to eat your “pets”, but quail meat it both good tasting and nutritious.  They are mainly dark meat.   The mature quickly, 6 weeks, so they are economical as well if you consider chickens mature in 8 plus weeks depending on breed and size desired.  Plus raising them versus hunting makes sure your finished meat is buckshot free.

7.  Quiet and clean, especially if female only

Compared to chickens and guineas, quail are extremely quiet.  Some make a sound similar to crickets or the distinct “bob white” call.  Even when the male birds crow it is nothing to draw attention.  If you have females only, which is all that is needed for eggs, then no crowing at all.  Males are only needed if you want fertilized eggs for hatching.  When they are raised on wire with the droppings being contained with straw they are both clean and have little if any undesired smell.

8.  Many varieties for your taste

There are many varieties in both size and color of quail to fit your taste.   Please remember to check your state and local ordinances because some types require permits.  Otherwise, do your research and pick something you like.  I prefer Large Brown Cortunix quail as they are in abundance supply, hardy, and good egg layers.

9.  Great as pets or science project

If you are not interested in being a farmer, get the kids involved.   Quail make great pets or science projects.  Since they require little care outside of food and water and very little space they are a great alternative to larger pets like dogs or cats.

10. Possible money making venture

I say possible because it will require some work and maybe an increase in space requirements.  There are several sellable products with quail: live quail, eggs, meat and manure.  Once again check state and local ordinances for details on what you can or cannot sell.  You may not be able to sell the meat due to FDA or USDA restrictions, but I have heard of people giving away live birds and charging to have them butchered.  J  Live birds and fertile hatching eggs can be sold easily on Craig’s List and E-bay.  Finally the manure is high in nitrogen and makes for many a happy local gardener.

So that is why I think quail are the perfect backyard animal.

So I have been waiting patiently for the birds to lay eggs.  It had been 6+ weeks and the birds were that old when I got them.  Anyway, my new favorite bird 🙂 started last Thursday and has  laid everyday since.  My son and I had scrambled eggs on Monday, not much but scrambled eggs none the less.  The taste was fine, not so different from chicken eggs.  The interesting part was the thick membrane on the inside.  It was difficult to crack without breaking the yolk or getting shells in the bowl.

So now I am looking for anyone with quail egg recipes…  🙂