Posts Tagged ‘raising quail’

incubator eggs

incubator eggs

Clan Mating or also called Family Mating is a breeding plan to insure good genetic diversity in a small flock or herd. While this system can be used with any type of livestock, obviously we are going to focus on quail.

In order to do clan mating you will need at least 6 birds, 3 male, 3 female. You tag or group the three separate clans with 1 male and at least 1 unrelated female per clan or family. For arguments sake lets assign them group colors for this discussion. I have a red, yellow, and green groups. Why? Because when I ordered the leg bands that is what colors were available for order, no other reason.

For this system to work you need to isolate each clan for breeding purposes to be sure of who fathered the chicks. I actually use three separate cages for my breeders, but if you don’t have that option you will need at least two separate cages. One for the main flock and one for the isolated breeding clan. Typically I recommend waiting two weeks after isolating the breeding clan, this will allow for any non-clan related breeding to have worked itself out. What I mean by this is if you are raising your quail in a colony cage with several males of different clans, your females may have been recently breed by a non-clan related male. After two weeks of isolation, any eggs you collect for incubation are guaranteed to be from breeding with the clan related male during isolation.

Then once the chicks are hatched you assign the females to the color or clan of the mother and the males to the next color or clan. So for example, when I am breeding and incubating the “red” clan in my system. The females will get a red leg band and stay apart of that clan. The males will get a yellow band and become apart of the next clan. When I am breeding the “yellow” clan, the female chicks remain yellow and the males get a green band. Finally, when breeding the “green” clan the female chicks remain green and the males get a red bad.

This system allows for sufficient genetic diversity in your flock with the minimal size flock of six birds. It is easy to run and doesn’t require a lot of complicated setup.

Take to the comments below with any questions or additional thoughts on clan mating quail flocks! Thanks!

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.


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.

See this post for more detail “Backyard Quail – butchering – simple killing cone”

See this post for more detail “Backyard Quail – ten reasons why they are the perfect backyard animal”

Decided this weekend that the weather was finally done with the brutal cold and moved the birds back into the suspended breeding cages.  One mistake I made this year is I kept too many males over winter – feed cost I didn’t need to spend.  Ended up with 4 females and 6 males, since I keep the 2:1 had a few extra bachelors.
Since I was short females and to diversify the gene pool I ordered some eggs off eBay.  It was almost a bad situation since I didn’t account for my travel schedule, they came one day before I left.  Which actually works well as they can incubate while I am gone.  Hopefully in 17 days I will be at full capacity for the summer.
My hope this year is too focus more on meat production.  Have to wait and see how quickly I can cycle them through the incubator and brooder.

Bunny update:  my existing doe had a litter of 6 last week, 5 made it.  I seem to loose one right off the bat with each litter.  Hopefully the other two does I kept from the first litter last fall are pregnant and will have litters in two weeks.

UPDATE: birds started laying last week while I was gone.  Took about a week and half after I put them back on 12-14 hours of light a day.

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.

No need to chase the kids out of the room, this is a G-rated post, no gory pictures.  Sorry!

Anyway I was looking for something to use similar to a killing cone that is made primarily for chickens, but these were all too large for my quail.  Yes quail are small and easy to handle, even during butchering, but I was looking for something to help speed up the process and reduce the mess at the same time.  So when you don’t find something you need shopping online, you of course make it yourself.

Looking around I decide a plastic soda bottle was about the right size.  It is easier to explain using pictures, so follow along below.  The one note is the curved shape of the bottles I chose actually help to hold the birds better.  I have not experimented with bottles of different shapes.

Required Items: bucket, board, bottles (2-3), nails, and kitchen shears.

Cut the bottle along the lines, leave the tab at the bottom to use as a nailer:

Completed setup with two bottles, I located them on the board so they sit just inside of the bucket: