I’m Rebuilding My Quail Cages

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Yeah, my wife Jenny thinks I’m crazy, but I decided to tear out my quail cages and rebuild them.  The original cages were OK, but I needed to change the size of the cages to be more efficient.  Plus, I have 11 chicks in the brooder in my second bathroom that are about ready to go into the big bird house, so I needed more cages.  Moving the chicks out will please Jenny greatly.

Instead of the two fairly large cages, I will have four smaller cages.  Each cage will be about 2.5 feet deep and just over 2 feet wide.  Each cage will house 5 coturnix quail:  4 hens and 1 rooster.  Once these 4 cages are complete I will build more just like them underneath them.  Eventually I should have 4 or 5 levels of cages.

Of course tearing out the old cages meant tearing out the watering system too, but that’s OK.  I wanted to change how the water was plumbed into the cages anyway.  I may also set the feeders on the outside of the cages instead of placing them inside.

This is all a work in progress still.  The cages are pretty much built – in fact the birds are in them.  The only thing not complete are the doors (I have temporary doors on there now).  I’ll dive into those tomorrow.  The key thing is to plan how I will plumb the water in and how I’ll stage the feeders.  This will determine how I build the doors.  I have learned a ton from the initial cages, watering system, etc.  Time to upgrade.

Something interesting happened during this project.  I took the birds out of their cages and put them in huge plastic storage bins with straw on the floor of the bins.  I figured the birds would love the straw, but it seems they didn’t appreciate their temporary housing situation at all.

Egg production plummeted almost immediately.  The 13 hens were giving me 11 to 12 eggs per day like clockwork in their cages.  Once in the big storage bins they gave me no more than 4 eggs per day.  When I put them into the new cages they laid 6 eggs in just a few HOURS!

I’ll post pictures of the new setup soon.

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Quail Watering System

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At first I was using a few of these standard watering bottles:

They work fine but they need to be cleaned and filled daily at least, sometimes twice a day. The quail poop in them and make a mess out of them quickly. So I installed these cups:image

They are plumbed with ½” PVC pipe to a 5 gallon bucket that is staged above the cages.

The water just gravity feeds into the watering cups. I fill the bucket up as needed, which is about once a week (for 20+ quail). This was the best improvement that I’ve made to the cages yet. Cleaning out the birds watering bottles was time consuming and getting old.

I just got a 5 gallon pail, drilled a hole in the bottom and put a fitting in there with a rubber gasket on each side with plenty of silicone sealant. It hasn’t leaked yet. Use a fitting that will accept a ½” PVC threaded adapter that you can screw on to the fitting in the bucket and glue onto the ½” pipe. Installing a valve is a good idea in case you need to remove the bucket for cleaning, replacement, etc.

The watering cups have a little yellow lever inside.

The quail don’t actually learn that they need to tap this lever for water to come out (they aren’t that smart). They reach in to get the last bit of water in the bottom of the cup and hit the lever in the process. This lets some water out, so the cups never go totally dry. You can also disassemble the cups if they get gunked up or if the little o-ring inside deteriorates and needs to be replaced.

Some quail keepers use nipple type waterers, but I thought that those would drip enough that they would make a mess in the manure pans and cause the manure to stink more.

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