Here’s a few videos of a quail chick hatching and wobbling around right after. Fun stuff!
Man, this is a tough one to post. But the whole point of this blog is to help folks out who want to raise coturnix quail, and mistakes help us learn. This was a big one and it’s embarrassing. But I can assure you it won’t happen again.
So, about a week ago we were preparing to leave our place for 5 days to visit Jenny’s family to celebrate her birthday and the birth of her new niece. Time was short and I had a lot to do before leaving, including culling a bunch of quail and getting my neighbor squared away so he can watch over the flock when I was gone.
With maybe 4 hours of sleep the night before, I decided it was time to cull some of the older birds, plus most of the young males from the latest hatch, and get the younger birds into their laying cages. This is the standard rotation. I make enough room in the laying cages by culling the older quail and replace them with the younger birds. Routine stuff.
All went well and I got about 20 quail into the freezer. We went on our merry way to Iowa and had a great time. My neighbor took care of the quail just fine – all survived and looked healthy when I got home. It’s always a relief to get home to be sure the flock is ok.
After a few days I noticed that the young quail weren’t laying as well as they should be. In fact they were hardly laying at all. The older birds were laying great as usual. I checked the supplemental lighting timers and they were set correctly. I started thinking that maybe the younger quail were just stressed from being in new cages and having a stranger feed them for a few days…….then it hit me.
I was filling one of the feeders and noticed more than one male in the cage. I normally put 1 rooster and 5-6 hens in each cage. Did I miss-sex one and accidentally put 2 males in this cage?
Unfortunately, no. I accidentally culled the hens and kept all of the roosters from the last hatch. The first words that came out of my mouth cannot be repeated here. What a rookie mistake! I’m still kicking myself. Lack of sleep, in a rush, etc. Still no excuse for this.
At least they are all packaged nicely in the freezer, ready to be grilled, so they weren’t wasted or anything. But man, I cannot believe I did this!
Here is what males and females look like. The rooster is on the left and the hen is on the right.
Photo credit: backyardchickens.com
Male quail (roosters) have the rust colored chest and little or no speckling. The females (hens) are speckled on their chest and have no rust coloring, or VERY little. With most of the quail I’ve raised this coloring and speckling is pretty darn obvious by the time they start laying (about 6 weeks).
I know what a my next post will be about: Sexing coturnix quail.
We culled a dozen birds last night. We had to make room for the younger birds in the main cages and slay most of the males from the latest hatch.
About half of the younger birds were males, which is nice. The last few hatches seemed to have many more males than females. Luck of the draw I guess. A few of these males are lucky enough to live on and procreate – the biggest and best looking. The rest are going on the grill soon.
The next step is to get a bunch of new chicks hatched! We’re going away later this week to celebrate Jenny’s birthday with her family in Iowa, so the following week I’ll start collecting eggs for incubation.
I’m thinking of doing a video series on the life of a quail, from egg to mature bird. Sounds fun.
I have been using the IncuView incubator since I started raising quail. I chose this unit based on reviews and recommendations and they were mostly good to great.
Would I recommend this incubator for quail? Yes. Here’s why.
What I like:
In general, the IncuView functions great and is almost a “set it and forget it” kind of unit. Once the temperature is set, you just need to keep an eye on the humidity and add some water when needed.
You program the heating unit (easy) to the temperature you want and it stays there. The heating unit is easily adjusted to calibrate the heater to the thermometer (more on this below).
I love the clear lid that allows you to see into the entire inside of the incubator. It’s easy to clean as well since it’s all plastic instead of Styrofoam like other cheaply made incubators.
It turns the eggs for you, so you don’t have to open the lid and allow all of the heat and humidity to escape. Just program it to turn the eggs every X number of hours and it will do it for you.
It’s compact and lightweight.
What I don’t like:
Like most incubators, the built-in hygrometer is total trash (at least the one on mine was). When I first started to incubate quail eggs I foolishly relied on the built-in hygrometer and my first hatch was disastrous, with only 3 eggs hatching out of the 50 that I put in the IncuView. The hygrometer read VERY low, so I had the humidity up WAY too high to compensate for the low reading. As a result, my hatch was terrible.
Most folks that hatch chicks have an additional hygrometer and thermometer in their incubators to be sure that conditions are just right.
To be fair, most incubators have unreliable thermometers and/or hygrometers built into them, so the IncuView is no exception. Get at least one additional thermometer/hygrometer combo unit like this to be sure you are set up correctly.
All in all, I recommend the IncuView incubator for anyone that wants to hatch coturnix quail.
We had 20 chicks hatch on September 5th and they started laying eggs late last week. That’s just over 6 weeks from hatching to laying! It still amazes me how fast these birds grow up and start laying eggs. They are fully grown now, and eating and drinking as much as the other birds.
This week I will cull most of the new roosters and the rest of these birds will graduate into the main cages. I will also cull some of the older birds from the main cages to make room. Then it’s incubation once again to get another hatch going! And of course, a quail BBQ.
We did have a tragic accident happen. One night I was taking care of the birds and left the cage with the young birds open as I filled their waterers in the house (their cage isn’t hooked up to the automatic watering system). When I went back into the bird house I saw one female running around outside of the cage. I just scooped her up and put her back in the cage.
The next day I found a dead female in that cage. And she was beat up – murdered by the other birds. What the heck? Then I noticed that one of the other cages had a door that was was slightly ajar – just enough for one bird to squeeze out.
Apparently, the bird I found running around wasn’t from the young bird’s cage – it was one of the older birds from a different hatch. Quail do not like birds from different hatches. They simply won’t get along and they will fight to the death. This female didn’t have a chance.
It was an honest accident, but lesson learned. Be sure the darn quail cages are secure before leaving the bird house!
It’s a good idea to keep some extra fuel around in case there’s a situation where you can’t simply buy some at the gas station. Remember Hurricane Sandy? There were pictures and videos of people walking around with gas cans trying to find fuel to run their generators. Seriously? You have an expensive generator, but no fuel to run the thing?
So, what is a good way to store fuel so it’s there if you need it? Here’s what I do:
Each month, buy a 5 gallon gas can. I have found the cheapest gas cans at Walmart for about $12-$13 when they’re on sale. If I had an Amazon recommendation for you I’d share it, but Walmart seems to be the cheapest. And don’t worry about the quality of the cans so much. As long as they seal tight, you’re good. You can get $50 NATO 5-gallon Jerry cans if you want, but these cans will just be sitting in storage. They really won’t be tossed into the backs of pickups and rolled around, etc.
Fill that gas can at the gas station. Label it according to what month you filled it. For example, if you fill you first gas can in February, take a Sharpie and write “FEB” or “2” on it so that you keep track of when you filled them.
Each month, do the same thing: buy a can, fill it, label it. If you do this for a whole year, you’ll have twelve 5-gallon cans, or 60 gallons of fuel. Store the cans in a safe place, of course, like a garage or a shed. I wouldn’t keep these on your balcony if you live in a condo.
When you get to the month that you started (February in this example), simply take the gas can, pour that fuel into your vehicle, and fill the can back up at the gas station. Do this each month.
The beauty of this is that you won’t spend any extra money for the fuel that is stored after the first year. The 5 gallons that you refilled the gas can with would have just went into your vehicle anyway.
It’s a good idea to add some fuel stabilizer to make sure your fuel doesn’t go bad. If you only have 12 cans and you cycle through them each month you’ll probably be fine. But I like to give myself a little insurance and add some Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer.
On Amazon it’s $10.50 for 32 ounces of this stuff delivered in 2 days with Free Prime Shipping – that’s an awesome deal. You only need 2 ounces per 5-gallon can of gasoline, so one bottle of Sta-Bil will last quite a while.
To make the process of transferring your fuel from the gas can to the vehicle much easier, I recommend you read this post on how I do it. It will make the job much simpler and if it’s simple, you’ll do it. If it’s a pain, you won’t.
I keep an emergency supply of gasoline at the house “just in case”. Right now I have six 5-gallon gas cans. I will have 12 cans eventually – one for each month.
Each month I take one of the cans and pour it into my truck, then fill it back up when I go to the gas station. It costs me no extra money. I would have gotten that 5 gallons from the gas station anyway. Read my Emergency Fuel Storage post for more on my storage system.
I got really tired of trying to use the new EPA approved spouts on the new gas cans. Have you seen these things? They are worthless and you spill a lot of gas. So much for being good for the environment. I ended up just using a funnel, but that was a pain too.
There are cheaper primer bulbs out there but based on reviews, I just thought a few extra bucks was worth it for this item.
You will need to buy some 3/8″ fuel line and 2 small clamps as well ($10 or so). I would just get these at your local hardware store. I got 6 feet of fuel line and cut 2 feet off. The short piece is attached to the inlet side of the primer bulb and the long piece is attached to the outlet side. Put a clamp on each line to secure them to the primer bulb and you’re done. It took me about 2 minutes to do this, if that.
It works like this: stick the short end of the fuel line into the gas can. Stick the long end into the gas tank of your vehicle. Squeeze the primer bulb a few times and it primes the fuel line so the fuel will just gravity feed into you gas tank. Your gas can has to be above your gas tank, of course. I’ll post of video of me doing this soon.
This works awesome! No more spilled gas or trying to hold 5 gallons of fuel while pouring it into a funnel. I just prime it and when the fuel starts to flow I walk away and do something else. When I come back later – done. And no mess.
“Oh shit, he’s gonna push products on us now….LOL”. No. If you’ve seen my posts, I really haven’t “pushed” anything. If I have a product link in a post to Amazon, yeah it’s an affiliate link. And you don’t pay any more for it if you decide to click and buy this item than you would if you found it yourself, so why not? Every penny helps support the birds.
I will not post a product review of ANYTHING that I have not tried and used myself. If I try something that is garbage, I’ll share that too.
And a lot of this won’t even be quail related, but my guess is that anyone raising quail for meat and eggs will understand.
If you are like me, you are prepared for sudden losses of power, communication, food distribution, etc. – like from a hurricane, an ice storm, a tornado, an earthquake, a forest fire, etc. We all live in areas that are vulnerable to some sort of short term (and maybe long term) disturbances that can make life difficult or at least uncomfortable.
If you are not prepared for these things, you should be. I’m not talking about building an underground bunker that can withstand an EMP blowing up the entire power grid of the United States, a global pandemic killing 90% of the population or storing 20 years worth of MREs. That crap is for the “Doomsday Prepper” bullshit reality shows on TV. What garbage!
Look. I live at high elevation in the mountains and have had 7 foot snowstorms that socked me into my house for 7 days with no chance of getting anywhere on foot or by vehicle and -50 (50 below zero F) spells that last for days. It’s September right now and I have been going crazy building my firewood stack so I am SURE that we have enough wood to get through the winter comfortably. And by “comfortably” I mean that we have more than we need, just in case.
Does that mean that I’m a “crazy prepper”? I think not. It means that I am a responsible husband and father that wants to ensure that his family is safe and comfortable.
Being prepared for other things just in case of an emergency is vital as well.
Anyway, I’m rambling. I just thought that I’d show you guys some things that I am using around our place to make our lives easier and some “just in case” products. Some quail stuff too.