Gigantic, Embarrassing Mistake

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.

roo-and-henPhoto credit:

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.

Culled a Bunch of Birds

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.

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IncuView Incubator Review

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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.

Now I use the IncuTherm hygrometer/thermometer combo unit placed inside the IncuView to be sure that my humidity and temperature are just right:


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.

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Quail Chicks Have Grown Up Already, Plus a Valuable Lesson Learned

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!

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