what to put into the quail pen

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rita
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what to put into the quail pen

Post by rita » Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:07 pm

hello

not kept quails for a long time now. but I am back, hubby has built a 6 foot by 3 foot pen for my quails. I am hatching out some Mexican eggs. what does everyone put in their pens to keep them entertained, these quails will be pets and hopefully some nice eggs to eat.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by Marigold » Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:06 am

Hi Rita, good to hear from you. Will these be Chinese or Japanese (Coturnix) quails? I'm not sure what you mean by Mexicans, but presumably Coturnix as you're looking forward to eggs.
Where is the quail pen to be situated? If out of doors, you will have to think about how to keep them dry and draughtproof, as although adults can stand cold down to a degree or so of freezing, they cannot manage damp conditions from foggy weather or drizzly rain. They'll need a roof over the pen, and mine also liked a clear plastic cover over the sides and back, to protect them from wind and sideways rain. With winter coming on, this isn't actually the best time of year to be hatching, as they won't be fully grown until they're a couple of months old - I expect you have plans in place for a heated chick brooder indoors somewhere, but then it may be difficult to acclimatise them to much lower temperatures and different humidity outside in a pen. When I kept quails I brought them in to cages in a summer house between October and March, with small LED lights to keep them laying, because they won't lay unless they have 14+ hours of light. I also installed an Ecoglow infra red brooder as well, which they used a lot to snuggle under when it was chilly, kept the cage dry as well as a little bit warmer. It's much easier to get them used to living outdoors if you hatch in Spring, of course, as the sun is so good for them, and with only 6-8 weeks between hatch and first eggs, if you hatch in Spring the growing hours of daylight get them off to a good start for laying well. From an Autumn hatch you'll need lights if you want them to lay before Spring.
The run you plan is a good size, though, I used to allow 1-2 sq. ft of run space per quail, and they are such busy little birds that they don't seem to need entertainment, but they do like lots of places to hide and shelter under, such as small bushes if the run is fixed in one place, or I used those small plastic dome-shaped shelters you can buy for Guinea pigs, they liked going in those and often laid in them. Plus a nice big deep bowl for a dustbath of course.
Do let us know how you get on - they're such pretty, lively little birds. We used to have several wuail keepers on here, so it's great to hear about your project.
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rita
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by rita » Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:15 pm

Hi :-)99 thank you Margaret for your reply, I remember you giving me lots of great advice last time I had quails.
these are Mexican speckled bobwhites, I had a job to get hold of them. Yes you are right maybe not a good time to try and hatch quails through the winter. I have the pen off the ground with Perspex all around the front and sides to keep them snug, which I can remove in the summer. a nice big roof to keep them dry, I have got an igloo which my last quails had. I also have lots of hay to go into the nesting boxes.
what do you use for the quails to dust bath in?
My chickens use the soil and ash from the fire.
the quails pen is snuggled in between two big sheds.
I only hope that I will manage to hatch some.
also I will get some conifer branches for them to hide in.
can you think of anything else. I do have an outside plug so if things do get really cold I could add the inferred heat bulb. I used that for my ducklings.
thank you for your great advice.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by Marigold » Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:50 pm

Bobwhites, wow, that's great! They're rather rare - I'll be very interested to hear how the hatch goes. The pen sounds fine, you've obviously remebered their needs from last time.
I used white play sand in their dustbath which they liked as its so fine. I've found wood ash rather greasy on birds' feathers but it's a matter of preference, lots of people just use dried-out crumbled earth or old compost etc. They do love a good bath, but the main thing is to get a really heavy, deep china container, so the medium doesn't get shaken out and wasted. You can of course add diatomaceous earth as well, though I never found mine were at risk from parasites.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by rita » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:27 pm

thank you Margaret, play sand not thought of that good idea.
how many quails do you keep now? also what forage food can I give them.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by Marigold » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:34 pm

I haven't got any at the moment, my last group of six girls went on laying nearly daily for over three years, then I heard of someone who wanted some as pets so I rehomed them with her.
I found mine liked any sort of salad leaves, white cabbage (the sort you use in coleslaw) more than green cabbage. I put mine in a moveable rabbit run on grass from Spring to Autumn so I expect they nibbled the weeds in the lawn as well.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by rita » Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:11 pm

What do you put the sand in. You said something deep.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by Marigold » Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:05 pm

I used a deep China bulb bowl, about 10-12" across and 6 ins deep. The sand also helped to keep it stable. They would get in there three at a time and have a lovely bath!
If you have a copy of Practical Quail Keeping by Sarah Barrett, you can see some pics of my quails and my setup. Excellent book.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by rita » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:35 pm

i think i will put the sand in a cardboard box so i can recycle it when it get dirty.
do you think quails will climb, i would like to add another level to their pen, so it will give them more room.
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Re: what to put into the quail pen

Post by Marigold » Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:12 pm

No, they don't climb, at least Coturnix don't, they're exclusively ground-living birds and if you make another level I doubt they'll use it. They tend to just go to sleep on the open ground in their pen, they don't seem to go to roost together or perch like chickens do. Of course I don't know anything about bobwhites, except that I think they're bigger than Coturnix, is that right? So they may have different preferences and not be entirely ground-living. Maybe you could find out more about their habits and likes and dislikes from the person you got the eggs from?
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