New to Quail

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Katlin
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New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:56 pm

Hi there!
My name is Katlin and I live in Fort Smith, AR. I have my first batch of quail eggs incubating, today is day 6. I have successfully hatched bearded dragon and chicken eggs, many years ago. I am incubating quail eggs is to raise my own quail, for the eggs, to feed to my pet skunks! In anticipation of the new arrivals, I have constructed my own cages and have my brooder ready. I'm looking forward to projected hatch day, which is March 9th.
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Marigold
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:11 am

Hi Katlin, and welcome to the Forum, good to have another quail keeper on here.
I presume you're hatching coturnix, as you want them for their eggs - they certainly lay very heavily for at least 2-3 years, I found. I also found I hatched far more boys than girls, which seems to be a common imbalance. The boys became very randy when they got to sexual maturity and injured the girls badly. Mating is more like rape than courtship in quails, the males grab hold of the females head feathers and hang on, and when she tries to shake him off, he often hangs on, dragging out tufts of feathers and often skin attached. I got fed up with going down and finding cages spattered with blood and injured girls, so in the end I culled all the males and after that my girls lived happy and productive lives without them. If you want yours for eggs I would advise you to do the same. They become mature by 6-8 weeks, and although it's possible to tell the sexes apart before in most cases, some feather colours make this difficult, and some males appeared to become fertile overnight, even when I was pretty sure they were girls!
If you're new to quails, it will be quite a learning curve, I found it so anyway, after experience with chickens. I recommend this book, Practical Quail Keeping, by Sarah Barratt which is very useful when first setting up with them.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Practical-Quail ... il+keeping

I hope the hatch is successful - they're amazing little tiny chicks, and grow incredibly fast. It's good to incubate them dry, ie no water in the incubator until they're ready to pip at 16 days. Sarah Barratt is a friend of mine, who has hatched thousands of quail by this method, and I got 100% hatches of the fertile eggs in the clutches I dry-incubated. I suppose quail originated in hot dry countries so have evolved to need lower humidity than other poultry.
Looking forward to hearing how you get on. I'm pretty sure you're the first skunk keeper we've had on here, so far!
Katlin
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:59 pm

Good morning Marigold!
Thank you so much for the warm welcome and the great information. Yes, my eggs are Cortunix quail. I'm a little confused with the dry incubation. Everything I've read says to have the incubator humidity between 40 and 50%. I worked very hard to get the humidity just right and I didn't have to? Is there a way to tell when the birds are young if they are boys or girls? I'm not sure I can do the culling myself....I'm going to have to figure something out on that.

I am excited about the eggs I am incubating and want to know NOW how many will hatch. I've read that candling quail eggs is nearly impossible due to the dark colors of the eggs. Can I get any idea by feeling the eggs? Some of my eggs are bigger than the others and some feel heavy. I have read that floating the eggs will tell but not to do that until near the end of hatching. 16 to 18 days is not a long incubation (compared to other birds) but it seems like forever when you are waiting! I just keep wanting to go peek at them. I don't, except when I turn the eggs, but I want to!

I have cages built and will build a covered enclosure, off the ground, by the time they are ready to go outside. I'm thinking I started this at a good time as by the time they can go outside, it'll just be warm enough here. I'm not sure how my cat will react having the chicks in the house for 6-8 weeks. I've made sure my brooder is secure so she won't be able to get to them, but I'm sure she will find this interesting! I'm also curious as to what the skunks will think!
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Marigold
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:34 pm

Hi Katlin. Yes I know the books all say 40-50% humidity, but this is what the air in the outside world is likely to be, and thus it will be drawn in to the incubator and provide a natural moisture. I only know that if yiu add too much extra water the eggs are likely to drown through their porous shells. Many people now hatching chickens also reduce the humidity nowadays, with good results. I'm not sure whether the very small quail eggs are more subject to too much humidity because they have a relatively large surface area compared with chicken eggs, but when you think about it, I suppose wild birds who lay small eggs manage to hatch them OK without extra humidity. So of course it's up to you, I was only passing on what Sarah Barratt said would work, and it did.
What sort of climate do you have where you live (pardon my ignorance but is AR Arizona?) Quails do like dry conditions, they can stand dry cold but not damp. I made indoor cages for mine in winter, with little LED lights which extended their daylight to the minimum of 14 hours they need to stay in lay all winter. In Spring I moved them outside to a rabbit run, covered with clear plastic on wet days, with little shelters for them to hide in. There are some pics in Sarah's book of my quails in this stup. It worked really well, I could move it on to clean grass every few days and it was fantastic fertiliser for the lawn!
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:28 pm

AR is Arkansas. Are you in the UK? It gets hot and humid here in the summer and is dry and cold in the winter. I have a porch that was added to my house that I use for extra storage. I've been thinking how I can clean that out and put my birds in there in the winter and in the spring when we get very wet weather with thunderstorms. I think that would be a good idea. That room is all windows on the back side so they would have plenty of natural light. It's not heated or cooled, but doesn't go below 50°F and a window air conditioner would be easy to add. I also have a garage that I winter my motorcycle in. I could build them space in there. The back room would be quite a project cleaning it out, but wanting to put the quail in there, it would be a good excuse for me to get off my back side and do it! Now you've got me thinking and planning! The "litter" will be great fertilizer for the veggies I grow for the skunks.
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Marigold
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:10 pm

Yes, most of us on here are in the U.K, but we have a lot of overseas members as well and it's great hearing how climate and local conditions affect the way people keep their birds. You're right about the manure - quail dropping are really smelly, probably because they have a high protein diet. Also the droppings are small and squidgy so Its not possible to poo pick the cages in the way one would do in a chicken run. What are you thinking of using for floor litter? It needs to be a layer of absorbent stuff that you can just remove and compost about once a week when they're in cages. In the UK I use Aubiose, which is shredded hemp stems, and that's the most absorbent I've found so far. It makes excellent compost as well, mixed in with any green stuff you have.
It's quite hard to keep the brooder clean and the area round the drinker dry. You could put a small chick drinker up on a tile, then on a brick as they grow, to try to keep the muck out of it, they kick everything around. The best type of drinker is the cage bird sort that attaches to the cage wire, with a 250ml.reservoir outside the cage and a drinking lip protruding inside through the bars. Then this stays clean. Very tiny chicks can drown in a conventional drinker so at first you need to put small pebbles in the water if you are using this kind. They're just so incredibly small and fast moving, they look just like those little yellow fluffy model chicks you can buy to decorate Easter cakes. If your brooder is big enough and you have a small incubator, it's good to place the incubator inside the brooder before opening the lid, as otherwise they will scatter everywhere at around 90mph!
BTW, I would just leave the eggs,and certainly don't try floating them, this would make them far too wet. Sit on your hands and just be patient! Quail eggs are very easy to hatch, compared with many breeds of chickens. If they're fertile, they should make it.
Katlin
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:13 pm

I have quite a few facebook skunk friends from the UK. I"m not sure if any of them raise quail or not. I should ask!

I hadn't thought about what to use underneath my cages. Something else I have to plan out and work on! There are plastic trays that I can buy very close to the size of my cages. I may just build my enclosure to include spaces for those trays so I can pull them out to empty them.

I bought a waterer for my brooder that is specially made for quail chicks to prevent drowning. I do have pebbless that I can put in the base just to be on the safe side. Better to error on the side of caution. The tile and brick is a great idea to keep the water off of the brooder floor, thank you! For my cages, I plan on using a cage waterer like you said that attaches to the outside of the cage.

I secured the hardware cloth to the top of my brooder this morning. I'm kind of worried that if I get a good hatch rate out of the 24 eggs I have cooking, I may need another brooder. The one I'm starting out with is 90qt (80L) container. I think as they grow it's going to be too small. I do have another container I can put into use if need be. I just want them to start hatching NOW!!!
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:51 pm

What kind of incubator are you using? When the eggs pip and you stop turning at 15 days, remember to line the base with something like cotton cloth or rubber grip mat or j- cloth, so they don't slip and get splayed feet whilst drying off. What measurement is your brooder? You can always us a big cardboard box if you're going to use a suspended lamp over the top. A ceramic lamp is good, sometimes called a dull emitter as it only gives out heat not light. Then they get a dark, warm night time and will stop cheeping!

There are a few bits of video on my YouTube channel (Ginnychick) of my quails hatching. I just sat there all day with my phone, couldn't even stop for a pee in case I missed the next one! See YouTube link if interested, there are some more on there.

http://youtu.be/tjeYO47ccSs
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rick
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Re: New to Quail

Post by rick » Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:22 am

That's so cool Marigold. Hello World! Good luck Katlin with your venture.
Katlin
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Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:29 am

The chicks are SO cute hatching! I watched your other videos too, they are adorable! I have a Hovabator incubator. It is a still air, square styrofoam. It has the 2 windows on the top, but they are not clear. If this goes well, I am going to buy a clear incubator. My brooder is 30 x 19 x 13 inches. I have a red 250w heat lamp that I can height adjust.

Below are a couple of videos of my skunk when he was a kit. Just thought I'd share :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WPlCf8ThgI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1ho025l7Z0
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