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Tiny Backyard Quail System

post #1 of 2
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I'd like to share my backyard quail system to get some feedback on how to improve it. It's made with star busts, 2x3' mesh panels, zip ties and 4' garden stakes. It's built in long arrangement alongside my chicken pasture right on the edge of the lawn. It's split into 2 sections each being 2 panels long and 1 panel deep or 6x3'. The panels are zip tied onto the holes in the star busts keeping them in place. The panels on the roof are zip tied on one side to allow them to swing open for access into the cages. Garden stakes fed through the holes in the mesh panels prevent the roof panels from falling down. A hooks for hanging feeders or waters are drilled into the roof stakes.


The area the cage was built on use to be filled out garden law but deteriorated rapidly after the quails were introduced. Large tufts of what I think is rye grass survive in both sections. Apart from that the ground is mostly bare although when a section is allowed to recover lawn grass (I'm not sure the species) begins to grow. It doesn't take long for manure to build up and cakes when it rains then dries into a hard surface layer. I remove it by breaking off pieces and removing them after it dries enough to crack. When dry I just gather the manure with dirt, sift out the dirt then put the manure on the compost pile. Eggs can be in difficult and awkward positions to reach with these cages and likewise cleaning the manure. There's also a small shelter build from an upside down apple crate with a plank removed on the top. A separate a frame roof just sits on the top, it's heavy enough so it doesn't fall over. Chicken wire is affixed over the bottom and is covered with pine shavings/straw, if I see any eggs in there I remove the roof to collect them.


Currently there are 4 hen and 1 cock Coturnix living in the cage. One of the hens and the cock are from my first flock the other 3 hens were purchased months later. The cock tends to peck at the new hens a lot. Water-er is an upside down glass bottle on a plastic dish. They are fed in a bowl 0.5 cups game bird pellets or spent brewing grains in the morning. Than usually but not always a second feeding of spent brewing grains in the late afternoon or evening. They seem to be able to eat any amount of food I give I them so I'm not really sure if the amount I'm feeding them is optimal. They produced no eggs in Winter, a bit in the first half of Spring and nothing in the second half! Why are they producing so little eggs? They are getting high protein game bird feed and there's plenty of sunlight so what's the problem? I can't work it out.









I tried hatching 9 eggs in an incubator but only 1 hatched. A couple reasons for this that I can think of is that I turned the eggs for too long when I was meant to stopped and also when that one chick hatched it kicked around the other eggs. So anyway I've setup a brooder for the one chick that survived. It consists of a plastic tub with holes drilled into it, bedding straw and bit of cardboard taped to the side to provide some shelter. Water is provided in a jar lid which gets knocked over way too often. The feed is in a small porcelain dish which gets kicked out way too often. It got fed ground up game bird starter in the first week then I started feeding it whole. Two IR lamps heat the container on the horizontal plane. The photos are from the first day to the 23rd day. For some reason the chick is still really nervous when I go to replenish the water or check the temperature even though I'm the only living thing it's seen. It tries to fly out when I open the lid.







post #2 of 2

I think your quail are happy in the cage, but I can see why you have difficulties cleaning and collecting eggs.. Basically, I think it is hard to fix this with the current cage, it would take some major changes to fix it. Raising the cage from the ground so you can reach in from the front to collect eggs, for instance. The cage might need to have its depth reduced too, so you can reach the back. If you raised it and changed the bottom from chicken wire to hardware cloth, cleaning would probably be easier, as their droppings would just fall through. But living on the ground is more natural for quail - cleaning wire on the ground just sucks. We have rabbits like that.. If you want to keep them on the ground, I would suggest either a solid bottom covered with sand/dirt or to cover the wire with a deep layer of sand or dirt. This should enable you to remove the dirty top layer relatively easily, as long as you do it often, and put some more clean sand in when necessary. Perhaps you should consider covering at least part of the cage, preferably with something the light can travel through, to prevent their manure from getting wet and cake when it rains and to keep their feed dry.

And one more thing.. You say they live right beside the chicken pasture. There are many threads on here warning people that chickens can carry diseases that cause them no problems but can kill quail. You might want to place them further away from the chickens.

With regards to the feed, it is my understanding that quail should have as much as they will eat - just keep their bowl full. I'm not sure about the brewing grain - I would stick to game bird feed with 25-30% protein. And make sure they have oyster shells or another calcium source. This might fix the egg laying issue.

The lone chick that is scared - I think this is because you approach it from the top. Its instincts tells it you are a predator. If you had a side door in the box ans used that when feeding, it might act differently. I would also give it a heavy waterer to avoid getting it knocked over, it's big enough not to drown. You say you are still providing it with additional heat? I doubt that is necessary, unless it lives outside.

Anyway, good luck with them!

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