A few quail questions from a newbie in need!

Discussion in 'Quail' started by Colourful, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Colourful

    Colourful Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2013
    Australia, NSW
    Hello! [​IMG]

    I'm building a double quail aviary sometime soonish, but I would like some advice on breeds and size before I do.

    Now the plan is to have a 20ft by 10ft run split in half into two 10x10 runs. They'll probably end up bigger. We'll have tin buried under ground and up till about 1 ft. Or should I use wire underground to keep out foxes?

    Now, I wanted maybe two species (since I'll have two cages) with one being Jumbo quail for eggs and meat. How many Jumbo can I put in a 10x10ft aviary? And what should the male to female ratio be. Should I stick to just one breed?

    I have an incubator for hatching the eggs, so I don't need broody hens.

    For the other I was considering Californian quail, but I'm not sure yet. That or normal Japanese quail. Could anyone tell me how many of those I could place in a run? I don't want to over crowd them, but I would like more than a couple of quail.

    Now, I can make the run bigger if needed, I have the space, but this seems like the best size for materials without it getting too expensive.

    The runs will be surrounded by evergreens and I intend to plant many things including thornless blackberries.

    I do own chickens as well, but the chook run is about 50 Metres away from the quail runs (or where they will be). Do I still need to worry about them giving my quail diseases? Or is it fine if I wash my hands and keep an eye on my shoes?

    As for covering, should I have the entire roof of the pen covered (with tin or plastic sheeting over the wire), or can I get away with half covered, half wire (or light shade-cloth). Does it need to have a cover back wall as well? I'll fill the yards with pots and plastic igloos for hiding/laying spots, is that enough protection from wind and rain? The surrounding trees will always give the run at least a little shade.

    I live in Australia, by the way. Winter gets down to 20 F and Summer as high as 100 F or so.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post and let me know if it should be placed elsewhere in the forum! [​IMG]
  2. tdgill

    tdgill Overrun With Chickens

    I don't know anything about raising quail, but I do know that plastic sheeting over the kennel will collect water if you lay it flat. I learned that from experience. lol. I am still in need of a good roof on my dog kennel duck pen.
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Hi there, and welcome to the wonderful world of quail raising. :) Your babies are going to LOVE living in an aviary.

    For the coturnix (and jumbo, which are just a large strain of coturnix), the dog igloos and lean-tos will be plenty of shelter. They'll take themselves out of the weather when they need to. I like to give mine a variety of separate shelters to choose from, especially because they will boss each other around, and I want even the low man on the totem pole to have a safe place to be.

    Tin under the aviary will be fine, though I'd prefer wire for drainage & to let critters (bugs and such) enter the pen for the quail to eat.

    As for the number, it depends on what you want to accomplish. Because mine are mostly pets and I enjoy giving them as natural a setting as possible, I keep my population to about six or seven birds per 100 sq ft (i.e., 10 x 10 pen). You could go MUCH higher than that successfully. Or you can balance production with comfort and choose a number in between. Things to consider:

    • Larger populations require more work. They'll poop and pee more, requiring more frequent cleanings. With a population as small as mine, I never have to clean--nature does the work for me. With larger populations, a deep litter bed is a great choice, and you'll add more straw for larger populations (because you need more carbon material to help the pee and poop decompose more quickly). I like deep litter for quail and chickens, because it attracts ground insects that make excellent fodder for the birds.
    • Never pack them closer than 1 bird per 1 square foot of space.
    • The closer you get to the upper limit, the more signs of stress you'll start to see, and the more challenges you'll face. If you start to see either of these signs, you've gone too high: Females with the feathers plucked off the backs of their heads; fighting to the point of injury. Other signs of stress that indicate you're reaching your upper limit: Birds that are excessively flighty, easily frightened, or that injure themselves jumping up in a startle reflex.
    • The lower your population limit, and the more enriched the environment (plentiful shelter opportunities, bugs to peck for, dust bathing opportunities, low brush to hide in, occasional fun treats like bird seed tossed on the ground to pick at, etc.), the more relaxed and comfortable your birds will be. Signs of relaxed birds: No sudden upward leaping, may come running to the gate to greet you if you regularly bring treats, full, healthy coats of feathers, plentiful egg laying, low energy (i.e., they'll spend large portions of the day just lazing around--this is normal prey behavior for a bird that survives by laying low, camouflaged in the brush, and only getting up to eat and breed).

    I recommend starting with a small population and working your way up until you reach a level that is comfortable. Be careful when adding birds to never ever add adolescents (even full-sized birds can be sexually immature--and they can tell the difference in each other) to an adult population. They will get beaten up. Don't know why that is, but I can only assume that quail, like humans, find teenagers to be excessively annoying. :D
  4. Colourful

    Colourful Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2013
    Australia, NSW
    Thank you! That's very useful information.

    We want the Jumbo quail for eggs and meat, but we also want them to live well, which is why we're building the aviaries. There will only be a large amount of birds in each for a few weeks (after they leave the brooders) while they grow to adult size. I think I'll use both for the Jumbos until I have them sorted and settled in (separated egg layers from my meat birds) and then think about using the other run for a different breed once they are all grown.

    Hmm, I'll have to think it over some more as to whether or not I have another breed.

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