Commercial Quail

Discussion in 'Quail' started by nicole camp, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. nicole camp

    nicole camp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 19, 2013
    Hello everyone! I'm new to quail keeping and have a few questions. Next spring I hope to hatch some Bobwhite quail for a hunting club and raise them till they are almost adults. My first question is do quail need to raised off the ground? I've heard this from a few people at the pheasant club, but it sounds strange. My other questions is do the males fight if you have them housed together as juveniles. My last question is where is a good place to get hatching eggs. Thank you to everyone who reads this!
     
  2. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    To raise bobwhites on that type of scale you really have your work cut out for you. Especially having no quail experience. It's not impossible but I hope you like to learn cause you have a lot of that ahead. Keep in mind on shipped eggs you can't expect too much better than a 50% hatch rate so you'll need quite a few eggs here.

    First consider that bobwhites aren't ready for release until 20-24 weeks of age. That means that you'll need to figure out where to get enough bobs or eggs in time to hatch, grow, and flight condition them. This will be difficult because bobs are seasonal layers and only lay eggs from May to August without artificial lighting. There aren't a lot of sellers who use artificial lighting so finding eggs this time of year will be a battle.

    Lets start with cages. To keep bobwhites happy you need to brood them at about 3/4-1 sq ft per bird. With more experience that number can go down but space is the key to everything with bobs. You'll need to brood them under red lights because it helps to reduce aggression and bob chicks can easily become cannibalistic in the brooder. The first week you start the brooder temp at 97* and reduce it 5* per week. If the chicks are fighting a lot you can "cool them down" for a minute by turning off the light. Warmth will overrule aggression. Being new to quail you really need to take the aggression and cannibalism thing seriously with bobwhites or you'll lose birds and the live ones will end up with the habit of picking flesh off of other live birds. As you get more experience it becomes much less of an issue but is always a concern. Feed for the first 6 weeks should be 30% protein game bird starter. Then shift them to 19% game bird flight conditioner <--This is very important for healthy fliers.

    For cages you can keep bobwhites in large coveys during the off season (September thru april) but you'd need to split them into pairs or trios during breeding season to avoid fighting. Bobs need at least 4 sq feet per bird to be happy. The more space you give them the happier they'll be. Once you raise them to the point they are ready to go to the flight pen be sure to release them into the pen in the middle of the day AFTER you've weaned them off the heat lamp.

    For your bobs to be strong fast fliers you'll need to provide them with plenty of vertical and horizontal space. You'll want at least 8 foot high ceilings (you can use nylon netting for ceilings to cut down on bird deaths from flushing) Your cages should give the birds room to fly as far as they would in the wild when flushed. A good general number is 40 yards. If you don't give them enough space when you release them they won't flush or fly fast enough or far enough to make it an entertaining hunt. You will need to install sprinklers above the flight pen so that you can "rain" on the birds. Otherwise they won't generate the oils they need on their feathers to fly in wet weather. This results in the bird dog often just picking up the bob out of the grass and bringing you a live and very angry bobwhite. The most important thing is that you set up your flight pen so that for the entire time from week 6 until the day you catch them, that they don't see people. These birds are domesticated so the more they see you the more comfortable with people they become. If your birds aren't wild enough the dogs will again just snatch them out of the grass live. Build a catch house at one end of the flight pen that is basically going to be a totally dark shed. When your ready to catch them use sheets or blankets and have a line of people walk slowly forward holding them so you push them all into the catch house. Then you can snag them up for transport. After you release them do not do anything to make them more comfortable like heat lamps or plastic sheeting. They need to weatherize their bodies so they can preform correctly.

    While it is best for the long term health of the birds to be kept on wire, it generates a terrible bird for hunting clubs. You don't want to be wringing birds necks all day because they are too tame to hunt. The reason for keeping them off the ground is that they prefer areas with dry loose soil and because of that have no immunity or resistance to the types of diseases, parasites, fungi, and bacteria that grow in wet compacted soil. Some areas are also higher risk for certain diseases like enteritis or coccidosis which are digestive diseases common to wet conditions and this can cause high/complete mortality even if treated. Wire also prevents the large majority of feces consumption which is one of the most commons forms of disease transmission To avoid this you could feed medicated feed the first few weeks. The bird will have plenty of time to flush the antibiotics before it's ready for the club anyway.

    Here is some info on keeping bobwhites.

    If you use the advanced search tab under the search bar, and confine your results to the quail section only, you'll be able to find a lot more advice about flight conditioning and flight pens. Not trying to discourage you or anything but what you're doing here is pretty much a high dive into the deep end so don't be too upset if it doesn't work out just right for you the first time.
     
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  3. nicole camp

    nicole camp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 19, 2013
    I appreciate the information! For the first year I'm going to be raising about 30 quail and see how it goes. I do have experience raising pheasants so I already have flight pens set up with netting and housing plus a new brooder. Do you recommend any books to read? Again thank you for the information. :)
     
  4. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Honestly I haven't found anything wonderful on flight pens at the library but I haven't checked around the web too much. I'll take a peek when I have time but you might try Amazon.
     

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