My quail adventures

Captain Quark

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
86
200
128
Ontario, Canada
We started with one rescue quail a year ago and my how things have changed!

We raise our quail on organic fermented feed, greens and bugs. They also snatch a few of the worms living in the deep litter vermicompost bedding system we have set up inside. I don't rest them over the winter and they lay fertile eggs daily. They are happy.

We have the original pen of adults, a second pen with our first hatch babies from those parents, and a third pen with some new girls we picked up for generic diversity.

Our hatch surprised us with some white birds that lay enormous eggs. There is one male from them we couldn't turn into a freezer bird who is exceptionally friendly. We are going to use him as the roo with the friendliest of the new (non related) females.

We never started out planning to hatch eggs or grow meat birds but we've done both. The eggs are superior. I love knowing how happy these birds are and what they are fed before we eat them or the eggs.

People at our store don't share my enthusiasm for talking all about quail 😂 so I wanted to share our adventures here. This was a great introduction to birds for me. Now that we've processed a batch, I'm ready to grow meat chickens this summer. Timing is good because all my organic chicken farmers gave up doing birds this year. We have an extreme lack of processing plants here (government interference) so getting birds already processed is proving hard. I didn't want to process myself but I know I can do it. After eating pastured birds the past three years I can't go back to commercially raised.

Thanks for letting me share!
 

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Quaicken108

Crowing
Oct 27, 2019
1,486
2,282
322
NSW, Australia
We started with one rescue quail a year ago and my how things have changed!

We raise our quail on organic fermented feed, greens and bugs. They also snatch a few of the worms living in the deep litter vermicompost bedding system we have set up inside. I don't rest them over the winter and they lay fertile eggs daily. They are happy.

We have the original pen of adults, a second pen with our first hatch babies from those parents, and a third pen with some new girls we picked up for generic diversity.

Our hatch surprised us with some white birds that lay enormous eggs. There is one male from them we couldn't turn into a freezer bird who is exceptionally friendly. We are going to use him as the roo with the friendliest of the new (non related) females.

We never started out planning to hatch eggs or grow meat birds but we've done both. The eggs are superior. I love knowing how happy these birds are and what they are fed before we eat them or the eggs.

People at our store don't share my enthusiasm for talking all about quail 😂 so I wanted to share our adventures here. This was a great introduction to birds for me. Now that we've processed a batch, I'm ready to grow meat chickens this summer. Timing is good because all my organic chicken farmers gave up doing birds this year. We have an extreme lack of processing plants here (government interference) so getting birds already processed is proving hard. I didn't want to process myself but I know I can do it. After eating pastured birds the past three years I can't go back to commercially raised.

Thanks for letting me share!
You can always share adventures on BYC! :love
 

KaLe dA QuAiL

Free Ranging
Aug 10, 2019
1,859
14,388
616
British Columbia
My Coop
My Coop
We started with one rescue quail a year ago and my how things have changed!

We raise our quail on organic fermented feed, greens and bugs. They also snatch a few of the worms living in the deep litter vermicompost bedding system we have set up inside. I don't rest them over the winter and they lay fertile eggs daily. They are happy.

We have the original pen of adults, a second pen with our first hatch babies from those parents, and a third pen with some new girls we picked up for generic diversity.

Our hatch surprised us with some white birds that lay enormous eggs. There is one male from them we couldn't turn into a freezer bird who is exceptionally friendly. We are going to use him as the roo with the friendliest of the new (non related) females.

We never started out planning to hatch eggs or grow meat birds but we've done both. The eggs are superior. I love knowing how happy these birds are and what they are fed before we eat them or the eggs.

People at our store don't share my enthusiasm for talking all about quail 😂 so I wanted to share our adventures here. This was a great introduction to birds for me. Now that we've processed a batch, I'm ready to grow meat chickens this summer. Timing is good because all my organic chicken farmers gave up doing birds this year. We have an extreme lack of processing plants here (government interference) so getting birds already processed is proving hard. I didn't want to process myself but I know I can do it. After eating pastured birds the past three years I can't go back to commercially raised.

Thanks for letting me share!
They looks so happy!
I have a question, how deep does the dirt go?
 

Captain Quark

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
86
200
128
Ontario, Canada
They looks so happy!
I have a question, how deep does the dirt go?
I've got it about five or six inches. My plan was for higher originally but after digging and carrying that much soil I revised the plan 😂. It sinks overtime as the worms work through everything and the quail stomp all around. I go in about every four weeks and dig it up, pile in more shredded scrap paper, cover it up with the dirt again and it repuffs it up again. The worms make quick work of the paper. I had no idea they would. All my shredded work papers are composted in there really fast.
 

Captain Quark

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
86
200
128
Ontario, Canada
Can you share some details how your pens are set up pleaseee?
I'm really very happy with how it all turned out! I was motivated by a post I read here about a deep litter system. My husband built a 10' x 4' pen for me. It's about 4' high to give them space when they fly up. It's raised off the floor by 1", bottom is plywood which is covered with tarp. Sides are 12" high. It's inside and I didn't want a mess everywhere. It's still ended up being messy 😂 but we've worked around that.

I layed cardboard on the bottom, then added in two pounds of red wiggler composting worms. Here is where I start to deviate from what others have done. I have an open compost system outside. I went and dug under the top layer and dug up all the soil there and hauled it inside to put on top of my red wigglers. I added a bunch of hand shredded papers, and dumped the soil on that. It had all sorts of bugs and other worms in there.I've seen spiders, fruit flies, beetles, grubs, massive earth worms and more.

For the first month (maybe even six weeks - I can't remember now), I let the worms work out the ecosystem. They went through about a pound of vegetable scraps a week or less, plus lots of paper. I had to water it frequently to get just the right level of moisture. My system is much drier than a regular vermicompost system. There is no where to drain excess water (compost tea) so I manage the moisture levels. The last bit of time before moving the quail in I started scooping up the quail poop and seed debris from the smaller pen they were in and putting it with the worms to see if the poop would kill the worms. It didn't, they were thriving, everything looked great!

I moved the quails in. We built a two level area to increase the square footage. On the raised platform I have a three sided box for their shower. I hang cedar cuttings in front of it to help hold the dust in, like a shower curtain. I shove more cedar cuttings it the soil near the corner they picked for their nest. The love hiding in it.

I quickly discovered that the way I fed the birds leaves enough waste food for the worms and they don't need much vegetable scraps at all. I put in maybe 4 oz of scraps every other week if I happen to think of it. They are so bad at breaking down the veg now that I want to build a proper vermicompost system separately just to compost my veg scraps.

I left the pen separated into two sections. One side has my original adults, the other houses the babies we hatched in November. The adults never had any bad smells. I scoop out dried up poop once a day at feeding time. Sometimes I bury it in there, sometimes I dump it outside in my outdoor compost. The babies, however, did manage to stink things up. I experimented with pine shavings (made the smell worse) and with orchard grass - the kind you feed to Guinea pigs and rabbits. The orchard grass is much better but still problematic. It holds poop in and gets trampled and starts to smell again.

For the babies I've now got the system working okay. I need to dig up their soil and replenish the scrap paper under the soil a bit more often. I scoop up their poop once a day and compost it outside. It takes me literally 3 minutes once a day to scoop both sides of the pen. I don't make it perfect, just whatever I can reach.

The babies have a jalapeño plant in there (during the six week set up I tried growing veggies on that side). They haven't killed it yet but it's starting to look less happy. I cut up some fallen branches to make a bit of a raised area for their shower, and it gives them more hiding spots down below. All seven baby girls picked the same nest to lay their eggs, and they love lining it with the orchard grass. I get two giant eggs from them daily. Not sure who is laying them. I'm guessing the whites but have no proof yet.

I get a lot of pleasure watching them dig up holes and finding a worm now and again. My son gets good microbes when he comes down and starts poking holes in the dirt and visiting with the more friendly quails. My eggs are probably a bit more dirt covered than most but I don't mind. It's a bit of happy summer for me each day when I'm in the basement, while snow is blowing outside.

Photo of all the pens. Excuse the mess. I didn't clean up before taking a photo.
 

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