New to quail - in Anchorage, AK - with questions

Discussion in 'Quail' started by CreepyCrawly, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. CreepyCrawly

    CreepyCrawly New Egg

    5
    1
    9
    Jan 21, 2015
    Anchorage, AK
    Hi All. I'm new here. I wrote this in the new member introductions, so I'm sorry if you're reading this twice.

    I live in Anchorage, Alaska. I have a menagerie already, but am looking to add to it. Currently I have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 parrots, 4 lizards, and around 40 snakes (boas and pythons). I keep and breed the snakes, and have for years wanted to breed my own prey for them. In recent years there have been many problems with rodent suppliers nationally, and I have lost a snake myself to a bad rodent. I did lots of research on feeders and breeding feeders, and found that quail actually are a fantastic prey for boas - which is my primary focus. Years ago I had considered trying to breed my own feeders, but the prey I have been feeding - rats - are illegal to keep in Anchorage. But now that I discovered quail are a good food source, I'm thinking much more seriously about breeding my own feeders. It'd be a nice bonus for me to be able to eat meat and eggs from them occasionally, and possibly even sell some off to other reptile keepers, or people just wanting meat birds or eggs.

    I picked up a trio of button quail a couple of weeks ago, not thinking there is much difference in the different types of quail. Of course, I was wrong. I figured a quail is a quail. Well... these things are so dang tiny! I don't think the buttons will make a very good food source. I would need 6-8 of these little things to feed to some of my larger snakes as a meal. But I've learned a lot from them. Supposedly I have two females and a male (I've tried sexing them myself, but no luck), and according to the people I got them from, one female had been laying regularly, and the other female should have been getting ready to lay any day. Well... I've not gotten a single egg from them. Also, since I've gotten them, the "females" have been picking on the male, and the back of his head is bald with a pretty big scab now. Then the back of the head of one of the females is looking picked at. Finally I separated all of them. They're in plastic tubs with air holes drilled for ventilation, aspen shavings on the bottom, and Kleenex boxes to hide in. They each have a bowl of crushed egg shells, oyster shells, and chick grit along with 20% layer crumbles and water. Every 2-3 days they get mealworm treats. I don't know what their problems are, and they could be stress related, or maybe there's more than one male and I just don't know it. I've also read that they're monogamous, so maybe the resident female is bullying the other two. I'm not sure. The one I believe is a male is silver (he has a bib). The "females" are tuxedo colored. I clipped their wings to keep them from flying and pooping all over the house when I clean them. They're very cute, and I love their quiet, soft little chattering, but I will probably be trying to find them a new pet home.

    Now that I know more about quail, and have done more research on their keeping and care, I'm looking at the larger coturnix varieties. I've learned a lot about their husbandry, but am still trying to work out a few details. My main quandary is whether to keep them in the house in a spare bedroom, or try to keep them outside. It gets cold here during the winter, but not as cold as some places. I understand they can tolerate extremely cold temperatures, but I would like to keep them laying fertile eggs year round, so that I can continually hatch and raise the quail I need as feeders. Would it be best to try to keep them in a spare room with something like sweet pdz to keep the odor down? Or should I try to keep them outdoors in weatherproof cages with artificial heat and light to keep eggs coming and keep them from freezing? Or should I keep them in my shed, with the artificial light and heat? If I keep them outside I would probably keep them in shavings or straw to allow them to bed down in it to stay warm, but indoors I'd rather have them on a wire floor over a pan to make cleaning easier. On one hand it'd be nice to have them not in the house. But on the other hand I'm feeling it will be more expensive to keep them outside (electricity) and I would have more worries (water freezing, eggs freezing, being unsure if they will produce or not, etc).

    Also, from what I've gathered, most people cull their quail by pulling or cutting their heads off. I don't mind doing this for quail that I might be eating myself, but for feeding my snakes I'd like to keep them intact. Most people use CO2 to gas their rodents to kill them humanely while keeping them safe to eat, but I'm not sure if this is possible with quail. Otherwise I suppose I could try to pith them, though that's not my favorite option. Any ideas or suggestions?

    I've done quite a few searches, and learned SO much. But I figure my situation is a little on the unique side compared to most here.
     
  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,223
    83
    146
    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    welcome to the forum!!

    yeah, buttons are cute, but more pet kinda birds than food :)

    they can stand being outside in pretty cold temps, but i'm not sure about fertility of the eggs during the winter. with artificial lighting mine would keep laying in the winter, but i never tried to hatch any during the winter...if someone know more about hatching them in the winter, they please jump in here.

    Maybe you could keep your breeders in the house, and have the feeders outside (once their old enough). I've also kept mine on wire in the cold without any bedding, and haen't had many problems (except once i was watering them temporarily with a bowl cause the waterer broke and i didn't have new one and one of the quail decided to go for swim and when he got out of the bowl his feet froze to the cage). Oh, yeah, that's another thing about keeping them outside is frozen water is no fun to deal with.

    On the killing issue, i have cut their heads of, cause i allows me to easily drain the blood, but i have also cracked their necks. I used to kill mice with Co2, i bet it would work the same with the quail.

    wow, rats are illegal to keep...that's interesting.

    on a side note, will red tailed boa's eat quail? I was just going to breed rats for him, and never thought about quail. i already have and breed them, so would this be a good diet for him or should i do both or something? thanks
     
  3. CreepyCrawly

    CreepyCrawly New Egg

    5
    1
    9
    Jan 21, 2015
    Anchorage, AK
    That is a good idea. Maybe I will put some cages out in the shed for raising the eating birds out there, and keeping the birds I want eggs from inside. That could help reduce the number of birds I keep inside to just breeders and babies.

    I have seen heated rabbit water bottles (that plug in) and thought maybe those would work for outdoor quail? I've read that they can be taught to use them. I've also seen heated galvanized risers that you can put a galvanized chicken waterer on to keep it from freezing. And stock tank heaters that might work in a nipple type system, depending on the weather. But yes - dealing with freezing water is not something I look forward to. I never thought about the birds being dumb enough to try to get wet when it's that cold and having problems from that.

    Years ago when I had far fewer, and smaller, snakes I bred gerbils for them. It worked well and I enjoyed it. But the snakes grew, and the snake collection grew, and it just became unfeasible. One of my boas would have to eat like a dozen gerbils to make a meal of it. That adds up to a lot of gerbils. I used CO2 on them, and it worked great. They just kinda seemed to get light headed and fall asleep. And I could do a whole bunch at once. I like gerbils more than mice and they get a little bigger.

    Yes, unless your red tail boa is extremely picky (I've never had one that was) they'll eat quail nicely. At first when you switch him over his poop might be loose and smelly, but as his stomach and microbes in his stomach get used to the new food, they'll go back to normal. The microbes in his stomach are in balance to digest rat efficiently. When you switch, they aren't populated for that new food source, so they are kind of out of whack. But after a couple of feeding they should balance out. Most of mine are common red tail boas (Boa constrictor imperator) morphs - hypo, albino, Aztec, motley, pastel, and various combinations. From other breeders I've spoken to and research I've done quail should make an excellent diet. You could mix it up if you want, but if you want to do that, do it often. Otherwise you'll have the messy smelly poops every time you switch. And it should only take 1-2 jumbo quail per meal for even a 6'-7' boa.
     
  4. Sill

    Sill Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,555
    263
    226
    Dec 30, 2013
    Tempe, AZ
    I've used CO2 on rodents and yes it should work fine for quail. Since you want production go with coturnix and use artificial light to lengthen their daylight to 14 hours so they will lay year around. You can house them outdoors on wire and use shaving filled boxes for them snuggle in and lay their eggs. Mine tend to lay in boxes if they are available. Maybe if you used a bit of flexwatt in the boxes you can keep the eggs from freezing before you can collect them? Same for the water sources? The quail themselves can take cold temperatures as long as they are dry and you block any wind from reaching them.

    I don't know what types of boas you have but you might want to consider rabbits once they are too big for quail or you may end of feeding 3-5 quail for a meal. Again depending on the size of your snakes.
     
  5. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,223
    83
    146
    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    yeah, i've trained mine to do water bottles...they work pretty well and are easy to keep clean. Man, i wist i had enough money for heated ones...that would totally be nice. They are like 20 bucks though, and i would need like 18 for all the quail and rabbits....haha, that could get costly. Yeah, they can be dumb...i've only had a couple ever have problems like that. most days they don't get stuck :)

    Do gerbils breed as well as mice?? and is the housing any different than mice? I've raised mice for smaller snakes, but gerbils would be interesting.

    Thanks!! Yeah, he's a good eater...i can give him the whole birds with feathers right? Thanks again :)
     
  6. CreepyCrawly

    CreepyCrawly New Egg

    5
    1
    9
    Jan 21, 2015
    Anchorage, AK
    Gerbils I found to be monogamous so you can't breed a bunch of females to the same male. The females would fight to the death until there was one. I learned that the hard way. I kept them in pairs in 10 gal fish tanks with screen lids. And they bred like clockwork for me. The males help care for the babies if you keep them in pairs like that (he knows they're his babies). They are better parents than mice are. I never once had them injure their babies. When I tried mice every so often the momma would massacre her litter. They also don't smell nearly as badly as mice. Gerbils come from a drier, more dessert-y climate, and don't produce nearly as much urine. So they don't hardly smell at all.

    Yes, give the snake the whole bird. Feathers, beak and all. Like I said the first few poops will probably be gross while switching over, but then they'll be normal again. One boa breeder I know of said that once acclimated to quail as prey the snakes' poops smelled less and were smaller than when they fed on rats and that it was true for every boa once he got them switched over. So that'd be nice.
     
  7. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,223
    83
    146
    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    thanks!! they sound better than mice...mine kill the babies sometimes, and it's really annoying!

    Nice!! That sounds great...i'll start switching him over soon! thanks again :)
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by