Newbie with a couple questions

Discussion in 'Quail' started by MotherNature2, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. MotherNature2

    MotherNature2 New Egg

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    Hello! This site has been so helpful while lurking for awhile, thank you! I live in a city that doesn't allow chickens, but a very nice friend sold me 20 coturnix quail eggs and gave me 3 bobwhite quail that are 4 months old.
    My hubby made an incubator (thanks to youtube!) and we've worked out the kinks enough to keep it at a steady temp of 100 and humidity at 40 - 55.
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    I have serious doubts about them hatching and developing right since I had no idea how to store them at 55 - 60 here in Florida but where I kept them went from 60 - 80 and also we had too many temp. fluctuations in the incubator for the first couple of days till we worked out the kinks.
    They go into 'lockdown' on Friday so I'll see how it goes! If these don't make it, we'll definitely get more eggs. I'm totally obsessed with quail now!
    Could anyone please tell me about natural lighting. I know they need 14 hours of light for laying eggs, but I was wondering if anyone down here in the south has had success without having to provide extra light when the days get longer.
    Also how much of a difference does it make if it's full sunlight or partial shade? Can they take the heat?
    I've been giving the bobwhites a treat every other day of a mixture of bread crumbs (from homemade bread) and veggie scraps, all blended together fine. They LOVE it. If I gave them this with some wild bird seed, maybe 15 % protein, and let them pasture for bugs, do y'all think it would be adequate for egg laying?
    As my screen name suggests, I try to do things as natural as possible. Thank you so much for taking the time to read all this!
     
  2. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The storage temps won't have hurt your hatch rate much, as long as they weren't stored more than a couple weeks and the temps didn't exceed 80 degrees, but how much did they fluctuate in the incubator? That's where damage may have occurred.

    With a bright flashlight and a dark cupboard, you might be able to look inside the eggs and see whether they are developing. At this point, you'll probably at least be able to see some movement. :)

    I keep my quail in pretty natural conditions--they're much more fun that way. A few things:

    • Shade is better than sunlight. The "daylight hours" recommendation does not mean full sun. They'll overheat in full sun.
    • They are naturally ground birds, from grassland habitats, so they like to be under cover at ground level. If you can give them a ground level aviary, or a portable shelter with access to pasture, AWESOME.
    • Just be aware that they need great protection from predators, and pretty much everything that moves is a predator to a bird that size. Be sure your fencing has no openings large enough for a raccoon to reach through (they have small, dextrous hands), and is sturdy enough to withstand the largest mammal that lives wild in your part of the country. Mine live in a chain link enclosure with 1/4" hardware mesh lining it. With wire over and under to prevent flying & digging predation.
    • They love bird seed, grass, weeds, and open shelter. They like to be able to see in all directions, so they prefer a lean-to type structure over an enclosed structure. They do NOT like to go up, so second level access is wasted on them.

    Keep us updated on your hatch. I'll have my fingers crossed for you! Quail are wonderful little critters. :)
     
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    P.S. They can take heat here in Charlotte, NC, even humid heat. They don't like sun, though, and always choose shade when given the option (mine are almost completely shaded under a good strong tree canopy--but when I've kept some in a tractor-like enclosure, they never seemed to seek out direct sun).

    For good egg laying, probably best to offer them a game bird breeder feed, though game bird flight conditioner is also acceptable. If you can't get a breeder or egg layer mix, be sure to offer supplemental calcium in the form of oyster shell or other calcium-rich food. The better balanced their diet, the healthier & more productive they will be (just like people!). The easiest way to ensure a balanced diet is to start with a good packaged mix and then supplement with natural foods like pasture and bugs.
     
  4. MotherNature2

    MotherNature2 New Egg

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    Wow, thanks for all the great info! I have a rabbit tractor that I was going to reinforce for the quail that's built with 1/4 inch mesh and lath wire. It's pretty sturdy.

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    Here in suburbia, I'd just have to watch out for cats, ospreys, and maybe a snake or raccoon. I keep a tarp covering half of it, and I'll figure out some kind of nesting box to put inside it. I'm wondering how I would move it around, though with them in it. I think the holes are 2 X 3. Any ideas?

    Last night, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried candling an egg. That didn't work, but I was up at midnight watching two of the eggs float! My 16yo son caught me and thought I was totally nuts, lol. I only checked two of them and waited a couple of mins. but they didn't wobble. Tomorrow's lockdown!!!
     
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's a cool little tractor! It looks like it's probably sturdy enough to withstand hawks and such... I'd be concerned about it at night with the raccoons, though. They're pretty strong and clever. They might learn to overturn it and reach through those bottom holes, for instance. Perhaps you can stake it down?

    As for moving, if you just lift it an inch or two off the ground and shuffle it along, they'll move along with it. Shouldn't be too hard. :)

    Just check for any weak spots and be sure it's good and strong. I'd hate for you to lose any of your sweeties to raccoons.

    Good luck with lockdown! Fingers crossed!
     
  6. MotherNature2

    MotherNature2 New Egg

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    We haven't seen any raccoons in the year and a half that we've been here, but I figured "if I build it, they will come" lol. I was planning on staking it down and maybe putting a nesting box in one side that I can close them up in at night. I'll definitely post an update when I get them situated. Thanks again!
     
  7. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like a good plan. Having them locked up in a solid structure (like a nest box) will give them good security, and you won't be sorry! Most people don't ever see the raccoons that prey on their livestock... I've personally never seen a single one. But I've lost more birds than I want to remember to them.
     
  8. red golden

    red golden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would be worried about that bottom. You might prevent a coon but if a snake can get his head under and in a hole his body will go. Snakes would love a quail egg treat and maybe even a quail.
     
  9. MotherNature2

    MotherNature2 New Egg

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    I haven't seen any snakes except for a small black rat snake a few months ago. Our blue heeler/cur pup is pretty protective. Maybe we could train him to stay outside. I have the wire mesh extending out on the bottom with the sharp edges along the outer edge so that should help deter anything.
     
  10. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess snakes are a problem for many. I'm less worried about them than raccoons, which reflects my experience where I'm located... which is that I've never lost a quail to a snake, even when I grow dozens out for meat in a bottomless tractor with largish holes at top (it was too tall for raccoons to reach through from the top, so it only needed to prevent actual entry by raccoons. I have lost eggs to snakes, but not enough to worry. I like the snakes for their varmint control skills, so I leave them alone and pay them an occasional egg in salary. We have TONS of snakes around here. I did dispose of one (by taking it miles away and releasing it) after it entered my chicken coop and attacked a chicken who was sitting on eggs. I think he was really after the eggs, but he was just a little too "friendly" and unafraid of chickens & me for my liking--besides, I didn't want him eating eggs with babies in them.

    Anyway, your precaution with the wire sticking outward is a good one, and if you end up locking them in a nestbox or similar at night, you'll probably be in pretty good shape. It would be a bold snake that would brave your precautions in broad daylight and then actually eat a quail... for one thing, if the quail can't get out then the snake can't get out with the quail in its belly... and snakes don't like to not have an escape route after they've eaten...

    Still, it's your quail, and your situation may be different than mine. Just sharing my experience. :)
     

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