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quails in winter-large numbers

Discussion in 'Quail' started by HeatherFeather, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 16, 2009
    Severn Bridge, ON
    Hi there,

    I'm interested in branching out into coturnix quail for egg production. I'm not really sure of what type of housing requirements I should aim for. It gets VERY cold where I live in the winter.

    If possible, I'd like to try and tractor or range the quail in the summer.

    I just don't know what type of setup to provide for winter, how many quail I can keep together, can I have a separate section of my chicken coop for them? That sort of thing.

    I have a smaller pen inside my chicken coop that is 4 x 5 feet and opens to a 5 x 7 ft run outside. Could I use that? In winter we provide heat in the coop, to maintain about -15 C. We're polytarping the outside runs into a sort of greenhouse for the winter this year.

    I intend to use that pen for a small group of ameraucanas-but could easily build them another building next summer if that's a better spot for quail.

    My other thought was to keep them in hutches which I can tractor, and then bring the hutches inside the large barn in winter. Only trouble is they'd have to go upstairs at some point once our sheep herd grows. The upstairs is a typical barn loft-cold and drafty, but relatively sheltered.

    All suggestions appreciated, esp anything pertaining to winter care for quail, and how others keep large numbers for egg production.
     
  2. ()relics

    ()relics horse/dog shrink

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    Jan 4, 2009
    indiana
    you may be lucky just to get ANY eggs during the winter. I move some of mine inside the barn the rest are sold. I start increasing numbers in the spring again when the "inside birds" start laying...kind of a Seasonal Project for me. I think length of light hours are more improtant then temperature...and the quail don't pay the electric bills if I have to leave lights on in the barn...JME
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  3. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 16, 2009
    Severn Bridge, ON
    Ahh, good to know. I have some lights come on for 4 hours a day for the chickens, and they DO pay the bills. So I might just see what happens if they're in the coop then. I'm thinking that the market for quail eggs would be seasonal anyhow, since I live in cottage country.

    Is minus 15 celcius too cold for quail?

    Also, how long can you keep the females for laying? I know that fertility declines with age...but what about egg production in general?

    Can you tell I've been tipped off that some local chefs want local quail eggs? [​IMG]
     
  4. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    chesapeake Va.
  5. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Coturnix are nothing like chickens. No don't keep them with the chickens, they will more than likely get sick and die at some point.

    In the wild they are migratory. No free ranging.
    Keeping quail on dirt (tractor) is inviting problems, most people raising for meat and eggs raise them on wire cages for that reason. Its easier to collect the eggs.

    Like ()relics said, down size the numbers and only keep breeders for the winter. Lights for eggs.
    To have eggs all year, they need 14-17 hours of light, Xmas lights work, set it on an automatic timer. Fresh water and food at all times.

    Barn might work, but no drafts for the 1st four weeks, while they are feathering out. So if you need to hatch in the winter or cold weather months, brooding will need to be done indoors. Again, no drafts.

    Cold: Migratory in the winter, so I don't know what the lower extreme temp would be for them. Hopefully someone will help you on that and can give you more info. I have read a lot of studies on them and don't remember reading about lowest temp.

    Hutches or wire cages would probably be your best choice. Plan on 1 Sq. Ft per adult bird. I have mine at .75 sq Ft but I am not dealing with prolong cold. But it might work for you, too.

    You might want to wait until you can give them separate housing in the Spring. Or start small, get the hang of it over the winter then expand with your own hatchlings in the spring.

    Check with the Universities in Canada. All the main breeding lines are maintained there for study and sent to various Universities for study both here and abroad. You should have access to even more information on them there, than we have here in the states.
     
  6. Stellar

    Stellar The Quail Lady

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    Feb 6, 2010
    Tampa Bay
    I house my coturnix indoors all year round...someone here in Florida (not on the forum) tried to convince to house the birds on ground but then I was thinking "with the rain, and wind, and temperature fluctuations, and disease that could seep into the eggs..."" UMMMM NO!

    wire cages work. Keep some pans in there for dust bathing and an area for them to relax off the wire and you are good to go... you can't raise them like chickens, it doesn't work, maybe for some but that lady sent me some explosive eggs and man, that is not something I want to clean up with the birds each day [​IMG]

    Winter time: yep, the coturnix are migratory birds, there was a colony in Hawaii once but they sadly got washed away [​IMG] But anywho...if you can house your birds indoor in the winter with lighting, you can get eggs..it's tricking the birds really, the lighting is...

    Start small is a great pointer, you don't want to get overwhelmed at once. I started out with one chick [​IMG] and added on from there.
     
  7. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    EggLaying: they will continue to lay through out their lives - what 3-4 years or so. Decreasing as they age.

    It is a question of how you want to manage them. Some people rotate hens after each hatch. Yes, really. Some keep them for 8 months then replace, others replace them each spring and yet others keep them until they keel over.

    You will have to come up with your method of management that suits you and your situation.

    However, you may want to watch for good layers. Use them as breeders and keep them until they keel over. This way you develope your own line of layers that are adopted for your situation. This is why I suggested you start small. One it gives you a chance to learn how to take care of them. When you have a few it is easier to watch them for their traits. If you start out with 300 birds that is not so easy.

    Everyone says they lay an egg a day. I am sure if you have 250 birds laying it would seem so. But with my 12 layers I am getting 10-12 eggs everyday. As they get older I know it will be less, but the eggs get bigger as they get older. Your restaurants are going to want large quail eggs. My breeders are only a few months old so I don't have that much actual experience yet. So do more research.

    Another thing is Feed. What feed can you get for them. The highest protein 28-30% is the best for layers. They can do well on 24-27% but they will do better on the higher protein. Right now, mine are on the 24%. Their eggs are getting larger, but maybe they aren't laying as much as other peoples. That's OK with me because I raise mine for home use for the eggs and meat.

    You will need to check with the restaurants. Are they just wanting a lot of regular size eggs or do they want the larger eggs from the Jumbos. We aren;t talking a major differance here but there is definately a difference. Are they going to want large birds for meat. You need this information to help you decide which birds you should get. If they also want Meat you need to get the Jumbo Browns or another color Jumbo. My Jumbo Browns are larger than my Jumbo M Golds. But less eggs from the Jumbos, probably. The smaller sized Pharoah's are The Egg Produces, but not used by restaurants for meat because of their size. Well not anymore, anyway.

    Ok, I think I've spouted long enough, I need to go get some groceries and Gamebird Feed. Hope some of this drival helps.
     
  8. Stellar

    Stellar The Quail Lady

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    Feb 6, 2010
    Tampa Bay
    I think Heather Feather is mainly wanting to know if she can raise them in the barn loft in winter?

    24% of protein with ground oyster shells is ideal from start to finish with quail, Buttercup.
     
  9. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 16, 2009
    Severn Bridge, ON
    Wow!!! You guys are a valuable resource!

    I don't think I really plan to get any quail until the spring, so I'm in the research phase. I need to figure out how to make the quail fit in with our other farm plans.

    I can get a game bird feed that's 26% protein, but its not organic. If I wanted to feed organic, I'd have to take a 18% winter layer and add in a percentage of soy or peanuts to make up another 10%...and then some kelp to balance the minerals...but I feel confident with that (went to farm college, hehe).

    I'm presuming that they also will eat earthworms as a supplementary food?

    And yes, Quail Lady of Ft. Meyers, that's exactly what I want to know- If I can house them in the barn loft. It is a newer barn, so solid, there aren't big holes in the siding or anything. Its a wood framed post and beam barn, with aluminum siding, which is covered with pine barn boards (for style, yes, its bizarre, but I didn't build it! at least its lovely) So the loft isn't directly drafty, you can't feel the wind blow. But the eaves are open, and there is no insulation of course. We have plans to put a cupola in the roof at some point too.

    I suppose I could box in a small room up there if I needed to and put a space heater in it if I needed to- but I'd really rather determine if the quail are really suited to my climate or not, and just how much accomodating I'd need to do.

    Also, is it possible to house them in the same building as my chickens, in a different pen?

    We're also building a poly house for our chickens this winter, and if it goes well, I suppose I could build a second one for quail- or could the quail be in wire cages inside that big poly house the chickens will run in?

    I'm in the north part of Southern Ontario, or the south part of Northern Ontario, depending on how you look at it [​IMG] Severn Bridge to be exact.
     
  10. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Have you checked into the Where am I Where are you. There is a Canada thread there.

    On it you will see, Miss_of the North check with her. She has Coturnix and would best be able to help you with the cold climate questions. Send her a PM she should have a better idea of your situation weather wise.

    Good Luck.
     

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