Went searching for some scrap lumber and..

Discussion in 'Quail' started by RobPS, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. RobPS

    RobPS Out Of The Brooder

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    OK guys & gals... So I had this nice design in my head for building my first quail coop, and decided to go price out some lumber. I discovered a "re-use-it" shop near my home that is kind of like a Salvation army, but not clothing. People drop off all sorts of old stuff and then this store resells it for cheap. There is a lot of lumber scraps and other construction stuff, so I figured I would rummage around and pick up stuff that could be useful. You know, maybe some roofing shingles that a builder dropped off, or some pieces of wood.

    Well shucks.. I looked in the back yard area where there was a bunch of random stuff, and look what I found back there!
    [​IMG]

    This is actually a Hayneedle rabbit pen, and it's barely used at all. The dimensions are 60" by 19", and it's 21" tall in the open screen area (a little taller in the area with the roof). There is minimal evidence of some poop on the pull out tray beneath the "house" part, and a few scratches here and there, and the ramp needs to be repaired where it connects to the upper floor. Otherwise it's as good as new. Whoever bought it must have changed their mind on whatever they were keeping in it.

    I tried to talk myself out of buying this, but the price was pretty good to begin with, and I haggled an even better deal.. I nabbed this for a mere $50. That's less than the materials that I was pricing out (I'm starting literally with no lumber or materials). So I went for it.

    Now I know this is not the ideal quail coop, and I plan to make improvements. Here's where you come in! Help me out by looking over my plans and tell me where I've gone wrong, and what else I should consider.

    My initial goals with quail are to get a small flock of all females for egg laying, but I'm also toying with the idea of hatching some because I really don't know where to get live new chicks, plus it could be pretty fun.

    Anyway... here are the mods that I plan to make. Please tell me what you think, especially about items #4 & 5.

    1. I want to elevate this, so I'll build a frame to put this on. This has no floor, so the frame will have the 1/2" x 1/2" screen on it so that when I place this on top, I will have a screen floor.

    2. I want to have external food and water filling capability, so I'll probably build a PVC feeder that will mount on the outside of the far left end (as you see the picture). I may extend the frame that I build an additional 6" or so to help accommodate this, though I wonder if that will invite predators to sit on the shelf and try to reach in.. Thoughts?

    3. I will improve the screen material. The screen that Hayneedle used here has openings that are 1" x 3.5". Apparently people who keep bunnies in these things aren't worried about predators! I plan to staple the 1/2" x 1/2" screen material everywhere where you see the existing screen. I'll leave the existing stuff there for additional strength.

    4. I don't know whether quail will use this ramp, but I definitely want them to have full access to the house and all of the open space. I also have read that to prevent the boinking problem, quail coops should be no taller than 12", or much taller (like 4'). My options are to divide this coop in half height wise, with one batch of birds in the "upstairs" portion that would include the "cabin" and the upper half of the open cage. Then I could have a second batch of birds in the lower section too. This thing is almost 2' tall, so that would give both the upper and lower sections almost a foot, though the lower section would be closer to 10" or so.

    5. I may consider extending the open area another couple of feet, depending on #4. I'd like to house a dozen or so birds. Given that it is roughly 5 x 2 now, if I do NOT split it into two floors, and if the quail will use the ramp, I have a little less than 10 square foot, so 10 birds. In this case, I may just go ahead and build out the frame (step 1) to get a few more cubic feet. But I could double the square footage if I follow through on step 4 above, leaving enough square footage (using the 1 sq ft per bird) for 15-20 birds.

    I invite feedback from all of you with quail experience! I'm a newb... never raised quail or any other sort of bird!! I want to do a nice job for the birds, get some eggs, and make this a fun thing for my kids to participate in too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  2. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Great plan you have there..... My only suggestion is to go over the existing structure with a fine toothed comb and double check all the fastenings especially on the wire. Sometimes commercially built coops are just not done with the idea that predators can rip and pull at wire and pull staples out.

    My prefered method of attaching wire is with a screw and washer arrangement.

    deb
     
  3. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My thoughts on your ideas - without ever having had coturnix (which I assume you'll be getting) myself (I have buttons) and the majority of my knowledge about them coming from this forum:

    1) Elevating it would certainly make it easier to get the eggs than are laid in the bottom part. I'd probably make a few small doors where they are lacking - looks like it has huge doors that are definitely not made for flying animals? I just don't like the idea of animals being kept on wire. Though they'll have the hutch without wire so it wouldn't be too bad in this case.

    2) Take a look at what others have done. I remember some external systems taking predators into account, I just don't remember exactly how they were made, but there are pictures somewhere on this forum.

    3) Good call

    4) From what I've read, you can train them to use it. If, for instance, you only give them access to the hutch at first, then after a few days open the door so they can acces the run but still leaving food and water in the hutch, they are likely to figure out they are supposed to use the ramp. However, you can make it easier for them by modifying the ramp - perhaps placing bricks under the end so it's not so steep and making a brick ladder up to it, placing sticks across the ramp so they are less likely to slide on it and such.
    With regards to the boinking issue, I prefer to give my buttons the option to fly a bit (which means a cage height of about 2 feet) but I pad the top to prevent boinking injuries - either with a layer of soft mesh suspended below the top (if I want light to pass through) or with foam rubber. You might actually want to put a roof on the outside part anyway as cots are apparently not good at figuring out they should go into the hutch in bad weather.
    Also, if you went for 2 levels, if you only had wire in between the two levels (which I assume as you haven't mentioned anything else), the top birds would poop on the bottom birds which could get rather nasty. A pull out tray below the wire would take at least an inch or so from the height, making it even lower.
    I'd go for a single level.

    5) I'm not sure I'm following exactly how you want to expand it, but more room is always better so as long as it's still sturdy and predator proof, go for it. It's not like you couldn't keep 12 birds on 10 sqft though, but sticking to the 1 sqft per bird rule is of course better.
     
  4. RobPS

    RobPS Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks PerchieGirl and DK! [​IMG]

    Both of you brought up excellent suggestions and I will incorporate them! As customary for me, father of two active teenagers, our weekend is already pretty filled up. But I plan to get some of that metal screen that everyone uses and start to shore up the existing predator protection, and maybe even begin construction of the base too. Still contemplating whether or not I will extend this a little. I may make an L-shaped base, where this would sit on the long side of the L, connecting to some additional screened in roaming area on the short side of the L.

    I like the idea of adding more access doors too so that they don't all fly the coop when I open up the large top.

    As for the ramp.. I think I'll do as DK suggested, and add a bunch of natural materials to supplement the ramp. I love the pictures that I've seen where people incorporate some branches and the like--just looks so much nicer for the birds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  5. pkhunter

    pkhunter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For the bottom I would use 1/2" x 1" wire, makes the poop fall through easier. For external water and feed. I like to use these 1/2 cups for water and for the feed I make these out of rain gutter downspout.
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    1/2 x 1 inch wire seems pretty large spacing for little quail feet.

    I am unfamiliar with Quail so pardon my ignorance.

    deb
     
  7. pkhunter

    pkhunter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Young Quail should stay in a brooder till 4 weeks of age under a heat lamp, by then they are fully feathered and their feet are large enough for 1/2 x 1 wire. He put up a picture of an outside cage so I just assumed he's going to put adult birds in it. If he incubates his on chicks and doesn't have a brooder box he could keep them in the enclosed area (solid floor) with heat until their 4 weeks old.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  8. Binki

    Binki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love the hutch!

    I don't think big doors will be a problem, my coturnix, even the skittish ones, won't go for the door and the worst risk is the friendly ones falling out :p either or, they aren't a challenge to capture lol. A lot of them don't even realize they're captive :p

    I would actually suggest big doors so cleaning out the bottom is quick, my method would be newspaper under wood shavings with hay spots where they will like to nest :) roll up the newspaper with the bedding inside and compost it/put it in a yard bag. Use a dustpan to sweep out any fallen bits and it's clean again.

    When I think of wire bottom I think of wet poo getting mashed by quail feet to fall on wet poo with some hardening on the wire risking bumblefoot infection even if they have a hard surface to rest on.

    I then think of cleaning the cemented poo on the wire which would be a lot of time, scrubbing and mess (unless I'm missing a method?) as well as the poo on the tray.

    Using dry litter makes the quail more comfortable, it's safer for them and would smell less because the poo would dry faster aided by the absorbant bedding. Then you just roll up the bottom, sweep it out and replace. Huge bags of shavings are at TSC for several dollars and hay is less than five bucks a bale :)

    Just my opinion :D

    Yes you'll have to shelter them from the wind and wet and it's a great idea to "de-slant" the ramp some by placing the end on a brick/rock etc. :)

    That's a good trick, keeping them in the house bit until they're comfortable [​IMG] Just watch they know how to find their way back to the food/water hehe!

    I use 1/4 inch hardware cloth (goes on sale at TSC) so I don't have to worry about mice :) if you have raccoons around, I would imagine your outer food would be ripped out? Possibly leaving a hole to your quail...

    Also their poop will attract things to eat it such as rats - it's still nutritious xD when we had our chickens in the garage temporarily I had a camera and a rat was in there and it ignored the feed and went for the poop.... They do get a lot of treats?? [​IMG] So, if you're going to have a poop platter you might want to wire that in as well so it's not vermin feast :p and also I've read of animals reaching under the wire and chewing off toes/etc. so make sure that's not too big/protect it from raccoon hands and rat mouths, etc.
     
  9. RobPS

    RobPS Out Of The Brooder

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    Good ideas here, thanks! I haven't seen raccoons in our subdivision, but I'm sure they are around. We definitely have coyotes, and they are my biggest fear.

    I'm still contemplating the flooring. I bought the 1/2" x 1/2" wire screen today already, and materials for the base elevated platform. I think I will put screen on the top of the platform, then rest the hutch on top and secure somehow so it doesn't fall off. Then maybe try your newspaper and shavings idea. This will be right up against our home by w window so we can see it from inside :). That will provide great wind protection, and some rain shelter too.

    Still contemplating how exactly to do the food... maybe one of those PVC tube feeders?

    This is all very fun stuff for me. But I do worry about how/where I can actually find the birds! I put a thread in the breeder's area searching near me but so far, no hits. Craigslist has one breeder within driving distance but he hasn't answered my inquiries yet.

    One thing at a time I guess. I'll post pics of my progress here!!
     
  10. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    YOu are way ahead by building the coop first. Raccoons will come and they can and will pull a leg or head off if they can reach it.

    deb
     

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