Tag Archives: Quail

Quail update

As promised, here is the update on my quail project. As those of you who have been around here for a while know, I’ve kept quail off and on for two years now, with varied results.

Based on my experience, quail have three major drawbacks that make me hate the city’s anti-chicken ordinance with the fury of ten thousand Africanized honeybees:

1. Coturnix quail chicks are incredibly stupid, which makes them difficult and frustrating to raise.

2. In addition to being tiny, quail eggs have very thin shells and very thick membranes, which makes them difficult to crack without breaking yolks and getting flecks of shell in your breakfast.

3. Coturnix quail are messy and will waste more food than they eat. I spent an outrageous amount of money on feed and bedding last year after my poor little stupid birds threw their food all over their pen instead of eating it.

I solved the first problem by purchasing adult birds from an ol’ boy out near Little Grassy Lake who raises quail for hunters to use in training bird dogs. Babies are cute and fuzzy, but adults are the only way to go if you don’t want to drive yourself crazy.

I solved the second problem by ordering a pair of quail-egg scissors from Amazon.com. No more broken yolks, and no more eggshell in my sandwiches. Best eight bucks I ever spent.

That little blade just guillotines the end of the egg right off. Handiest gadget in my kitchen, to be honest.
That little blade just guillotines the end of the egg right off. Handiest gadget in my kitchen, to be honest.

The scissors make a nice, clean cut so you can dump the egg right out into the frying pan.
The scissors make a nice, clean cut so you can dump the egg right out into the frying pan.

The third problem took a bit of research, but I was delighted beyond belief to find the solution on YouTube:

If you’re considering quail, buy yourself a cheap soldering iron and a 99-cent plastic shoebox and make this little feeder. The whole project will pay for itself in less than two weeks. (I already had a soldering iron in the garage, so my feeder paid for itself in about a day.) My birds went from wasting a cup (or more) of feed a day to maybe a teaspoon.

I live too far from Wisconsin to buy this guy the beer I owe him for sharing this design, so I’ll do the next best thing and send some traffic to his website, Homesteading Ways. Seriously — go check it out. He and his wife have some good stuff on there.

Emily

I’m tired.

I don’t have anything terribly inspirational or exciting to share today. I had an idea I might make some Christmas candy and finish up a sewing project when I got home, but I ended up staying at the office until after 10, working on a story and graphic for Friday, and by the time I finished, I was too wiped out to make anything more complicated than a grilled-cheese sandwich, which I had with a bowl of tomato soup I warmed up.

In unrelated news, I need to find a better feeder for the quail. The one they have gets water in it every time it rains, despite the fact that their coop has a roof that’s caulked and everything. I have no idea what they’re doing in there. I’m thinking a standard birdfeeder like you use for wild songbirds might work, assuming I can find one short enough to fit in there. Outdoor birdfeeders are designed to be pretty water-resistant. We’ll see what I can rustle up next time I’m at the feed store.

Emily

Refugees

So tonight, I came home from work to find the birds’ water dispenser frozen solid — tray, reservoir, the whole nine yards — and the quail themselves fluffed up in their pile of shavings, looking pathetic.

Because a quail run has to have a low ceiling to keep its intellectually challenged occupants from jumping up and scalping themselves, I can’t use a standard metal water dispenser and a standard water heater like I did for the chickens, and even if I could, I’m not sure I’d trust my silly little birds not to play in it and give themselves hypothermia, so I put on my headlamp and went out in the cold to transfer the flock into a pair of Rubbermaid tubs I’d used as brooders last spring.

The tubs are now serving as a sort of avian FEMA camp in the garage. My little refugees are not pleased about being separated, but they should be much warmer than they were in the yard. I cut their feed half-and-half with freeze-dried mealworms to compensate them a bit for the evening’s indignities. I’ll probably pick up a quarter-sheet of plywood and some 1x2s this weekend and build a little tray to go under their pen so I can bring it into the garage until the weather warms up. I’m sure they’ll be much happier if they’re all together.

Emily