I got my shipment of 800 quail eggs yesterday from cumberland gamebirds. I was a little disappointed because they were supposed to arrive on Friday which means they sat in a cold truck somewhere over the weekend. I am hoping the hatch will turn out okay. I am using the old GQF Sportsman 1202 incubator with the updated float and humidity pan. My friend came over to help set the eggs since he knows a lot about raising birds. After a little tweaking into the evening I got the temperature and humidity stabilized at 99.5 degrees and 51% relative humidity. I am anxious to try this strain of bobwhite quail called Georgia Giants. They are supposed to be nearly twice the size of normal bobwhite and stronger flyers.
Now I need to get my plans together for building a better flight pen. I have read that it is important to keep the birds isolated as much as possible to keep them wild. One online quail farmer even suggested feeding the birds at night with the use of a headlamp. I have been looking at some very cool quail pen designs like this one at quail ranch ok or this one from Mississippi State University extension service. One of the nicest quail pens I have found is at Fozzies Game Birds in Indiana. I like their sight barriers and their innovative waterer.
The quail recall pen is getting good use now that the quail are getting the hang of using the funnel and getting back in the pen each day. We made the mistake of letting quite a few go the first day and then we flushed them scattering them quite far. After 2 days only 2 had recalled out of about 12-14 that were released. We hit the books and learned that there is a training period for the birds to learn to recall and use the funnel. The key during the first few days is to let them out and not flush them so they stay close and figure out the entrance. After about a week of this you can start flushing the birds and begin using them for dog training.
After the mistake these are the 12 or so bobwhite quail that were left in the recall pen. We have more quail to restock the pen with and think about 25 is a good number for this size of pen. We will be finding a more permanent home for the recall pen for the summer months as the farmer will be wanting to cultivate this ground soon. We hope to use the quail recall pen for dog training during the summer months on private property.
I got this old wheat grinder for making my own quail feed. I have a custom feed producer close by that mixes great feed but he can’t chop it fine enough for the baby quail chicks. So I take the feed and run it throug the grinder to make a finer feed for the first few weeks. After 3-4 weeks the quail can transition to the heavier feed that I am feeding to the pheasant chicks. It’s hard to grasp how much smaller the quail chicks are compared to the pheasant chicks. I am looking for recipes on grinding my own feed from scratch.
After looking at several designs on the web and talking to Dave Walker about quail recall pens, we decided on this design. This is my friend Chris Colt of Cove Mountain Kennels helping me build the recall pen. The frame is out of 2×2 lumber and we screwed the joints together with 3″ exterior grade screws. The overall dimensions are about 36″ X 18″ X 72″. I had some 36″ tall 1/2″ X 1/2″ wire on hand or we would have built it 96 inches long.
We glued the joints and used 1″ screws and finish nails to apply the 1/2″ plywood back, top and sides. With the frame finished and the plywood on we wrapped the wire around the front half of the pen and stapled it with 1″ staples. We have a trap door on top for inserting food and water and the whole front end is a giant door for releasing the quail. We hope to attach a string-pull mechanism for lifting the release door.
We were pleased that the finished product was fairly light and easily lifted by two guys. It should be easy to move around with my Polaris Ranger or by tossing it in the back of the truck. We hope to build another pen just like and set them both in the training fields nearby. We added a perch inside the pen but the quail don’t seem to have any interest in using it. The cost for all the materials was less than $75 and it took us about 6 hours to build it. We will apply some paint or wood sealer before moving it outside to the training grounds.
After attending the Dave Walker dog training seminar, I decided I wanted to buy some quail for dog training. Quail are a great bird for training a dog to be steady to wind and shot as they hold as a covey. If your dog creeps in on a point the birds usually flush all together and hopefully your dog learns to be ready for more birds after the flush. I bought these little guys at 3 weeks old from a local Utah breeder named Travis Proctor. For now they are surviving in my small brooder table. Hope to get a bigger pen built for them in the next week or so.
We went to visit my parents this past weekend in Southern Utah. They live on the edge of the desert and have taken to feeding the local covey of quail. We enjoyed breakfast on the patio and watched as the Quail would come into feed on the free buffet. It was fun to hear them call and I couldn’t help but think of grabbing my shotgun and taking the dogs out for a romp. The neighbors would call the cops in a minute, and my parents would banish me forever. But, still the thought did cross my mind. I would guess that some of the best Quail coveys in the southwest are considered pets for the homeowners that choose to live on the edge of suburbia. They bathe in the water features and dine daily on the mountains of wild bird seed tossed into the brush. There is nothing cuter than a Momma quail leading her brood out for a morning jaunt. When your into gamebirds you start seeing them in the darndest places.