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The tricky business of adding more quail to an existing covey

If you have had quail, then you know they will fight. And when they fight, they fight dirty. For some reason they like to go for the eyes and head. It can be quite gruesome. Generally these fights are between males over females, or when a new bird tries to join the current group. The term pecking order is not for nothing! Hens are just as brutal, the top lady doesn’t take to new birds (male or female) entering her domain. This can be quite problematic when your teenage quail are all grown up and ready to join your layers, or when consolidating groups. So how do you do it with minimal bloodshed? These are a few tried and true methods I use.

1. No ones land… territory is a main reason quail fight. If they are moved to a new pen, even the next pen over, and there are new birds that join them in the move, they are unlikely to take offense. If a new pen is not an option, pull all the existing old birds out into a box, and put the new birds in the box with old birds. Then you move everyone back in to pen together. All the confusion usually dulls the territorial issues.

2. Entertainment. Nothing like a distraction to take their mind off the new guy (or gal) Try to use something they don’t already have in their pen. A dust bath, mealworms or crickets or even some grass clipping or hay to play in will serve as a temporary distraction while you stealthily add in the newcomers. After all the excitement of the new entertainment they usually don’t may too much attention to the new guy.

3. Make sure your ratios are right. We put in 1 male for every 4 hens, excess of males will fight and overbreed hens. Overbred hens loose back feathers and neck feathers. Prolapse can also be caused by overbreeding (as well as other issues- age, weight, ect) On the flip side however, if you do want eggs to be fertile you cannot house too few males per hens or your hatch rate will drop significantly. This is a delicate balance that may need constant attention. Keep in mind your hatch rate and hens health when deciding who stays and who goes. Another thing to consider is if birds are overcrowded this can also lead to fighting especially if new birds are introduced. Check and make sure ratios are correct,and everyone has enough room, as this is an easy fix for fighting.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Hope this helps in your addition of new birds to you flock! If you have other ideas please share with us!

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Quail is the new chicken

 

Yep move over chicken…. The quail is here to stay! It has earned top spot at Myshire, and I’m sure many more farms and urban homesteader will make the switch too. Here is the case for changing the way you do birds.

1) Space efficiency. They just don’t need a lot of space! The coturnix quail is quite content with 1 square foot per bird, and even then they still love to cuddle and sleep together. You will usually find them keeping the same sleep patterns. Everybirdy being awake playing and eating, and then all taking naps together in their odd sprawled out way. Most people keep them in rabbit hutches for added ease of cleaning.

2) Eggs. At 300 eggs a year, the chicken has a hard time keeping up. Add in the fact that egg to feed ratio is better with quail, and many claim the health benefits of quail eggs are far superior. Said to help everything from boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, to preventing cancer. Some people allergic to chicken eggs can consume the quail eggs without any reaction. And my favorite part….. They start laying as soon as 7 WEEKS OLD. Chickens take 20+ weeks to lay. 

3)Meat. Sure they are small, but don’t let that fool you! These birds can hatch and get to butcher weight in 8 weeks with less cost and labor than the chicken counterparts. The quail meat is higher in protein and lower in fat than your average chicken broiler too. Their small size makes them easy to dress out without any fancy equipment. They are easy to store in the freezer, and fast to cook. The best part is quail are sustainable! No more ordering in cornish rock cross chicks for $2.50 EACH CHICK year after year. The coturnix is easily hatched out in your home incubator in just 18 days.

4)No ban! Most in-city ordinances ban livestock, this includes the chicken. Quail however, are not in this category and can be kept as pets. Coturnix quail are not “game birds” either so most states don’t require permits that are necessary for other quail such as the native bobwhite. This opens up the possibility for millions of Americans to have their own sustainable protein source.

5) Lots of personality. For little birds they come with a lot of spunk! They love their dust bathes and treats (mine are getting leftover cucumbers from the garden now and will eat it down to the peel!) They will pop around like popcorn and call out when their humans are near. They also come in lots of color choices.

Myshire Farm Quality Quail

 

WARNING: SWITCHING TO QUAIL IS HIGHLY ADDICTING.

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Top 10 tips for raising chicks…These you need to know!

I raise birds… Mainly quail, but with a few turkeys, geese, chickens, and ducks thrown in. I have come across some tips over time, some of them mine, some stolen from others. Here are a few of my favorite unconventional or $ saving ideas.

  1. To prevent water dish drownings from day old chicks, add rocks to water dishes
  2. Instead of grinding quail food for the babies, use the leftover crumbs from the adult quail feeders….I feel like it is free food!
  3. If you have a power outage, and hence no heat lamps, fill gallon jugs with warm water for chicks to huddle against.
  4. Make easy homemade no-waste feeders from tupperware container with holes cut into the sides. Leave enough room to fit their heads in, but not enough for them to scratch the food everywhere.
  5. If your chicks run out of water (which they shouldn’t-but sometimes it happens) fill up waterers with WARM water, to prevent them from getting chilled as they all rush into the water source.
  6. Old fish tanks and water troughs make excellent brooders
  7. Turkey poults are DUMB make sure the heat source is VERY close…. they can freeze to death a foot from the lights range.
  8. Goslings love grass clippings. Make them happy by adding it to their diet…plus its free food….I like free food….
  9. You must hatch babies in groups. A single healthy baby will not survive on its own
  10.  Wash hands after caring for your babies, and refrain from kissing them! I have to keep reminding the kids of this one! Nobody wants salmonella poisoning but it is so easy to forget when they are soooo cute!

I hope you learned a tidbit that will help you on your own homestead journey! Please leave a comment of your own tips for me and others!

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Gloria: our bottle pig

The main thing you need to know about raising piglets is that they are ROTTEN. They want what they want, when they want it, exactly how they say they want it. So don’t get any ideas that you are in charge, because your not. The pig called the shots in our home for nearly a month. This is our story.

Three months ago our sow had to be put down. She had birthed a single piglet. The next got stuck into her birth canal and she was unable to pass it. After many attempts of human intervention, a vet was called. He preformed a c section to try and save the piglets still in uterus, but they had already died. Momma pig had to be put down and we we left heartbroken, but with her tiny daughter. We named her Gloria. Gloria was tiny, as in Chihuahua sized. Its strange to think that one day she will be 500 pounds. So, we were stuck with the very daunting task of raising a baby that we didn’t know how to raise. I had never really thought about raising an orphaned pig. And although charlottes web was cute, it wasn’t ever an experience I wanted personally.  Luckily, we had a wonderful lady farmer from our 4h group that gave us solid advice for starting our journey. She recommended what nipple to use, how often to feed, and most of all encouragement that we COULD do this despite our huge loss of momma pig and the rest of the litter. This is a time lapse account of what happened:

Night 1, while we were battling to keep momma pig alive there was not much sleep. The kids took turns holding Gloria inside their coats, while us adults tended to momma. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning,when we decided to call it quits til daylight, I took Gloria with me and the two of us fell asleep together on the bathroom floor. (she was so tiny I was afraid she would fall out of the bed and break a leg, and she had to be kept warm, as in 100 degrees.. perfect for me to be her human heater. Apparently most orphaned piggie babies die from cold, rather than malnutrition. Because like most animal babies, they can’t regulate their own body heat.) Anyway we got a few hours sleep on the bathroom floor, then back out to the barn at first light. Gloria was fortunate in the fact that she got to nurse from momma, and so received precious colostrum. It was terribly heart wrenching in that momma pig was more concerned about nursing her baby, than in her own well being. She took care of her baby, until her death a few hours later. So now heartbroken and tired, the clock began ticking of when Gloria would need her next meal. Papa went off to get milk supplement and nipples, and our 4h neighbor and aide, who had also been in the barn with us all night had come back and was trying to now teach me the basics of bottle feeding. PATIENCE IS THE KEY. Gloria did not like the bottle. In fact she hated it. She wanted momma, and I knew exactly how she felt. I wanted momma pig back too. I had become quite fond of the big sow, she was quite charming with her snorts of approval whenever she saw someone she liked, and always appreciated a good scratch behind the ears. It was the one pig I had let myself grow attached to, knowing that she would be a breeder pig, one to be a part of the homestead family for years to come. But it was not to be, and now it was just baby Gloria. It took time to get the bottle in her mouth, as she kept fighting it, finally she would take a sip, then spit out the nipple and we would have to start over again.

My oldest daughter Ashley, bravely volunteered for night 2. I got some sleep, and Ashley took great care of Gloria. Something I forgot to mention, because I nearly forgot, is that Gloria along with hating bottles, hated to be picked up. She would squeal like her life depended on it. It the wild of course, her life would depend on it, but in the middle of the night, when it is potty time, the eardrum shattering squeals were not appreciated by the humans. So that is how life went on for the next few days. Me and the girls took turns on the night shifts, and every time we got nudged in the ankle by a rubbery nose, we would fix a bottle. (By day 3 she was used to the bottle) Most farmers I’m sure have a better set schedule, but I figured if she was still with momma, she would have had a 24 hour all you can eat buffet. Plus, all the kids wanted turns holding bottles for her, and after all she was really REALLY cute.

Day 8 Gloria was now an expert at taking bottles and being carried around without squealing. Of course night after night of no sleep, was starting to wear on all of us, and we were all getting anxious to get her eating solid food so that she could self feed though the night.  The thing about that idea was she was not on board. Those green pellets labeled “pig starter” were certainly not made for her. So we tried to get a little more creative, we mixed some starter into a mush with her formula, it apparently still was not up to standard. So we tried applesauce. This was a success. Of course Gloria would only eat it if it was spooned into her mouth, if it was in a bowl, it apparently tasted disgusting. So now we were spoon feeding the pig which was needless to say quite messy, so this was only done outside. However even outside after every bite she had to let you know she wanted more, and to do that she had to nose your leg. And while nosing your leg applesauce was smeared everywhere. There are times, I’ll admit, I pretended I didn’t notice the pig was hungry, then she would move on to someone else. Then they were suckered into feeding the poor, helpless, spoiled rotten, brat of a pig.

Day 14: Gloria was eating more solid foods by this point. She would eat apples, musk melon, sometimes oatmeal cookies, and of course she always wanted her beloved bottles. These were only given twice a day now, although she complained all the time about this fact. She literally nosed my ankles until their were bruises.I am not exaggerating. I was more than ready for her to move out. I was tired of sharing the house with the pig. Although I will give her some credit about the potty training thing, she was good about not going in the house. Of course the front porch was her designated potty area….so there is that…. Anyway Gloria got kicked out of the house.

Day 21: The end of the bottles! Gloria was officially weaned and me and my big girls were quite relieved. We had actually done it! We successfully reared a piglet and kept our sanity…sort of. Little miss attitude still was sneaking in the house and going up and down the stairs( she thinks pigs are supposed to do that), then back outside to pee on the porch. She still was following people around like a little lost puppy, squealing at them when they would walk too fast and leave her behind.So yeah, maybe she was driving me a little bit crazy.

She is now 2 months old. More rotten than ever, and she thinks she runs the farm. I suppose she does. She has made friends with the pilgrim geese, and has somehow talked them into “pruning” her on a regular basis. She hates our feeder pigs, stating that the have no sophistication, and will Houdini her way out of the actual pig pen, screaming the whole time. The feeder pigs have no idea why she is making all the fuss, they hardly glanced at her. The poor ducks can’t figure out why all their eggs are disappearing, and I think Gloria told them it was me. Of coarse this is not true, I personally saw her eating them but she denies it. Most of the time she will bite peoples ankles, which really has lost whatever cuteness it had before. And so we are stuck with this pig we don’t want to breed (since her momma passed down the whole narrow hip problem) and we don’t want to eat because now she’s has somehow claimed the coveted “pet” title. ( I do threaten to turn her into bacon every time she pees on the porch, but she just wags her tail and laughs) So thats our story for now, and I’m not sure how it is going to end, but I am sure it is a summer that we won’t forget. 13450163_258217154555368_8935281217006463820_n 13432409_261078634269220_1985234504927263176_n 13620206_274100879633662_6520307389160926833_n

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Ideas for making poultry easier to raise

Lets face it… Infrastructure is not glamorous. It my opinion, it is not fun (my Dad would say otherwise) Yet it is a necessary component of this thing we call homesteading. Outbuildings, electric, water, compost piles, animal pastures and garden space must be utilized to make working your homestead easier. It is hard enough with a good infrastructure, a bad one… well… it is quite near impossible. The following are ideas that we have come up with along the way, and hopefully they can aide you in your own homesteading journey. Raising poultry is a fun and rewarding experience, but at times can be challenging.

Lets start small.. with chicks. Chicks need to be kept warm, dry, and fed. Our brood boxes are set up so they can be sectioned off into 3 parts. These sections can be opened up as the chicks get older and need more space, until eventually they going into a floor brooder after they are feathered out. But, while they are small, all that space could be deadly. Turkey pullets, for example, don’t realize they should go under the lamp if they are cold, they must be forced to stay under it. I have had turkeys freeze to death just feet away from their lights. They are not the brightest of God’s creatures. The heat lamps that we use are made up of string hung from the ceiling on pulleys. One end attached to the heat lamp, the other anchored to the wall so the pulley can then raise the lamp to decrease temperature for the chicks as they age. The food dishes that we use are the standard metal ones that attach to a mason jar, water dishes are the same. A word of advice though, when putting your chicks in their new brooder, wait a few minutes until they have calmed down before adding waterers. Excited chicks don’t look where they are going any many can end up in the water dishes. This can be fatal for day-old chicks on a cold day. Again, I say this because I have learned the hard way. Temperature I’m not to much of a stickler on, I’d rather watch behavior. All huddled up, literally trying to stand on one other,too cold. Panting trying to get away from light, too hot. As a general rule, start around 95 and reduce heat by 5 degrees a week. If its hot summer day, I keep the lights off, and just put them on at night….basically a common sense approach rather than a rule set.

Fast forward to adult birds, and the wintertime, uggh. I hate the winter. My main problem has been the frozen water, however this past year we did purchase an electric heater that the water sets on top of. Much nicer to have the heater, but if you don’t have one, I would suggest to have 2 waterers. Then they can be switched out a few times a day as they thaw out in a mudroom or garage. Also it is nice to have a light on a timer system to encourage your birds to lay year round. These can be purchased online, or you can sometimes get a deal on them after christmas as stores use them for christmas lights. We have our set to come on BEFORE sun up that way we can collect a few eggs when it is time to let them out when the people get up in the real morning. Otherwise, the eggs may freeze and bust if they are left out too long, and thats just annoying.

I hope these tips help you in your own poultry raising adventure! Please message with your own tips!

 

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5 homesteader skills you should know

Being a homesteader isn’t like a thing that you can wake up and one day decide that you are. It isn’t something you become after you move to the country, or even after you buy a pair of overalls. To me, being a homesteader is a state of mind, backed by skill sets. These skill sets are learned over time, through sweat, and adversity. It is a constant way of life that I continue to add new skills along the way. I’m still not sure if I am a true homesteader. After all, the goal of self sufficiency is still so far away. We are still quite dependent on the grocery store an don’t even get me started on the feed store. That remains our biggest challenge. How can we grow THAT much food for the chickens, turkeys, goats, pheasants, quail, geese, hogs (at least the cows are grass fed) and whoever else I might be forgetting? A problem for another day…. Anyway, on to the skills.

  1. LEARN TO GARDEN. Seems simple. It is not. Gardening is in in-depth learning experience that takes time to learn. You must figure out what to plant, when to plant, how far away to plant, when to water, how much to water, how to weed, how to deal with pests, when to harvest, and how to store your harvest. Then when you get all that figured out, their is still soil amending, plant rotation, and seed storage. But DONT GET DISCOURAGED just because it might not work the first year, doesn’t mean it won’t work the next. Ask an old timer for advice, or join a Facebook group, people generally are pretty awesome about sharing knowledge.
  2. LEARN TO STORE FOOD. Food storage can be attained in a number of ways. Freezing, dehydrating, canning and the root cellar are the way we handle it around here. But, there are many other ways as well. Learning to pressure can and hot water bath are essential for our food storage systems and I highly recommend learning. There is nothing better on a cold winter day, than being greeted by a plethora of jewel toned jars in your pantry. It is much easier for me to open a jar than it is deal with frozen bricks of food. However with that being said, I do freeze corn, spinach, and all my meats. Potatoes, onions, and winter squash go to the root cellar.  Make sure to store potatoes away from onions, or they will greatly shorten your shelf life.
  3. LEARN TO CARE OF YOUR CRITTERS. Unfortunately taking care of livestock is more than just keeping them fed and watered. Although that is definitely the most time consuming of chores, there are other skills to be learning along the way. How to keep chicks at the correct temperature, how to administer medication, tattoo ears, and clip hooves are skill sets learned along the way. These are nuggets of information that can be passed along from year to year, and hopefully, generation to generation.
  4. LEARN TO USE A FIREARM. Guns are used more than just for personal self protection. Guns on the homestead are another part of keeping things running smoothly. Although they are not used often, guns are used to protect livestock, cull old or sick animals, and aide in the butchering process of large animals. THIS IS NOT A MAN SKILL. Ladies I know it is easier to have hubby go out a cull old Ms Waddles, ( and lets be real, my husband does this job ) at least know how to use a gun if you HAD to. As in, raccoon in the henhouse type situation. I think a shot in the air is better than nothing.
  5. THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL IS TO LEARN TIMING. What do I mean, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you! The timing of seasons on a homestead are critical in making it work effectively. You must know when to plant specific crops in order for them to survive. Some plants like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, Brussels sprouts and kale, like the colder climates. You can plant these early in the spring and again for a fall harvest. They don’t do well in the heat and will not produce like they should. Everything equal except timing, the same plant cared for identically only in different months will either succeed or fail. Chicks, as another example, you also must keep on a close timing schedule. If you order your meat chicks too early in spring you will be doing constant battle with the cold, and may end up losing them due to uneven temperature. If you wait too long into the spring, before ordering meat chicks, then when it is butcher time you will be battling the heat and flies. TIMING IS CRUCIAL we order meat birds early, and have them delivered may 1, that way we can raise them until the first of July. Then we can  have them in the freezer forth of July weekend. Keeping a calendar of crucial plant dates, harvest times, breeding seasons ect. will keep your farm running efficiently. Otherwise you may forget you need to breed back your cows, or when to get a hen of a nest of unviable eggs. Not that it has happened to me or anything….
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Learn from my mistakes:Raising quail

This year we have added quail to our livestock resume. It was originally intended to populate our aviary. But after talking to a local breeder and finding out that they are not as cold hearty as the ringneck pheasant, we decided on putting them in a movable “tractor” of sorts that we could pull around the yard. These bird do fly, although not too far at a time, and don’t  come back. All our animals that we can free range we do, but these guys must be fully enclosed. So after buying 50 day old chicks, we began our adventure.

The chicks must be kept warm and dry, even normal chicken waters can be too much for these tiny guys. Rocks were added to the bottom to prevent drownings. We had a quart waterer spill over, killing some of them because they didn’t know any better than to get out of the wet. We were able to save some of the chicks that got wet, even though they seemed to be barely breathing, by moving them under the warm and dry area under the heat lamp.( So if this ever happens to you, don’t give up!) My lesson with the waterers is to add the chicks to the brooder for about 10 minutes BEFORE adding the waterers. The chicks are quite scared entering their new home, running all over the place. They will run right into the water dishes. This can be fatal if the weather is cold. After they calm down, then add in the water dishes.

The chicks are good at monitoring their heat however,and will move in and out as they need. (turkey chicks never seem to figure this out) They should to be kept at 95 degrees the first week and slow reduce by 5 degrees every week after. I do not completely follow this, and usually rely on behavior. Huddling chicks are too cold and chicks that make a “ring” around the lamp circle of heat are being kept too hot. This just takes a little observation and practice and you will be doing without the thermometer too.

After my little cuties feathered out and grew, they were ready to be moved to their outside tractor. Loving called the “quail Jail” they enjoyed their new home getting moved everyday to a new section of grass and buggy treats. The males started crowing, and then we received our first egg at 5 weeks to the day.( Quail eggs are pretty awesome. They all look different, the patterns and even size and shape vary egg to egg.)

Then they starting fighting. We found one quail completely decapitated, and others had bloody heads. It seemed the sexual maturity of the females had set the males into aggressive mode. So then we had to figure out males from females. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Gross, not hard. To sex a quail, flip it over (feet up) in one hand, then with the other hand press on the vent. If white foamy stuff comes out, its a male. No foamy stuff, female. The males also have more of a cinnamon color on their chest, females have more of a cream color. Females also tend to be larger, but the vent method has been more fool proof for me, even though it is pretty gross. So after we separated out the male female ratio to 5 to 1, extra males went into a cage together without further incident.

Eggs seem to come slowly, I had 20 hens and was only getting 4 eggs a day at week 7. What was I doing wrong?! Well two things as it turned out. First I was really stupid and forgot to switch their food from the growing feed, to the higher calcium layer feed. I also added oyster shell free choice. This helped some but still, 7 eggs from 20 hens was still not good enough. So we made a judgement call to end the quail jail experiment, and move them to retired rabbit cages. It wasn’t as fun, and I felt kind of bad taking the grass away from them, but everybirdy has to pull their own weight. And this did the trick. I’m not sure why, but after the move, they ALL starting laying. Now I have more eggs than I know what to do with! 20 eggs a day is a lot!

They are so fun to collect, and even more fun to cook with! I have made the best ever cheesecake with quail eggs! And I have made a lot of cheesecakes. You just have to use 3 quail eggs to 1 chicken egg in your recipes. I have also been quite successful in hatching out our eggs as well. This makes quail a great renewable meat source. ( I love to eat our cornish rock cross chickens, but hate that we can’t hatch out our own) Those extra males that we had ended up on the grill Fathers Day. Yum! I was pleasantly surprised at the meat taste. And they weren’t all that much trouble to butcher since we just pulled off the skins-taking the feathers off with it. All in all, the quails have been an awesome experience. The birds have such a different personality than chickens. They lay all spralled out, looking dead, then when you get closer they pop up like popcorn! These birds would make a great addition to any homestead, or urban farmer (quails are not banned from city limits like chickens are). Hope you consider adding them to your livestock resume!

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Wish we had a good mother chukar

We hatched our first baby chukar. It was adorable. But at about half the size of a baby chicken, it seemed frail to begin with. It died 3 days after it hatched. Hence, I wish we had a good mother chukar. So what went wrong? Human error strikes again. The first ever egg was laid in our aviary by my daughter’s chukar. Chukars are in the partridge family and are used mainly for hunting purposes. My daughter thinks they are cute, and she is hoping to raise some to eventually sell. So we excitedly put the egg into the incubator and waited our allotted 23 days. After the first egg went in the incubator, she laid more subsiquent eggs. Then they too were put in, making all the hatch days different. So all the eggs were carefully marked and moved to a separate incubator on day twenty, therefore taken off the egg turner and we could increase the humidity. So all was well, and the little guy hatched on schedule. After it was all dry and cute, off he went to the barn, where heat lamps, food, water, and fresh straw were waiting. It’s behavior seemed off from the beginning. It just hid under the straw, unlike other chicks we have hatched out that seemed more energetic and curious. Then, much to our dismay, 3 days later it died. My only conclusion is that because chicks are meant to be raised together, the little guy just couldn’t function on his own. If he would have had a good mother to teach him the ways of chukardom, he would have been alright. The instincts however, of most american birds have been literally bred out of them. They no longer know how to hatch out their own eggs, or care for their young. Humans have been taking their eggs away for so long in order to maximize productivity, broodiness (the sitting instinct to hatch out eggs) has been lost. One more silent casualty of our industrialized world. Another single chukar chick hatched today. We have some 2 day old meat chickens, so we made the call of putting the new guy in with them… at least he would have some birdy friends that could show him the ropes. His friends are almost giants in comparison, and I am worried he will be smothered under a fuzzy pile of yellow chicks, but we had to try a plan b. Plan c that we should have started with, is to hold all the eggs we receive for the week and put them into the incubator at once, resulting in more chicks on one day. But, like with most things, we learn the hard way. Hopefully we can learn our lesson and move on, and maybe even teach someone else what not to do with this story. I’ll keep you updated with our chukar/chicken roommate situation. Thanks for reading!

 

*update the chuker put in with the meat birds also died…I think it was crushed. We did hit a turning point when we had an adult quail “foster ” the next little guy and he survived. The rest hatched in groups and have been great. Please learn from my mistakes and don’t incubate a single egg. It doesn’t work out well.

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Quail Babies!

Today is hatch day! We purchased some quail eggs from a local breeder (you can check them out at kckennelsandlofts.com) This also where we got our day old quail and pheasants. Let me walk you through the incubation process. We put 49 eggs into the incubator 18 days ago. Temp is set at 99.5 F (or on my incubator 37.5c just to make me feel stupid) humidity around 50%. It took a few days of messing with the water level at the bottom of the incubator to get that right, so I’m wondering if that was a contributing factor to my low hatch rate. My incubator has an automatic egg turner that turns them every two hours, which is super handy to have for the forgetful person such as myself, but if yours doesn’t have this feature, you can turn them by hand every 12 hours. On day 15, the turner gets taken out and the eggs are put on the floor of incubator, no more turning the last three days. The chicks are getting in position to break out of their shells. Crank the humidity is as high as you can get it. I was around 90%, this helps soften the shell so they break out easier. Last night as I was getting ready for bed I thought I heard a peep, but it could have been my excitement of the next day. Then today, when I woke up, the was the first little chick, still wet was peering up at me with this dazed look. Yay! As the day progressed 21 more hatched. I’m not overly optimistic about the last bunch of eggs, no cracks yet. But, the breeder did give me a trade secrete, submerge the unpipped and overdue egg in 105F water and if it is alive it will want to bust out of there! Put the egg immediately back in the incubator and see if it starts rocking, then you know who you still need to wait on, and which eggs are bad. So I will be trying this tomorrow (day 19 1/2) Quails are the quickest incubation that I have ever hatched out at 18 days, but when you are waiting unsure if the temp is right, the humidity is right, the turner is working.. 18 days sure felt long. I am happy the wait is over and I can enjoy the new babies! They have to be kept at 95f this first week, and then decrease 5 degrees weekly after that. Keeping them warm enough is the trickiest part, plus they are not so bright and will drown themselves in 1/4 inch of water if given the chance. So they will be in the house for the next week or so. They don’t take up all that much space, and the kids like to watch them chase each other around. Our first hatch, was not a total loss, I wish we would have had more, but next time I’ll monitor the humidity better. I have learned a little and will be better prepared for the next time. I’m hoping that we will have our own quail eggs to hatch out in about 2 weeks. Coturnix quail start laying at 5 weeks, so we will be starting this adventure soon!

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chicken oopsie

I had this grand idea of raising golden comets. They have been my favorite laying chicken. Their eggs are a beautiful dark brown and very large. They have been laying though out the winter without the aid of extra “daylight”. My kids can literally walk up to them and they just stand there, like thats part of the job description to be drug around the farm by a overly cuddly 4 year old. These birds are amazing. So obviously, everyone will want these chickens. I must raise them! Only one problem, these birds are a hybrid. A cross of two other chicken breeds and for our farm, unsustainable.Of course i realize this AFTER I have purchased ten of these birds, paid a hundred dollars and drove an hour to pick them up. Ooopsie. So, I had to come up with plan B. I decided that I wanted to keep my goldens and add another breed, that I could actually breed. I finally choose the americanas, commonly known as easter eggers. That way I can easily put the green or bluish eggs in the incubator and eat the browns. I recently purchased 6 pullets {hens in their first year) and  1  cockerel  (cock or rooster in his first year). So now I have a non hybrid breed, that sometime this summer should give me some beautifully colored eggs. I also have (hopefully) learned my lesson, to do my homework before purchasing livestock.