This is my third summer growing vegetables (sort of). I admit that I haven’t put my all into it this year. I grew some cauliflower and broccoli through the last mild winter, and tried my luck this Spring at growing lettuce. I think that was pretty much a fail. 😂I now have some tomatoes growing, and a small cucumber plant, cilantro, a voluntary pumpkin patch, and zucchini that never grew because I planted when it was already getting too hot. Oh, and my first cucamelon that finally has grown long enough to vine, but nothing else.
I AM planning to start some Fall seeds this coming week. I might try the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, and who knows?
BUT, my dream of having chickens by this Spring didn’t pan out. As my fibromyalgia seemed a bit worse the first half of this year, I was worried about how I would be able to tend to them and the work of cleaning out the coop. I was a bit disappointed until I did some more research.
QUAIL!! They are smaller, quieter (you’re welcome, neighbors), lay eggs like EVERYDAY and are good for you. I’m the type to research an idea ad nauseum, and never actually move forward. So this time, I ordered the hutch! I became so excited and so nervous, all at the same time!
If you are interested, below is a similar hutch, which honestly seems a little better than mine. I honestly wouldn’t recommend the one I bought because of several assembly issues I had. So here is a hutch very similar.
I knew that once I ordered the hutch, I would feel pressured to get the rest of the supplies. So I got the water and feed containers, pine shavings (but didn’t remember why), starter/grower crumble, a inexpensive brooder box, (oh yeah, that’s what the pine shavings were for), heat lamp, and whatever else I heard was important.
The hutch came in the mail quickly. In pieces. With photo diagrams but absolutely no words of explanation. So it took some putting together and taking apart to get it done. But I did it!
The quail were expected to sit right in the pull-out drawer that has to be cleaned, which is crazy, so I chose to staple in 1/2” hardware cloth instead. I tried to put pine shavings on the hardware cloth for them so they would have a softer floor to stand on, but their waste made it unhealthy to stand on, so I had to clean the dirty shavings back out. I know most quail hutches are made using hardware cloth as their floor so their waste will fall through and be easily cleaned up, but I feel bad for them. They normally live on the ground, hiding in grasses and sticks, and here they would be, raised off the ground, standing on wire all day and night. I’m still researching other options, and I’m sure I’ll come up with a way that is best for everyone.
I had contacted two local Coturnix quail breeders about getting my first quail. One of them had hundreds about to hatch (too young, I felt, for my first go-round), and the other had quail that were 6-7 weeks old and ready to be moved from the brooder out to the regular pen.
The 6-7 week old Coturnix quail can be sexed by just looking at the feathers on their chest, and I wanted 4 female (hens) and one male (rooster). The hens have a light background color chest with black speckles, and the roosters have a rusty-colored chest. The guy with the ready-to-sit-at-the-grown-up-table quail talked with me about the hutch and size, and said, “You can actually fit 10 in there. You can get 8 hens and 2 roosters.” And I said, “I actually wanted 10, but didn’t think there was enough space.” He assured me there was, so we met 2 days later in a parking lot, and he put the now 7-8 week-old birds in my cardboard box, and home I went.
Well, the hutch isn’t big enough. Those poor things barely have room to move around. And when I put a small container of dirt in there for them to dust bathe in, the dirt gets flung in the water container, and the food. So I can’t keep their dust bath in there all the time. Plus, a couple of meanies I call Karen and Kareem, hog it and won’t let anyone else get to it. But I have to admit, they are funny to watch. Lol. I’ll save their antics for another day.
They are lucky an herbalist took them home, though, because they seem to be enjoying the fresh-cut, organic chocolate mint, cilantro, oregano, thyme, and lots of other things to treat them with. They seem to enjoy it.
BUT THE FLIES! I’ve never seen so many flies in my life! I piled the floor below them with hay to catch the waste. I read that putting more hay on top will lessen the flies. Nope. I keep adding hay, and the flies just wait for more of the almost-perpetual quail droppings to fall through. I know raking it out will help, but as I said, the droppings are constant, so it will just be more of the same.
I noticed that the flies don’t actually go into the hutch where the quail are. Unless they are komikaze pilots looking for a way out, they seem to know by instinct that the birds will eat them. So they hover around the dirty hay on the ground. Then when I approach the hutch, they all take flight and are flying all around me. Ugh! Not good! Especially when the hutch is close to our sliding doors. I’m thinking that moving the hutch further away from there would be a good idea.
Anyway, I ordered an on-the-ground, covered rabbit pen that I think will be perfect for them. They will be in the grass, have more room, and more space to keep their dust bath available. I can’t wait! I’m learning lessons already. Now if they would start laying eggs, I will be thrilled!
Do you raise quail? Do you have advice for me as a new quail owner? Any advice would be welcome!
Does this make me officially a homesteader? 🤔. I had veggies, herbs, I cut and sell them, and make herbal products. But now I have quail, too. I plan to eat and sell the eggs for now. Then start breeding and selling happy, healthy quail, then maybe process them to put our own meat on the table. I may be a newbie, but I think Homesteader Denise has a nice ring to it.
To be continued…
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