We are adding quail to our Urban Farm, so we needed a new structure for their arrival.
I wanted another type of bird on our property that would be both for meat and egg use, for our dogs raw feeding and for us.
While researching meat chickens, turkey, goose, and other types of ducks, quail kept coming up as the most economical, space saving, easy to care for, and with an incubator, a year round source of new birds, meat and eggs.
FIRST – You don’t need a permit for coturnix quail
SECOND – I researched buying quail eggs or live chicks and the best way to start our program. fertile eggs was the best option. I did buy some 2 day old chicks from another local producer, but that would not be sustainable for our program on an ongoing level.
I borrowed my friends broody hens, five of them, to come and get use to Covey Castle so the eggs could be hatched naturally. The hens arrived, sat on eggs for a day, and then said the heck with it we’re at summer camp, and just decided to eat watermelon and play in the tall grass. So that first step was a fail, but hopefully we can find more broody hens as I think that is how I would ultimately like to hatch future eggs, than they have a Mother to teach them how to forage.
I ordered jumbo wild coturnix quail eggs from a quail hatchery. The eggs will need to sit on my counter, point down for 24-36 hours and then into our new incubator for 16 days. Then into a brooder for about 3 weeks.
THIRD – the construction of Covey Castle. Just like the Ladies of the Quack Shack – I want our covey of quail to have as natural life as possible, out side, and out of cages, foraging through grass and dirt.
This is what we designed. The construction is tipi – tractor style, green house roofing over the living area, tons of natural light, and hardware mesh over the foraging outdoor area.
Two doorways, one from the garden, and another into the dry living area –
Covey Castle under construction into the midnight hours, it sits just at the end of raspberry lane …
The doorway going into the main sheltered area, with ground level nesting boxes, as quail are ground birds.
Hardware mesh separating the indoor area from the covered outdoor run area.
$eeker checking out the final project, the outdoor run.
With a carpenter for a husband, even my quail will have beautiful doors to their new home …
Tall enough for me to walk through, but not too much wasted height space as quail prefer to be on the ground.
The quail we will be raising are suppose to lay around 250-300 eggs per bird per year. The male birds will reach full weight at about 10 weeks of age, and we will process the majority of the males for our dogs raw food, our food, and leave a few males for fertilizing future eggs to hatch.
One of our hopes with an urban farm was to have a sustainable and productive food source for our family and for our dogs. from healthy soil, to healthy food, to healthy animals, and back again. The full circle.
As natural as possible.
psst – our hatching eggs just arrived, as in 5 minutes ago!
UPDATE – we have gone through three incubators – the best so far, is the BRINSEA – we can hatch out 120 quail eggs at a time. It regulates the heat and humidity for us, and has an automatic egg turner. It is the most consistent so far.
Our hatch rate is now about 80-85% which is really good – we even had one hatch at 90%