Tag Archives: coturnix quail

The New Quail Coop is Finished

Well, except for the roofing.  But it’s done enough, and the quail can move in!

 

Since Loki’s future wives are not yet hatched, I moved Cinna and his girls inside so I could move Cinna’s coop to a new, more central location.  I wasn’t sure how tame Cinna and the girls actually were, since I haven’t tried to catch them since they were chicks, but they were so nice.  They stood still and just let me pick them up without any fuss at all.

They’d been working really hard at composting the dirt from their former coop into lovely, rich earth, full of bugs and earthworms, and I didn’t want to deprive them of winning the rewards of their labor, so I put them temporarily into one of my cold frames.  And then we dug out the dirt from their old coop and put it into the new one.

Nice, lovely composted dirt!  Despite having had quails living (and pooping) on it for around half a year, it didn’t smell.  I would have loved to put it into my garden, but I gave it back to them, worms and all.

I need to add some plants and little logs and things for them.  The green you see is just a few edible weeds I “planted” for them.  Which of course, they promptly dug out!

The nest box area also has their food and water.

They were quite enamored of their nest area, and spent quite a bit of time inside, arranging their hay.

And then they all took a nap.  The two little females snuggled up together, and Cinna on guard beside them.

After the nap, they left me a tip.

I hadn’t named the two females, because I couldn’t tell them apart.  They are identical in looks.  But having spent considerable time recently watching them, I’ve learned that they are quite different in personality.  I’ve named them Mary and Martha, because they remind me of those Biblical sisters.  Martha always vigorously doing what needs to be done (in this case digging for worms and uprooting plants), while Mary is contend to sit and learn.

I also gave them some alfalfa seeds I had sprouted.  That was a big hit.  I’ll definitely continue doing that on a regular basis.

I have one more quail coop to build, and then I’ll have the big coop with the green roof empty and available for my future Serama chickens.  Now that I have this awesome incubator and brooder, I honestly want to hatch ALL THE EGGS.

I wonder if I could fit an emu egg in it?  😉

Quail, Chicken, and Garden Update

Wow.  What an experience hatching quail has been!  Some good, some bad.  We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let me catch you up on the chickens.

Elizabeth/Bess  (who frequently goes by the name “Little Blue”) is a real sweetie.  If all Blue Andalusians are this affectionate, I highly recommend the breed!  She never fails to come over to sit on my lap and be petted.  She and Ellie (my adult snuggler) are now sharing space on my lap…at the same time.  They are little wary of each other, but willing to set aside their differences in order to be held.  The other day, I was holding both of them, and Ellie put her head down close to Bess to have a good look at her.  Mama Josie noticed, and came scuttling over, hackles raised, to give Ellie a warning growl.  You can look, but don’t you dare touch!

The chicks and the grown hens are now sharing a living space 24/7, and getting along great.  Josie, who used to be at the bottom of the pecking order, has now risen to the top, and is enjoying herself more than ever before.  I hope this change in status will last, since she’s a sweet, gentle girl who doesn’t abuse her power like certain other hens do *coughLedacough*These babies have completely changed her life.  Last night mama and babies perched with the Big Girls for the first time instead of sleeping in the nest box.  I think this means they are officially grown up.

In the garden, we had a super spectacular bloom – just a perfect rose.  This is Glamis Castle:

AND we have raspberries!  Yum!

And now – to the quail!

I discovered that baby quail really like to climb up and sit on things.  The humidity sponges in the incubator.  Unhatched eggs.  The thermometer.

Thanks, guys – now how I am going to tell if your humidity and temperature are right?

After four days of hatching, I think our last one hatched this morning.  That gives us a total of 16 chicks from 42 eggs.  I’m pretty happy with that percentage, since I was expecting at best a 50% hatch rate from the shipped eggs.  Three died in the shell of unknown causes, and four more probably would have died, had we not taken desperate measures and helped them hatch.  This is a last-ditch effort, and not recommended unless you are positive the chicks will die without help.  Remember that chicks can take a looong time to come naturally out of the shell, so you really have to watch them carefully and don’t just assume they’re in trouble when they are really fine.  It worked ok for us; all four chicks we helped survived, and are healthy.  One was really weak after the hatch; to the point where I thought her entire right side might be paralyzed.  She could not even sit upright, but kept falling over.  If she had been able to turn herself around in her shell and work herself free naturally, she would have strengthened those muscles and come out of the shell tired but good to go.  As it was, she was too big for her shell, and couldn’t move in there at all.  I had to spend a couple of hours working with her until her muscles were strong enough to allow her sit and walk normally.  Right now, she’s still a teeny bit unsteady on her feet, but every time I check her, she’s even stronger. I feel certain by tomorrow she’ll be completely normal.

It was a frightening thing, to hatch a chick!  You have to be so careful, because if the blood vessels aren’t completely detached, you can make them bleed to death.  Plus, you need to keep the humidity in the incubator high for the other eggs.  I took the whole incubator into the bathroom and ran the shower until it was like a sauna in there, before I opened the incubator for any reason.  That worked like an absolute charm!

And, the moment when the chick finally manages to hatch in your hand? Magical.  Even though you stayed up until the wee hours of the morning two nights in a row to help them hatch – because if you didn’t, you knew they would be dead by morning.

It’s hard to take a clear picture in a foggy bathroom!

Since the eggs took four days to finish hatching, we took the babies out in batches and put them in the brooder.

They are so small and so unbelievably cute.  They sleep in all manner of ways,

Stretched out:

On their stomachs (the fluffy feathers to the right is a feather boa, they love to snuggle into it and pretend they have a mama.)

And piled together in a puppy pile:

Among the sixteen chicks, we have six Italians, six Standards, and three Blondes.  And one surprise: an egg mixup.  See the yellow chick in the front?

I thought at first she was a  Standard, because she hatched from a “Standard egg”.  Only when all the other Standards hatched, and they were a difference color, did I google it.  I discovered she’s actually a Texas A&M.  She’ll be pure white when she’s grown.

Half of these little guys will be mine, half will go to my partner-in-madness.   I think I’ll keep the white one, as a reward for managing the incubator!  (Sorry Laura!)

As for cat Sookie, she’s never seen anything so marvelous as the contents of that brooder box in all her life!

(Yes, we do put a wire safety cover over it to prevent too much familiarity!)

Quail Hatchlings

Last night, as I told you in my previous post, we had our first egg pip.  By bedtime, nothing had progressed any further, but when we checked on them around 2:30am, the chick was completely out of the shell!

Here’s a video:

What’s really sweet is that she already wants to come to the sound of our voices…even though she is barely able to walk.  You can see that toward the end of the video.

The next day (after the first chick was starting to get really, really lonely!) a second egg hatched.  It was so fast!  I’d noticed it had pipped, but the crack hadn’t gotten any bigger in a few hours.  Then, all of sudden, the chick broke the shell all the way around the top.  After that, it was only a minute or so until complete hatch.  This one, I caught on film.

Part one:

Part two:

And part three, where the two chicks meet for the first time:

What really surprised me about the whole process is how active the newborn chicks are.  The first chick stumbled around constantly, bumping into, climbing over, and rolling around the remaining eggs.  She seemed to be especially attracted to the ones that had pipped – I couldn’t hear anything, but I bet she could hear the chick inside peeping!

The “unzippered” shell – she’s ready to come out!

The head pops out.

And finally, the entire body.  She’s so exhausted, she almost looks dead.  But she’s perfectly fine.

I thought originally, based on where the egg was when it hatched, that she was another of the Italians.  But her feathers are SO much lighter and golden than the first, that I now thing she’s a Blonde.  The first chick must have shoved her egg down into the “Italian Section”.  Pretty soon, with both chicks in there rambling around, it’s going to be impossible to tell what an egg is until it hatches.

They are so cute – only about one and a half inches!  I really, really want to hold one, but I can’t open the incubator until the rest hatch.  I can see pips on at least eight more eggs right now, and I figure there’s still more pips that I can’t see because the angle is wrong.