Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quail

This was my project for the day. What exactly is this, you might ask? It is my quail/ worm housing that will go under my rabbit cages. We had bunnies already when we moved out here into the country. When we lived in town, our bunnies had 3 tiered stacking cages in a little shed in the back yard (don't worry, they also had a play pen for outdoor exercise). When we moved here and had so much more space, we switched to hanging cages under an overhang on the garage. I switched to hanging cages because I planned to put worm bins under the rabbit cages. Worms are perfect under rabbits (with a little management) because they turn all the waste rabbits generate into lovely compost. Rabbits not only create the usual animal waste, but they are incredibly messy with their food and hay. So anyway, Owen came along and a whole bunch of our homestead plans got put on hold while we dealt with medical issues. This year, I decided that the worm bins were going to be one of my biggest priorities. I'm tired of all that nice manure going to waste because of the rocks under our cages and I hate cleaning up the drop pans.
Where do quail come into the picture? Well each year I've tired to add one new thing to our system and this year, I was considering quail. The eggs are great, they don't eat a lot, and they can be eaten themselves. Yes, It takes a lot of them, but they are small and fit into small spaces. While I was looking up more information about putting worms under rabbits as it had been a few years since I had done much research, I found THIS and it seemed like the perfect way to add one more level to our system. My rabbit set up isn't the same as theirs and my climate isn't the same either, so I decided to make the quail/ worm cages a complete unit that can be moved inside the greenhouse or garage during the winter and go under the rabbit cages when the weather is more hospitable.
First, I drilled some drainage holes in the heavy duty plastic bins I found, as too much rabbit urine isn't good for the worms. Brenna didn't actually help with the drilling, she just tested the structural integrity of the boxes afterward. Then, I built cages to fit on top. The bins I found already had holes around the top that I used to secure the cages on. Right now they are just hooked on with cable ties until I get a chance to go to the hardware store WITHOUT 4 children in tow to look at the various types of hardware that could be used and come up with something better. Once the worms are safely ensconced, I won't need to access the bottom of the bins more than every few months, so I can just cut the cable ties and use new ones.
Small doors in the top of the cages gives me access to the quail, so I can feed them and collect eggs. Right now, I am using regular chicken waterers, but an automatic watering system is in the planning stages.
I have the parts for 2 more of these bins, I just wasn't able to finish them all today.
 Right now, we have 10 quail, Coturnix and Texas A&M varieties. They are close to laying age, so we should start getting eggs soon. The 4 brown Coturnix quail are probably all girls and I'm pretty sure one of the white ones is a girl. I'm also pretty sure that one of the white ones is a boy (It's hard to tell with the white ones) based on behavior and the fact that he does a really cute crowing imitation. I call it an imitation because it isn't like a rooster crow, but it is a totally different sound than the others have been making. I don't know yet if the others are boys or girls, I'm guessing we have at least one more boy based on the fact that we had some fighting going on until I separated some of them out. I only have one making the crowing sound right now though, so maybe the others are all just girls and we were having a little cat fight.
Once I'm pretty sure I have the moisture content right, I'll be adding the compost worms. They will eat up all the waste and keep smells down as well as giving us wonderful compost for our garden.






3 comments:

  1. Hello. You have the quail on the hay or litter? I imagine the worms must steer clear of them, right? Very cool Idea!
    The common browns are able to be feather sexed. The Texas A&M's must be vent sexed (or if you see them crow or know it has laid an egg). Show close up pics of the browns and I could tell you which is which. FYI: they are both Coturnix. Common Brown and T A&M are (as you said) color varieties.

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  2. The worms stay a layer or two down from the birds. The quail don't really dig down much except when I put a new layer of hay or shavings in. I've figured out genders now, mostly by the adorable little crows. I love the noises they make. I had one who really stumped me for a while, but she was just a late layer. She didn't start laying until a few weeks after the others. I can't believe what prolific layers they are. I figured it would take forever to get enough eggs for an actual meal, but we can eat quail eggs at least once a week. The person I got them from made it sound like they were different breeds, but I've done some research since then and figured out they are just different color varieties.

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  3. Yes... Prolific is a good word. I am trying to develop a system that is easily duplicated so that we can help feed people while giving purpose. I believe that is what the Lord has in store for "The Merry Yeoman". I just want to thank you: I am teased because I look into so many coturnix studies and I have never thought of this manure management before! I am also in town so composting in the tray is awesome! Thank you for sharing.

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