I get ask often about the way I do this or that, or why do I feed this and not that. My quail are livestock, and are hatched and raised to the correct size in a sufficient enough quantity to keep my little side line business operating. I am not an expert! However, I have learned a few things that I wish I would have known at the very beginning. The reason I didn't know these things was entirely my fault. You see, I didn't go to the right source. I asked the people who only raised a few as pets and maybe processed a few culls for the table every once in a while. Don't get me wrong their system worked just fine for them and I praise them for their constant dedication to their birds.
The problems I started having with their system started when I began hatching more birds at one time then they ever had in their entire life put together. When I had my third batch of eggs to hatch (87 out of 100), I began to see the fallacies of the small pet flock holders compared to what I needed.If you are raising any number of birds I hope these suggestions will help you. Some of these suggestions will cost a few dollars up front and possibly a little research up front but it will save you money and most importantly time (If you don't think time is money try feeding 500 quail with the wrong feed and wrong equipment.)
1. Find a supplier of quality feed. I feed game bird starter to all my quail except for the breeders, who get game bird breeder/flight conditioner. (absolutely no exceptions) Yes they can and will eat chicken feed, but I'm raising quail. Yes, you can add things to up the protein in chicken feed and it will be as high in protein as the game bird feed. That may be a possibility for 5 birds, but not for 500, because of the time it takes.
2. Use adequate sized appliances for you quail. A baby quail is born trying to commit suicide and thinking they are ducks. Have quail size waterers and still put marbles in the founts for the first week. By the time they are 3 days old they should be eating out of feeders to stop some of the feed waste. I use the plastic trays cookies come in. They are very similar to a plastic ice tray, which I will use to replace the trays I'm using right now when they become unusable. (I'm not a cookie eater and I don't have a clue which cookies they came from.)
3. Clean waterers every day and disinfect all appliances at least weekly. This applies if you have 5 or 500.
4. Collect eggs at a minimum of two times a day. Store eggs little end down in a cool place with a lot of humidity. Batches of eggs being incubated should all be the same size and if at all possible should have been collected within three days of each other. While in the incubator I always keep at least 45% humidity until day 15. At day 15 I remove them from the turner and raise the humidity to 70%. I remove the trays from the turner, but keep the eggs in the trays. I use a hovabator forced air incubator that will hold up to 120 eggs. Strong chicks should pip, zip and pop out of the egg quickly. The egg trays keep the ones that have just hatched from kicking the other eggs all over the place.
5. Every time you open the incubator you are endangering the chicks that have not hatched yet. A newly hatched chick can stay in the incubator for up to 72 hrs. (I've never had a hatch to be that spread out, but I have left them in there for over 12 hrs. The same people who feed chicken feed to their quail will tell you that the quail chicks metabolism is so fast it must have food and water within 12 hrs of hatching. Yeah, when you figure that one out, please draw me a picture! Eggs that fail to hatch, fail for a reason. If you assist a weak chick to hatch, you will have to assist it from then on. I am not heartless, it's just the truth of the matter.
6. Baby chicks are only cute for about 4 days. They start growing feathers and their poop starts stinking right about the 5 day old mark!
I hope this info can be useful to someone, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.
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