Friday, February 5, 2010

Japanese Coturnix Quail

So far, my experiences with this bird as home-based poultry has been mostly negative compared to the sheer ease of chickens. I wasted about $40 on two batches of eggs purchased on E-Bay as infertile, I bartered a class fee with a student who brought me some babies he'd purchased from a breeder east of Tampa, but I had very high mortality via two VERY clever tag-teaming racoons who'd chase them to the sides of their very secure pen then tear their heads off. THEN I got eggs laid here to hatch, only to have the surviving original quails BRUTALLY kill the new ones seconds after introduction into the pen. I now rely on a very lengthy get-acquainted time with new homes housed within a large dog carrier cage inside the quail pen before I dare release.....these quails really ARE modern raptor dinosaurs! I now have just 5 quail after all this time and hassle, all hatched myself, that have begun laying, with a male making his very characteristic call daily and mounting the females. I have a number of eggs in the incubator for one last try.

All my life I wondered about the expression "cute as a button" since I have never seen a "cute" button on any piece of clothing. It turns out that the super adorable baby quails just out of the eggs are called "buttons"! When you see the pic of you will agree....cute indeed!

I have a feeling my quail raising days are coming to an end.....I will just have to write off the various losses to learning by experience. But this very sturdy very spacious pen, covered by grape vines in summer for shade and thus leafless in winter for warming sun, has lots of potential. I keep considering rabbits in there, though learning to kill them would be intense. A visiting friend pointed out that my super-powerful one pump pellet gun I got for $20 on Craig's List WOULD do the job vs. clubbing with a pipe (many tell me they scream like a human baby if not killed by the first blow). I am also considering using my small bait cast net to catch some baby Muscovy ducks by the neighborhood lake as I have researched them a lot....a tropical duck that thrives in Florida (it is legal to catch them as they are considered an invasive pest) that does not quack to disturb neighbors, forages on many things, and can quickly reach 20 lbs. They would not be free range like my chickens, but this pen is very spacious, bigger than my kitchen. Plus fresh duck eggs could be a sellable product from my urban farm.

Here are some pics of my quail, quail eggs, a "button" and a couple views of the pen as it was nearing completion before the grape vines consumed it. John

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