So what happened with my quail? I'm not 100% sure, but I have a couple of good guesses. First off I had around 50 hatch out from the 80 eggs I put in the incubator, which was due to temperature fluctuations as best as I can tell, but I am told by other quail raisers that is a good percentage for a hatch from a Hovabator Styrofoam incubator like I used.
Out of the 50 chicks that made it into the brooder a few died from basic stuff the first few days; stuff like getting smothered or getting sat on in the waterer, etc. But other than those things were going well. The quail were darting around and eating, drinking, and being merry. A week to two weeks in I had a couple jumping/flying out of the box, even though the things were still tiny. So I put a lid on it and got to work on building my quail habitat because I knew they were getting close to needing to be swapped over. It took me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted to build it and other things got ahead of the build and pushed it back a week or so, and that is when I started having some dead quail showing up in the little brooder box.
I built the original brooder box with a hardware cloth bottom so that the droppings could fall through, but I failed to set anything under it to raise it up more than the 1 inch of clearing the cloth had already. It was apparent that some of the quail were pecking at the droppings and eating some of it, which isn't good, but I didn't realize how bad it was due to the fact that chickens pull that kind of stuff all the time without too many ill effects. Apparently in quail that is bad, very very bad. It seems there are a number of different things that this can cause, but pretty much all of them end up in staggered or mass deaths of your quail. Ulcerative Enteritis is likely what I had going on and most heavily affects Bobwhite Quail, which must be why I never had problems out of the chicks I was raising in the brooder right next to the quail brooder.
I did get them into the new structure with about 30 or so still alive, but over the next week I lost one or more a day everyday until there were only 3 left and I decided to just give them their last few days living freely in nature because obviously the reaper was coming for them. The good thing is that I didn't lose too much money on the venture. The price of the eggs was the most expensive thing outside of the materials for the quail cage that I finished building with about half of them still alive. My dad actually donated the materials for the cage (other than the roofing which was salvaged from a concrete job my brother was working on) as an investment because he wanted some eatin' quail this fall. I'm not done trying and this next time I'll make sure as soon as one of those buggers can jump they're going in the big pen, not to mention I'm going to raise the cage to not accumulate any droppings. Though the man I got them from said he starts his off in a brooder with wood chips in the bottom rather than on wire to start with, so I might try that.
Reading the Merck Vet. Manual I noticed that the Corturnix Quail are less susceptible to that disease than other quail, especially bobwhite, so I may try and find some of those again. That is what I originally wanted anyway since they grow faster and start laying sooner AND have a shorter incubation time.
In other poultry news, last Sunday we butchered 6 of the young roosters from the batch of chicks I bought from Mr. Smith in Anderson. I was trying to get all of them but it looks like there was one in disguise who had his tail feathers plucked and didn't have much of a comb. He escaped the headsman's axe this time, but not for long.
The batch of chicks I hatched from my eggs and a dozen from Mr. Smith are getting close to laying size and chicks I got from him have started laying some this past week. I put an ad on craigslist to sell the younger ones that are just about to start laying in a month or so for $5 each. I consider this a more than fair price since day old chicks from a hatchery are anywhere from $2-$5 each as a general rule, and most people sell laying hens that are laying for $8-15 each. I wake up the next morning to a call at 7am from a man wanting to buy 30-50 chickens so I sent him Mr. Smith's way. Not an hour later I get a call from a guy about an hour and fifteen minutes away asking about the chickens and right out of the gate he starts in on the price, offering me $3 each. I explained to him they aren't day or week old but about 4-5 month old chickens we're talking about and that I'm not negotiable on my price. He commenced to tell me that I should give him a break because he'd have to drive so far to get them and that winter was coming on and feed prices were rising and that I'd have to feed them all winter so I just better go ahead and sell them to him for $3 each. I said no, price is $5 each, and he hung up saying no thanks. Not 20 minutes later he is calling back asking questions about them over and over on texts and apparently is still interested even if the price is $5, wrong. He then tells me, "I'll give you $3 a piece for them and take them all, no questions asked." Like I stole them and was trying to fence them or something... I said in response, "Look, the price is $5 each, and I'm really not making any money on that. If I can't get that for them than I'll just butcher and eat the bastards no questions asked." He finally gave up and I haven't heard from him since, thank God. FYI this is not the way to negotiate or barter. On the other hand I had a man call me yesterday about them and asked is that the least I could take for them and I said yes, and he said okay. Didn't squabble or complain about the price. Sometimes you just have to realize people that sell stuff for reasonable prices don't have as much wiggle room as someone who starts out asking $15 each. And right now it is looking like I am going to have to eat the bastards after all. Lol.