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Bobwhite Quail - The native chicken?

 
Rob Meyer
Posts: 103
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Has anyone tried integrating the Bobwhite Quail into a forest garden design?

Here's what a little research brought up:

- They are native to a little more than half of the US, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico
- Their habitat has been decreasing in many parts of the country
- Their eggs are said to be more nutritious than chicken eggs, and even medicinal
- They thrive on early to mid succession, so could be great for rotational grazing of a patch mozaic style forest garden.
- They're readily available for purchase from many breeders across the country.

Check out their habitat requirements:

https://extension.missouri.edu/p/G9432

Anyone raise bobwhites at all? What habitat are you keeping them in?

Thanks.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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I have to agree, am planning to do quail instead of chickens, and am hoping to add guinea pigs into the same mix. think they will be very complimentary.
Guineas are very popular backyard meat critters in central and SA, but havn't heard of anyone raising em for meat up here.

talk about small scale ranching !
 
George Lee
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Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i would love to have game birds running wild on my property, I have the proper wild feed growing here and am adding grains this year (have the seed ready to plant right now)..where could I go about finding starts for quail and other game birds..my plan would be to have them free to roam, they likely would stay as this is a safe haven area with areas of dogs and big farms all around us where they would likely be afraid to go..
 
Cam Mitchell
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Location: W. CO, 6A
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In some states they may be considered a game bird, and as such have special permitting or other requirements.
I think they reproduce quite well, and they're ready to harvest (egg to fryer) in 6 weeks. They'll also take up less space than chickens.
If you do enclose them, make sure to use something smaller than chicken wire, and you must enclose the top as well.
 
Cam Mitchell
Posts: 108
Location: W. CO, 6A
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where could I go about finding starts for quail and other game birds.

Do a quick search on Google for "quail chicks" or "quail eggs" and there are several breeders available.
I don't know who's good, maybe someone else has some experience on that?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Quail, at least those native to my region, prefer to live among native bunch grasses, not exotic pasture grasses. They need to be able to run on the soil between plants, apparently, and don't like dense cover right at ground level, but rather cover just over their heads to protect them from hawks.

 
Rob Meyer
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I forgot to mention, the way I came across this particular species was in my search for native legumes for the establishment of a forest garden on extremely poor soil. One such legume happens to be Partridge Pea (Cassia fasciculata), which, again, is native to the eastern half of the US, and is known to be a crucial food stuff for bobwhites over the winter. This of course would mean that you would likely have to reseed the partridge pea every year, but it's more natural than having to rely on bagged food, and has added beneficial functions as well, i.e. chop and drop mulching/overall increased fertility.

Here's an article on the natural establishment of partridge pea and a bit on how they're used by bobwhites: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0610/ANR-0610.html
 
Brenda Groth
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appears most places require you to order 50 or more..can't do that
 
Tyler Ludens
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Brenda, I think the large number is because the chicks are so small they need a certain number in order to keep each other warm enough to not die in transport. At least that's the case with other chicks ordered by mail.
 
Rob Meyer
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From what I've read, there's about a 50% survival rate in chicks, between being jostled around in shipping, local predators, and other causes. Maybe you can find others in your area to go in on a purchase with you, or perhaps there's a local place nearby that would sell a small package of already birthed chicks to you. I live in NJ, and there's a place in state I will be hitting up next season (this season I have to establish the garden).
 
                            
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Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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As somebody said, in many states they are a game bird so that means permits and only harvesting in hunting season, even if you bought them. Somebody told me not long ago that any white quail is considered a domestic bird and the permits and other regulations don't apply.

Also though, it sounds like you are wanting them to free range. If you ever turn them loose, you will never see them again. They are notoriously hard to stalk for hunters, unless you intend to cover a very large area.

There are other types of quail that are generally considered better for eggs or meat, but again you have to keep them caged. One of the universities in Texas bred some coturnix quail that grow at a remarkable rate and are supposed to be very good layers.
 
Rob Meyer
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I was mainly thinking of keeping them on a small lot in a coop, less than 1/10 of an acre. For that reason, the flock would stay 6 and less most likely. Is something like this possible, or do they need acres to really survive?

Also, another concern I had was that they are succeptable to cat predation, and since we have cats next door, this presents an immediate danger. I could put wire over the holes in the fence they come through, and we do have a dog as a protector, but is there any other methods you can think to deter cats from killing the birds? I guess a safe roost to hide in would be the best bet, but will this really be totally effective? Would I have to keep them in there at all times to avoid even a slight risk of ambush?
 
J D Horn
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My dad kept them in coops to a level of success. As others have posted, I do not think you could pasture them like chickens, even if you clipped their wings.
 
Brad Davies
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Location: Clarkston, MI
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Brenda Groth wrote:appears most places require you to order 50 or more..can't do that


Just sent you a PM. It turns out my BIL's family raises about 10,000 bobwhites a year in OH and I am planning on heading down there to check out his operation and get some. If things go well I could bring some up when I come get some of those sunchokes from you.
 
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